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Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-14-2006, 08:09 PM   #1
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Big City to Small Town: Experiences

Has anyone taken the home equity from their expensive big city real estate and used it to retire early to a smaller, lower-cost of living town? What are your experiences? Did you like it or regret it?

I am 39. If I took my NYC home equity plus savings I could retire to a smaller town fairly easily. However, I really like NYC and the culture it offers. My job is both stressful and boring, but pays in the upper hundreds. It is not likely I could replicate that income in a new position if I quit and then wanted to change my mind.

Any experiences of a similar situation?

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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-14-2006, 09:20 PM   #2
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

I retired from a med-city with many cultural advantages and found a place to live that is a reasonable commute to a larger city with somewhat more cultural advantages.* I was retired but if I had wanted to I could easily found a job that paid at least as much as I was previously earning.* Husband's earnings increased (they still call to ask if he would come back).

In our case housing was a push, if not higher, but there is no income tax.

The cost of living is lower than NYC, but of course you can spend as much as you like.* Hard to know if you could find a job close to your current pay, as they say "It depends."* One of my new neighbors came from a NYC VC and works for a VC in the area.* I doubt that he took a significant cut.
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-14-2006, 10:04 PM   #3
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

I have a dumb question: Is "upper hundreds" somewhere between $500,000 and $999,999 or is it betweein $150,000 and $199,999 or somewhere else?

Oh, I moved from a sleepy suburb of NYC to an active suburb of Houston. The latter has more culture than NYC IMHO.
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-14-2006, 10:18 PM   #4
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

Quote:
Originally Posted by NYC Guy
* * * * Has anyone taken the home equity from their expensive big city real estate and used it to retire early to a smaller, lower-cost of living town?* *What are your experiences?* Did you like it or regret it?
I am not retired (I am 40 and ER-ambivalent) and I am not the best person to ask about "experiences" since I am fairly introverted, but I have been thinking along similar lines since much of my net worth is tied up in my house on the East Coast and I would have to sell it and move to a cheaper place if I were to RE. It helps that I have lived and worked in many big cities like NYC, Philly, the Bay Area, Dallas and DC. I have also lived/worked in smaller cities from Louisville and Indianapolis down to Springfield, Anystate.

In my experience, it depends on the city and the region. Madison, WI, is a mid-size city, but it has "culture" coming out of its ears because it's a college town in the upper Mid-West. Other places, especially in the Bible Belt, may have a different emphasis. When the techie guys at the IT department give you an anti-Catholic pamphlet from ca. 1928, you realize that the distance from AR to NYC is even greater than it appears *:P How much it will affect you personally given today's technology (DVDs, satellite radio, CDs, cable TV, broadband internet, mail order, the works) is up to you to decide.

Besides, every city and town has its own flavor. If you have something specific in mind, you may want to post here as well as investigate elsewhere. Perhaps spend a week of vacation time there? As you said, it's a decision that can be hard (or at least expensive) to reverse.
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 06:21 AM   #5
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

As far cluture in the big city I've found more jazz in a little village in NC than
here in Southern Jersey. If I want to see any preformers I have to drive 70 miles
to Phila. or NYC. So although I live in a urban zone its a cluture ( for the most part)
dead zone, as far as I'm concerned. I would have no problem moving to a small
town, it couldn't get any worst.
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 09:33 AM   #6
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

We did exactly that seven years ago.* Sold house for $399K, bought house for $216K.

Annual expenses dropped also, for example (in 1999 dollars):

Code:
Expense		Old	New
Mortgage		9,642.72	0.00
Fire Insurance	1,914.00	494.00
Car Insurance	994.40	638.40
Property Taxes	4,277.00	2,112.00
As for culture, we were mostly done with that by the time we moved, and haven't missed it. I thought I'd have to give up my jazz playing, but that's not been the case.
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 09:52 AM   #7
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

NYC Guy - We have not actually done this yet, but have thought about it for the future when/if we get ready to downsize the home.

We live outside Chicago, so we are accustomed to having access to cultural events there. When it comes down to it, we probably only do something maybe 6 times a year? So, if we didn't move too far away, we could make a few 2 or 3 day trips a year, and probably sill get our 'culture fix'.

And I would agree with what some others have said - consider moving near a college. That brings in some events, and also is a good source of free or very cheap entertainment - the college performing arts theatre, bands, even auditions and individual recitals can make for some nice low-key entertainment.

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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 09:53 AM   #8
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

If you are truly addicted to the culture of NYC, you will never be happy anywhere else. This is a very expensive affection. Paris and London can have the same effect on people (Copenhagen for me). Your age suggests this may be very important to younow, but a T-Al p;oints out, this may not be as important to you later.

