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Old 01-01-2016, 10:44 PM   #21
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I've lived in CA most of my life and don't recommend it. I disagree the COL in CA is due simply to housing. Everything is more expensive here: food, sales tax, gasoline.
In the past 2 years, I've done a fair amount of food shopping in various mid-west and western states and haven't found any significant differences in food (grocery) prices from CA.

Sales Tax is high in CA (8-10%) but lots of other states have rates that are close. I paid ~7% in Iowa, 8-9% in Colorado, 8% in santa fe. It came as a total shock to me, but I actually had to pay sales tax on groceries in Colorado.

Gasoline is indeed very expensive in CA. I just did a CA to Iowa drive and prices were running $2.50 gal in CA (at costco) when I left to a low of $1.60 (somewhere in missouri as I recall). The most I paid in CA recently was over $4/gallon but this was in a remote area (not on an interstate).

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If you travel anywhere within CA from the cities mentioned above you will live your life around traffic, even if you're only trying to drive out of CA. All the major freeway arteries in CA are jammed, even at off peak hours.
I never really had a problem off peak hours in the bay area, orange county, or san diego. Yes you can run into traffic at all times but it is mostly a minor issue in my experience (outside of rush hour). LA however is a different story (worst traffic in US/Canada) and I have run into bad jams (due to volume not accidents) at all times including at midnight, 5AM, weekends, etc. LA is the only city in CA where the traffic is bad enough that I consider it a strong negative (as a retiree who can run errands during the off-peak hours).

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I intend to leave here within the next five years and will never return except to visit family who don't have the sense to leave the Bay Area. I personally think people live in CA, get used to it, and don't realize a better quality of life exists elsewhere. YMMV.
Better quality of life is so subjective. I think it's more probable that the people who live in CA and like it just have a different set of criteria.
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Old 01-01-2016, 11:36 PM   #22
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In the past 2 years, I've done a fair amount of food shopping in various mid-west and western states and haven't found any significant differences in food (grocery) prices from CA.

Sales Tax is high in CA (8-10%) but lots of other states have rates that are close. I paid ~7% in Iowa, 8-9% in Colorado, 8% in santa fe. It came as a total shock to me, but I actually had to pay sales tax on groceries in Colorado.

Gasoline is indeed very expensive in CA. I just did a CA to Iowa drive and prices were running $2.50 gal in CA (at costco) when I left to a low of $1.60 (somewhere in missouri as I recall). The most I paid in CA recently was over $4/gallon but this was in a remote area (not on an interstate).

I never really had a problem off peak hours in the bay area, orange county, or san diego. Yes you can run into traffic at all times but it is mostly a minor issue in my experience (outside of rush hour). LA however is a different story (worst traffic in US/Canada) and I have run into bad jams (due to volume not accidents) at all times including at midnight, 5AM, weekends, etc. LA is the only city in CA where the traffic is bad enough that I consider it a strong negative (as a retiree who can run errands during the off-peak hours).

Better quality of life is so subjective. I think it's more probable that the people who live in CA and like it just have a different set of criteria.
This is incorrect and provides quite the wrong impression, IMO. Traffic: in and out of San Diego is a nightmare (the 8, I believe). The 5 through all the way up the center of the state can be a quagmire; the 99 in and out of the central valley is a mess; the 15 in and out of CA into NV is another mess; the 5 into Orange County is a horror to drive, and the 405 has been called a parking lot for at least 20 years. The 101 in the Bay Area has traffic even worse than SoCal, and the 280 there is no longer safe from traffic. These are all major arteries within CA and I've only touched on a few (I've driven them all). Driving is always measured in time, never distance.

There is no such thing as off-peak hours in Los Angeles. Many people here "work" in entertainment and all stores are crowded regardless of the time of day (one of my biggest surprises/disappointments since retirement). The density factor in much of this state is unreal. Try going to Disneyland between Xmas and New Year's to get an idea of the degree of overpopulation in CA.

Gas prices for all grades were over $4 in Los Angeles last year with Premium leading the pack at over $4.50 per gallon. Sales tax is over 10% in parts of LA County, not 8%. Yes, property taxes are capped, but all other taxes more than make up for any advantages.

I agree quality of life is subjective, but I've yet to come up with a good reason for any sane retiree to locate to CA. YMMV.
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Old 01-01-2016, 11:49 PM   #23
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I am wondering if anybody here has gone through the research process to move to a new location based on some criteria.

I plan to take the advice of renting first, and possibly renting my current house out as well.

