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Missouri, New Orleans, or Wherever
Old 02-24-2008, 12:29 PM   #1
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Missouri, New Orleans, or Wherever

As many of you know, Frank and I are planning to move to Springfield, Missouri, in about two years after we ER. We are no less sure about that today than we were last week, last month, or last year.

What just became apparent to me, due to a series of personal messages this morning from a very nice board participant, is that I have not been clear that this is a TENTATIVE location for ER.

It is perfectly conceivable that we might stay here in New Orleans (which sings a siren song that can twist your soul in two), or we might move somewhere else, or who knows what. One never knows what life will bring, as we so thoroughly learned here in 2005. And life's twists and turns can directly affect this sort of decision.

Even though at this point we are probably about 90% sure we will move to Springfield, we are still constantly re-examining, re-thinking, and looking for anyplace else that would better fit our priorities.

If one does not have an ER location in mind where one has previously lived or has ties, determining a tentative ER location is not easy. The whole world opens up with possibilities. We are in this situation, and we see all potential retirement locations as having their positive and negative points. If anyplace is a Nirvana, and affordable, I don't yet know about it.

To me the task becomes a matter of identifying one's priorities, finding the location that presents the best balance of attributes within the framework of those priorities, and reading about and visiting it and the near runners-up to the greatest extent possible while still working. The next step is ER, then moving there and renting for a while, to see what it is really like.

A pitfall that I think most people fall into, is to give the higher priority to aspects you don't like about your present location, and lower priority to aspects you do like about your present location. People living in snowy areas seem awfully prone to look at the sunbelt with blinders on, with regard to other problems. Likewise, people living in high crime areas just want to live someplace safe, and might not think about the snow as much. And so on, and so on. To get past one's own viewpoint it is necessary to constantly question and re-evaluate one's priorities, and do a lot of soul-searching. It's just NOT as simple as saying that the weather and food are great in New Orleans, or the crime rate and cost of living are great in Springfield, for that matter.

And nothing is a done deal, until it is a done deal. Maybe not even then! We are just doing what we can to stumble along and develop a "Plan B" that is the best we can come up with.
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Old 02-24-2008, 01:01 PM   #2
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As many of you know, Frank and I are planning to move to Springfield, Missouri, in about two years after we ER. We are no less sure about that today than we were last week, last month, or last year.

What just became apparent to me, due to a series of personal messages this morning from a very nice board participant, is that I have not been clear that this is a TENTATIVE location for ER.

It is perfectly conceivable that we might stay here in New Orleans (which sings a siren song), or we might move somewhere else, or who knows what. One never knows what life will bring, as we so thoroughly learned here in 2005. And life's twists and turns can directly affect this sort of decision.

Even though at this point we are probably about 90% sure we will move to Springfield, we are still constantly re-examining, re-thinking, and looking for anyplace else that would better fit our priorities.

We see all retirement locations as having their positive and negative points. If one does not have an ER location in mind where one has previously lived, determining a tentative ER location is not easy. The whole world opens up with possibilities. To me the task is a matter of identifying one's priorities, and finding the location that presents the best balance of attributes within the framework of those priorities. The next step is ER, then moving there and renting for a while, to see what it is really like.

And nothing is a done deal, until it is a done deal. Maybe not even then! We are just doing what we can to stumble along and develop a "Plan B" that is the best we can come up with.
I admit that the saga of Dame Want-2 and her faithful paramour Frank heading off to small city Missouri from the Big Easy has always had its puzzling aspects.

She will have to learn to drive in the snow. Suitable houses will have to found a suitable distance apart, these houses both will have to be suitably set up for their respective owners. There must be sidewalks all along the way, and the owners along those sidewalks must be diligent at snow removal so that no one should slip and fall on his or her periodic treks to visit.

Not to mention that you two are not getting any younger, yet will have to confront all the annoying aspects of preparing house and car for winter. The possibility of frozen pipes, the certainty of auto body rusting. Wouldn't a nice candle-lit dinner along the bayou somewhere give more satisfaction than lying under your porch with a hair-dryer trying to get the water flowing into your house again?

Now that you have your inheritance, does that perhaps open up other doors? Does Covington LA flood, or just get hurricane winds? How about Lake Charles or Baton Rouge or Lafayette? For that matter, how about crossing the river to Natchez or some other antebellum treasure?

Or what some displaced New Orleanians have done- head to Texas? North Dallas doesn't get much snow, and it has some wealthy areas that rival Beverly Hills for charm and architectural distinction. Warmer yet, and cheaper, is San Antonio.

