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Old 18-08-2007, 11:05   #1
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Landside Address Required ???

We are about to cast off the lines from our home port of Buffalo, NY, and exit the Great Lakes. Several Questions have been lingering in our minds:
(1) IF we sell our house in East Aurora, NY, is there a need to KEEP a landside address, or can we use a forwarding service such as St. Brendan's Isle for everything (including the Fed. and State governments tax forms) ?
(2) Cars...car insurances ??? What do cruisers do with their cars.... find a friend or relative who'll keep them... and run them from time to time? store them... I'd like to have them delivered to us... if a fairly long duration stay is in order somewhere in the South...(but, is that a problem unto itself?)
(3) So many things are identified with your home phone number... what happens when you don't have one ?
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Old 18-08-2007, 12:52   #2
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Welcome to the Forum, AB1.

I get the feeling from your post that you're, at least psychologically, still attached to the land, even though you're going cruising. If you have made a firm decision to liveaboard and cruise, I'd suggest that you get rid of the house (before the RE market seizes up completely ), all of its contents that are of a generic nature, and the cars before you actually slip the lines. I would only put into storage those items that are irreplacable.

In the order of your questions:

1) By selling the house, you gain the luxury of picking your new address from among the few states that offer tax advantages. I won't list them, or pretend to have expertise I don't possess, but I strongly advise that you consult with your CPA, or some other qualified tax expert, then choose the place to call home that makes the most sense for your situation. At the very least, making a high-tax state like NY your former address is a good thing to do.

If the RE market in your area is under so much stress that selling the house isn't an option, you can still "move" to a more tax-advantaged location. Again, consult with a tax expert.

2) In America, obviously, there are cars everywhere. If the cars you own aren't special in some way (collectible, classic, unique), why not get rid of them while it's still summer (I'm guessing that the used car market in Buffalo in the winter moves slowly). Then, "if a fairly long duration stay is in order somewhere in the South," buy or lease something there. Cars left behind with others to have to deal with are just an additional worry for you, and an imposition on them - much like asking someone to collect and forward your mail.

3) The phone is a non-issue in the era of cellular telephony. If, for business reasons, you feel you must maintain a phone number in an area code that says "Buffalo," get a cell phone there before you leave. No one who calls you at that number will know that you're actually aboard your yacht, cruising the Chesapeake or the Keys. If you plan to go offshore, say to the Bahamas for the winter, it gets a bit more complicated but can still be finessed.

If the Buffalo area code isn't necessary, I would suggest that you go with one of the national cellular providers, like AT&T or Verizon. Then, if you do find yourself staying in one particular area for an extended period, have your cell number changed to a local area code there. This will eliminate roaming charges and long-distance charges when you use the phone to call the pizza parlor (that's only three blocks away) from your "Buffalo phone number."

There is no limit on the number of times you can do this, nor any charge for doing so, nor does it reset your contract period (that's my personal experience with AT&T, anyway). Obviously, you will need to keep a list of those you want to have your number, and update them each time you change it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You and your family/significant other need to know whether you're really going cruising, or just taking a long vacation aboard the boat. If you really want to, or must, come back to the landside life, then it's just a long vacation, so figuring that out first is essential.

Do you plan on going out the St. Lawrence, or taking the Erie Canal to the Hudson, then out and around NJ, C&D Canal, Chesapeake, etc.? However you get to more tropical climes, enjoy your cruise.

TaoJones
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Old 18-08-2007, 14:02   #3
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You have to have some sort of land-based address for tax purposes. But a mail forwarding service address is fine for that purpose. And of course, you will reduce the amount of mail you receive before you leave by doing all your banking and bill paying on line, eliminating magazines and other "heavy" mail like stock proxies, and eliminating all manor of bill and bank statements by getting them online as well. BTW, I heartily recommend St. Brendan's. We've used them for the entire 4+ years we've been out, and they've never failed us.

Once you address your mail handling needs, you should consider a high power antenna for your computer so that you can access the internet almost anywhere.
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Old 18-08-2007, 14:02   #4
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You have to have some sort of land-based address for tax purposes. But a mail forwarding service address is fine for that purpose. And of course, you will reduce the amount of mail you receive before you leave by doing all your banking and bill paying on line, eliminating magazines and other "heavy" mail like stock proxies, and eliminating all manor of bill and bank statements by getting them online as well. BTW, I heartily recommend St. Brendan's. We've used them for the entire 4+ years we've been out, and they've never failed us.

