Making The Purchase and Bringing The Casita Home

Herein is a full account of how I went about purchasing my RV from a private seller out of state, including what paperwork needed to be filled out, how to legally drive it home, and how to go about registering it when it is home. Also included are pictures of my very first fix: patching a hole in the roof.

So as I was saying, last Monday I made three rather important stops in preparation for bringing the Casita home. First I went to the SC DMV to figure out how to legally bring the trailer home from Florida. They told me call the FL DMV, where I learned that I needed to bring the title and bill of sale in to a DMV down there to be issued a temporary permit for the price of $7.50 to drive it back up to SC (SC’s temporary permit costs $5, it varies by state).

After that I stopped in at Geico where I have my truck insured to get a quote for the RV. The cost for insuring it for 6 months using it only part time (I told them 20 days a year since I won’t be living in it right away) came out to about $140. I went ahead and told them to start the policy on Thursday so it’d be covered on the drive home, and they told me if I decided not to buy it for any reason just let them know and they’d cancel it. Later on when I’m living in the RV full-time I’ll be calling them back to change the policy for the correct coverage, or possibly stopping it all together and going with a different insurer.

Lastly I stopped at the storage place since I’d never seen it in person before. It had good fencing and cameras, I was satisfied with the condition of the facility. I asked them if I had to fill out the paperwork ahead of time for my spot but they said no, I’d do that when I brought the trailer.

Tuesday and Wednesday I worked, but I did a few other things as well in preparation. I searched on Google maps for possible places to stay Thursday night on the way back home. I wanted someplace where I wouldn’t have to back up the Casita since I’ve had no trailer driving experience at all and figured it’ll take some practice to be able to back it up. I decided on a WalMart just across the boarder into GA, but also had a couple truck stops mapped out too in case I needed to stop earlier or later.

The owners said they wanted the money as a cashier’s check, so I got that from my bank on Wednesday. Just a note: for a cashier’s check you need to have it printed out with the receiving party’s name on it, I didn’t realize this and had to drive back to my apartment to make sure I spelled the owner’s name right.

Thursday was the big day. I was on the road by 7am and was alternating between excitement and nervousness on the drive down. I arrived about a half-hour early which gave me time to stop at Arby’s for lunch, mmm curly fries.

When buying an RV from a private seller, there are some important things you have to remember to do that you don’t have to worry about when purchasing from a dealer. You first want to go over the title to make sure it looks clear. Check that the RV information and VIN number are correct, that it’s in the seller’s name, and that it has no liens on it. You both also need to make sure that the title is properly filled out and signed over. What all needs to be filled in varies from state to state. In this case, the previous owner needed to fill in the purchase date, write the purchase price, and sign. I just needed to sign. If this had been a motorhome, the odometer reading would also have been required.

Next up was the Bill of Sale. This was not required by law in Florida, but was recommended and I needed to have it to get the temporary permit. What this form is is a statement that the vehicle or trailer in question has passed ownership from one person to the next. There is no set way that it had to look in my case, but it usually includes the make, model, year, and VIN of the vehicle/RV, the date of purchase and price, and the printed and signed names of the owner and the purchaser. Some also have the license plate number of the vehicle/RV, and the address, phone number, and driver’s license number of both the owner and the purchaser.

After these two things were filled out, I offered to go with the owners to their bank to deposit the cashier’s check as a measure of good faith that it was legitimate, but they said it wouldn’t be necessary. So instead we went down to the FL DMV with the title and bill of sale to get my temporary permit.

It was my understanding from talking with them on the phone that the permit was going to cost $7.50 and that I’d be paying the sales tax once I went to register the RV up in SC, but apparently that wasn’t the case. They wanted me to pay the sales tax down in FL for the permit, which I wasn’t keen on doing because I thought I’d be paying again once I got up to SC. This is a good example of things not always going according to plan. When faced with this dilemma, the owners offered to let me use their plate to get the Casita up to SC instead, which was very generous of them. I asked the lady at the DMV if this was allowable and she said it was, so that’s what we did with the understanding that once I had it registered up in SC that I’d mail the plate back down to the previous owners.

Once we got back, it was time to hitch up the Casita and start on my first of many adventures. Besides having to flip the ball on the standard hitch around so that it had a 2” rise instead of a 2” drop, it went well. All the lights worked and my brake controller knew what it was doing even if I didn’t. I said my goodbyes to the previous owners who were so happy to see it go to someone who was going to enjoy it. They told me to let them know through e-mail when I made it home and to keep in touch if I had any questions. All and all I’d been there about two and a half hours, I left around 4:30pm.

