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Old 01-19-2004, 06:53 AM   #1
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my wife and myself, have been looking at places to move and possibly retire. or semi retire.
our criteria is warmer weather in winter,
low property tax rates,
low property cost,
safe community,
some work opertunity to off set the cost of retirement,
close to fun citys new orleans savannah charleston ect.
We came up with mountain home arkansas, DeLand fla.
a couple of towns in missippi and alabama. does any one have any suj.?
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Re: new to the bord
Old 01-19-2004, 07:11 AM   #2
 
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Not familiar with the other places mentioned but we did look around Deland, Florida. That would have been
very high on our list but we finally opted for Texas
as I used to live there and so had a certain built in comfort level.

John Galt
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Old 01-19-2004, 09:09 AM   #3
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I live in the Pittsburgh area, which I like except for the 3 winter months.
What I really like is Arizona. Phoenix is nice, easy to get around in, and cost of living about the same as Pittsburgh. Even better are areas north - like Prescott and Cottonwood. They have 4 seasons there, but the winters are mild compared to Pittsburgh. Cottonwood is small but growing. Prescott and vicinity is maybe about 50,000 and a beautiful area. Cost of living less than the national average. Not far from those towns is Sedona, which, IMHO, is just about the most beautiful place on earth. The problem with Sedona is land and housing is terribly expensive.
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Old 01-19-2004, 09:37 AM   #4
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I like sedona but not up for the new age stuff. I like vegas but really like palm trees and the like. plus it is still less expensive housing in fla. than many parts of the us. and fla. louisiana are close to the cities that I like. and I can always go to vegas as it is a cheep date. I just went for three hundred and nightyeight for hotel car and flight round trip. for five days. I lived in fla. for several years. in the town of arcadia. kind of a cow town. at least it was in 89 when I left. dont know today. deland came up on a find your spot in the us search. I liked st. augustine but the wife did not. we both loved savannah, housing prices and taxes are a little high there because of the big cities of atlanta and the like. all coming to the smaller towns. same with charleston. If I do this I will have to start all over, and I do love it here in the summer months. but the winter is so dam hard. nothing works at -30 deg. F not even me. you spend your time keeping warm. and huddling in your house. I dont snowmobiel or ski. I like to ice fish but more like to fish out of my little sixteen foot boat. the only thing about the south that I do not like is the bugs. in the north we just dont have them, tells you something too, if the insects cant take it. we do have sketters in the summer. and black flies. but no roaches or silver fish. but with spraying you can keep them down prety good. my wife would put in her notice tomorrow. I am more worried that she. we have never used any of our intrest money, it all rolls over into the account.so to start to use it would worrie me. and I never would use the princiapl. but what if is going to kill me.
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Old 01-20-2004, 12:22 PM   #5
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Also new to the board. Hi. This looks to be a valuable resource. Great to be able to share insights with other early retirees.

Question for bennevis: What can you tell me about the Pittsburgh area for retirement, other than your complaints about the winter?

I accepted an early retirement buy-out offer three 1/2 years ago, and after a 2 1/2 year bridge leave began collecting my pension last year at age 51. We're in the Detroit area, which we enjoy for the most part (don't laugh those of you who've never lived here ), but would prefer to move to a more rural setting, but not too far from shopping, entertainment, good restaurants, airport, etc. We don't mind winter much as we enjoy snow, cross country skiing, etc. Just tired of urban driving in crummy winter conditions. We really do not enjoy hot weather, and have been tempted to move to northern Michigan, which is really beautiful, except that it is far from any urban center, and farther from my wife's family in eastern PA, where we grew up.

We thought western PA might be worth considering, as the climate and cost of living seem favorable to our requirements, yet it is not too close to my wife's family. IYKWIM

So we're interested in feedback on the Pittsburgh area as a retirement locale. Also welcome suggestions for other places in the Northeast.
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Old 01-20-2004, 01:22 PM   #6
 
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Hello Pennhaven............Re. Pittsburgh, you are kidding, right??

