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Old 06-16-2011, 05:14 AM   #21
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We will not move. Family ties....

But we are planning on spending winter months in warmer climates!
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Old 06-16-2011, 06:54 AM   #22
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DW has lived in this area all her life, and has no interest in moving.
OTOH, I have at least half a dozen places where I think I'd enjoy retirement even more than I do.

There are two problems. As others have mentioned, a single vacation trip, or even 2 or 3, generally isn't enough to fully understand an area before moving permanently. The other problem is that if you're like me, you can find it nearly impossible to pick one from your short list.

Since I'm perfectly content here, I can indulge my need for a change of scenery with periodic vacation travel, so all is well.
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Old 06-16-2011, 07:32 AM   #23
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Since I'm perfectly content here, I can indulge my need for a change of scenery with periodic vacation travel, so all is well.
Agree - for DW/me.

We have not found a place that matches what we want (other than our current locale - where we were born/raised), and we have lived in other parts of the country (military) and traveled to most areas of the country.

Different strokes...
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Old 06-16-2011, 12:24 PM   #24
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We have looked at PA and NC, two states which do not tax Federal pensions. We determined that our cost of living (other than taxes) would be somewhat lower in either state. But not enough lower to justify the expense and horror of selling/moving, unless we can really save on taxes (i.e. at least 8% of total income).

I made a spreadsheet to compare income, sales, and property taxes with what we project we'll be paying once I retire. This way, we were able to rule out PA, since everywhere we looked, the property taxes on a home roughly comparable to ours are much higher than we're paying.

The devil is in the details - in one small region of NC, for example, there are 18 fire districts in one county, each with its own millage rate!

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Old 06-16-2011, 01:31 PM   #25
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I made a spreadsheet to compare income, sales, and property taxes with what we project we'll be paying once I retire.
Outstanding!
That's exactly the thing to do, since practically any retirement "best places" type of list tends to be woefully short on those details. It's not too hard to get the information, but you have to put it all together, and a spreadsheet does that quickly and easily.
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:06 PM   #26
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It's not too hard to get the information, but you have to put it all together, and a spreadsheet does that quickly and easily.
And here's where you can get it, easily:

Taxes by State

BTW, forgot all about the taxes where I live. We don't pay state/local (but federal) on 401(k), IRA, SPIA, and SS income. I don't have a pension, but that would not be taxed on the state/local level, if I did (DW has two small one's she will start getting in less than two years).

However, for all income sources named (other than SS), we did pay state/local income tax at the time of contribution (unlike most states).

At least that means my/DW's gains over many years are not subject to the current 3.07% state and 1% local income tax at time of withdrawl...
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:14 PM   #27
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We relocated on very short notice, but we'd been casually looking for years and we knew a good deal when we saw it.

We found our "dream house" exactly 11 years ago tomorrow. The Hawaii real-estate recession had lingered for a decade and prices in some neighborhoods had collapsed to 1980s levels. This particular house was in terrible shape but had a good floorplan (30% more space than our old house), a huge lot (3x bigger) and a once-in-a-lifetime view. (It had been on the market four months earlier but had actually been in such terrible shape that they'd pulled it off for cleaning/painting and just put it back on.) We made our offer the morning after the new "first" open house. We got a great price-- today it's way out of our reach.

At the same time she found the house, spouse had been locked in "serious negotiations" with her Navy assignment officer and was threatening to resign from active duty. They didn't take her seriously because she was already over 17 years of service. She'd already sent in her resignation letter, which BUPERS regards as merely the start of the real horsetrading. However the BUPERS computer had obligingly issued her a set of separation orders, which included the accounting data necessary to arrange a shipment of household goods.

We'd also attended the military's transition seminar together, where we spent three days listening attentively polishing the cannonball on our ER plans. Even if she left active duty we knew we could swing the finances on my pension and our savings for at least ten years. If she got a Reserve retirement or if one of us started a bridge career then we were good to go.

She and the assignment officer had already sent their final "Warm regards" to each other, and for several weeks of comms silence each had been waiting for the other to blink. Once the house seller accepted our offer, though, spouse moved on with her life. We needed to move out of the old house and into the new, and then we needed to rent out the old. It was only a five-mile drive but both of us were still working. We lacked the time, money, & help.

So spouse decided "What the hell, if I get what I want then we can always pay the Navy back" and she scheduled the household goods move on her orders.

The move went great. Best move ever because they really didn't have to waste a lot of time on packing & wrapping... just sling it into the truck and hold on for five miles. Spouse handled shipping, I took care of receiving, and we were just about finished on the second day.

