One of the most common questions we receive as full-time RVers is, "How do you get mail"? We don't get a whole lot of 'snail' mail as we do a lot of our business online but there are certain things that still requires an old-fashioned mailbox.
Some full-timers have their mail sent to a friend or family member to sort through and then they forward it unto them but we choose to use a mail forwarding service.
There are quite a few mail services to choose from and here are just a few to think about: Mylocalmailbox.com, MyDakotaAddress.com, AmericasMailbox.com, Good Sam Mail Service, Escapees, UPS Store, etc. The United States Postal Service also has a forwarding service but it's a bit more pricey than most of the other services. Just do a Google search on 'mail forwarding services' and you'll get a whole list of companies to check out.
You'll want to do your research to find out which mail service will best suit your needs as most of them offer the same basic services but may have different perks and fees that apply to different services.
The services offered can vary from company to company. Mail forwarding might be offered on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly basis or even on-demand. Options could include having your mail held until you are ready to have it forwarded to you or shredding any unwanted mail.
Perhaps you want the ability to know what is in the envelope you received before you spend the money on postage to have it forwarded to you. Some services will open your mail (upon request) for you and either read it to you over the phone or scan it and email it to you for further review.
The plan you choose may have the option to have any 'junk' mail sorted and shredded. Or you may choose the plan that just automatically forwards everything to you, 'junk' mail included.
Most of these companies will not only receive your mail they will also receive packages from UPS, FedEx and USPS.
Charges will vary depending on the mail forwarding 'package' you choose. Most mail services have 'tiered' plans with the plan that is most basic being the cheapest out of pocket. The plans with the most options (on-demand mail forwarding, opening and scanning of mail, etc.) are normally on the higher end of the price range.
Most plans run from $8 - $20 per month depending on the services offered in the plan. Many of the mail forwarding services offer an annual payment plan, where you get the thirteenth month free when paying for twelve.
You'll also be required to open a postage account which will be used to forward your mail to you. The amount required to start a postage account varies from company to company but usually ranges from $50 to $200 or more. You will be notified when your postage account starts to get low so that you can replenish.
In addition to forwarding and sorting mail, several of the mail forwarding services out there offer full-time RVers assistance in registering their vehicles and applying for a driver's license. They may even assist with getting your voters registration squared away.
There may be additional fees with these types of services but they're pretty minimal. For example, to have our mail service register our truck and coach in South Dakota we were charged $35.00 and we didn't have to set foot in the state to have it done.We then had a year to go to South Dakota to get our drivers licenses changed to South Dakota.
For the first five and half years of full-time living, we used My Dakota Address as our mail forwarding service. It was recommended to us by our friends, Kevin and Nelly, who'd been using their services for over a year. We received excellent service from the staff but decided to change our address to Texas for various reasons.
We chose to use the On-Demand plan which notified us via email every time we received a piece of mail or a package. We replied to the email either asking to have the mail held, forwarded or opened. If we chose to have the mail opened the service would open and scan the item and then email it to us to review.
We paid annually and were given a free month of service for paying annually rather than monthly and were also given a military discount. The service was very personable as we worked directly with the owner, Terri, much of the time. Definitely a 'Grade A' experience.
This year we started contemplating changing our mail service to a Texas address, as we spend much of our time in Texas. We researched mail forwarding services but didn't really find anything that suited us.Then we were talking with friends, Lisa and Dan of Always on Liberty and they told us about their mail service in San Antonio.
We checked into My Local Mailbox and were interested in what we found online. We made plans to stop by the office when we got to San Antonio in October. We met the owner, Andrew, who is in his early 20s and already so accomplished. We knew as soon as we met with him that he had won our business. He's honest, easy-going and friendly.
Andrew offers four tiers of pricing starting at $10 per month.We chose to start with the $10 plan as we don't receive a whole lot of mail and if on a month we receive more mail that what the $10 plan covers we can move up to the next tier. Our credit card is automatically charged on a monthly basis and again for any additional expenses we incur so there is no need to keep money in a postage account.
While using a mail forwarding services works great for us it may not work as well for others. You'll just have to sit down and determine what your needs are and what you're willing to pay to have those needs met.
The service Andrew offers is similar to what we received with our old service but is a bit more 'modern' in that everything is done in our online account. When Andrew receives our mail, he takes a picture of it and uploads it to our account. We receive an email alerting us that we have mail and then can log into our account to see what mail we received.
Then we can choose what we want done with the mail: shred, forward or do nothing in order to have it held. Andrew offers unlimited shredding and online storage.
We're in San Antonio often so it's nice to actually go into the office to pick up our mail…something we never were able to do when our mailbox was in South Dakota as we only visited there once…way back in June of 2012!