The first few miles were pretty funny. I was driving extremely slow and was afraid of every turn, I probably annoyed everyone who had the misfortune of driving behind me. I had so much on my mind that I forgot to fill up the gas tank in the truck before hitching up so I had to get gas before I left Palm Harbor, which was also a bit of an adventure since I was afraid of having to back up and gas stations in the city usually aren’t as large.

But it went well. The farther I drove the less I worried about something horrible happening. The Casita really does tow very well with my Dakota, I had no issues with breaking or with swaying. When semis passed me on the interstate I could feel it, but I never felt like I was in danger of losing control. Unlike the previous weekend when my roommate and I had driven down to look at it, there was little wind which helped a lot I think.

I made it to the WalMart in St. Marys, GA at about 10pm. I took a bit of video of my first night in the Casita, it’s very dark and hard to see but I’ll post it up anyway. The next morning I awoke to sunny and muggy conditions. The bright sunlight revealed a missing rivet located on the roof near the microwave, apparently a common place to be missing one. It looked like it had been patched before, but the patch was cracking. I called my roommate and asked her what the weather forecast for the day was: a chance of showers and thunderstorms, becoming more likely in the afternoon. Poop. Well, at least I was camped at a WalMart. I went inside and bought a tall step ladder, some duct tape, and a pair of scissors. It’d do the trick for now.

The rain held off until I made it back to Bluffton, where I chickened out and went with one of the other storage facilities I had looked at instead, the price was higher but it was a much larger place and wouldn’t require backing up into a spot.

After dropping the trailer off I started the process of registering the RV by going to the Auditor to get the value assessed for property taxes, they also needed to know where the trailer was going to be kept, so I gave them the address of the storage facility. They looked up the value in their computer system and assessed it at, get this, $1,230. Apparently no one told them that molded fiberglass trailers last longer and hold their value better than stick built ones, but I’m not complaining. My property taxes amounted to $26, I paid up at the treasurer (located in the same building) and they gave me a receipt to take over to the DMV to pay the sales tax, title and registration fee, and get the actual license plate. As a note, not all states charge a property tax on vehicles and RVs, SC is just special like that. When I lived in Wisconsin, there was no property tax and the whole registration process was done entirely at the DMV. Just do a little searching ahead of time to see what all you need to do in your state.

By this point it was 3:45pm on Friday, and as I drove over to the DMV the rain started, big time. There was a very long wait and it was only open until 5pm, so I decided to call that off and head back Monday morning when there would be less people around. I drove back home through a thunderstorm and stopped back at the Casita to check for leaks and found nothing, yay!

So today it was back to the DMV to finish the registration. They needed the title, bill of sale, and property tax receipt. The total cost for registration and title was $25, there is a certain size at which the cost is more, but with a GVWR of 3,500 that was all I needed to pay. I asked about the sales tax and learned that when buying from a private party I didn’t need to pay it at the DMV. I guess that means that paying for it down in FL was the correct course of action, oops. This doesn’t mean that I get out of paying sales tax on it, it just means that when I go through my 2012 taxes early next year I’ll have to report it as an out of state purchase that wasn’t taxed and pay the taxes then. They gave me the registration slip, the license plate, and the stickers to put on my license plate, and if it’s anything like buying the truck was I’ll be getting a new SC title for it in the mail in a few weeks.

And that concludes the first phase of ownership of my Casita. The next step, which I started over the weekend, was taking pictures of areas on the exterior that I think might require a bit of fixing that I want to take care of before I go camping in it. It’s possible that post will show up as early as Thursday.

Oh, and no the Casita doesn’t have a name yet, but it will in the future, once I’ve thought of one I like. Any comments or questions? Ask below!

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Kevin on November 12, 2016 at 7:53 am

    I needed this, Becky. As the days approach for the delivery of my little guy, it is good to read that my fears of towing will fade away once I start the process.
    Kevin recently posted..How I met Scotty (errr… Mork)My Profile

    • Becky on November 12, 2016 at 7:03 pm

      You’re welcome Kevin and I’m glad you found this helpful. Yes, towing is very scary the first time. It’ll be a little less so the second time, and each subsequent time after that. Don’t try to rush it, travel at the pace that feels right to you, and take deep breaths the first time you need to back it up. πŸ™‚

  2. Anita on April 3, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    How did you go about finding the Casita? Did you go look at it before you purchased it?

  3. Rick on June 29, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    headed this week to pick one up – thanks for the information

    • Becky on June 29, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      You’re welcome Rick!

