Mountains, mourning, and taxes


It’s the beginning of our second week in Asheville, North Carolina. We’re doing a lot better, mostly thanks to the kind words from our friends, family, and even total strangers. So thank you.

Being up in the mountains — and doing a little digital detox — helps too. It’s so peaceful. We’ve been exploring, but I haven’t taken many photos. Even full-time travelers need a reminder to just live in the moment!


Asheville 2

We often see wild turkeys, deer, and rabbits on this road


Asheville 3

Looking out toward the Blue Ridge Mountains


Asheville 1

Chris looking out over Bull Creek


We’re staying in a guesthouse run by a young couple. It’s the house she grew up in on a huge piece of land 20 minutes away from downtown Asheville. There are always interesting people coming in and out whom we chat with over coffee. But our favorite thing has been wandering around the property, pictured above.


Besides being in the mountains, another thing that helped us was creating a little memorial for Holly. We finished it before we left Athens, Georgia.


Holly Hole Memorial

Photos of Holly, her favorite toy and her ID tag inside, and her ashes

We keep this in the “Holly Hole,” the space between the front seats and the cargo area of Red Delicious. She loved walking back and forth through it. Best to keep the memorial there, rather than storing unneeded junk.

This lovely card came from her vet in Athens. When we got Holly’s remains back, the service that did it included the prayer they read during her cremation. It said something about god blessing mistreated animals, which made neither of us feel better. This Thoreau quote is way better.

Holly card collage


The other thing on our mind is taxes. How boring, right? But it was actually more interesting than usual because it’s the first tax return we’ve done as self-employed people.

It also raised some interesting questions for what the 2015 tax year will mean for us.

Why? Because we live nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Which state will we pay taxes in this year? Here’s what I learned.

  • Residency…physical presence…whatever. It all comes down to where you’re domiciled.
  • According to the State of California, someone is considered a resident if they are domiciled in California but located outside of California.

Domicile is defined for tax purposes as the place where you voluntarily establish yourself and family, not merely for a special or limited purpose, but with a present intention of making it your true, fixed, permanent home and principal establishment. It is the place where, whenever you are absent, you intend to return.

  • Even though we are not physically present in California, because we are domiciled there, that’s where we pay our taxes. Unless we decide that California is no longer where we intend to return.
  • Apparently, a lot of nomads change their domicile states to South Dakota, Florida, or Texas. (That link is to an article with exactly how to do that.)
  • Then, we talked to a tax accountant who basically told us to forget it.

“The State of California is notorious for going to great lengths, even rummaging through trash cans in Las Vegas, trying to prove that people who claim to be nonresidents actually are. Be very careful,” he said.

  • So, for now, we are still California residents. And we’re still located in the United States, so federal taxes are a no-brainer.
  • (Even if we weren’t, the U.S. is one of the few countries that taxes its citizens while they’re abroad. Unless they do something like this, maybe?)
  • This concludes today’s lesson on nomad tax issues.

Thanks again for following our adventures, even through this strange post. 🙂

  4 comments for “Mountains, mourning, and taxes

  1. Esther
    2015-04-02 at 9:13 pm

    My heart hurts for your loss. Glad you are able to take some quiet time to yourselves. Our best to you!

    • Tamara & Chris
      2015-04-03 at 4:42 am

      Thank you, Esther! It really means a lot.

      Also, thank you for the playlist adds! We’re loving them.

  2. 2015-04-03 at 6:56 am

    Good post. I cycled through Asheville and spent a day. What an interesting place!

    The tax tutorial was actually pretty helpful, as I might find myself in a similar place later on.

    Great Thoreau quote. His are my go-tos.

    • Tamara & Chris
      2015-04-03 at 7:07 am

      Glad the tax tips were helpful, Dennis. Yes, Asheville is pretty cool. Probably one of the first places we’ll be really sad to leave. The mountains are really beautiful. Speaking of which, you’ll be getting lots of mountain time soon!!

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