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Old 06-06-2014, 07:13 AM   #41
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San Luis obispo area might work for you
That would be my choice. Not sure on real estate values though.
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Old 06-06-2014, 07:31 AM   #42
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Eagan, MN.

It fits all of your requirements, and compared to International Falls, or North Dakota, the winters are downright balmy.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:11 AM   #43
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San Luis obispo area might work for you
SLO doesn't meet the 10-40 minute's drive for "big city" culture/sports (3hrs to LA)... Great for wine, close to the coast, but far from the dining, arts, sports, that OP mentioned as important... and I love SLO/Santa Barbera, that whole area, just don't think it's what he's looking for.
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Old 06-06-2014, 02:33 PM   #44
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Yep, I was thinking you might want to take a pencil and draw a circle around the Houston area and just move outwards till you find what you're looking for. We have a farm midway between Houston and Austin and you pretty much have your pick of conservative or liberal, depending where you plant yourself. Either way, you are close to lots of culture - museums, performing arts, restaurants galore. Not being a sports person myself, I can't comment on that one! The gulf coast isn't exactly Hawaii, but the Galveston area is still a beach with water and it's only about 40 min south of Houston. So you might want to consider somewhere south of Houston, rather than northwest of it. Winters are generally happy and wonderful. No shoveling snow because we don't know what it is. Our summers are other people's winters. It gets HOT. But away from the concrete of Houston you can get lovely breezes. North of Houston is more "trees and forest"(check out the area around The Woodlands). Fairly low cost of living, friendly people and a diverse state to explore. I think I've just convinced myself to stay put after retirement!
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Old 06-06-2014, 03:21 PM   #45
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This would be a lot easier to answer if you told what you don't like about Seattle
I live in Woodinville on an acre with a great house. I like this area, but I think it is getting a bit too expensive compared to the value and the weather is too gray, dark and rainy for me. Also, things like the city council passing a $15 min wage law is ridiculous. The traffic is bad and getting only worse too.

On a positive note, I love the woods, water, access to mountains, low crime, easy city for me to get around.
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Old 06-06-2014, 03:29 PM   #46
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I am researching a bunch of these areas you guys suggested!!!! Here was a list I have worked on prior to asking the question:

Sonoma or Napa - perfect except for the house prices
Delray Beach, FL - great, but no mountains or trees
Pinehurst, NC
Tampa, FL - again no trees
Jacksonville, FL - again no trees
New Orleans
Denver - can I deal with no ocean?
San Diego (North Solano Beach)
Arizona-Phoenix
Charleston SC - cute, but not near major city or sports
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Old 06-06-2014, 03:36 PM   #47
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Yep, I was thinking you might want to take a pencil and draw a circle around the Houston area and just move outwards till you find what you're looking for. .......North of Houston is more "trees and forest"(check out the area around The Woodlands). Fairly low cost of living, friendly people and a diverse state to explore. I think I've just convinced myself to stay put after retirement!
The Woodlands is where we live and we are staying put too. We have lived on both coasts. California is nice, and we lived in Ventura County for over a decade, but it's too crowded and way too expensive these days. The central coast may be still nice, though. The east coast is a loser.

I'll take the Gulf over either coast any day. Every time I visit California it just sickens me to see the crammed neighborhoods, the traffic, the high costs, etc. (not to mention the political situation and taxes)

And professional sports? Houston Rockets, The (NFL) Texans, the Aeros, Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, etc.
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Old 06-06-2014, 04:11 PM   #48
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I live in Woodinville on an acre with a great house. I like this area, but I think it is getting a bit too expensive compared to the value and the weather is too gray, dark and rainy for me. Also, things like the city council passing a $15 min wage law is ridiculous. The traffic is bad and getting only worse too.

