Home Life on the Road

US Census 2010: Counting Nomads

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.  

Being Counted in the US Census 2010 at our Campground

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

The US Census Transitory Location Questionnaire

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.

Select 'For Another Reason' to be counted as a nomad!

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.)

We love it when you share our content!

6 Comments - Still Plenty of Room for Yours!

Comments make bloggers happy.. we'd love it if you shared a few words or thoughts. Thank you!

  1. I’m late reading this-just found your blog an am enjoying reading it. I worked for the census in 1980 (as a 20 year old), and we conducted a “sweep-night” where every hotel, motel, hospital, shelter and possible homeless locations were visited. We did this as a mass one time event to help pick up people that fall through the cracks. I also worked in a prison over the course of a week-kind of a spooky experience. The census is pretty thorough. The census is supposed to be a snapshot of one night of the year, even though it is done over a period of time. This makes for strange results- a birth of a child after the date is not counted and if granny dies after the census date but before the actual date enumerated-she technically is to be counted.
    Love your blog-and I am contemplating the nomad lifestyle. I’m a single 56 year old female, single, and getting ready to sell my large acreage because I’m tired of cutting up downed trees, flash flood events, and all the other manual labor. It is no longer a pleasurable place to stay. I worked in the IT industry for 25 years (Systems Analyst) and now do free lance work. Right now dreaming about this lifestyle. :-)

  2. I am currently in Maine, but staying employed requires that I go where the work is (I’m in IT -yes, it’s OK to cringe) I was in California, but my life there kinda got destroyed with the whole ‘meltdown’ thing. I intend to settle in Maine, but for now, I’m the 21st century equivalent of an itinerant tinker. This answers my questions about being counted in a way that reflects my life framework at this time.

  3. Louise has an excellent point, and I’m sure that’s why they do it this way. Since your state vote counts, it’s only natural that they’d do it this way.

    I’m surprised how savvy the Census has become. Transitory Location Questionnaire? Chalk another point up for the nomadic lifestyle!
    .-= Byteful Traveller´s last blog ..How to Ship to Europe Duty-Free =-.

  4. I actually would prefer to be counted in our domicile state, since the Census data is Constitutionally mandated to determine how Congressional Representatives are apportioned. We vote in Washington, and want our Representative’s numbers to show us in Washington.

    However, I expect we simply will not be counted at all this cycle, and that is okay with us. Better uncounted than counted in California!
    .-= Louise´s last blog ..Familiar surroundings =-.

    • Yes.. it would also be my preference to be counted in our state of domicile for the same reason. My hope is that by being counted as a nomad, perhaps the government will eventually realize they should handle us differently 😉 (High hopes, I know).

Add your comment now!