But there is life elsewhere (Arkansas and parts of Tennessee not included) and if one is practical and imaginative one can entertain oneself in thousands of cheaper places.

My suggestion: Cash out now and win the game early!

(Can I have your job when you leave? )

Ed
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 10:12 AM   #9
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

A few more comments:

Upper Hundreds = 500k to 1 mill a year. * I am not asking for sympathy, but just assume that my job involves long hours, significant random stress, and is boring to boot. * Moreover, if I quit, I would never be re-hired at a similar position, income-wise. *I get paid the dollars to deal with the stress, take responsibility and fix the problem quickly even when it is not my fault, and work the hours. * Assume I am an institutional bond trader with lots of clients yelling at me or something like that. *(I don't want to be more specific.) *

If I sold my nice, central Manhattan apartment, I could buy a 250k house elsewhere (say, Madison), and have a bit over 2 mill left over in financial assets. *A 3.5 percent withdrawal rate would give me 70k a year. *I would have to buy health insurance on my own. *

My dilemma is I really love NYC. *I love the concerts, the museums, the energy of the streets. * I take piano lessons from a local piano professor at a local college. *We are exchanging our apartment with another couple in London for a few weeks in August. * We do all of this, while still saving about 30%-40% of our income.

I have thought of moving to Queens or Riverdale and retiring (not quite there yet financially). I will probably work another 5 years, save rapidly, and then re-evaluate.

But if I thought I would be happy in a smaller college town (Madison, Burlington), I would think about leaving earlier. * *I liked them as a student, but tastes change over time. *

I have thought about visiting a small college town for a week, but I am not sure that would solve the problem. *I am quite sure I would like it for a short period of time. *The question is whether I would regret not being able to pop over to the Met in a year or two. *

That is why I wanted to get other people's experiences. *

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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 10:28 AM   #10
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

I agree, NYC is addictive.* I lived there in my early professional years too.* It was great, but after a few years I concluded that I could enjoy its advantages with visits while building a life elsewhere.

It is true that you are probably at your max income, but you are paying a huge price.* Take a look at the median age of your peers.* That is how long folks can survive in your profession.* You need to have an encore ready to play.

Approach that piece of your life with the same preparation you are giving your music.* NYC isn't the only place in the US with cultural events.* You seem to be east coast focused, others can comment better than I.
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 10:34 AM   #11
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

I think there's a definite (yet intangible and inexplicable) value to having things at your fingertips. I do somehow feel 'diminished' by not having all the big city events and opportunities. OTOH, I had reached a fairly homebody stage before making the move. I knew I wasn't taking advantage of 99.9% of the special events, concerts, and lectures, but I liked looking in the paper and thinking about them! I don't really miss them now but at one point did get some vicarious pleasure out of their availability.

The few people I knew who lived in NYC didn't really live the 'high life'. They had very normal lives with predictable routines of work/commute/grocery shopping/home. They very rarely went to museums, concerts, art galleries, the theatre, or bar hopping, as they easily could have. I will never forget visiting an ex-BF's relatives in Manhattan and given the choice of hearing Sarah Vaughn (one of her last performances before she passed away, at the Village Vanguard I think it was..) or going to a movie, they insisted on the movie. I don't even remember which movie anymore; I was sooo mad! *

Now I have roosters crowing, cows mooing, geese honking, horses neighing..
It would be perfection if only there were Asian takeout, peanut butter, and FedEx (or let's say at least cheap, reliable, no-hassle shipping for buying stuff off the Internet).
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 10:39 AM   #12
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

One word - Da Burbs - sorta boring when I was young but:

1979 - 2005 fish camp on 12 ft pilings over Lake Ponchartrain: 30 minutes or less to the French Quarter, Superdome, or CBD and 30 minutes or less to the Honey Island Swamp, and 40 to the Gambling Casino's/MS Gulf beaches.

Unfortunately New York is New York - can't be duplicated eslewhere. So you may be 'there while you're young' at least at heart. Son of long time DA - Harry Connick Jr deserted us for the Big Apple a while back. My parents were married in City Hall - circa June 1939.

The Missouri burbs ain't bad - so far - relearning to drive on snow after thirty years was a little strange.

heh heh heh - Missouri Western is an easy drive should I get the bug to join some of the 'senior programs'.
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 10:53 AM   #13
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

How about a "smaller college town" like Seattle or San Francisco? And, why do you 'need' a house?
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 11:32 AM   #14
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

Try doing what we do. A 2-week trip to NYC every year. Packed with enjoyment. And planning for it is fun. Still a lot cheaper than living there...

