Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Uncle Sam wants to know where you live. Do you know?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

While it’s still months away, April 1, 2020, will be a significant day across the U.S. Yes, we know, it’s April Fool’s Day, but more significantly, it’s also National Census Day. That once-every-ten-years event is mandated by the Constitution, and there are plenty of folks interested that the “count” goes in their favor.

Why so? The information the census delivers is used to determine how many seats in Congress each state receives. And for a lot of municipalities, it means money. Federal dollars, to the tune of $675 billion, are allocated based on how many people live in a given location. Some of that money goes to things that affect many – including road funds, hospitals and schools.

A news item from Florida shows just how important the matter can be. Under the headline “Snowbirds could complicate the 2020 census for Florida,” a writer for the Villages-News reported on how a local League of Women Voters invited in a speaker to discuss the issue of the census. One of the points made was how snowbirds were counted could have a huge impact on the area. The speaker pointed out that some winter visitors to Florida might actually receive a census form in Florida – and one at their other residence. So what location does a snowbird use as their “residence” for purposes of the census?

In the most recent determination by the Census Bureau, it’s a relatively easy call. Those with “seasonal homes” simply would be counted at the location “where they live and sleep most of the time.” For the Florida situation, the person who spends five months in Florida and the balance of their time “back home” in Maine would count Maine as their residence for purposes of the census.

But for fulltime RVers, the situation isn’t so clear. Plenty of fulltimers move from point to point around the country, having no place where they specifically “live and sleep most of the time.” Back in 2010, before the census, posters went up around Quartzsite, Arizona, begging fulltimers to list Quartzsite as their residence, presumably to steer more money to the desert town, and perhaps to add to the political clout of the Grand Canyon State. But is that the legal approach?

The Census Bureau, in its most recent iteration of its “2020 Census Residence Criteria and Residence Situations” (released February 8, 2018), makes the call this way. “If they have no usual residence, they’re counted at their location on Census Day.” That’s definitely tough for Quartzsite – if 2020 is like any other year in town, the “Snowbird Capital of the Southwest” will look like a ghost town. Most fulltimers will have beat feet for cooler climes.

What’s your residence for the census? Snowbirds, it’s where you lay yourself down to rest the majority of the year. Fulltimers, it’s pretty much where you are, come April Fool’s Day, or National Census Day, whichever way you care to look at it.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Candace C. (@guest_58001)
3 years ago

It’s where you vote. Why would you add to a state’s funding and representation and then have no say in it?

warmonk (@guest_57351)
4 years ago

In Canada, you get counted where you sleep on the day of the census. If you are visiting someone, you are recorded as a visitor or as niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, (etc as the case may be) to the head of household but you are recorded in their household. If you are in a hotel, motel, RV Park, you are recorded there.

This makes for interesting research data when doing genealogy and often leads to finding relatives.

Shipp (@guest_57179)
4 years ago

As traveling man suggested in his comment, it is not that difficult Where do you vote? Where your domicile is! That is where your census form should indicate. You don’t vote? Then don’t fill out a form.

Bob Godfrey (@guest_56975)
4 years ago

This residence issue reminds me of our friends and family who just cannot seem to understand that we have a mailing address which acts as our domicile and have been using it for 10 years. My daughter in law until this day still has difficulty with the address because she will state “I never know where to send a package to you” even though we have used that same address for those same 10 years. I guess living “outside the box” (but in one) is just too difficult a concept.

TravelingMan (@guest_56962)
4 years ago

For Full-Timers, I would have thought to be legal, it would be your place of “Domicile”. For those that have a mail account with Escapees or similar, that would be your residence.

Otherwise, one could just gather a group of Democrats or Republicans and flood an area with illicit intent of manipulating the system.

This goes for voter registration as well….

How many still have a conscience and moral respect left for Rule of Law?

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