Hey, but maybe after living in Hawaii and New Orleans, you want to see the "Real America"?

Ha
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Old 02-24-2008, 01:47 PM   #3
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We are off to Missouri this summer to find a "retirement" spot. Coming from California but I was originally from the Midwest. I already know what Im getting into winter wise and people wise. It mainly comes down to cost for us. You are right though W2R nothing is ever set in stone. For us moving to a cheaper area of the country will enable us to explore the rest of the world.
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Old 02-24-2008, 01:49 PM   #4
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Well, as long as you mention it, W2R, I found myself intrigued but also a bit bemused to learn of your focus on Springfield, though it sounds very nice from your descriptions. I can certainly understand your wanting to eliminate any future hurricane risk (though escaping mother nature is not a winning strategy, what with tornados, blizzards, fires, mudslides, quakes, floods etc.). Springfield sounds so antithetical to NOLA that I wondered there wasn't a very natural element of over-compensation to what must have been a deeply unsettling trauma named Katrina (armchair psychologist here ).

Whatever you choose, I'm sure you'll be very content. Too bad there isn't a place close but not too close to the Big Easy where you would feel safe and part of the community.

You sound like a candidate for a new-urbanism (a/k/a neo-urbansim) community.
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Old 02-24-2008, 01:54 PM   #5
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Want2, I am surprised - I too thought your mind was all made up about Springfield, MO.

I can imagine how overwhelming it is to have so many options open. What attributes are you looking for in a retirement location? What do you want to avoid?
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Old 02-24-2008, 01:59 PM   #6
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Watched a home "flip" show last night on TV. An experienced "flipper" couple were renovating a historic home in NOLA. It had been seriously flooded in Hurricane Katrina. Frankly, I thought they were very brave to tackle the ants and termites in the walls, the missing roof, the collapsing floor, etc, etc. I would never have taken this on. But when they were done, it was quite beautiful.

I've visited New Orleans, and enjoyed the cultural experience. I recall walking along the levees and pondering the probability that they would burst some day. For me, even before Katrina, that risk alone would have outruled NOLA as a place to live. But what do W2R and Frank really want? Nowhere is perfect.
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Old 02-24-2008, 02:01 PM   #7
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Want2Retire, I've never been anywhere near Springfield, Missouri. So I'm curious what pro's and con's you see and why the pro's are currently in the ascendancy?
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Old 02-24-2008, 02:02 PM   #8
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Not to mention that you two are not getting any younger, yet will have to confront all the annoying aspects of preparing house and car for winter. The possibility of frozen pipes, the certainty of auto body rusting. Wouldn't a nice candle-lit dinner along the bayou somewhere give more satisfaction than lying under your porch with a hair-dryer trying to get the water flowing into your house again?
Stop trying to scare her.

I've been in Ohio just about 30 years and have never had frozen pipes; and my 1989 vehicle was showing some rust after 18 years; and I haven't driven on snow since I retired.

Snow shoveling is cheap to hire out, especially if (as is usually the case) you can just wait a few days and it will melt.
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Old 02-24-2008, 02:07 PM   #9
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Stop trying to scare her.

I've been in Ohio just about 30 years and have never had frozen pipes; and my 1989 vehicle was showing some rust after 18 years; and I haven't driven on snow since I retired.

Snow shoveling is cheap to hire out, especially if (as is usually the case) you can just wait a few days and it will melt.
Yes sir!

From now on I will submit my posts to you for prior approval, or as in more likely, dis-approval.

Ha
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Old 02-24-2008, 03:05 PM   #10
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I've been in Ohio just about 30 years and have never had frozen pipes ...
I've been in California for 59 years and have never even had frozen dinners . (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
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Old 02-24-2008, 03:24 PM   #11
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I admit that the saga of Dame Want-2 and her faithful paramour Frank heading off to small city Missouri from the Big Easy has always had its puzzling aspects.
We had identified Missouri and had visited it for the purposes of checking it out, before I ever registered on (or read) this board. After I got here, I was surprised and pleased to see that UncleMick selected Missouri right after Katrina as well, and seems to still be doing fine there. We would have gone there as fast as he did, except that we have been chained to this remnant of the New Orleans that was, by the "golden handcuffs" of impending retirement and lifetime medical, which I am expecting in 2009.

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She will have to learn to drive in the snow. Suitable houses will have to found a suitable distance apart, these houses both will have to be suitably set up for their respective owners. There must be sidewalks all along the way, and the owners along those sidewalks must be diligent at snow removal so that no one should slip and fall on his or her periodic treks to visit.