But you will have to get used to no "buzz" the other 50 weeks.
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 11:35 AM   #15
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

NYC guy - this is exactly the same predicament that we are in at the moment - i dont live in NYC (wish i did - i love it there too) but i live in the centre of a large cosmopolitan city - i really like it - i have lived in the suburbs and was bored and depressed - perhaps my outlook will change when i get older

i know what you mean about having everything on your doorstep, its fine if you have a big pot of money (we dont), i think we would have to work for longer if we wanted to ER in the city, i suppose if you think about it, its a bit silly (us not you) because it doesnt really sit well with LBLYM and ER...

So i dont have the answer at the moment but i am hoping that i will grow out of city living or i will have to work longer...

one option is to sell up and maybe have a cheap (cheaper) base close to or in the city, perhaps renting, you could then be free to invest your capital and perhaps have a second base ouside of the city ... myself and DH have decided that we are going to sell up and downsize in the city, it appears to be possible.

let us know what you decide

claire
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 12:31 PM   #16
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

Quote:
Originally Posted by claire


one option is to sell up and maybe have a cheap (cheaper) base close to or in the city, perhaps renting, you could then be free to invest your capital and perhaps have a second base ouside of the city ... myself and DH have decided that we are going to sell up and downsize in the city, it appears to be possible.



That's a good choice. Get rid of the Manhattan apartment and make the sacrafice of renting something simple but fairly close to work. Put the money in a secure investment.
Keep the job, it's too much money to give up now, you will never make anything near that in a small town. Not in your business.

When you know you have had it quit, leave your rental and move.

You may feel differently in a year about the job or they may feel different about you.


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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 02:13 PM   #17
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences


My sense of it is if you love it there, you should stay there. We only have one life.

But if you're asking these questions because you see options, I just want to point out you can find a small town not far from NYC, a town with its own charms, and maybe a short drive to Metro North for a ride into NYC when it's time to visit.

I'm headed there myself in a few days, for some days with a blind friend who has more gusto than any sighted person I know. She won't ever leave Manhattan. And I'm glad she won't!
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 04:57 PM   #18
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed_The_Gypsy
How about a "smaller college town" like Seattle or San Francisco?* And, why do you 'need' a house?
NYC Guy: It will be hard to come down from a pulsating city and job that gives an adrenaline rush.* I don't feel that country life or even living in the suburbs should be your first move.

The cost of San Francisco is about the same as NYC, taxes similar too.

I live near Seattle and like it, but it doesn't have a 'buzz' - a vibrant cafe life to go with the cultural activities.* Bainbridge Island, a Seattle 'burb, may have that in a couple years - pricy (IMHO) condos under construction walking distance to the ferry and single family dwellings not far away.* The ferry is very nice public transit, although getting to the airport requires working around their schedule.

Other than San Francisco, Portland is the only other town on the west coast, IMHO, with a lot going on in the city center.* They have a downtown to live in, and getting to the airport is a slam dunk.

You have an east-coast orientation.* Chicago isn't a small town, but I understand that the cost of living is less than NYC and there may be suitable employment available if you want to just step back a bit.*
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-15-2006, 07:05 PM   #19
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

Quote:
Originally Posted by NYC Guy
Has anyone taken the home equity from their expensive big city real estate and used it to retire early to a smaller, lower-cost of living town? What are your experiences? Did you like it or regret it?
Yup--moved from San Francisco to Charleston County, SC. Charleston is an arty town, a college town, and a town with beautiful architecture, a beautiful harbor, city and plantation gardens, tidal creeks, and good manners. Certainly not cultured at the level of SF--and missing that diversity--but we're more than content. We jam a lot of our entertainment fix into the annual SpoletoUSA Festival, but that's OK. We have nothing here like Chinatown, Japantown, or the Mission (Hispanic) District--but we have warm water beaches with silky white sand, fabulous seafood and Southern cooking, even a few terrific Asian restaurants (apologies to ladelfina!) and a couple of decent Mexican restaurants. Beachwalking has replaced much city walking for us. Observing wildlife has replaced some people interactions, too. We read more, think more, travel more, relax more, rely on the Internet more. Works for us.

We had visited Charleston 5-10 times before moving here, in all seasons. I had some family here already, which helped (in fact, Mom and bro came over for supper today).

Consider visiting a couple of cities that intrigue you--just as a tourist. See if they might have lasting appeal.
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences
Old 07-16-2006, 11:15 AM   #20
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Re: Big City to Small Town: Experiences

astromeria, SC sounds lovely, what is the cost of living like there and does it get too hot in the summer?
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