      • Rick on July 1, 2014 at 1:29 pm

        well, things didn’t work out – Casita was only 2 yrs old but looked run down, poorly maintained….guess I’ll keep looking…or maybe just order a new one from Texas…..then do a road trip from there. Was it difficult for your to learn to drive, back up, and as do the trailer hookup as a solo?

        • Becky on July 2, 2014 at 1:12 pm

          I did kind of a trial by fire Rick, never towed, hooked up, or backed up a trailer before I bought my Casita. Was scary the first time, but after I’d done it successfully that once it steadily became easier.

          Sorry this one didn’t work out, it can take some time to find the right used Casita but patience pays off. Good luck!

  4. Paul Scagnelli on September 25, 2012 at 3:50 am

    Wow, wow,wow!!

    So I’ve emailed you once already, I am not a crazy person but have looking at the entire site you have.

    I live in Palm Harbir and just saw this is where you purchased it!!!!

    It was fun to see that.

    As I’m reading your posts,it’s as if you’ve posted my thoughts writings and musings.

    The what where all but the when are so identical.

    I am curious where you are now and when you will be back on the road.

    Any plans to return to Florida for a visit?

    I was just in Kansas and took the same mountainous roads as you did, and saw the arch from the highway.

    I was so impressed I had to detour into the city to see it up close. If you have not been its a must see. An absolute site to marvel at. It does not look or seem to be real, and the wonder that it is standing as you gawk up at it is comparable to little.

    Well I just felt some need to email you again, I hope you are enjoying your journey.

    I hope I get the nerve up to finally stop letting life get in the way of me leaving on my trek.


    • Becky on September 25, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      Hello Paul,

      I’d like to get to the keys in Florida some time, but it probably won’t be for a while, I don’t tend to plan too far out.

      I’ve been to St. Louis before and saw it up close, went to the City Museum which was a real blast.

      And yes, it is hard work preparing to get on the road, but I have found the payoff to be very worth it. πŸ™‚ Thanks for following along, and I hope you get the courage to try it for yourself! I wrote a post on fighting fear a while ago, which addresses the issue of worrying that it’ll all fall apart pretty well.

  5. george on March 14, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Be sure to take lots of photos while you are doing your repairs and modifications ! Enquiring minds want to know !
    I’m betting that you are going to find that all the little mods, the process of “making it your own”, are going to be big fun and rewarding in it’s own way. One thing for sure, the whole ownership/operation of campers is an exercise in tinkering. Always something to maintain, fix or improve. Great fun.


    • Becky on March 15, 2012 at 11:31 pm

      I got pictures of caulking the rivet hole in the roof, was going to be messing around with it more today but I got called into work. Hopefully tomorrow.

  6. Carolyn on March 13, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Congratulations! Looking forward to seeing pics of the inside.

    • Becky on March 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      They’re coming. πŸ™‚ My RV hunt post had a few of the inside.

  7. hobopals on March 13, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I second George’s suggestion. I would, by all means, get a weight distribution hitch with sway bars. I have a 3500 Diesel Ram truck pulling a small trailer, but I was thankful to have the added safety coming off some passes out west, and in the desert where the wind can move you over. I have a friend who was pulling an Aliner (lighter than the Casita) with a Grand Cherokee and she got rolled over coming off a pass–totaled trailer and jeep, and worse, yet, severe injuries. She did not have the WD and sway bars. She does in her present set up.
    hobopals recently posted..Physical TherapyMy Profile

    • Becky on March 13, 2012 at 8:15 pm

      As I told George, I’ve had plans since the beginning to get one, was just waiting until the trailer was in my possession first. Definitely better to be safe than sorry.

  8. george on March 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

    A couple of thoughts: I know you said you flipped the ball mount to raise the height of the ball, but was the photo taken before you flipped it ? A little hard to say for sure, but it looks like it may be a little low in the front.

    Are you considering a WD hitch with anti-sway control ? Ask some questions over on the Casita Club and Casita forums, but certainly at least consider it. I can’t remember what the constuction of the a-frame member is like on the Casita, but it may limit which brand/type of WD hitch if you decide to go that way.

    The Dakota will make an awesome TV for that trailer. That’s a great basic designed, sturdy truck. Perfect for this. Just a guess, but that flip up shape on the rear of the truck may very well help your fuel economy too.

    I know you said you bought a step ladder, but if you decide you want a compact, fairly lightweight “extension ladder”, consider a “extend-a-ladder”. I’ve got one, in the eight and ahalf foot length in my storage compartment here on the camper. Very nice ladder to have to get up and do maint on the roof.