I know it will be a tremendous shock to hear, but snow does not cover the Springfield sidewalks 12 months out of the year! Springfield is only a few hours north of Hot Springs. I plan to take advantage of a large pantry well stocked with healthy, non-perishable food, a home gym, plenty of firewood, and telephone and e-mail.

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Not to mention that you two are not getting any younger, yet will have to confront all the annoying aspects of preparing house and car for winter. The possibility of frozen pipes, the certainty of auto body rusting. Wouldn't a nice candle-lit dinner along the bayou somewhere give more satisfaction than lying under your porch with a hair-dryer trying to get the water flowing into your house again?
That would be especially uncomfortable if my future house was built on a slab.

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Now that you have your inheritance, does that perhaps open up other doors?


Of course it does - - you are right. Money has a way of doing that, and I have been thinking about it pretty intensely. So far, I haven't come up with another place but it's always a possibility. I haven't completely adjusted to my recent change in circumstances, and that will take some time. Frank could inherit more than me, some day, and that could provide another needed reassessment. Life has a way of throwing unexpected changes and circumstances in one's path, and this is why I wanted to be clear that Springfield is not written in stone. It's only maybe 90% certain right now.

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Does Covington LA flood, or just get hurricane winds? How about Lake Charles or Baton Rouge or Lafayette? For that matter, how about crossing the river to Natchez or some other antebellum treasure?


Of all of those choices, probably the most attractive is Baton Rouge. I lived there for several years and while BR has its virtues, still all I can say is (Wish we had a little throwing-up emoticon!). Frank is much less enamored with BR than I am. All of those places are too close to the Gulf of Mexico to please us. If it weren't for that, I'd seriously consider Lafayette or Houma, or even smaller towns further south where I have friends and feel so welcome. But it is what it is, and these areas are not OK with us for our old age.

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Or what some displaced New Orleanians have done- head to Texas? North Dallas doesn't get much snow, and it has some wealthy areas that rival Beverly Hills for charm and architectural distinction. Warmer yet, and cheaper, is San Antonio.


Hey, I'm an Aggie and have considered College Station, which is a VERY nice town. Property taxes are grotesque, and then there's the Aggie thing which would be difficult for Frank, as a Tulane man. We have considered the area north of Dallas off and on.

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Hey, but maybe after living in Hawaii and New Orleans, you want to see the "Real America"?


I have also lived in Meridian, MS back in the 1970's, which was a real eye-opener directly after Honolulu.

Here are some of our priorities as we established them in 2005, well before I came into this money:

1) Because we are tired of hurricanes, we are looking for a place no closer to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic than Huntsville, Alabama (what is that, 200 miles? I don't have my Streets and Trips on Frank's computer where I am typing). We realize there are other natural disasters in the universe, but would appreciate a little variety.

2) We want to live in a peaceful town of maybe 100K-150K, but with adequate medical facilities, gyms, and plenty of "big box" stores and other shopping so that I don't feel too isolated. I like a "small city" like Honolulu used to be in the 1960's, or like New Orleans was pre-Katrina. But a smaller town is fine, too.

3)It should also have plenty of remote areas nearby, so that Frank's desire to be a near-hermit living off the land (yeah right, kind of a guy thing? ) out in the country or at least to occasionally drive out to very remote areas can be realized, as well. Springfield seems to fit the bill. It is big enough for me, and small enough for him.

4) Low crime is a huge priority for us.

5) It should be someplace politically conservative or at least neutral enough that we wouldn't have to constantly justify our careers in service to our country and national defense/aerospace/oil. We are proud of these careers and what we have contributed to America (so shoot us). Frank eliminated the entire state of Colorado for this reason, though I have never been there so I am just trusting him on that one! He lived there for a year or two.

6) Cost of living should be low, with extremely, unusually low cost housing. This is the factor that bears scrutiny in light of my inheritance, but really I do not have enough to live comfortably in California, Hawaii, NYC, or such areas. Also, should money mean that I would just dump Frank and live somewhere expensive that he can't afford? I surely think not!! But where would I live if it was just up to me? I am at a total loss on that, and still thinking. I need to know and come to terms with that.

7) As warm a climate as is consistent with the above criteria.

P.S. - - before anyone says this is over-analyzed, look at the posts above, to many of which this post is intended to respond.
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Old 02-24-2008, 03:24 PM   #12
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Just out of curiosity, we subscribed for a year to a magazine titled Where to Retire. While no place is going to be perfect, it did point out things to consider like affordability, crime rates, climate, proximity to water, etc. The web site is at Where to Retire Magazine.