On a positive note, I love the woods, water, access to mountains, low crime, easy city for me to get around.
I agree, that $15 is really going to damage Seattle businesses like bars and restaurants, etc. Weirdness just gets weirder. But overall, the politics here has never bothered me. I just do not participate in political discussions. My vote will always be nullified; I have just accepted that. IMO the trouble with conservative areas is that most conservatives are social conservatives, which tends to mean no fun. Social conservatives can think of many things to dislike one about, but liberals can only get a case going against me if they figure out that I am conservative(Libertarian)

And it is dark and gray. I moved here many years ago from California, and it took a few years before I wasn't always thinking of moving back.

Traffic doesn't impact me, as I mostly operate in my local neighborhood near downtown.

Ha
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Old 06-06-2014, 04:29 PM   #49
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I do love California but one of the reasons we have a farm is to get away from the crowds and traffic of Houston as often as we can. I do love Houston but I like a slower pace. Still, when it comes to retiring, (planning to in a couple of years) I'm not sure if super rural will be where I want to be forever. We are midlife (both 51) newbie farmers and I love it all, but I'm not sure I want to live that rurally post retirement. And I have no interest in continuing to maintain two homes. (It's the least frugal thing I've ever done but sanity counts for something.) Been doing that for almost 7 years and it can be quite stressful. That's how much I like the farm though.
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Old 06-06-2014, 04:33 PM   #50
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I live in Woodinville on an acre with a great house. I like this area, but I think it is getting a bit too expensive compared to the value and the weather is too gray, dark and rainy for me. Also, things like the city council passing a $15 min wage law is ridiculous. The traffic is bad and getting only worse too.

On a positive note, I love the woods, water, access to mountains, low crime, easy city for me to get around.
Sorry to hear, we lived in North Bend last exit on The Pass. We came this close to keeping the home for later in life. Woodinville I would have thought would have kept the small town feel, guess not.
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Old 06-06-2014, 04:34 PM   #51
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Here are my comments about New Orleans, which is on your list:
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Requirements:
1. Within a 10-40 minute drive to a city with sports teams, restaurants, performing arts, and concerts YES
2. Weather not extreme in the winter YES (very light snow occasionally every few years)



3. Trees and forests near Well, bayous and forests. This shot was taken in eastern New Orleans, in Bayou Sauvage and what it shows is typical:



Ideal:
1. Fairly conservative New Orleans is sometimes described as a liberal city in a conservative state. Some parts of New Orleans are very conservative, but no, I wouldn't call it a conservative city in general.
2. Within 40 minute drive to an ocean or large body of water YES
3. Cute, quaint towns are nice YES, very much the case!
4. House has .5 acres or bigger lot Such a lot could be found, but most lots here on the South Shore of Lake Ponchartrain are tiny by your standards. You'd have to get a good realtor and look for a lot this big; maybe you would have better luck in the far out suburbs such as those on the North Shore. But then, you are farther from the city advantages such as sports, entertainment, and so on. Maybe within the 40 minute window if you were in Mandeville or Covington, and if you aren't timing the drive during rush hour. But also, weather on the North Shore is worse than in New Orleans during the winter, and colder the further north you go. St. Bernard Parish is to the South and meets your requirements better, but it was badly flooded by Hurricane Katrina and I would not personally buy the whole parish for $1 if I had to keep it. YMMV and it does have many happy residents even though many left.
5. Near wineries or where wine grapes can be grown I have NO idea.
Summers here are BEASTLY hot and humid, although you do get used to them after a few years. Crime is a problem. Hurricanes, well, there is no guarantee. In general, based on my understanding of what you are saying I would cross New Orleans off your list. But use your own judgment.
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Old 06-06-2014, 06:21 PM   #52
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I am researching a bunch of these areas you guys suggested!!!! Here was a list I have worked on prior to asking the question:

...
San Diego (North Solano Beach)
...
Charleston SC - cute, but not near major city or sports
I've done these two (well, not north county SD), and IMO there's little comparison: San Diego (Coronado) is far better if you can afford it. I love - LOVE - Charleston, but it's a smaller scale and frankly the weather sucks in the summer months as it is just oppressively hot.