Once you address your mail handling needs, you should consider a high power antenna for your computer so that you can access the internet almost anywhere.
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Old 18-08-2007, 15:35   #5
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Transfer your home phone number to a VOIP service. VoicePulse is a good one, tech support in NJ not India, $15+/month for the base plan and you can use the number anyplace that you can plug a small box into a broadband line. Plus, it is incredibly rich in features including free forwarding to another number--like your cell phone--based on all sorts of conditions including just being unplugged.

The forwarding service you use may become your land address unless you make other arrangements, and you may find state taxing and residency getting hooked into that, like it or not. Different state tax authorities may or may not recognize that you are just using a forwarding address, and treat it as a residency or not. You'll have to enquire about the tax/residency considerations with the service you choose, and the state you choose, to make sure of the combination.

Cars? Consider the cost of keeping it versus local rentals. If you keep it, you need to "pickle" it for long term storage, and even for short term storage you need to arrange for battery charging, etc. ongoing. And, gasoline needs stabilant added to it if it is going to sit in the tank more than 90 days--that's part of pickling. Probably easier to sell it, unless it is special.

Many insurers won't give you a policy unless you own a car. A thread on the SSCA.ORG boards mentioned that at least one company would issue "liability only" policies, you could ask you current carrier (since you already have a relationship with them) and tell a white lie: That you are selling your car, you'll be taking your time about replacing it, can they issue a liability-only policy so you have an ongoing status as a customer and insurance to use when renting or borrowing cars in the meantime? (Of course, many credit card companies will cover you when renting cars, but not when borrowing them.)
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Old 18-08-2007, 16:53   #6
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All of the above info is good. We leave our cars with a friend and ask them to drive it. This eliminates the need to lay it up long term or pay storage on it. They get the benefit of another vehicle to use from time to time. If we can't or don't want to come and get it we make arrangements to have it picked up by a transport company and shipped to us. last year we had this done and the cost from Los Angeles to Houston was about $500.00. When we are cruising we reduce the insurance to whatever is minimal until we return. We have sold cars and gone for 2 years without a vehicle or insurance. When renting outside the US you insurance won't work. we either rented a car that was covered by our credit card or paid the rental company for insurance. When we returned to the US and acquired a vehicle we re-insured with the same company we have always used and never experienced any problems.
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Old 18-08-2007, 20:01   #7
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"we re-insured with the same company we have always used and never experienced any problems."
A good point, Chuck. SOME insurers will go by your previous experience with them, others will take a new customer only as an "assigned risk" if you have not had a car owned and insured in your name within a past time period. Like so many other things...insurers apparently can make a wide range of decisions about how to treat someone who hasn't owned a car in a while.
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Old 18-08-2007, 20:01   #8
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"we re-insured with the same company we have always used and never experienced any problems."
A good point, Chuck. SOME insurers will go by your previous experience with them, others will take a new customer only as an "assigned risk" if you have not had a car owned and insured in your name within a past time period. Like so many other things...insurers apparently can make a wide range of decisions about how to treat someone who hasn't owned a car in a while.
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Old 18-08-2007, 20:21   #9
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Have you been cruising before?

If not, go slow with this, Just get the mail forwarding and after your first season, deciede what to do with the rest unless you really need the money.

The numbers have not changed much, 80% of people do not cruise more than 1 year.
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Old 19-08-2007, 07:56   #10
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Harriett, do you have recommendation on a high power antenna to use for internet?

As far as a phone service, there are many new very affordable alternatives to the monthly VoIP service mentioned that needs a box. My first recommendation is Skype Although you need your computer/microphone/speakers and a broadband connection to use it, you can make calls very affordably on a pay as you go, you can get unlimited outgoing calls, or get a Skype in number to use as your incoming service. The incoming number can have voicemail or be forwarded to any other number you have. Even without the pay service, Skype is a must have to get free calls with excellent quality to any other compter (relative/friends) that have Skype.

There is a new service called Grand Central, it is owned by Google. I think this is also a must have and I'll bet not too many people have heard of it. Grand Central gives you free incoming phone number for life. It costs nothing nd will be free for life. You cn choose number in any location you want and there re many flexible things you can do with calls coming into this number. This solves the problem of having number in the location you want and it costs nothing.

