We live on wheels. We can choose where to be. We can seek out good weather. We can look for natural beauty. We can locate ourselves by friends. We can find interesting events and line ourselves up to be close to them.
But we are still anchored. We have to have a legal, residential address - a domicile. We can choose to declare domicile in just about any state - many fulltime RV’ers choose South Dakota, Florida or Texas for favorable income tax situations.
We choose (for now) to keep our domicile in Michigan. First, it was easy. It’s a lot of work to sell off your house, purge your stuff and get on the road. Adding in a domicile change (which would involve new license plates, new driver’s licenses, probably new auto, home and healthcare insurance policies) was too overwhelming at the time.
The other reason is that we are homeschoolers and Michigan is about the easiest state to do that in. We don’t have to self-identify, or submit curriculum plans or attendance records or other nonsense that other states require.
There are still some potential responsibilities that being a resident in any state in the USA might bring. The one that can be a hassle for fulltime travelers is jury duty.
For the most part local court systems expect you to actually live at the address you list as your residence, so you are included in the jury duty lottery system. Getting called for jury duty while on the other side of the country can be a minor nuisance requiring only a phone call to an understanding court with an explanation, or a major expense requiring a cross-country backtrack to serve a non-understanding court system.
We have heard of both of these extremes in our circle of traveling friends, so when I got the envelope from the Kalamazoo Circuit Court I was hoping for the minor nuisance end of the scale.
Not a Shirker
Don’t get me wrong - I don’t mind serving and have done it before when I had a corporate job and could afford the time off.
But since leaving the corporate years for a life of self-employment and (for many of those years) a single car family I found the potential demands of jury duty too much and was able to get excused.
No Getting Out of It
This time however, there was no space in the guidelines for me. If I told them I wasn’t currently in Kalamazoo they would only reschedule me for when I would be “back”.
There was no language for self-employed people. At the very least I would have to show up and hope to be let go during the selection process.
Drive or Move?
The main challenge was the two hours of road between our seasonal spot in Fremont, MI and the court in Kalamazoo, MI. I wasn’t looking forward to 4 hours of driving each day, and also taking our only transportation away from the family.
I could overnight with in-laws, but would still have the truck. We were also planning to the Kalamazoo area the next week.
So the solution? Pack up the house and head south for 2 hours to be in position should I get placed on the jury.
There’s a nice county park in Kalamazoo, reasonably priced yet close to downtown. We booked a few nights, and pulled out of our seasonal spot getting into place in the late afternoon hours.
Then, of course, after all the talking and planning and packing and hitching and driving and setting up I called the number at the court at the appointed time….and my group was not called.
I’m not sure whether to be disappointed or relieved. A little of both I think…
I’m just hoping that if the call comes up again and we are across the country I can point them back and say I was ready to serve this time.