I lived and worked in the Detroit area from 1976 to 1980. Lived in Farmington Hills. Before we moved there
a lot of people said "Detroit, oh my God!!!" We loved it.
Wouldn't live there now as we are commited to country
living. We have also lived in northern MIchigan.
Traverse City, Northport, Menominee (U.P.). Beautiful
beautiful country. In fact, I would be hard pressed to
name a prettier state than Michigan and I've been in
almost all of them. Hate the weather though, and unlike
you it can't be too hot to suit me. I recall my days in Dallas when it topped 100 every day for a week. I loved
it. 100, 105, 110, it never got too hot for my taste.
But, different strokes, right? We are headed there but
hope everyone else stays up north .

John Galt
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I grew up in the Pittsburgh area
Old 01-20-2004, 08:11 PM   #7
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I grew up in the Pittsburgh area


Admittedly to someone from Detroit, Pgh must look like a warm southern clime. And I guess you won't hear as many Yooper jokes.

Since I left home 25+ years ago, I've lived all over the world and I've gained an interesting perspective on Pgh winters. I've learned that they're just plain MEAN. The humidity, the freezing rain, the fresh breezes off the three rivers, and the frequent snowfalls add up to more windchill, more freeze/thaw cycles, more snow shoveling, bigger potholes, and much more corrosion. Of course, you can always count on a Detroit-style freeze in Jan/Feb where the coal barges can't get through to the Duquesne power plant and the city begins its blackout deathwatch countdown... but maybe that's been fixed by now!

If you must live in the Tri-State Area, Murrysville has good schools, good neighborhoods, etc. Most of my H.S. class never left.

But if a benign climate is more important, perhaps you're ready to consider North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, or even Washington, Oregon, & San Diego. There's also "southern" Kentucky, California (around Monterey, San Luis Obispo, or Eureka) and even Georgia/Mississippi. I suspect you'll find the big city in all of those places, and your vehicles will last a heckuva lot longer.

Does Maryland count as "northeast"?

If you think Detroit winters are nasty, try Albany NY or New London CT. 'Nuff said.
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Old 01-20-2004, 08:54 PM   #8
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Pennhaven

I went to college in Potsdam in northern NY. It's kind of remote, but if you look in the Watertown area, it might be on your list. Cold, but as long as you stay about 40 mi or so north of Buffalo/Syracuse/Albany you are north of the snow belt created by the Great Lakes. I liked the weather in Potsdam, cold in the winter, not too much snow to get in the way, but what came down stayed a while. Summers were moderate, and since I don't like hot weather but enjoy hiking, canoeing, etc., so it was ideal. Watertown was halfway to Syracuse, and is on the St. Lawrence seaway. Boating, and beautiful country close by. That was 30 years ago, but it might be worth checking based on your comments.

I would NOT retire to the snowbelt. Don't mind the cold, but don't want to clear snow. North of the snow belt would be fine with me, but I've kind of gotten hooked on the west and will stay in the Denver suburbs till my 7yr old gets thru high school. Where ever you head to, take a few trips there first and check out the different seasons.

