Friday, August 24, 2012

Handling Mail, Bills, Voting, and Driver's Licenses While Cruising

Everyone has bills.  We don't have many since we live on a boat and don't own property (yet) or a home (no tax or utility bills), but still we get bills for insurance on the boat, Thunderbird, and truck.  We get bank statements.   We get AARP newsletters, AAA mailers, things like that.  We also have vehicle registrations and driver's licenses to renew, and we need to vote in November.   When you live on a traveling boat and don't have a permanent, fixed address, how do you do all these things?  You can't get a driver's license or vote without an address, and a PO box isn't acceptable.  How do bills get to you?

Well, the first thing I did when we knew we'd be casting off the dock lines was to change all the billing that we could from snail mail to online.  That's relatively easy to do nowadays.  Whenever I get an email bill I file it in a Hotmail folder I named "bills to pay".  After paying it, I move it to a folder called "bills paid".  I also set up fixed amount bills, such as car insurance, to autopay.   I only use one credit card, for the most part, which I know is due on the 8th of the month, so I need to look at that one, transfer money from my savings account to my checking account, and schedule that payment.

When we first started cruising, we had our mail forwarded from our Stamford CT PO box to a relative's house.   Karen would call us if anything important looking arrived, and periodically sent us our mail to whatever marina we were at.   This worked fine, but we felt a little guilty about putting that work on her.   We then decided to use a mail forwarding service recommended by friends, St. Brendan's Isle in Green Cove Springs, Florida.  The cost is a modest $13.99 a month, plus the cost of mailing.

Using St. Brendan's Isle has another advantage.   It establishes you as a resident as Florida.  Yesterday, Pam and I drove from Brunswick, Georgia to Green Cove Springs, about 100 miles away.   We picked up our mail at St. Brendan's Isle and talked to the staff about how to legally establishing residence.   They gave us the needed forms which we filed at Green Cove Springs' city hall, officially making us residents.  Next, we crossed the street to DMV and got our driver's licenses and registered the truck.  DMV even registered us as voters at the same time.   It was all incredibly easy and efficient.

It was also very funny when we first used that address when checking into a marina.   The lady at the counter was filling out the registration form.   She asked our address, and I replied "411..." and she completed the sentence "Walnut Street, Green Cove Springs.   What's the box number?".

It seems that thousands of people live at 411 Walnut Street.


  1. Sounds nothing like the DMV in CT-- Easy And Efficent...

  2. Yep, many many people live there. And they are an awesome company! I liked the fact that they sort out and throw away the junk mail if you ask. They will then scan all the envelopes (for a small additional fee) and you can decide if you want it mailed or shredded - or they will open and scan the contents if you ask them to! When you don't need their services anymore, theyreserve your box number for life so you can aklways "move back". Oh, and did they mention there are no state income taxes!!

  3. They have found a need and filled it. How large was their physical plant? Sounds like they have an interesting clientele.

    1. The place is not that big, about the size of my computer store, about 3,000 square feet. They have rows and rows of bins, one for each customer's mail. They're friendly and efficient. I recommend them highly for anyone cruising or RVing.