Last Update: 8/29/2016

How I Got REAL ID With No Fixed Address

Getting a REAL ID with no fixed address ain’t impossible … if you got a card or two up your sleeve. Photo by Stephen Deplo, CC by 2.0
REAL ID proofs of residency fuck with nomads who don’t have no address living in a van down by the river. How’s an otherwise law-abiding van lifer to supposed to get a driver’s license, registration, license plates, and Obamacare? Cheat a little, that’s how – like the big dick corporations. Let me tell how Vanholio done his in New Mexico.

Two Quick Disclaimers First

Just Vanholio’s Experience

This article ain’t the end all, be all of how to choose a state of residency and get a driver’s license, etc. This is just Vanholio’s experience and thinkin’ on the matter. Bob Wells at has got the whole how-to for ya, soup to nuts. (See links to his articles and videos at bottom.)

'Technically' Ain't Got REAL ID – Yet

Got my license in New Mexico, and it turns out the state's on extension to being fully REAL ID compliant. Mostly they’re working out how to handle illegal aliens and other non-citizen residents. But I did jump through all the same REAL ID proof of residency and citizenship hoops to get my license, registration, and tags. My license just don’t got the star on it. What I did should work for you in any state.

Establishing New Mexico Residency

All the Docs I Needed

As New Mexico interprets REAL ID, here’s what they require for proof citizenship and New Mexico residency:

  • Passport or birth certificate
  • W-2, pay stub, or Social Security card with your Social Security Number
  • Two different documents proving your address (see full list)

For my license, registration, plates, and title change, I also needed:

How I Produced the Proofs

As a US citizen and a decent record keeper, I have a passport, birth certificate, Social Security card, and my Texas van title. So that was covered. The tricky bit for nomads is getting the proofs of residency without a fixed address.

I decided the easiest of the required residency documents for me was a bank statement and auto insurance, especially since I needed the latter anyway. Here’s what I did.

  1. Picked out a New Mexico residential address. (If you’ve got a friend or family member in your chosen state who will let you use their address, that’s the easiest and best way of all.)

  2. Submitted a USPS request to forward my mail from the residential address to my private mailbox / mail forwarding service, Traveling Mailbox.

  3. Got auto insurance for the residential address online and printed out the proof.

  4. Changed my bank account address to the residence and printed out the next statement with New Mexico address. (I changed the address back later.)

  5. Took the auto insurance and bank statement printouts, plus my other docs, to the MVD office and did the paperwork, paid the fees, and got my title, registration, plates, and temporary license.

  6. About a month later, my permanent New Mexico driver’s license showed up in my Traveling Mailbox.

It’s some damn hoops to jump through, but it’s totally goddamn doable.

But Ain’t That Illegal?

Yes, but it ain’t immoral, IMHO. Being a nomadic vandweller ain’t illegal or wrong as such. The bureau-nazis and LEOs just have their systems set up in such a way as to criminalize not having a fixed address, a “domicile.” They wanna keep tabs on you. So I adapted to exercise my legal and moral right to live in a van down by the river. I look at it this way.

  • REAL ID is a national standard to keep foreign terrorists from getting an ID that gets them on planes and into secure facilities. I’m a US citizen and not a terrorist.

  • I’m as much a New Mexico resident as those fat cats incorporated in Delaware are Delawareans. Besides, I’ll be paying New Mexico taxes same as anyone and probably spending a good amount of time there, too.

  • The Boy Scout way would be to challenge the current residency laws and regulations in court to win a non-address alternative to get licenses, Obamacare, and the rest. Work within the system, they say. Fuck that. I ain’t got the time, money, or belly fire for that shit.

Why I ‘Moved’ to New Mexico

New Mexico is an unusual choice of residency for a nomad. Most folks either stick to their home states or go with Nevada, Florida, Texas, or South Dakota. Here’s Vanholio’s considerations ...

New Mexico Has Expanded Medicaid

This here tale is mostly about Obamacare. As a self-employed, pre-retirement fellow, Vanholio gets his medical insurance through Obamacare. The problem is that for everything but emergencies, most policies (including mine) only cover you in your home state.

As an OTR vandweller, that sucks donkey balls, particularly since Vanholio is a Texas boy. The Lone Star State is huge, out of the way, and blazing hot most of the year. Not only that, Texas bowed out of Expanded Medicaid. Since I live on a tiny budget, that leaves me paying almost $3,000 a year for high-deductible, basic insurance.

So I looked at the map. Being that I mostly wander around Texas and the Four Corners states, New Mexico is about the center of my range. Good place to have my doctors. Plus, New Mexico has Expanded Medicaid, so that’ll be $3,000 a year raise for me.

New Mexico Taxes and Insurance Cheaper Overall

Now, unlike Texas, New Mexico has state income tax. That ain’t none too fucking attractive. But I crunched the numbers at SmartAsset, and as little as I earn, New Mexico’s income tax burden is peanuts on me.

Plus I done made it up in other ways. My van registration is about half in New Mexico as in Texas. Plus I ain’t gotta pay for yearly exhaust inspections. And by comparing average car insurance rates by ZIP code, I cut my rates in half! I come out ahead on this thing all around.

Cover of "All the Whores I Knowed Before" a book by Vanholio! For sale on Click through.

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Last Update: 8/06/2016

Eating Fried Crow in South Texas Swelter

Vanholio’s post two weeks ago crowed on about how I acclimatize myself to all kinds a weather. Well, now that crow is gettin’ fried up crispy in South Texas.

I didn’t lie, mind you. Vanholio’s been wearing shorts and sandals in all kinds of weather, from sub-zero blizzards to Southwest desert’s triple digits. Been comfy in the van at night, too. But then he came home to the South Texas Gulf Coast in August – triple digits AND shower-room humidity. The daytime heat index is about 125 F, and 97 F at night.

South Texas Is Killing Me

What the fuck was I thinking? This place ain’t fit for human habitation this time a year! I knew that. … But no, I had “bidness” to attend to and people to see. Never gonna time it for summer again, though, I tell you what.

After sweating in the van a couple nights, I asked around if anyone could put me and the dogs up. Nope. So I’ve been paying too much fucking money to stay at a Motel 6.

Goddamn, I fucking hate being here, visitin’ with the peeps aside. It’s too dang hot. I’m trapped inside all day away from steamy heat and traffic. I want to be back in cool mountains! It’s depressing as shit.

Leaving next week and starting north, north, NORTH! Thank you, Jeezus!

Cool Vandwelling in Hot, Humid Weather?

Now, could I have made this work without a motel or a room somewhere? Probably.

If I were at a campsite, I could sleep outside in the hammock all day and night. I got a bug net. Probably need a portable fan, too.

Or I could install a portable A/C in the van, which’d only be worth it were I living here for months instead of weeks. But it’s doable.

Or maybe I coulda even took up that Wif Hof Method shit. But Vanholio’s frankly too fucking lazy. I’d much rather be someplace cooler. Altitude and latitude: That’s the ticket.

Fuck this shit! And fuck Texas! There, I said it.

Hey, Beer Vanholio! He works hard on this blog.

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