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New Member with dilemma
Old 12-27-2014, 05:45 PM   #1
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New Member with dilemma

Hello, I have been watching forum for a while and finally jumped in. I am 45 years old facing an opportunity to retire from the New York area with a non cola pension and relocate to the Raleigh/Durham area to a less stressful job with a significant pay decrease. I will probably be able to purchase a home almost outright. I am fighting with decision due to having 2 young boys (8 and 10) and do not want to relocate and struggle financially. I have been able to save additional money into a 457 plan and also contribute to a Roth IRA for my wife who does not work. Anyone out there left the northeast to relocate to North Carolina with young kids? How did it go? Is the cost of living that much lower? What are the pros and cons? Thanks for any advice.

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Old 12-27-2014, 05:55 PM   #2
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Hi Hatch,

No, I haven't, but there are web calculators for cost of living comparisons, such as: Relocation Essentials

Good luck whatever you decide!

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Old 12-27-2014, 06:24 PM   #3
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Shorter commute? Less work time? Those boys are of the age where having a dad around more would be worth quite a bit by itself. Not only for the kids, but also for the dad and mom. I refused a large promotion to stay in DC and transferred back to Denver. It was the right move for me and my family.
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Old 12-27-2014, 06:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Hatcher39 View Post
retire from the New York area with a non cola pension
If you are 45 with a non-COLA pension, hopefully you have a lot saved up. If we have even a small bit of inflation, that pension will be worth next to nothing by the time you actually are at retirement age. Are you transferring for a job?

Having to support 2 young kids, and a wife, it will be expensive. You could live another 40 years. At 20 years and ~2.5% inflation, a pension will be worth about 50% of today's dollars.

Be sure you have your expenses under control, and have thought about inflation.
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Old 12-27-2014, 07:00 PM   #5
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Are you going to take your pension now, or can you defer until you are older and live off your (lower) salary? Depending on how your plan works, deferring the pension until you fully retire may lessen the impact of being non-cola.

One thing to check as far as cost of living would be potential college costs for your kids. Is in-state tuition at a NC school significantly less than in-state at a SUNY?

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Old 12-27-2014, 07:23 PM   #6
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There are a few of us here in RDU. Fine place to live. It is becoming NY South, which isn't exactly to my liking being an ex-midwesterner. However, we still have our own identity and even assimilate some of you Yanks. Always good to see the NYers settle down and relax a bit, maybe even give people a few car lengths of space on the road, and stuff like that.

Is it cheaper? Uh, compared to NYC, yeah. The rest of the state? Depends. Many Northerners are coming here for lower taxes, yet demand high services, so our taxes will drift up if this continues. A certain irony there. Yet, as of right now, it is more affordable. Just remember if you complain about not having 1000 snow plows the next snow, there's a reason for that...

For kids, FUEGO (a member here) may have more input. I have none so my opinion is probably not useful.
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Old 12-29-2014, 11:56 AM   #7
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We grew in Mid-Atlantic/New England and relocated to Atlanta right before we had kids but after having worked a while in NYC and NY metro. Based on our n=1 sample only, as well as some anecdotes from fellow transplants ...


- Cheaper housing, taxes, most anything
- Lower overall cost of living for most things
- Shorter (in most cases) commutes, or at least more housing options for given commute and $$ ranges
- Milder overall climate (leads to lower home maintenance costs most of the time as well)
- Friendly *mostly* locals

- Generally underfunded public schools (you mentioned kids, so it may be an issue)
- Related to lower taxes (Pro) and above school issue, overall city and local services may be a little more leisurely compared to what you're used to or even non-existent
- Not really 4 season climate (this bugs some people after a while)
- Further travel distances vs. northeast; if you live in the NE US, you're used to excellent public transit and driving most places if farther away ... in much of the south, the public transit systems are pretty confined to city core and proximate suburb/bedroom communities ... so the default is often a drive and if you want to go further, you may end up flying (e.g. to visit relatives etc).
- Friendly locals may still call you the 'damn yankee' when you're not around

We would live in the south again, but there are other places we would live first. That said, we would only go back to the northeast in the summer or fall.