I know there are tons of web resources on cost-of-living, quality-of-life, climate. I am more interested in how you narrowed down the list, picked one, and ultimately how happy you were with the result.
I'm not sure what the question is, you've identified all the resources I used, so your issue is just making the decision?
  • Using online and library resources, we generated a list of 10-20 based on COL and climate, but also city size/proximity, cultural activities, airports, health care resources, outdoor activities/distance to water, crie/safety, religion/politics, education, economic/jib growth, and taxes.
  • We reviewed each carefully to narrow the list to the 3-5 that best fit our criteria.
  • Researched the short list further but talking at length with locals online.
  • Then we visited our top choice(s) to make a final decision, picking the worst time(s) of year.
  • Even then we plan to rent for 6-12 months, before selling out home, to make sure.
As for making a decision, we just took as long as needed to satisfy ourselves at each step.
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Old 01-02-2016, 07:23 AM   #24
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What do you consider cold? You live in MA, right? I'm going to argue that some of the posts about cold are a bit off-base.

I live in South Texas, but have also lived in the upper midwest. What the natives in both areas consider cold is a LOT different.

I'm a Texan, so I'll only comment on what I know. Central Texas is hot and it's also somewhat cold. Not that cold for a MA person, I would argue. I grew up in Waco and yes it might get down to 15 degrees for a few nights a year. Snow maybe every 5 years.

I'd suggest that you really nail down the climate that works for you.

For us, much of the discussion is around "how much do we want to drive to do things". Austin is great, but no way am I living 30-40 minutes out in the suburbs and then driving to the University to attend something. Not an option for anything other than a really special event.

"Analysis Paralysis" is a problem for us. We've always moved for work and this 'forced our hand' so to speak. Now we can live anywhere. Wow, what a concept.
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Old 01-02-2016, 08:18 AM   #25
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If you don't want cold winters and you don't want CA then your choices are limited to southern Arizona, southern Texas, and mid to southern Florida. All of those places are extremely hot in the summer so make sure you visit in the summer to see if you can handle the heat before you commit to a long-term rental or purchase.
I wouldn't say 'all of them' are extremely hot in the summer. Unless your desire is to live in a big city (Tucson or Phoenix) there are areas in Arizona at higher elevations where the temperatures rarely reach 100 during the summer time.
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Old 01-02-2016, 08:57 AM   #26
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I'm not sure that being single changes much?
I was thinking that a couple would have built-in companionship and mutual support at the beginning before they knew anyone. I won't have that probably.

I feel the same way about the choices. We just had the first snowfall here and I wasn't able to get to it until it was soaked with rain. Miserable shoveling. And I'm thinking, wait a minute, WHY do I have to live in a place with hard winters? I can live anywhere. Next thought - how in the world to you choose between the anywheres?
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Old 01-02-2016, 09:25 AM   #27
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Choosing new warm, lower cost-of-living, place to move

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This is incorrect and provides quite the wrong impression, IMO. Traffic: in and out of San Diego is a nightmare (the 8, I believe). The 5 through all the way up the center of the state can be a quagmire; the 99 in and out of the central valley is a mess; the 15 in and out of CA into NV is another mess; the 5 into Orange County is a horror to drive, and the 405 has been called a parking lot for at least 20 years. The 101 in the Bay Area has traffic even worse than SoCal, and the 280 there is no longer safe from traffic. These are all major arteries within CA and I've only touched on a few (I've driven them all). Driving is always measured in time, never distance.



There is no such thing as off-peak hours in Los Angeles. Many people here "work" in entertainment and all stores are crowded regardless of the time of day (one of my biggest surprises/disappointments since retirement). The density factor in much of this state is unreal. Try going to Disneyland between Xmas and New Year's to get an idea of the degree of overpopulation in CA.



Gas prices for all grades were over $4 in Los Angeles last year with Premium leading the pack at over $4.50 per gallon. Sales tax is over 10% in parts of LA County, not 8%. Yes, property taxes are capped, but all other taxes more than make up for any advantages.



I agree quality of life is subjective, but I've yet to come up with a good reason for any sane retiree to locate to CA. YMMV.

Traffic into and out of San Diego, the Bay Area, Orange County and Nevada only really matters if those are places you actually want to go--we don't--and if you cannot choose your times. There are smaller cities and towns to live in. We're retired, so we have choices.

We're content in our little area. Like W2R, we're homebodies.

The Disneyland area is busy--especially the week between Christmas and New Year's, when I always thought it was tourists who were visiting. I'll concede LA. That is the worst traffic I've ever seen.

