The timing was perfect, just as I was researching how full time travelers should make sure they get counted in US 2010 Census, a census enumerator shows up at our campsite in Austin, TX.
With a home that moves and no place that we consider a single home base, we were curious as to where we’d be counted.Would South Dakota, our state of domicile, be where we count?
Not so, according to the US Census. The census has defined a concept of ‘usual residence’ – the place where people live and sleep most of the time. This is not necessarily someone’s legal domicile or voting address.
For those of us who a usual residence can’t be determined – because there is no such concept as ‘most of the time’ - they have a special rule:
People who do not have a usual residence, or cannot determine a usual residence, should be counted where they are on Census Day.
You can read more about usual residence rules and how they might apply to your unique situation on the US Census’s website.
They Know About Us
We were quite surprised, and impressed, when a census enumerator knocked on our door at a state park campground in Texas this morning. We were expecting to eventually receive our form in the mail when it was forwarded to us from South Dakota and figure it out from there.
We were double impressed that the Census actually has a specific Transitory Location Questionnaire just for us location independent folks, that even mentions RVs, boats and rooms. This questionnaire makes none of the usual assumptions about location, and is indeed tailored to our lifestyle. And our enumerator was well versed on how to record us transient nomads, and was happy to give us a blank copy to make this blog post.
It was pretty simple, on question 7 that asks if the person lives anywhere else for any of the listed reasons, there’s a ‘For Another Reason’ option. The enumertor then follows up by filling in the ‘Notes’ section on the form.
For ours, he wrote:
Full Time RV Travelers – Does not stay in one location most of the time
So, for the 2010 Census, we’ll be marked at Austin, TX – which I don’t mind too much as I grew up here. We were warned that when we move on to Gonzalez later next week, it’s quite possible we’ll be called upon again – and we should just tell them we were counted already.
It is a shame that there is no way to count location independent folks without tying them to a specific momentary location – as I do think it’s important for the government to be more aware of just how many of us are selecting mobile lifestyles these days.
But at least they’ve aware of us, and going above and beyond to make sure we’re counted. After all, they want to include ‘People staying here on April 1, 2010 who have no permanent place to live.’
Yup, that’s us! (Kiki was quite disappointed that they don’t count cats.)