I really like North SD County, and have talked to my wife about going to Encinitas, Leucadia, Cardiff, Solana... in retirement.
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Old 06-06-2014, 08:43 PM   #53
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I live in Solana Beach. To get a house with the kind of lot that you want, you'll have to dig up another million or so.
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Old 06-06-2014, 09:20 PM   #54
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San Antonio, Texas

Or for the smaller town feel, try just north in the Hill Country
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Old 06-06-2014, 09:32 PM   #55
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I agree, that $15 is really going to damage Seattle businesses like bars and restaurants, etc. Weirdness just gets weirder. But overall, the politics here has never bothered me. I just do not participate in political discussions. My vote will always be nullified; I have just accepted that. IMO the trouble with conservative areas is that most conservatives are social conservatives, which tends to mean no fun. Social conservatives can think of many things to dislike one about, but liberals can only get a case going against me if they figure out that I am conservative(Libertarian)

And it is dark and gray. I moved here many years ago from California, and it took a few years before I wasn't always thinking of moving back.

Traffic doesn't impact me, as I mostly operate in my local neighborhood near downtown.

Ha

Nice to know there are other oddballs like me, Ha. I am not holding my breath to see the political landscape become fiscal conservative/socially libertarian.


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Old 06-07-2014, 10:38 AM   #56
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As I edge closer to my ER, I think after 10 years here in Seattle, perhaps a new location is in order. All opinions are welcome and encouraged.

Thanks in advance!

Scenario:
1. Late 40's couple due to ER in 2 years - no kids
2. Lived in upstate NY, OH, South FL, San Fran and WA so far
3. Retirement house will be purchased for $600k or less
4. Household income should be $130k
5. Most likely will work part time

Requirements:
1. Within a 10-40 minute drive to a city with sports teams, restaurants, performing arts, and concerts
2. Weather not extreme in the winter
3. Trees and forests near


Ideal:
1. Fairly conservative
2. Within 40 minute drive to an ocean or large body of water
3. Cute, quaint towns are nice
4. House has .5 acres or bigger lot
5. Near wineries or where wine grapes can be grown
You're describing Hawaii, where the median cost of a single-family home has just risen to about $650K. But you're going to find something in your desired price range.

If you want to hit all of your criteria (including the vineyard) then you'd be more likely to live on Maui or the Big Island. But if you want big-city culture then you're going to be on Oahu... and I'm sure someone grows grapes around here.
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:57 AM   #57
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You're describing Hawaii, where the median cost of a single-family home has just risen to about $650K. But you're going to find something in your desired price range.

If you want to hit all of your criteria (including the vineyard) then you'd be more likely to live on Maui or the Big Island. But if you want big-city culture then you're going to be on Oahu... and I'm sure someone grows grapes around here.
Aloha Nords, I couldn't agree more!!!!
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Old 06-07-2014, 11:26 AM   #58
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You're describing Hawaii, where the median cost of a single-family home has just risen to about $650K. But you're going to find something in your desired price range.

If you want to hit all of your criteria (including the vineyard) then you'd be more likely to live on Maui or the Big Island. But if you want big-city culture then you're going to be on Oahu... and I'm sure someone grows grapes around here.
Maybe, but I wonder if he could get a house on a 0.5 acre lot or larger for $600K. I have no idea, actually, these days. Maybe out in the boonies on Oahu, up towards the Pali where the pig farms and other mom'n'pop farms are (or were decades ago anyway)? Otherwise it does sound like a perfect fit.
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Old 06-07-2014, 01:54 PM   #59
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I would start in San Diego and drive north and east until you find your price point. We did a home swap there for many years (in May/June) and I think you can find your spot but I would recommend several home swaps to target areas before moving.

When you are retired, you can always adjust your schedule to avoid traffic jambs. We were in Poway, 10 minutes east of La Jolla. You probably have to go further now.

(We live in Vancouver BC and PV MX for 6 months now because we wanted to avoid US Estate taxes back when we retired in 2003. I agree with leaving the PNW in the winter. And we hate high humidity. Hawaii would be great if you can handle island fever and the prices.)
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:02 PM   #60
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As I edge closer to my ER, I think after 10 years here in Seattle, perhaps a new location is in order. All opinions are welcome and encouraged.

