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NC or PA?
Old 06-16-2006, 08:08 PM   #1
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NC or PA?

OK. My husband has finally agreed that we need to move out of Baltimore City in order to pay off the mortgage (40k left) and find a lower cost of living. We like Maryland, but I think the cost of living is pretty high in the whole state. My husband like Lancaster, PA. I am more interested in the Raleigh-Durham area, but I don't know much about it. Is anyone familiar with the area and do you have experience with any 55+ communities there?
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-16-2006, 08:53 PM   #2
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Re: NC or PA?

We looked at the Raleigh-Durham area about three years ago (our son lives in Chapel Hill). There wasn't much in the way of "55 or better" communities then. There were some near Charlotte but we did not like that area. We saw some nice developments that were alot cheaper than the D.C. area where we were living. We really liked a small 55+ community called Troon at Kildare in Cary, N.C. but the timing was not right. We also saw some great places in Pinehurst, N.C. (about an hour south of Raleigh) but since we are not golfers it didn't really suit us. We eventually found the right community for us in Northern Virginia (warning - prices start around $400K and go up steeply from there).

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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-17-2006, 05:23 AM   #3
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Re: NC or PA?

I spend a lot of time in Raleigh. Here's what I see: It's not the place it used to be, by a long way. Raleigh is facing some serious quality-of-life problems, having to do with unmanaged growth. Traffic congestion. Air quality. Property taxes that are poised to take off BIG TIME due to a billion dollar shortfall in the money needed to pay for schools. Housing -- great if you want a minimansion or an expensive downtown yuppie condo, but really not so good otherwise.

Bottom line -- Raleigh has sold its soul to property developers. I'd look seriously at Lancaster (but it's been years since I visited there), and I'd look at a lot of other places in the SE before I settled on Raleigh. How about Memphis?

Just my two cents worth (at best )
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-17-2006, 05:50 AM   #4
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Re: NC or PA?

after thinking about the myrtle beach area we are now considering forks township area in pa....
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-17-2006, 06:25 AM   #5
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Re: NC or PA?

Lived in Raleigh area for last 20+ years. I don't know of any 55+ communities, although I haven't been looking for that. I would agree with Jeff2006 comments about potential tax increases due to school funding shortages (property tax is still pretty low ~$1.04 per hundred value) and his comments about poor growth management due to a pretty much "carte blanc" attitude to developers.
On positive side, there are lots of parks and nature walkways, because of growth, plenty of accessible shopping options. Nice beaches are 2 hour drive away and mountains are 3 hours the other way. We do get remnants of Hurricanes (TS Alberto just dumped 5-7 inches of rain and some areas flooded pretty significantly - last hurricane that made it here was 97 (i think) - we were without power 2 weeks).
What I would suggest is do some internet searches for housing and activities (citysearch http://triangle.citysearch.com/ ) to give idea. Plan a trip to area for week or longer.
If you have specific questions, ask and I'll try to respond.
FYI - not retired yet, still planning. DW and I had always planned on leaving area when we retire, but recently started thinking staying here wouldn't be bad option
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-17-2006, 12:21 PM   #6
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Re: NC or PA?

Many good and bad things about PA.
1. Lousy governor that will probably be re-elected in Nov.
2. Lousy state legislators that will not do their job.
3. High property taxes, at least in the Pgh area, don't know about Lancaster County.
----
Good:
1. Pensions are not taxed.
2. Lower state income taxes than NC.
3. Lancaster is a beautiful area.
--
Why not check out the Pittsburgh area; specifically the counties around Pgh., like
Westmoreland, Washington, Butler, and Beaver Counties. If you like sports, we have the Steelers, the Pirates, and the Penguins. If you like college football, there is Pitt, Penn St, and WVU nearby.
There is water recreation on the rivers; a beautiful downtown, good restaurants, great cutural district downtown with the Pgh Symphony, Opera, Ballet, and live theatre. Many excellent educational opportunities using local colleges and universities. The area is beautiful during spring, summer, and fall with green hillsides. Average highs in summer are about 80 to 82 degrees.
Only negative is the winter weather; when my wife retires we plan to, at least,
winter partially in AZ. Jan highs average 35 degrees high and 19 degrees low.
Golf season runs from mid March to early November.
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-17-2006, 02:38 PM   #7
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Re: NC or PA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bennevis
Many good and bad things about PA.
1.* *Lousy governor that will probably be re-elected in Nov.
2.* Lousy state legislators that will not do their job.
I can remember all the way back to the Milton Shapp era-- has PA ever had a governor who didn't suck? In other words, isn't PA worth a look just because the government is so bad, sort of like a beaten-down stock whose value may one day revert to the mean?

