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Choosing new warm, lower cost-of-living, place to move
Old 01-01-2016, 08:33 AM   #1
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Choosing new warm, lower cost-of-living, place to move

I've been through the existing move / downsize threads but they seem to be focused on the move itself and afterward. I am wondering if anybody here has gone through the research process to move to a new location based on some criteria.

I am single. I don't have any relatives except in CA where the cost of living is actually higher than what I have now in MA. So I would be moving to an area with no ties. I plan to take the advice of renting first, and possibly renting my current house out as well.

Has anybody done what I am describing as a single person? 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 am in the middle of reading "Thinking Fast and Slow" which is all about decision making and the tons of unconscious biases that can make it irrational. I think it is making me more deliberate about this decision.
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Old 01-01-2016, 09:19 AM   #2
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I would recommend doing a good bit of travel, if you haven't already.

Looking at those ranked lists of cities based on climate, COL, etc. I can very quickly determine their biases and fallacies based on my own (even very brief) visits to them.
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Old 01-01-2016, 09:28 AM   #3
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Maybe visiting areas where old friends or relatives live might give you ideas on what feels better or worse. I know we found our spot when my wife visited a good friend. It would have never been on our list before the visit which changed a couple of our criteria.
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Old 01-01-2016, 10:27 AM   #4
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My friend moved here to the Austin area from NYC not knowing anyone but me. She moved to a suburb 45 minutes away and was not well-suited to it. Her house is now up for sale.

If you want warm, choose well. It gets pretty cold in Central Texas in the winter and brutally hot in the summer. We are headed for a warmer climate year-round now.

Try to find a place where you can meet people with similar interests, political views if that's important to you and a pleasant place that suits your needs. We found Austin to not be a very walkable city with little good public transportation and it is a young person's town although there are activities for older retired people through the University of Texas.

I would definitely visit a place several times and take some extended vacations before jumping in including renting via Homeaway or Airbnb to get a feel for different residential areas.

Good luck!


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Old 01-01-2016, 10:53 AM   #5
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We are in this process of deciding, a bit on hold due to some obligations at the moment.
I view it as a long term thing, meaning if it takes two years to decide, that is fine as I certainly don't want to rush the decision and regret it later.
Even moving to a rental is a big chore so I really want to minimize my moves.

We have so far based our target spots on State taxes, then services (hospitals/healthcare) and weather.

We took a trip to FL where we have been before, but this time toured around some places to looking at living there. It made me realize we really need to travel to all the locations and even at that, it will be unlikely we will find the "best" place for us, as our choices/viewings will be so limited.
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Old 01-01-2016, 11:33 AM   #6
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For state taxes, don't forget to look at what is taxed. Is food taxed? Is social security taxed? Are pensions taxed? The comparison charts in Forbes, etc. always look at top income tax rate, but most retirees won't pay that. My parents moved to a "low tax" state and discovered that property taxes were higher, food was taxed at the grocery store, social security was taxed, home and car insurance was higher, and Medicare supplements were more expensive. It was a wash financially and the winters were cold.
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Old 01-01-2016, 12:00 PM   #7
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Housing is the most expensive part of COL in CA... and it is based on location. Have you looked at inland areas of CA? For example - there's a big difference between living in La Jolla and living in Jamul. In the same county - but significantly different cost of livings.

Since you won't be tied to a job - you can pick someplace that is further out/inland - without worrying about the commute.
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Old 01-01-2016, 12:16 PM   #8
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I'm not a single but I am going through this process right now. We are visiting different cities/areas in the US on our list, staying for a longer time, and seeing if we like it. I'm not sure that being single changes much? maybe more weight on dating and no need to compromise with spouse.

Cost of living in CA is high but this is almost entirely due to cost of housing. If you control housing, CA is not necessarily more expensive than midwest. It's possible to find less expensive housing in CA but you will get "less for your money" than in other areas. Also CA state taxes are very progressive, so if your income is lower it can be better than other states.

Our big problem is analysis paralysis. We have so much choice available that it's hard to make a decision. I suspect we would be happy with any of our top choices but there's always a nagging feeling that we might make a wrong decision (or the other place would be better). Some locations we visited and we knew right away that we didn't like it even though it might seem good on paper.

In terms of narrowing down the list, we found some locations totally dominate others. E.g. for us, we decided the colorado front range dominates all other places from the mid-west to the pacific coast. But it's hard to choose between mountains and the beaches.
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Old 01-01-2016, 12:27 PM   #9
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Yes, housing is expensive in California, but property taxes are fixed. Gasoline is expensive, but heating and cooling expenses are low. Health insurance premiums in SoCal under the ACA rose by less than 2% this year. It's a very complex equation.

If it were up to me, I'd go to Portland, but the spouse says "no". You can always rent for a year or two (or more!) and see how you do.

