Primary residence NH MA
March 1, 2012 4:24 PM   Subscribe

I am currently living with my parents in NH.I just moved here from NJ. My job will be in MA. I just bought a car in NH and will be registering it here tomorrow. I plan to eventually (less than 6 months in the future, this question might come up) rent a place near Boston in order to be closer to work on days I might have to work late and to be able to socialize and party in a more urban area without driving sometimes on weekends or weekdays. It seems that if I make this future dwelling my primary residence, in MA, I will have to pay a bunch of money on car sales tax and registration conversion. I will be spending a few days (3 maybe) a week at my parents place anyway. Is there any legal way to keep this address in NH as my primary residence, while being able to also rent a place in Somerville or Cambridge and park there?

this is a followup to my post about buying a car here:
posted by spacefire to Work & Money (15 answers total)
Unless things have changed radically in the last ten years, you'll be hard pressed to find street parking in Cambridge/Somerville without a sticker, which requires MA plates and registration. Unless you're looking to rent a parking place along with your apartment, you're going to want to suck it up and register in MA.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:23 PM on March 1, 2012

All overnight parking in Somerville is resident-only now. There is very little non-resident parking in Cambridge. If you try to use a guest parking permit on your vehicle every day you're in town, you almost certainly will be caught, especially in Somerville, where the Traffic and Parking folks are extremely vigilant.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:29 PM on March 1, 2012

And, just to be clear, as These Premises Are Alarmed says, one of the requirements for getting a resident parking sticker in Cambridge or Somerville is that your car be registered to your address in that city.

There are some streets in Medford that have overnight parking for non-residents. There's no overnight on-street parking at all in Watertown or Arlington.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:32 PM on March 1, 2012

It's possible to get an apartment with off-street parking included in Cambridge/Somerville, but it would cut down on your options a lot - you can get an idea browsing craigslist (if parking is included, the ad will definitely mention it.) I'm not sure about the legalities of which state you keep as your primary residence otherwise, if your time's close to half and half.
posted by songs about trains at 5:56 PM on March 1, 2012

I tried to get by on parking in Somerville without MA plates/registration. I lasted about 5 months, which was impressive, but they got me pretty bad the last time. Towed and ticketed me. You're best bet to avoid this would probably be to find an apartment where your landlord allows parking on the driveway, although this will cost you about $100-200 a month. It seems like a pain, but really converting all your paperwork over to MA will make your life so much easier.

The cost for transferring over everything wasn't too bad. I had my parents gift the car to me, so I avoided paying taxes there. The plates were about $100? And then the permit for parking in Somerville was $15 (1 year). Of course there's excise tax, but that was only around $100 for the year.

In the long run, you will most likely get ticketed and towed for the same amount of money you would use to register your car.

You could also just ditch the car and use zip car or something.
posted by melizabeth at 5:58 PM on March 1, 2012

I'm concerned the sales tax, assuming I move within 6 months of buying the car and make my primary residence in MA will be over 1k, is it 6 percent or something in MA, while in NH it's 0?
posted by spacefire at 6:01 PM on March 1, 2012

I tried to get by on parking in Somerville without MA plates/registration.

This is absolutely no longer possible in Somerville since the city has gone completely to resident-only on-street overnight parking. I would be surprised if anyone made it five days there without getting towed.

One is exempt from paying Massachusetts sales tax on a vehicle given by, or purchased from, a close family member. Something to think about.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:12 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Whoa whoa whoa. There are still non-resident parking spots in Somerville. You have to park on the end of the street before the arrows start on the resident parking only streets. There are also some spaces that used to have meters where the meters have been removed. There are a bunch of these on Broadway in East Somerville. There are a bunch of spots by where Khoury's used to be. I didn't believe this at all until my old roommate managed to live for months in East Somerville with NH plates. This occurred sometime between last December and last August. AFTER the city went all resident only. East Somerville is ticketed like crazy, but these spots are left alone. To verify, I asked an extremely friendly meter attendant.

You can also violate the 48 hour rule by moving your tires to a different pattern. They somehow measure your wheel position when they check the 48 hour rule. Another meter attendant I spoke to told me he doesn't like to do that violation unless it's called in, because sometimes people get sick and can't move their cars every 48 hours.
posted by shushufindi at 7:35 PM on March 1, 2012

According to the MA Secretary of State "Welcome to Massachusetts! site, "No sales tax has to be paid if the car was purchased out of state more than six months prior to your move." If you were going to make the move earlier than six months, you could definitely have your parents buy the car and then sign the title over to you and get around of the sales tax.

Somerville's Visitor Parking Permits can be used two days a week per car (Mo-Sa, there is no enforcement on Sundays), but you probably don't want to do that dance since visitor permits are not supposed to be used for cars owned by the permit holder. Shushufindi is right that there are still ways to park your car in Somerville without a resident or visitor permit, but all it takes is one cranky neighbor or unhappy parking enforcement officer to really fuck up your style.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:47 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Another thing to keep in mind is that your car will not only have to be registered, but also "principally garaged" at your address in Cambridge or Somerville to get a resident parking permit. In most places that means where your car is parked for 183 days of the year. This also will be an important distinction for your car insurance.
posted by helicomatic at 5:43 AM on March 2, 2012

My roommate had his car registered in Florida for 3 or 4 years - no problems. It's probably still registered in Florida. We lived in Boston - Brighton area.
posted by KogeLiz at 6:22 AM on March 2, 2012

(i personally sold my car before moving back to Boston - I didn't need it and it's too much of a hassle) but I can see that you will be driving to and from NH a lot... but, depending on where in NH you live, still maybe something to consider. Like - taking the commuter half way and having someone pick you up. Or Amtrak.
posted by KogeLiz at 6:26 AM on March 2, 2012

You won't have to worry about car registration at all if you rent a place with off-street parking, or rent a spot (~$200 per month).
posted by Aizkolari at 6:52 AM on March 2, 2012

MA also requires proof of insurance for registration, which would make it difficult/impossible to keep your NH address and still get MA registration in order to get a parking permit.
posted by noxetlux at 8:47 AM on March 2, 2012

I just was chatting with a guy about how he found it cheaper to rent a private spot here in Cambridge and keep his NH plates in a situation similar to yours (his job and parents are still in NH). YMMV.
posted by ldthomps at 8:58 AM on March 2, 2012

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