Thanks in advance!

Scenario:
1. Late 40's couple due to ER in 2 years - no kids
2. Lived in upstate NY, OH, South FL, San Fran and WA so far
3. Retirement house will be purchased for $600k or less
4. Household income should be $130k
5. Most likely will work part time

Requirements:
1. Within a 10-40 minute drive to a city with sports teams, restaurants, performing arts, and concerts
2. Weather not extreme in the winter
3. Trees and forests near

Ideal:
1. Fairly conservative
2. Within 40 minute drive to an ocean or large body of water
3. Cute, quaint towns are nice
4. House has .5 acres or bigger lot
5. Near wineries or where wine grapes can be grown
I hesitated to post this because I am passionate about where I live, it is long, hope you are entertained and inspired....

OK, I've done the East West thing too. Lived in CA 39 years, sister in and near Seattle, moved to south central PA for a better work life balance 15 years ago--allowed fore FIRE due to low cost of living--and we love it here.

I commute (for another 3 months) to Harrisburg in 15 minutes. What they call traffic here is laughable. But Harrisburg isn't the only game in town. Due to Hershey and Gettysburg attractions, there are a variety of restaurants to choose from. Not to mention the relatively close proximity of the east coast metropolis--Boston-->DC...

Susquehanna River is just east of Harrisburg. Party boats and jet skis can be found in the summer. And fishing. Many large creeks for kayaking. We have resident herons, fox, egrets, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and yes, bears have been sighted here. In backyard. we hosted a July 4th backyard party 2013--a bald eagle flew directly over our backyard pool party as if on cue.

Sports teams--minor league baseball on City Island, as well as Harrisburg Heat soccer. 2 hr from Philly, 1.5 hr from Baltimore, 3 hr from NYC.

Performing arts--my passion and my retirement life, since I am MD and musician. Professional and community theaters--downtown Harrisburg has IMAX, a children's museum, theater and concert performance venues. Hershey (10 miles away) has an amazing amusement park, and a large concert venue for major name musicians. Community theater galore (cheaper and just as entertaining)--I can think of 8 theaters within 40 minutes from where I sit right now. Bands and orchestras-pro and amateur. Holiday arts and music festivals on the riverfront the summer holidays.

Weather--we're west of the giant metropolis, so the eastern humidity is a little less of a problem-yeah-it is humid but not so polluted. Most winter Noreasters kind of miss us, no lake effect snow. Cold in the winter, but for 3 out of the last 4 winters it RAINED in January. Snow removal they have down to a science, and only once did we get more than a foot at one time in the last 15 years. Tornados and hurricanes largely lose there power once they get here. Occasional scary weather, but not like midwest and the south.

Trees and forests near--trees everywhere, I mean everywhere. State gamelands to our north please the local deer hunters. We visited New England for fall colors in 2011--they're better here.

Cute quaint towns galore. History galore.

Fairly conservative. Two local jokes (I'm a Berkeley grad, so forgive my liberalism):
1. This part of PA is known as "Pennsyltucky"
2. Central PA has been described as Alabama sandwiched between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Harrisburg is all Democrat/liberal but the area surrounding is all Republican/conservative. Yet extremism here seems largely absent.

House prices and lots--lots are large outside of town, in the suburbs and rural areas. $600K will get you a near mansion and a huge lot here. Frankly you shouldn't spend that much in retirement. That is a west coast view of housing--outside of NYC, Washington DC, and the west coast, you won't find such pricey accomodations.

Two more perks and why I won't move:
1. Low flat state income tax. Pensions, SS, and 401K/IRA withdrawals are not taxed AT ALL. Property tax varies but is not unreasonable. I consider it important to support the schools and the towns anyway. The tax downside--they have an estate tax that applies to the entire estate. But I'll be gone--not my problem.
2. I can take a train to Manhattan and get back the same day. I can enjoy the Chesapeake, Baltimore, DC, Annapolis, Philly, Gettysburg, without the hassles and expense of living in the east coast metropolis.
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