    • Becky on March 13, 2012 at 8:13 pm

      Nope that was after I flipped it! I will be obtaining a WDH as my truck’s manual calls for one with tongue weights over 300#, I just bought a cheap hitch from walmart to get it home with. I had the hitch discussion on Casita forums months ago. πŸ˜›

      I like the looks of that ladder! Will definitely keep that in mind as I will have a bit of work to do on the roof.

  9. george on March 13, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Very cool Becky ! And congrats. We can’t wait to hear of your adventures in your new camper.

    • Becky on March 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks George. The adventures have already started as I spent $30 on caulking equipment today in hopes of doing a little work on it before this weekend. Considering my total lack of handiness, this oughta be a hoot and a half.

  10. Kathy on March 13, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Becky, I am Sooo happy for you and a bit jealous!!! Your casita and trick look awesome! Can’t wait for you to take your first trip! I’ll be living vicariously for a while πŸ™‚

    • Becky on March 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      Thanks Kathy! It’s looking more likely that I’ll be living it in in place at a RV park in just about 5 weeks time, yikes! I better get going on getting it ready. πŸ™‚

  11. jim on March 13, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Get the duct tape off the fiberglass ASAP or you will have a mess once the glue gets into the fiberglass. Fiberglass is porous and will absorb things. Go to a boat or rv place and get some caulking made for fiberglass, do not use silicone. Remove the tape and seal it with caulk until you can obtain new cap covers. Casita sell them and I’d replace all of them at once then you will not need to worry about that for awhile.
    Check out fiberglass rv for more hints.

    • Becky on March 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm

      Jim, working on it. Had to travel to Camping World today to get a good fiberglass sealant, I’m actually storing it at a marina but they had very little in stock for caulk, go figure. Was going to fill the hole but then it rained on me again, spring came early this year.

  12. Bob on March 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Nice, looks like it sits pretty good on that truck.

    The best of wishes for the future.

    • Becky on March 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks Bob, it doesn’t ride quite level right now, working on that.

  13. Ross Macintosh on March 12, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Becky – go to youtube and search for “Casita Me Gusta”. It is one man’s musical tribute to his Casita. Very cool. I saw it years ago & was surprised how easy it was to find.

    Regards, Ross

    • Becky on March 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      Just watched it Ross, it made me grin. Some of the places featured in that video I’d like to visit too.

  14. hobopals on March 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    You are one smart cookie, Becky! Your adventure is just starting. Do you have plans for your first trip or a weekend at Hunting? Best of luck and many, many years of happy travels.
    hobopals recently posted..Physical TherapyMy Profile

    • Becky on March 12, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      I do believe Hunting Island will be my first trip in the camper, but I cannot say yet when it’ll happen. There’s a few fixes I want to do on the outside first before I go camping in it, they’re not urgent but things I’d rather take care of before moving stuff into it makes it difficult.

      There’s a possibility I’ll be living in it as early as the end of April in a RV park nearby, it’d be cheaper than staying in my current apartment, but at this point it’s only a possibility.

      I’m glad to hear that Jack is going to be okay. πŸ™‚

  15. Dale on March 12, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Yay many congrats.
    Oh and you will get use to going slow and annoying people behind ya.

    I’ve been towing for some ages, can back the beast quite well, but I still go slow in my rig.

    Its no sports car.

    The only way to get me to go slower is to ride right on my tail.
    I have been known to let folks by at a good pull-off, but I don’t let it worry me.

    Its island time Mon, you’ll get there ;)…
    Anyway, I hope you love your new camper.

    • Becky on March 12, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      I already love it. One benefit of not having extended mirrors on the truck: I can’t actually see the people behind me in my lane. I guess I can just pretend that there’s no one back there. πŸ˜›

      Fortunately, I can see people behind me in the lane next to mine, so passing and changing lanes isn’t an issue.

      The fastest I went was 65 on the Interstate, when passing I briefly made it up to 70. I tried to stay closer to 62 though, just because that’s what I’ve heard is a good speed.

  16. Wanderoke on March 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Wonderfully exciting!

    I agree with Brian, lots of great storage possibilities with your setup, including a “vacation cottage” with being able to sleep under your truck canopy!
    Wanderoke recently posted..Bite the Bullet with Kitchen Cabinets?My Profile

    • Becky on March 12, 2012 at 8:50 pm

      It has been great being able to sleep in the truck on it’s own, and I was relieved that it pulls the Casita as well as I thought it would.

  17. Brian on March 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Congrats Becky. That’s a good looking combo.

    • Becky on March 12, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks Brian. πŸ™‚

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