It's a huge credit to an institution to be able to survive so much corruption, idiocy, & mismanagement. Sorta like America under the Bush administrations.

One other aspect of PA vs NC that Bennevis may not be able to notice anymore-- PA winters also suck. They're not just cold like Minnesota or piled with snow like upstate NY. They're windy, nose-peeling freezing, frostbite, school-cancelling, black-ice, river-freezing, electricity-interrupting, ice-storm, shovel-your-driveway-four-times-in-one-week nasty.

IMO PA winters are regularly perfect-- as in "The Perfect Storm"...
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-17-2006, 07:34 PM   #8
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Re: NC or PA?

We have friends who live in Lancaster County (Lititz). It's not so cheap there anymore either. The traffic is getting really nuts around Lancaster (we hate, hate, hate Rt. 30); maybe if you were a bit further out, it might not be so bad. But what we saw when we were up there last month looks like the development is totally out of control.

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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-17-2006, 07:36 PM   #9
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Re: NC or PA?

Whoops - I forgot: also watch out for property taxes in Pennsylvania. Very high from what we know. But there are some other tax benefits there. It probably all comes out in the wash. That's if you don't mind driving on Pennsylvania roads, which are notoriously bad and perpetually under construction.

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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-17-2006, 08:03 PM   #10
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Re: NC or PA?

Thanks so much for the input. Today we went up to Lancaster and toured two 55+ communities. We really liked the one in Mount Joy, a little to the west of Lancaster. This is just the beginning of our research. I need to figure out how the cost of living compares to other areas. I was also surprised at the cost of the houses. By the time you add on a few things to the basic price, you can easily be up over 300k. Maybe that's just in the 55+ communities.

Raleigh-Durham doesn't sound as nice after some of your comments. We see it recommended in retirement magazines, but there is no substitute for the opinions of people who are familiar with the area.
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-19-2006, 07:18 AM   #11
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Re: NC or PA?

Aside from my comments re: Pennsylvania, I'd be interested to hear about what you find. I also live in the Baltimore area (Carroll County) and DH and I have talked about someday finding a nice, over-55 place also. We uaed to have a great house in suburbia, but the noise and commotion drove us out (too many people with too many kids and teenagers, noise all the time at all hours of the day and night). We now live in a log house on 4 acres which is unbelievably beautiful and peaceful, but with a LOT of upkeep. We think that the ideal place for us in 10 years or so is a quiet place with very little maintenance. It seems like an over-55 place should be quieter, right? Who has experience in these places?

On the other hand, aren't the maintenance fees really high? I guess it depends on the "amenities". I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who knows. I know Grumpy lives in one of those places, but it sounds like a high-end place, judging from the area.

I guess there is really no perfect place...

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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-19-2006, 08:36 AM   #12
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Re: NC or PA?

cj,

High-end is in the eye of the beholder. While our 55+ community is quite nice it is not outrageously expensive as these places go. We currently pay $210/month in Homeowner Association fees which cover all of the common area maintenance and all the amenities like the Clubhouse, indoor pool, tennis courts, snow removal, trash collection, etc. I also pay a private contractor $90/month for all landscaping services (lawn mowing, mulching, fertilizing, etc.) The house is a one level, 1825 sq. ft., three bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage. It has vinyl siding and is designed to be low maintenance. Our model home currently starts at $415K. When we bought 2.5 years ago it cost $317K.

Here's what it looked like the day we moved in (Feb. '05).

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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-19-2006, 09:52 AM   #13
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Re: NC or PA?

I'll chime in as a long time Raleigh native. I like it a lot. I'm not sure about 55+ communities in Raleigh, but given how much growth there is, I'd be surprised if there isn't a good bit.

