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I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-10-2005, 01:54 PM   #1
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I wanna be a Snowbird!

Hi guys.

Hubby and I are toying around with the idea of buying some recreational/investment property in Arizona. We currently live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and due to the current cold snap (today's HIGH was -4F) this is starting to look more and more appealing.

We are not looking at moving from Calgary since our current standard of living is quite good but are looking for a recreational property (ie. condo only) that we can use for a few weeks during the winter and hopefully rent out during the remaining winter months to vacationers. We are also looking at this as a long term investment and hope to use this as our second home when we do retire. Everything I've read points to Arizona as being one of the top places to retire so we're hoping that if we do this it will be a worthwhile investment.

Any feedback on things to watch out for or on Arizona as a destination? We found a nice place in Chandler, AZ on the net for about $200K that looks quite reasonable. I've been to Chandler before and liked the area.

For what it's worth, I am 32 and hubby is 35. We have no debt and own our home free and clear. Our current net worth is about $750K.

Thanks!
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-10-2005, 02:51 PM   #2
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

Quote:
Any feedback on things to watch out for or on Arizona as a destination? *We found a nice place in Chandler, AZ on the net for about $200K that looks quite reasonable. *I've been to Chandler before and liked the area.
US estate taxes. Unlike Canada you will have to pay taxes on the estate and because neither of you are US citizens there is no exemption for spouses. The "standard" way that is often used to get around this is to have the property owned by a Canadian corporation. That way when one of you dies the other inherits the other half share of the corporation and no US property changes hands.
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-10-2005, 05:00 PM   #3
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

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US estate taxes. *Unlike Canada you will have to pay taxes on the estate and because neither of you are US citizens there is no exemption for spouses. *
Actually, my husband is an American citizen. Does this mean that there is an exemption for moi afterall? How do you handle living in the cold Hyperborea? Any urgings to be a snowbird yourself?
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-10-2005, 07:21 PM   #4
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

Do keep an eye on state taxes. Each state is different and, depending on where your income comes from, it can mean a great deal of difference in your retirement's final income. For example, most of my retirement income will come from pension money. Some states don't tax such money at all, some at only a very nominal amount, and some at full tax rates (California, RI, Maine, to name a few, have taxes that in some instances can go over 9% of your pension income). Lots of variables in which states cost the least to live in, although the bottom line must be your quality of life.
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-10-2005, 07:28 PM   #5
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

Arizona is a lovely state. I liked Texas when I lived there (even though I was in the service at the time!), wonderful skies, and would likely find New Mexico equally pretty. However, I live in the northeast, and would prefer to be able to take a car a couple of days ride to wind up where I park myself for the winter season than to travel a couple of thousand miles by air to my winter home. Just my way of looking at things.

My parents lived in Florida for a while (now in San Diego, near my sister), and I really didn't care for the southeast part of the state that I saw. I suspect the Panhandle might be more to my liking, but I never made it up to that neck of the woods. Of all the states to my south I've found that GA seems to offer me the most options.
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-10-2005, 07:51 PM   #6
 
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

New Mexico is every bit as lovely as Arizona, and a lot
of the Florida panhandle is very nice too. I spent a lot
of time there looking at property before settling on Texas. Georgia doesn't do much for me, but I have
spent a lot more time in the aforementioned states
than I have there.

Back to Texas. When my best friend went into the service
he was stationed in Killeen, Texas. Arguably the least
attractive part of the state (well, the panhandle of Texas is not much to brag on either). Anyway, this colored his view
of Texas to this day. Interesting how you can only see
a tiny area and your experience there impacts your opinion about the whole state. I think this theory
works for whole countries also.

JG
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-10-2005, 09:15 PM   #7
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

Quote:
. . .

Any feedback on things to watch out for or on Arizona as a destination? *We found a nice place in Chandler, AZ on the net for about $200K that looks quite reasonable. *I've been to Chandler before and liked the area.

. . .
Hi Cal,

I lived in Chandler for ~14 years. I live down the road in Mesa today. I liked Chandler and like Arizona. There are lots of interesting things to see and do in the area.

Like many places, housing prices in this area have been spiraling upward at an unbelievable rate for the past 3 to 5 years. Some people think we are on the verge of popping the real estate bubble. Of course some people don't. It is worth considering if now is a good time to buy or whether it would be wiser to rent for a few seasons.

You certainly wouldn't be alone as an Arizona snowbird. Many locals curse the arrival each Fall of the dreaded "blue hairs" who seem to drive their cars at sub-20 mph speeds in the fast lane of every freeway -- during rush hour. Similarly they celebrate their departure each Spring at the end of the baseball Spring season.

Good luck.

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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-11-2005, 09:00 AM   #8
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

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Actually, my husband is an American citizen. *Does this mean that there is an exemption for moi afterall? *
Sort of - the US only gives the married exemption if the transfer is to a US citizen spouse. *When you die (if you go first) then your husband will get your half without US estate taxes. *If he goes first then his estate will have to pay estate taxes to the US and that's on everything not just the US condo (he's a US citizen and as I've said before they won't ever let their citizens go tax-wise). *There are exemptions for certain levels of assets and such but these have only been temporarily increased and have lots of exceptions and special clauses. *You really need to figure this out (perhaps with the help of a good cross border estate lawyer) because with the likely large stash that a FIREee will have you could be hit pretty badly by the US taxation.