Wayne
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Old 01-21-2004, 05:49 AM   #9
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Hi Pennhaven,
I'll try to tell you about the Pittsburgh area, both good and bad. Here goes:
Good: pensions are not taxed in Pennsylvania,, property taxes are high in Allegheny (Pittsburgh) County, but most new people move to the surrounding counties: Butler, Beaver, Westmoreland, and Washington. Lots of nice communities there - both middle and upper income, & property taxes are lower. State income tax is a flat rate of 3% (used to be 2.8% before Gov. Rendell took over). All communities charge a 1% wage tax. If you're retired and not working, you don't pay it.
Bad: we get on average 45 inches of snow per year. average high in January is 35, ave. low is 19. The months between mid-Dec to mid-March are not good, mainly because of the snow and lack of sunshine.
Pennsylvania has the highest percentage of the elderly, right below Florida. The job market in Pittsburgh is poor, but if you're retired, who cares. The city of Pittsburgh, it self, is safe, low crime, but, the population has been cut in half from peak times in the 50's. This is because all, but one, steel mills are gone.
The good news about the loss of the steel industry is the quality of air is excellent now. When the trees are leafy, the hills are a lush green - very pretty area from mid April thru the end of October. If you like the arts, this is a good place - a world class symphony, ballet, opera, and public theater. Also, a broadway series all year round. Good libraries, excellent colleges and hospitals. Summer highs average about 83 degrees with high humidity. About a 5 hour drive to Philly and D.C. About 2.5 hours to Erie, 4 hours to Buffalo and 5.5 hours to Toronto. About 1 hour to the mountains for skiing. Metro. population about 2.2 million in the 5 or 6 county area. If you move here, don't move to Allegheny County - property taxes too high and always going up. I live in Allegheny County. My house would re-sell for about 200k ; property taxes about $4200.
If you like a small town atmosphere, the town of Beaver (in Beaver County) is very nice. Another nice place is Morgantown WV, about 65 miles south of Pittsburgh. A town of about 25000, not including West Virginia University, which has about 22000 students. It was voted the most livable small town recently. Pennsylvania state sales tax is 6%, but zero on food and clothing. Allegheny County is allowed to add 1% to the 6% sales tax - another reason not to live in Allegheny County. The people in WV come here to buy food and clothing.
Personally, I would like to be a snow bird some day, live here during the warm months, go somewhere else during the cold months. That won't/can't happen for a long time, as my wife still has many years until she can retire.
If I think of anything more, I'll re-post, but for now, enough of my rambling,
Ben


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Thanks, Ben
Old 01-21-2004, 05:59 AM   #10
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Thanks, Ben

Thanks for the update-- glad I got that out of my system.

Guess there's no reason to visit the old hometown until a high school reunion drags me there. Hopefully in the summertime...
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Old 01-21-2004, 06:15 AM   #11
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Thanks for the feedback, all.

Not hearing any ringing endorsements for Pittsburgh area, so far. But that may be OK. It wouldn't be bad to find a place we like that everyone else is not flocking to. Still the winters there do sound worse than in Detroit - probably more icy precip. We really do not get that much ice and snow in this part of the state, but what we do get still plays havoc with the already crowded roads.

John Galt / Nords: We currently live in Farmington Hills. Small world. We've been here 11 years and also lived in southwest Michigan for nine. We liked it there, but "been there - done that". Traveled in 43 states myself and agree with you 100% about Michigan. It is a beautiful state and very underappreciated by those who haven't spent time here.

As stated above, we are definitely not hot weather people. You may have your 100 degree weather. In fact you may have any weather above 75. Lived in Nashville Tennessee area for three years and could not stand the summer heat and humidity. I also spent a lot of time working in Phoenix. Wonderful place in the winter, but the other eight months - forget about it! So basically anything south of the Mason Dixon line is out, even southeastern PA is out, too humid in summer. Need to be farther north or in the mountains. Thanks for the well meaning suggestions though, Nords.

Wayne: The Pottsdam, NY suggestion is intriguing. Good tip about staying north of the snow belt. Have thought about way-upstate NY before but more on the eastern slope of the Adirondacks, near Lake Champlain. Are you aware of any pros - cons either way? Also a little concerned about NY state taxes - need to do more research on that.

Thanks again.



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Old 01-21-2004, 06:21 AM   #12
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Ben,

Sorry our posts overlapped. Thanks for the detailed report. Let me digest this a bit, and see what questions I have. Sounds like an area worthy of consideration, based on our criteria.
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Old 01-21-2004, 06:26 AM   #13
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Pennhaven,
A little more, The Pgh area has good restaurants, lots of shopping malls and perhaps the best airport in the country. BUT, we might lose US Air as a hub. US Air is threatening to leave if the County/State doesn't reduce their debt burden - an extremely poorly managed company.
Forgot to mention, we have 3 pro sports teams, Pirates, Penguins, and Steelers. If you like baseball, the Pirates (lousy as they may be) play in PNC park, probably the best baseball park in the country, a beautiful structure with views of downtown, and great food, but crappy baseball.
Ben
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Old 01-21-2004, 06:32 AM   #14
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Still more, don't think the winters are worse than Detroit. Pittsburgh is below the 'snow line' which is generally considered to be I-80, which runs east to west about 60 miles north of Pittsburgh. Erie, for example, is about 90 miles north and gets double the snowfall that Pgh. gets. I would think that Detroit gets more 'lake affect' snow than Pgh.
Pittsburgh, like Detroit, is considered 'Rust Belt', but this place is a clean city/area now because the mills are gone.
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Old 01-21-2004, 07:17 AM   #15
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Pennhaven - yeah, taxes are probably a negative if I remember correctly. Potsdam would probably be too much the boonies, but west to Watertown, or east to lake Placid/Champlain are more populated. If I remember correctly the east gets a little more snow, probably from a spreading of the snowbelt. I don't think you will find a lot of retirees up north, but who says you have to be in a retiree concentrated area.

