Saturday, October 2, 2010

Becoming a Resident of South Dakota

This is Day 4 of this road trip, it’s Tuesday, September 28th and here I am, in Rapid City, South Dakota. Rapid City as a small city of about 67,500 people on the southwestern side of SD. It’s situated in the foothills of the famous Black Hills and is at an elevation of about 3,500 feet above sea level. Looking back to the east it is very flat - the Great Plains. I have now seen the “waves of amber grain.” To the west, south and north, the Black Hills.

My new “hometown” is vibrant. The unemployment rate is very low. It is a middle class city with, for the most part, nice communities, well cared for homes, plenty of shopping, four small hospitals, a nice business base and a beautiful, active, restored downtown area. Downtown is a very inviting place with little restaurants and pubs, shops of all kinds, some older businesses that look like they’ve been there for years, some boutiques, art galleries, etc. There are also law offices and other kinds of business services down there (especially since Rapid City is the county seat of Pennington County and the court house is right there in downtown.)

Indeed, I am pleasantly surprised by what I found when I arrived here. Of course, I have to mention that Mount Rushmore is a mere 20 miles away and the Crazy Horse Native American monument (that is supposed to take about 100 years to complete the carving) is about 30 miles away. There are all kinds of historic and scenic things to do within a 50 to 100 mile radius of the city. There must be at least 2000 motel/hotel rooms here in Rapid City, most of them newer, chain properties and in a few cases, multiple properties under the same banner. There is a beautiful, restored hotel, the Alex Johnson, in downtown Rapid City where presidents have stayed on their visits here.

So, now, I am a resident of Rapid City, SD, relinquishing my former home for the past 26 years in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Winchester. I’ve loved my 26 years in The Valley. It is another place of grace and beauty. But, since I’ve chosen to become a wandering nomad for the next X number of years and explore as much of the U.S. and Canada as I can, with side trips to other parts of the world, I had to make some decisions on the practicality and cost of remaining in VA. Frankly, VA has lots of taxes, little taxes, bigger taxes, but taxes, taxes, taxes. Most of those taxes go to fund services I never have used and very likely never will use – and if I’m never going to be there, in my pragmatic way of thinking, I just can’t see any reason I should have to work that much harder to support a place I’m going to gain nothing from. I figure I’ve done that for 26 years, so I’ve done my share. But, my philosophy of living and working free means that I want to live my life with as much freedom as I humanly can. Another way of saying that is that I want to bear the least “burden,” have the least restrictions, limits, intrusions and interference from outside sources, agencies, governments, etc. as possible. Leave me alone to live my life and I’ll leave them alone. So, I needed to seek out a place where I felt I could live as true to my own beliefs as possible.

After a significant amount of research, South Dakota appears to be that place. So, here I am. I will introduce you to more about this in the next posting, but suffice it to say that, I began the process by mail and had SD license tags on my car before I set out to come here. I had, perhaps a couple hours invested in getting all the preliminaries set up by mail and email. I spent about four hours when I arrived taking care of obtaining my SD drivers license (WAY FASTER then in VA and more friendly), opened new bank accounts and took care of changing my voter registration, so I’m all set for the November election (by absentee ballot – which is how I’ve voted in VA for the past couple years – nothing new here). I filed to set up a SD LLC to operate my business through – and, in general, finalized everything necessary to be a SD resident.

I now reside in a tiny box in a very secure room in an office building at 2040 W. Main St. in Rapid City, SD. My LLC Resident Agent is at that same address and my bank branch is across the street. That’s it. Oh yeah, and my annual “rent” and expenses to “reside” here are less then a single month’s rent in a low-cost housing, one room studio apartment in a small town. At this point, I am basically a virtual person. I don’t ever need to actually return to Rapid City for anything. My license, my registration renewals are all by mail or on line, now. SD does not have a mandatory state vehicle safety inspection, so I don’t need to ever bring my car or motor home (when I acquire it) back to SD. However, this is such a beautiful piece of the world, I believe that it will be a wonderful place to come and spend some summer seasons and explore the history, geography, scenery and other attractions of this region of the U.S.

So, there you have it. Another move to fulfill my living and working free lifestyle. Next posting will introduce you to the people and place that makes my new residence possible.


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