I am a sane retiree and I'm staying put at least for now. There are quite a few other sane retirees on this board to keep me company. This has been my home--HOME--for over 40 years, and I've only just relocated back here from NorCal, after spending 10 years exploring and weighing our options.

If we travel and find someplace else we want to live, a place that feels good to us, then we can move there. I am open to it and look forward to seeing the rest of this country once we get my dad in law's estate settled and we can actually get away. However, we are not actively seeking to escape. We just like to have options.

As Haha has pointed out, and W2R has recently confirmed, moving is expensive. Someplace else would have to offer a good reason for us to move.





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Old 01-02-2016, 09:40 AM   #28
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LA traffic is awful - not just during certain hours.

San Diego is definitely limited to rush hour(s).... You can head east on 8 with little traffic anytime except about 4pm-6:30pm. Oh - and if it's during SDSU's first week - you want to be in the left lane if you're heading west before 9am... My son has a friend in Crest, we have friends in Julian, and I service my car in El Cajon - so I'm on the 8 enough to know when to avoid it. 5 North is only bad after work. Same with 15 north.

That said - One of my triggers for early retirement was rush hour traffic home on the 805. But it's fine outside of rush hour.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:26 AM   #29
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That said - One of my triggers for early retirement was rush hour traffic home on the 805. But it's fine outside of rush hour.
I am with you there! Counting the days until I no longer have to take 805 to Mira Mesa Blvd. The new southbound HOV lane helps somewhat in the afternoon, but not enough.
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:47 AM   #30
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If you don't want cold winters and you don't want CA then your choices are limited to southern Arizona, southern Texas, and mid to southern Florida. All of those places are extremely hot in the summer so make sure you visit in the summer to see if you can handle the heat before you commit to a long-term rental or purchase.
This is the whole story, succinctly told. And what people, especially singles, are thinking about when they think of California is usually not some small town in the San Joaquin Valley. In the, US warm in winter and not blistering hot in summer is coastal California between the Mexican border and maybe through Mendocino County. Also part of the Sierra foothills. None of this is cheap.

You don't say where you live in Mass. but if you live in Boston or other attractive city, consider staying put but vacationing in the Caribbean during some part of January to mid March. Boston is hot in summer compared to the West Coast, but it is a long way from Florida temperatures.

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Old 01-02-2016, 11:56 AM   #31
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I can live anywhere. Next thought - how in the world to you choose between the anywheres?
You're making this harder on yourself than it needs to be. It's impossible to choose among alternatives without some criteria to judge them by.

So just make a list (or two or three) of your desired characteristics (climate, population, closeness to whatever). Arrange your list(s) by the priority you apply to that characteristic.

Then use those list(s) to look at the various "where to live" websites. Visit those that look interesting.

It takes effort and determination but it's fairly straightforward. You sound to me like you're just throwing up your hands and saying "it's too hard." It isn't.

When you get to the point where you can ask specific questions on forums like this, you'll get much better answers. Best of luck.
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Old 01-02-2016, 12:33 PM   #32
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You don't say where you live in Mass. but if you live in Boston or other attractive city, consider staying put but vacationing in the Caribbean during some part of January to mid March. Boston is hot in summer compared to the West Coast, but it is a long way from Florida temperatures.
Not a bad idea. Pack a bag and rent a furnished apartment somewhere in S Florida for a couple months. Rent is relatively cheap in many places and it won't be that cold.

Other than that, I'd suggest identifying 2-5 places, and visiting for 1-2 weeks to each of them to see how you like the place. But rent a house or apartment through Airbnb/VRBO and see what it's like living in the residential area, not the tourist/hotel zone.
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Old 01-02-2016, 12:45 PM   #33
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I feel the same way about the choices. We just had the first snowfall here and I wasn't able to get to it until it was soaked with rain. Miserable shoveling. And I'm thinking, wait a minute, WHY do I have to live in a place with hard winters? I can live anywhere. Next thought - how in the world to you choose between the anywheres?
We live in MA also and DW doesn't like the snow and the cold weather. We discussed relocating to a warmer area in retirement but we love the area, the amenities and the close proximity to Boston, Providence and Cape Cod then we decided to sell our house and purchased a new townhome where they plow the snow and even shovel our deck and front steps.