Housing is cheap. Plenty of "cultural activities" - orchestra, theaters, broadway south-type stuff. Shopping and dining options galore. Great parks and recreation system. Greenways and hiking plentiful. Small lakes in town and large lakes less than an hour away. Winters are mild in general (I didn't wear my "heavy coat" at all last year). If you're retired, just don't travel btw 8-9 am and 5-6 pm. That's our rush hour almost everywhere. It'll definitely be better than Baltimore/DC area. Property taxes are still very low. The populace is very well educated - lots of major universities and high-tech employers in the area. $200-300k will buy you a very nice, large 3-4 BR house or a decent sized 2 BR high end condo in a swank downtown midrise development. Don't know how that translates to 55+ communities.

Downsides are hot, humid summers generally.
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-19-2006, 10:14 AM   #14
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Re: NC or PA?

Grumpy - thanks for the info! It really looks nice, and sounds ideal. That kind of maintenance doesn't sound bad at all (considering how much it costs to maintain a standard home...)

Nice appreciation on the one you bought!

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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-19-2006, 07:25 PM   #15
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Re: NC or PA?

CJ,

We visited The Four Seasons at Elm Tree in Mt. Joy, a little west of Lancaster. The houses are just being built, but they had several models open. The cheapest 2 BR, 2 Bath, 2 car Garage starts at $220k. There are hundreds of upgrades, so you'd probably end up in the low 300's. The monthly fee is $112 and includes lawn cutting, snow removal and access to the clubhouse/health center. There was a grocery store within walking distance.
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-20-2006, 03:42 PM   #16
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Re: NC or PA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords

One other aspect of PA vs NC that Bennevis may not be able to notice anymore-- PA winters also suck. They're not just cold like Minnesota or piled with snow like upstate NY. They're windy, nose-peeling freezing, frostbite, school-cancelling, black-ice, river-freezing, electricity-interrupting, ice-storm, shovel-your-driveway-four-times-in-one-week nasty.

IMO PA winters are regularly perfect-- as in "The Perfect Storm"...
Nords,
How long has it been seen you've been to PA ? The winters are much improved since you were here last. Just kidding of course.
Winters here are not nice, no doubt about it; but still significantly better than Minnesota and Buffalo and Cleveland and Chicago. Three bad months and 9 good months. That's why, some day, I want to get away, at least for the month of January. Let me put it another way: the winters are not so bad that I would trade Pittsburgh for Florida (or any other Southeastern state). AZ maybe.
Oh... another thing: housing is cheap in western Pa; expensive in eastern PA.
Property taxes high in Allegheny County, less in surrounding counties.
.
Some nice words about Raleigh: I have a friend who relocated his home, family, and business there and he loves it....just not for me.
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-20-2006, 06:16 PM   #17
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Re: NC or PA?

anyone look at riverview estates in northampton county ? we are thinking of going in 2 weeks to check it out,it looks beautiful

http://www.riverviewestates.com/
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-20-2006, 07:01 PM   #18
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Re: NC or PA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mathjak107
anyone look at riverview estates in northampton county ?*
Try this - scroll right and zoom out see the entire site (no homes, yet - Delaware River to the right)* Of course, NYC is about 75 miles east of here (can't U see it* ):
http://www.zillow.com/search/Search....pa&mode=browse
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-20-2006, 08:38 PM   #19
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Re: NC or PA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bennevis
Nords,
How long has it been seen you've been to PA ?* *The winters are much improved since you were here last.* *Just kidding of course.
Ha, that one made me laugh out loud!

I beat feet outta there after the winter of 1977-78 when even the Navy looked like a better deal than watching the rivers freeze while Duquesne Power & Light ran out of coal. I visited sporadically (Navy vs Pitt) over the next few years but the last one was 1983.

There's talk of a 30th high-school reunion in 2008. It better be before November or my wardrobe will cost more than the plane ticket...
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Re: NC or PA?
Old 06-20-2006, 08:45 PM   #20
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Re: NC or PA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
There's talk of a 30th high-school reunion in 2008. It better be before November or my wardrobe will cost more than the plane ticket...
They have goodwill stores on the Mainland too!
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