Less expensive places to consider in SoCal; Ventura county, Temecula, Fallbrook, Valley Center.
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Old 01-01-2016, 12:28 PM   #10
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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.
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Old 01-01-2016, 12:30 PM   #11
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I would say take inventory of who you are. Do you like warm weather, outdoor activities like hiking, cultural diversity, social and group involvement such as church group or seniors' center, college environment, immersed in the middle of a metropolitan experience, proximity of shops, etc. I think it's more important to do an introspection and examine your likes and dislikes before checking into your environmental factors. It's kind of like planting the roses in the best possible spot, if you happen to be a rose. Then visit those possible places where you think you might bloom. Only you can ultimately judge what's right for you, because another person's "perfect dirt place" is not necessarily for you.
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Old 01-01-2016, 02:31 PM   #12
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Yes, housing is expensive in California, but property taxes are fixed. Gasoline is expensive, but heating and cooling expenses are low. Health insurance premiums in SoCal under the ACA rose by less than 2% this year. It's a very complex equation.

If it were up to me, I'd go to Portland, but the spouse says "no". You can always rent for a year or two (or more!) and see how you do.

Less expensive places to consider in SoCal; Ventura county, Temecula, Fallbrook, Valley Center.

Add to the Temecula area the cities of Murrieta and Menifee.


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Old 01-01-2016, 02:45 PM   #13
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Have you looked at Find Your Spot? You input info you your interests and desires and it provides a list of places for you to consider. A good first step.
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Old 01-01-2016, 03:04 PM   #14
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Also, you might want to look at Albuquerque. It's cold, but sunny in the winter, not as hot as AZ in the summer and cheap housing.
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Old 01-01-2016, 04:20 PM   #15
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Also, you might want to look at Albuquerque. It's cold, but sunny in the winter, not as hot as AZ in the summer and cheap housing.
Go further south if you want to stay warmer. ABQ may not get much snow in the city, but it does get below freezing a lot in winter. Nice thing though it does not get many days above 100 in summer either. Although 90's are pretty common summer temps, but with the low humidity most of the time it is a lot more tolerable than 90's in southeast. With the sun mentioned, even normal winter day in 40's is quite nice.

I look at it as just about anywhere you live will have 2-3 months of not so nice weather. Either summer is too hot, or winter is too cold. Only some areas of southern end of CA have good for most of the year. But then you have to put with liberal CA and all the gov't regulations and taxes, which is a personal choice.

Back to OP's question, some areas of AZ north of Phoenix, but south of Flagstaff in the mountains have a decent 4 season climate that is not too extreme in any season. AZ has some decent retiree benefits for taxes.
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Old 01-01-2016, 04:47 PM   #16
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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. 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. Crime is way up in CA, particularly in the major cities. In certain areas of Los Angeles--even the "good" parts--FBI Part I crimes have taken off.

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.
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Old 01-01-2016, 06:44 PM   #17
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I look at it as just about anywhere you live will have 2-3 months of not so nice weather. Either summer is too hot, or winter is too cold.
Yep, exactly right. Which is why we choose to live most of the year in the Midwest, but snowbird to the Gulf coast for a few months each winter. That is the best solution to the weather issue for us. We rent the house on the Gulf coast, which works well, as the cost is very reasonable and we are not necessarily tied to going back to the same spot every winter, if we find another location we want to try.
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Old 01-01-2016, 06:45 PM   #18
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I would say take inventory of who you are. Do you like warm weather, outdoor activities like hiking, cultural diversity, social and group involvement such as church group or seniors' center, college environment, immersed in the middle of a metropolitan experience, proximity of shops, etc. I think it's more important to do an introspection and examine your likes and dislikes before checking into your environmental factors. It's kind of like planting the roses in the best possible spot, if you happen to be a rose. Then visit those possible places where you think you might bloom. Only you can ultimately judge what's right for you, because another person's "perfect dirt place" is not necessarily for you.
What a great post! I was going to say something along these lines, but you said it so beautifully. I'll just say, "+1".
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Old 01-01-2016, 07:07 PM   #19
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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. 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. Crime is way up in CA, particularly in the major cities. In certain areas of Los Angeles--even the "good" parts--FBI Part I crimes have taken off.

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.

I totally agree with you. I was born and raised in Newport Beach and lived most of my life in Orange County.
IMO the inland areas are an armpit, and I've known a few people who moved to Riverside or San Bernardino counties thinking they would be better than the east coast cold- only to bail out a couple of years later back to their previous location.
But- some people still love living there and swear they will never leave despite the traffic, crowding, taxes etc.

Good luck OP!


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Old 01-01-2016, 08:57 PM   #20
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I totally agree with you. I was born and raised in Newport Beach and lived most of my life in Orange County.
IMO the inland areas are an armpit, and I've known a few people who moved to Riverside or San Bernardino counties thinking they would be better than the east coast cold- only to bail out a couple of years later back to their previous location.
But- some people still love living there and swear they will never leave despite the traffic, crowding, taxes etc.

Good luck OP!


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I live in SW Riverside County, and it doesn't look or feel very armpitty to me,
but it's not Newport or OC, that's for certain.

I have lived in and seen other places in other states that are way worse than anyplace
I've seen out here in this area.

However, those places are home to some people, so I try not to disparage those places.
No place is perfect.




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