The nice things about being retired is that we don't have to leave the house if it's too cold and snowy outside....
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Old 01-02-2016, 12:55 PM   #34
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But rent a house or apartment through Airbnb/VRBO and see what it's like living in the residential area, not the tourist/hotel zone.
How about embarking on a variety of house-sitting jaunts?
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Old 01-02-2016, 10:24 PM   #35
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This is incorrect and provides quite the wrong impression, IMO.
We'll just have to agree to disagree. Either our experiences or our expectations are different. Nobody publishes off-peak traffic stats (that I'm aware of) so all we can do is trade our experiences/anecdotes. I faced horrible horrible traffic during commute hours but did not have a problem when I could choose the time of my travel (except for LA). I just want to give a different view to thread readers.

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I agree quality of life is subjective, but I've yet to come up with a good reason for any sane retiree to locate to CA. YMMV.
Visiting/living in other states these past two years has made me appreciate California even more. I do like some other states as well, but CA is a very attractive package (except for housing costs).
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Old 01-02-2016, 11:15 PM   #36
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I was thinking that a couple would have built-in companionship and mutual support at the beginning before they knew anyone. I won't have that probably.
In some ways doing this as a couple is great as we always have each other for company, but it can also be a bit of a crutch as we aren't forced to meet new people and we can get stuck in a routine (a local minima for you math guys)

One thing that I've found help very helpful is to join activities on meetup. It's very easy to get into a group activity right away and I frequently met other people who were new to the area as well. Most meetup activities are free and you can probably find something that interests you as any reasonably sized city will have a huge number of groups.








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Old 01-03-2016, 03:33 AM   #37
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How about embarking on a variety of house-sitting jaunts?
I could DO that! What a great idea.
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Old 01-03-2016, 05:28 AM   #38
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Unfortunately, the economic recovery and the growth of the tech companies has made traffic much worse throughout the Bay Area. In the last three or four years, it has become like Los Angeles. Anything that I need to do that involves going across town or north has to be done between 9:30 AM and lunchtime. The grocery store parking lot is packed by noon on weekdays. It can take up to three signals to make a left turn at one of the major intersections off 101 at any other time. I only make doctor and car service appointments between 10 AM and noon. I feel like a prisoner in my own house.

The cities are only allowing high density housing to be built. The San Jose City Council touts each new record in units per acre achieved. One member stated they approved a complex with 165 units per acre. Yet there is no public transit.

If I did not live here, I would not move to the Bay Area. If you are willing to move someplace that's overcrowded with decaying infrastructure for a high paying job, it might make sense. Otherwise, it may not.
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Old 01-03-2016, 06:55 AM   #39
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I, believe it or not, always wanted to move to Alaska until I took a trip there and realized how primitive it was.

Then when I visited Hawaii I wanted to move there, until later realized it was too impractical being so far from the mainland.

But steadily as we kept going back to our timeshare in Vermont, I fell in love with the state and I would love to move there- I really think my place is by the lake- but learned of the taxes on Social Security income. What a downer!

My heart is there, but my head says it would be crazy. Even my home state of NY doesn't tax SS benefits.

So- thinking of New Hampshire where we vacation frequently as well and where our only child lives.

Most people I know retire to Florida. Most already have second homes there/ We can;t afford a second home. Also, been to Florida a number of times and not sure we would be happy there.

I know of people who have retired and moved l;l over the place several times in retirement looking for their Utopia only to move back to where they started.

From what I understand most retirees actually stay put, no matter what you read about.

Our issue is our home is off a steep 700 foot driveway in the woods- isolated- no family or real friends in the area. Our friends live in NYC and Long Island where we absolutely hate the idea of living.

Another issue we have is that, due to economic conditions and local issues, our home is barely worth what we paid for it after living in it for 28 years. We are in year 5 of a 5 year remodeling project, since we are unsure if it would even sell when the time comes and it needed it desperately. Might as well enjoy it while we are living in it.

Then there is the problem of since we can't get more money than we paid for it- despite the huge amount of money we have put into it all these years (and it is on 10.5 acres of land) - what will we be able to afford to buy when we do move? No way am I going to move into something that needs work or is not comparable as far as being updated.

These are very real and unsettling things we have to deal with. No easy answers, but I do think traveling to other areas and researching is the only way you can make a rational decision, as well as renting first when you finally do make the move just in case...For us we will have to sell our home before we even rent, because the cost of keeping a house plus renting elsewhere would be too much of a burden.
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Old 01-03-2016, 07:14 AM   #40
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I could DO that! What a great idea.
People will, oftentimes not always, advertise for a house sitter during 'off seasons', (when they want to get away); going during these periods would perhaps provide a look at areas when they're not at their perceived 'best'.
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