Rather than put more detail here, you can read about it in this article:

Digital Journal - Google’s GrandCentral, One Phone Number for Life

Here is the Grand Central website if you are interested in signing up

GrandCentral: The New Way To Use Your Phones
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Old 19-08-2007, 11:21   #11
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Laser, Skype is not an "affordable alternative" to traditional VOIP services, it is a *different* product. With a VOIP account from a conventional VOIP phone company, you can have unlimited calling (versus buying Skype/in/out minutes) and you can have your calls forwarded (unlimited) to other numbers as well. So, you can retain your "home number of record" but have your calls chase you all over the place. Retaining a "home phone number" that you have had for several years affects how you are treated--and given credit--by many vendors, including other utility companies and banks and credit cards.
Skype is great for what it does--but it does different things, in different ways. With my VOIP box, I can give people one number. When I'm home, it rings there. If I go out of town and shut the box, it forwards to my cell, at no extra charge. If my cell doesn't answer, it can go to voicemail (at the VOIP company) AND send me an email notification that there was a call. Which might go to my email account--or pop up as an SMS message on my phone next time I turn it on, telling me who called and when.
Skype can't do all of that. And, I don't think I can transfer my existing phone number to Skype.

Google just recently bought Grand Central. An interesting service that will simultaneously ring multiple phones to find you (ho-hum, that's been a conventional feature for othe companies for years) but the free version will only ring 2 other phone lines for you. Paid versions offer more features, it will be interesting to see where Google takes this. Grand Central does not offering filtering or blocking services yet--I recently got a call in Chinese from someone calling Grand Central, chattering happily away. With my VOIP account, I can *selectively* filter, block, bar, or forward calls depending on the caller's number. Anything you can imagine--some telco is offering. (GTE used to be very good at that, till Verizon borged them and dumped the innovative features.)

And then there's SkyRocket, an innovative dirt cheap VOIP service that some folks loved and some hated. Proof that "new" is sometimes risky, as they just recently shut down and many customers may never be able to reclaim their phone numbers--or their prepaid service charges--again.

Caveat Emptor.
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Old 19-08-2007, 12:22   #12
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Yes, you are correct in that Skype is a different product where the box is really your PC and not a spearate box you need to carry around. Otherwise, Skype is more affordable. You can do a pay by minute but you can also get Skype IN/Skype OUT with voicemail and call forwarding which comes out to much less than your VoIP alternative and uses only your PC without the need to carry along an extra box which you would be unable to use at Internet cafe's at remote locations. Please get your facts straight. I much rather prefer to use skype on my PC which I can use on any wireless connection than search for a hardwired router to plug my VoIP box into when cruising. When I am visiting an island where there is an internet cafe with wireless I can make skype phone calls for free to my family. By the way, I have both a Skype in number as well as a Grandcentral number that I use for different reasons. Maybe its my preference. Granted at this time Skype and Grand Central do not give you the ability to keep your current number like most VoIP services but that will change soon. I didn't see the need to keep that number as I moved to a new location and wanted all my accounts to reflect that location as well as the phone number. Once you eliminate your house and cars its amazing how few things you need to update with a new phone number and address.

Any by the way, before you give the Ho Hum to GrandCentral you missed the point that its a very flexible free service for incoming calls and voicemail and a way to have a permanent number based in any location you choose to make your home with voicemail and forwarding for free for life. I have presented two very flexible and very affordable solutios to solve a couple of important communications problems while Cruising. There are many alternative and we try to help others learn from our experiences. Different people have different needs and I find the condesendiing tone of your reply to be a bit off target for what we are all trying to do here. But Ho Hum, I guess since your discussions start with having your VoIP box at home then you are not full time on a boat.

The original poster is leaving the land ties behind and asked about what happens when you dont have a home phone number and even considering moving their "home" to a more tax and boat fee favored location. You presented one alternative with a VoIP box and I have presented a couple more for consideration.

You just reminded me why I choose not to post much. When you try to help, some person that averages over 4 posts a day and probably doesnt even spend time on a boat comes along and has to jump all over your posts. I yield this board back to you "Hellosailor". Im going back to enjoying the sea.

Cheers
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Old 19-08-2007, 13:01   #13
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Might I add that once I leave the U.S. my cell phone doesn't work any more so that isn't an option for me to use. Thats why I find the other options attractive to my needs. VoIP is quite flexible and I did have Vonage when I lived in a house and used all the features you mentioned. For my needs, even a cell phone has limited use.

If you are looking for sms and email voice messages you might want to look into the free Callwave voicemail service for your cell phone. It even converts your voice message to txt and sends it as an sms.... but I wont start that discussion here.

Cheers
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Old 19-08-2007, 15:15   #14
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Laser,

I use a high output PCMCIA wireless card connected to a HyperLink Technologies omnidirectional antenna. When we're at anchor, we can haul the antenna up the mast via halyard on a low loss coax cable. At a marina, I can attach the antenna to the handle on the hatch above our salon table (the hatches are closed b/c we are using air conditioning) with a bungee cord.

We find at anchor the antenna does a good job of finding whatever access points are out there. Of course, this translates into usually getting free internet access. Gotta love it.
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