Best of luck.
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Old 12-29-2014, 02:32 PM   #8
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Wake County schools are FUBAR due to the explosive growth the last 10-20 years. You need to be aware of that. Some neighborhood schools have caps so your kids will be bused to a less populated school if you move into one of the capped neighborhoods.
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:02 PM   #9
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Drat, you should stay where you're at now. Well, I don't live in Raleigh, so maybe if you come to NC move there, leave my city alone. It's getting crowded here. All those northerners and southerners (yep, those from FL and CA) move here. The roads are being widened now to accommodate the influx, but darn, relocation specialists cannot keep their mouths shut. They tell other prospective people, so more people will move in...but no more space to widen the roads after this's getting worse not by year, but quarterly it seems. So, stay put, keep your family where you're now, let your kids grow up. By the time they leave your house, mine will also be almost college age and if it will really get worse than now we'll leave NC and you can take our spot, OK.

PS....tried to be funny, so don't feel offended. But seriously I've lived more than 10 years in my city and I can definitely tell the difference. Traffic, population has increased a lot. Peak hours are not much fun.
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:29 PM   #10
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With 2 kids and a non-working wife, one thing I would be concerned about is what happens if you were to die or become disabled. Does the pension have survivor benefits? 100% or 50% or what. (Also, do you have life insurance and disability insurance)

Do you have a job where you qualify for SS (and do would your wife/kids if you were to die)?

Since your kids are well into school now, does your wife plan to get a job so she could take of herself if anything untoward were to happen (such as you death, disability or even divorce)? Does your wife have sufficient work credits to take SS on her own and could working some here help her build up her benefits? I know the reasons that families can have for having a stay at home spouse and I'm not questioning those. What I am raising is the economic insecurity of the non-working spouse if something happens to -- or with -- the working spouse.
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Old 12-30-2014, 09:57 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Hatcher39 View Post
I am 45 years old facing an opportunity to retire from the New York area with a non cola pension and relocate to the Raleigh/Durham area to a less stressful job with a significant pay decrease.
When I read this... it does not really sound like a retirement question, but more like a life style job shift. Lower pay, hopefully with some positive life style benefits to offset the pay change.
Not much information to estimate effective cash flow. Some questions to think about
  1. When does the pension start paying out? Do you have to wait a decade or more?
  2. Can you lump sum the pension?
  3. Is this lower income enough to live an acceptable standard of living? -- really personal choice here
Have you spent some time in the NC area? Do you have a good feeling you'd like it?

I grew up in the mid west and moved to the east coast out of school. I spent a fair number of years there. Later I moved back to the mid west... yes lower pay... more affordable housing and life style.

I think the one thing that becomes most difficult is if you move down to NC and then back to NY (thinking city here). The cost of housing is so much higher... and likely inflates faster (in $ amount at least). I'd have trouble opening the wallet to afford the east coast housing again.

would I make the move again.. yep. could I have stayed out on the east coast? likely.

run the numbers. Go spend some time down there to see what it like. you are talking a major life change.
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Old 12-30-2014, 10:19 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by JoeWras View Post
For kids, FUEGO (a member here) may have more input. I have none so my opinion is probably not useful.
Hey Hatcher! I'm in Raleigh with 3 young kids (oldest 2 are 8 and almost 10).

COL is a lot lower here for some things, especially real estate. My wife's company relocated a couple thousand people to Raleigh from NYC. One of her relocated coworkers cashed out $500k or so in equity from their crappy townhouse in Brooklyn and bought a 5 BR 4000 sf McMansion and furnished it with the money left over. His family came down to visit and thought he won the lottery (I take it houses like that aren't $400-450k in NYC). Overall people liked the move down here, except for a few that grumble about the lack of transit (though they don't complain about all the free parking almost everywhere).