It might be useful to make you think about what your priorities are and the down sides of places that you are considering.
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Old 02-24-2008, 03:36 PM   #13
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Springfield sounds so antithetical to NOLA that I wondered there wasn't a very natural element of over-compensation to what must have been a deeply unsettling trauma named Katrina (armchair psychologist here ).
Sounds like you are a good armchair psychologist, too, since that is probably part of why getting far away from here sounds so good (run, run, run!!) On the other hand, Springfield is still a little bit southern in flavor, so could be a nurturing place for us (ah, mother Springfield! )

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Whatever you choose, I'm sure you'll be very content. Too bad there isn't a place close but not too close to the Big Easy where you would feel safe and part of the community.
See my criterion (1) in my post replying to ha, above.

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You sound like a candidate for a new-urbanism (a/k/a neo-urbansim) community.
See my criterion (3) in that same post.

Thanks for the comments!

Everyone else, thanks for your comments, too. I think my criteria above probably address a lot of what everyone is curious about.
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Old 02-24-2008, 03:51 PM   #14
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Old 02-24-2008, 04:14 PM   #15
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I would find a way out of New Orleans. I believe you said your house was below flood level. The engineers I work with feel that New Orleans could be suspect to another Katrina type disaster. There is no economical way to protect property that is considerably below flood plain. Any type of failure to the pumping systems or breach in the levees will flood the city again.
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Old 02-24-2008, 04:20 PM   #16
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Why not Huntsville, AL itself? I've visited there, and also have heard it is a great place to live. Lots of beautiful lakes in the area, and they have a big aerospace center there. Not sure about the housing costs, but I do know our townhouse in AL (birmingham) has very low taxes.

Or what about Tupelo, MS? Much smaller, but only about 2 hours from Memphis. Or somewhere in between Tupelo and Memphis? Just rambling thoughts here, probably areas you've already ruled out for one reason or another.
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Old 02-24-2008, 04:21 PM   #17
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I would find a way out of New Orleans. I believe you said your house was below flood level. The engineers I work with feel that New Orleans could be suspect to another Katrina type disaster. There is no economical way to protect property that is considerably below flood plain. Any type of failure to the pumping systems or breach in the levees will flood the city again.
No KIDDING! I thought that was common knowledge throughout the country. Although Congress allocated billions, very little has been done to repair our levee/canal/pump system which is vital not only for hurricane protection, but for drainage.

I simply cannot understand why people on the board want to keep me here so badly!
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Old 02-24-2008, 04:23 PM   #18
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Also, should money mean that I would just dump Frank and live somewhere expensive that he can't afford? I surely think not!!
Gee whiz - that raises the question of what your financial possibilities might be if you and Frank just went ahead and tied the knot. You seem like a pretty good team. Then you would only have to buy and maintain one house, maybe even one that is big enough for you each to have your own spaces. Plus you'd get the not-insignificant benefit of being able to file a joint tax return. And HA would no longer be able to refer to Frank, as your "faithful paramour".
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Old 02-24-2008, 04:27 PM   #19
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Why not Huntsville, AL itself? I've visited there, and also have heard it is a great place to live. Lots of beautiful lakes in the area, and they have a big aerospace center there. Not sure about the housing costs, but I do know our townhouse in AL (birmingham) has very low taxes.

Or what about Tupelo, MS? Much smaller, but only about 2 hours from Memphis. Or somewhere in between Tupelo and Memphis? Just rambling thoughts here, probably areas you've already ruled out for one reason or another.
We visited Huntsville last year, which was our #2 choice until that time. We prefer Springfield. After Huntsville dropped off our list, Fayetteville Arkansas replaced it in the #2 spot. Still, Fayetteville is pretty close to Springfield and it doesn't meet our criteria as well.

I don't think Tupelo meets criteria #1 and #4, above (though I would have to check, and I am at Frank's so my database isn't here), and I haven't seen any advantages in comparison with Springfield.
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Old 02-24-2008, 04:27 PM   #20
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Gee whiz - that raises the question of what your financial possibilities might be if you and Frank just went ahead and tied the knot. You seem like a pretty good team. Then you would only have to buy and maintain one house, maybe even one that is big enough for you each to have your own spaces. Plus you'd get the not-insignificant benefit of being able to file a joint tax return. And HA would no longer be able to refer to Frank, as your "faithful paramour".
We'll all come to the wedding......
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