As I said before, my wife and I will stay in the Rockies area, front range, aka Denver/Fort Collins area for a while, and will also travel a bit. We want to take a summer in the east after the girls are off to college, and northern NY will be on the list. My wife wants to visit family in VA, and NJ, but those are both much hotter and more humid in the summer than I like, so we will also head north.

A memory from my youth: We were going to a cabin in the central Adirondacks, and my mom asked if it had air conditioning. The response came back, "no, but it has a wood burning stove". I loved the weather! To each his own.

Wayne
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Old 01-21-2004, 02:35 PM   #16
 
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Wayne,

Quote:
I would NOT retire to the snowbelt. *Don't mind the cold, but don't want to clear snow.
About 15 years before I ER'd I actually retired from Snow Shoveling and Lawn Mowing for Good. I built a Townhome and my Association worries about that stuff, while I go fishing!

Actually I hated Lawn Mowing, more than Snow Shoveling. The Lawn Mowing, you had to do once a week without fail and you had to do it when it wasn't raining (exactly the time I wanted to go fishing.)

I do hate the winter, but I lived in Florida for 3 years and took the weather for granted. When I go their next month for a vacation, I appreciate the weather now more than ever! - It's kinda like being hungry for a good meal!
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Old 01-21-2004, 02:42 PM   #17
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We live in northern mich. north of gaylord. and as I look out the window right now we have 2+ feet of snow with another foot for tonight. my plow truck will be well used in the morning. lovely in the summers and falls here. but when spring finaly does come it is swampy for a month as everything melts and the frost is still in the ground and the water cant drain. so the first foot of road [dirt] gets muddy as heck. it reminds me of the tanks in ww2 getting mired in the spring. all you can do is shake your hands to heaven and curse. temp here has been below 0 7 years ago it was 45 below for a month straight, in the summer you dont think of moving and keep kiding yourself about how nice it really is here. then the the snow comes and the temp drops and next thing you know your youkon is stuck, and your hand goes to heaven..... that is why I am looking to the south.
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Old 01-21-2004, 05:01 PM   #18
 
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Hello ed_teach! I lived/worked in Michigan from 1976 until 1993, and then again for a year in 97-98. This
includes 11 years in the U.P. Michigan is one gorgeous
piece of real estate, but your description of the weather
is right on. Funny that when I was working all the time
I didn't notice it much. Now though, it would never work
for us. We will always look back fondly though.

John Galt
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Old 01-22-2004, 07:03 PM   #19
 
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Also live in Michigan, heard there is a wind chill advisory for the area where we live tonight of -25.
This year is our first true snow birding year, down in Florida for 4 months. Retired now for 1 1/2 years, age now 50. My father in law had it right he always said he hated Florida but you can't beat the weather. We have been enjoying 70 + just about every day and if the sun doesn't shine you get a free news paper. Haven't got one yet, going on week number 5. 8)
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Old 01-23-2004, 03:03 AM   #20
 
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Hi David! You're killing me man. The weather here
(northern Illinois) is better than Mich. , but not by much.
Been retired a while and want to go south at least
from Nov/Dec until April. One thing after another
interferes. Being a cautious methodical sort
doesn't help either, although in my case getting older
has added to my sense of urgency. When I get
bogged down I remind myself that I am not getting any
younger and my time to get all this done is unknown.
On the other hand I don't want to do something we
will regret. But, back to the weather. I'm not all that fond of Illinois, but the weather is the main thing driving us south. I could put up with the rest of it.

John Galt
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