We are in Wake County schools. Overall, there aren't any bad schools in the district, just great, good and less good. The worst performing schools don't do well because of challenging populations, but that doesn't mean the teachers aren't good or that your kid can't do well there. We happen to be in one of those poor performing schools (lots of ESL kids, 80%+ poverty) but our kids maintain top grades and test scores. It also means they have a dedicated AIG (academically and intellectually gifted) teacher for near-solo instruction. Class sizes are small (between 12 and 18 kids most years, 21 kids is the largest class they have ever had). We are happy with the school, however on paper the stats don't look pretty. But we have plenty of options to transfer if we grow unhappy.

Most schools score very well, especially if you end up in the wealthier suburbs like Wake Forest, Apex, and Cary. Magnet schools are plentiful, which means you can send your kid to a variety of schools that have different themes and focuses. Engineering schools, health sciences, early college, advanced academics, foreign language immersion (Chinese or Spanish IIRC). International Baccalaureate programs starting in elementary school, broadly available AP courses in high schools.

And hey, public schools are free.

Real estate taxes are generally a lot lower. We pay about 1% of the house value, and you can find 3-4 BR houses in the $150-300k range pretty easy. More if you want to live in an exclusive area obviously. So imagine $1500-3,000 property taxes per year.

Unions don't exist here, so services are generally rather inexpensive. I just had the siding and windows replaced plus some major roof repairs and the price tag was $9k. YMMV of course.

Based on what friends tell me, social life is a lot cheaper in Raleigh. I think $3-4 is a lot to pay for a beer but my Raleigh friends that moved to NYC come back to visit and think $3-4 is happy hour pricing.

It really depends on what you spend money on now. I also have friends here that barely scrape by on $200-300k household incomes. Custom build a house or a lakehouse, buy some luxury cars, sign your kids up for travel sports, get a boat, and you, too, can struggle to get by on $200-300k even in Raleigh.

As far as culture, probably half the residents of Raleigh aren't from Raleigh. Lots from PA NJ NYC MA area. The city leans slightly blue while the more rural areas around Raleigh lean red. The triangle area is home to 3 major research universities, so tons of college grads and PhDs are floating around (I saw somewhere that we have one of the most educated populations).

Downsides are hot, humid summers during July and August (not entirely dissimilar to NYC in my experience). Rural/urban political strife (NYC vs upstate?). Lack of transit if that's your thing. Traffic in certain areas during rush hour if you have a long commute.

Needless to say, I love Raleigh. So maybe I'm biased. I think our roads have room for one or two more cars if you want to come on down and join us.
Retired in 2013 at age 33. Keeping busy reading, blogging, relaxing, gaming, and enjoying the outdoors with my wife and 3 kids (4, 10, and 11).
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Old 12-30-2014, 10:30 PM   #13
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And on the kids topic, age 8 and 10 is probably a good time to make a move since your oldest will be entering middle school soon.

Consider cost of college down the road - NC has two great in state schools in or near Raleigh (UNC and NCSU) and in state tuition is similar to SUNY CUNY schools I think (around $8000-9000 but the COL for room and board is probably lower).
Retired in 2013 at age 33. Keeping busy reading, blogging, relaxing, gaming, and enjoying the outdoors with my wife and 3 kids (4, 10, and 11).
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Old 12-31-2014, 05:25 AM   #14
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I'll add my experience- a NJ raised guy who settled near Raleigh in 1986. Born & raised three daughters in NC who have all launched. I wouldn't change a thing and my wife won't consider relocating.
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Old 01-03-2015, 04:11 PM   #15
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When our daughter was four, I closed private practice and took a more or less administrative government job, moving from near Seattle to Arizona. It let me have a lot more "free" time with the wife & daughter, since I no longer had to spend my evenings & weekends in case preparation.
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