Quote:
How do you handle living in the cold Hyperborea? *Any urgings to be a snowbird yourself? *
I'm suffering through the damp cool Silicon Valley winter right now. *I find the dampness here can be much more uncomfortable than the cold. *I was back up in T.O. over XMas and it wasn't really all that bad.

I'm not sure that I'd want to be a traditional "snowbird" with two homes. *I'm not even sure where I'll settle down nor when in retirement. *There's a good chance it could be Toronto but even if I go away for some of the winter it won't be to the same condo in some other place. *I think that I would get tired of going to the same place and I don't think that I would like the extra hassles of owning another place far away from where I spend most of my time.
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-11-2005, 02:00 PM   #9
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

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Hi guys.

Hubby and I are toying around with the idea of buying some recreational/investment property in Arizona. *
Do a search in the archive on Arizona. We covered it a bit last fall as I recall.

BTW, 70 here today but overcast. Makes you want to put on ....long sleeves.

Judy
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-11-2005, 07:44 PM   #10
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

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I'm suffering through the damp cool Silicon Valley winter right now. I find the dampness here can be much more uncomfortable than the cold.
I know quite a few people move from the Bay Area to Palm Spring.

I am looking at a few places in Oregon for retirement. The climate is not as good as that of the Bay Area, but the cost of living is 'cheap' relative to that of California.

Spanky
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-12-2005, 04:39 AM   #11
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

I just bought an investment property (a condo) in the retirement town of Green Valley fifteen minutes by freeway south of Tucson. Green Valley skews "older"--most of the residents are in their 60s, 70s, 80s--so that may not be an option for a couple in their 30s. Still, despite the recent and unusually heavy rains, the weather in winter is great. For the next week the forecast is for sunny skies and temps inching up into the 70s. I'm heading there on Saturday to fix up the condo for rent to a couple of "snowbirds" from the midwest.

Have you considered looking at Tucson? Property is reasonably-priced, it has all the amenities of a large city, and you're close to desert attractions, historic small towns, missions, the art community of Tubac (very cool), and Mexico.
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-12-2005, 05:16 AM   #12
 
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

I agree about the Tucson area. Very nice. I didn't look there as it is a bit far for a non-flyer and I needed to be on "big water". Otherwise, I think Tucson is a great area for "snowbirding".

JG
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-15-2005, 06:41 PM   #13
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

Calgary Gal:

I live in a 'burb of Phoenix, and the area is quite nice IMHO. *Chandler, Mesa or the perimeter areas to Phoenix have very similar pro's and con's. *Maricopa County reminds me of the early growth and sprawl experinced by LA. *Its not as intense, but its on a similar trend. *Tucson seems more laid back. *Both cities have great medical and cultural draws, but the rapid growth and sprawl of Phoenix may dilute the virtues that drew so many of us to it in the next ten years. *Green Valley is low cost compared to living in Tucson proper or Phoenix, but I always felt like it was way too much like an open air nursing home. *Same with Sun City east of Phoenix. *Paying 200K for a nice condo in Chandler may be worthy as an investment, (INTEL and others seem to be pumping plenty of $ into the local Chandler economy), but if you want the more laid back desert lifestyle, *your probably more likely to get it in Tucson, (Just my Opinion). *

Why don't you spend a winter down here and try the various areas on for size? *Its a really big state. *There are places along the Colorado River that seem to appeal to plenty of folks, plenty of medium sized towns, like Wickenberg and Casa Grande that have lower costs and less traffic or urban issues, and are close enough to Phoenix so that one can sneak into town and catch a ball game or watch some Hockey without too much driving. *If you wear western jeans and boots down here no one will even suspect you know what snow looks like! *
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-21-2005, 06:55 AM   #14
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

'zona is my favorite state, even though I'm Er'd in Pittsburgh.
But, my wife's still working, so that's ok.
I've traveled to AZ maybe about 15 times in the last 10 years.
Beautiful state !
I like Sedona (but too expensive, but Oh My God is it beautiful ), I like Cottonwood (but too small for my wife), I like Prescott (too out of the way for my wife), and I like Tucson (maybe a bit too small for my wife). So, if we ever go there, it will most likely be to Phoenix (because my wife likes big towns, she's a city girl).
I think the idea of spending a month or a winter there and renting is a good idea. You would not have committed yourself and you could travel all over the place and see many areas. It's a big state; there's lot to see and do.
Try KBHomes.com to get an idea about housing costs (new houses). I don't work for KB, but it's a nice website to view.
Here's another site to view used homes:
http://idx.pruazprops.com/
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-27-2005, 08:49 AM   #15
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

Bennevis:

Here's a good link for checking out Arizona Real estate:

http://www.longrealtyphoenix.com/Lis...&ListingType=1

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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-27-2005, 11:38 AM   #16
 
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

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Hi guys.

We found a nice place in Chandler, AZ on the net for about $200K that looks quite reasonable. *I've been to Chandler before and liked the area.

Thanks!
What do you like about Chandler? We're also looking for a place down south and checking a few options.
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!
Old 01-28-2005, 05:57 AM   #17
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Re: I wanna be a Snowbird!

I think south of Casa Grande, the snowbird quota has been filled. (Based on how long it takes to drive anywhere in the winter months.) But, I hear that anywhere north of that is fair game. In fact, they might be recruiting!

Judy
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