We sent out our change-of-address e-mails. A few days later the accounting data hit BUPERS, and boy did the feces hit the fan. The assignment officer hadn't bothered to update spouse's resignation status because he expected her to accept his unrefusable offer. Unfortunately now it was clear that another officer's relief was not going to show up and what would have been a routine transfer had turned into a crisis. A BUPERS admiral asked a few questions at the weekly brief and was amused that her community was driving out someone with that length of service. An investigation was started on their assignment policies and the point papers were flying. Spouse's shipmates thought our move was to a smaller/cheaper home so that we could start hoarding cash against impending unemployment... and a bunch of them queried the assignment officers as to WTF they thought they had hoped to achieve with their personnel hardball. It took the transfers of both assignment officers to regain her community's trust in their policies & process.

Despite all the uproar, nobody changed their decisions. Minor tweaks were made to the assignment policies, so action officers on all sides declared victory and filed their point papers. Eventually the fuss died down and spouse quietly left active duty six months later. (Best decision ever.) She started drilling in the Reserves and found a whole new Navy waiting for her, filled with camaraderie & opportunity. We found tenants for the rental property and she started putting a lot of sweat equity into the new home. I retired a year later and the years have zipped by. Life is good.

If she had not found our "dream house", we would have had enough discussion time on our hands that she might have felt misgivings about her resignation decision. Once she found it, though, we were so busy moving on with our lives that she didn't waste a moment on second thoughts.
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:09 PM   #28
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We will likely need to move upon retirement as where we are (Southwestern CT) is too expensive.
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Old 06-16-2011, 04:33 PM   #29
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We talked about moving for years, but more or less decided to make the move last summer (2010). We made the final decision early this year.

Once we made the decision things moved very quickly. I plan to write a longer post on the process when I get to it . I learned a lot that I would like to share.

Our house sold at the end of May and we moved to Denver where we are renting for a year. 2 weeks into our stay here we are loving it. We plan to use the year to look at neighborhoods we like and also to decide what kind / size of home we want to deal with.

I believe that once you start thinking seriously of doing something, you really need to go forward with it unless you come up with a rock solid reason not to. Otherwise, you'll always wonder how things would have turned out - the woulda, coulda, shouldas.
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Old 06-16-2011, 05:39 PM   #30
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Retiring at the end of this month. We've been researching a lot and visiting some for more than a year, the list keeps changing. Some of the places that were at the top of our list have been eliminated for various reasons. Have it narrowed down to two places and will visit them for longer stays in the months ahead, but the list could change again and there is a chance we won't move at all.

Only thing we know for sure is we are downsizing to a smaller house whether we relocate or not.

Where we are now is wonderful except a) it can be brutal in winter, but gorgeous in summer and b) we're used to moving around and we've been here for 18 years, think we just need a change of scenery. We'll see, the good thing is we can take as long as we want and move or not move in the end, nice problem...
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Old 06-16-2011, 06:04 PM   #31
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I have not seen this resource mentioned in this thread so for those not familiar with it, City Data is a rich resource including a handing indicator that compares cost of living overall across the US. It is typically buried in the middle of city review as a couple of lines as a percentage to an index of 100--the average in the US. The ratio gives you a more "all-in" view than just tax difference. Stats about all US cities - real estate, relocation info, house prices, home value estimator, recent sales, cost of living, crime, race, income, photos, education, maps, weather, houses, schools, neighborhoods, and more
You will still want to look a your particular situation as far as taxes as sources of income and treatment do vary a lot from state to state (eg no tax on federal pension)
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Old 06-16-2011, 06:54 PM   #32
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We're not moving. We have everything we want here, and will escape for brief trips to Phoenix to warm up.
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Old 06-16-2011, 10:10 PM   #33
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We moved from CA to New Mexico in mid-2008, not to retire immediately but to be in a different state that might work for retirement in a few more years. We used City-Data extensively to compare Colorado to New Mexico and the friendliness of NM won out, hands down. As soon as we visited we didn't want to leave. (Denver had seven blizzards the year before, which was just too much snow for us.)

The cost of living in NM is great, it was like winding the clock back 20 years compared to CA. There are four seasons, but all quite manageable. No humidity except for a bit during the July/August monsoon season. And if you like art and creativity there's nowhere like Santa Fe (we live an hour from SF). Albuquerque airport is a nice size too; you can park outside the door when you take a trip!
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Old 06-17-2011, 06:09 AM   #34
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I honestly don't remember whether we got the disclosure - we had to sign lots of stuff. As far as the weather, we lived in Houston for 5 years, so San Antonio looks good compared to that! And heat doesn't bother us - we were originally planning to retire in Phoenix...
When the heat's too bad to chase the bad guys in Texas, the cops just give up ....

Extreme heat prompts deputies to suspend search for escaped suspect | khou.com Houston
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Old 06-17-2011, 09:22 AM   #35
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We moved from Bel Air, MD to Bellingham, WA in January. (My husband's family lives here.) My story worked for me but is a bit unusual.

I knew exactly what I wanted in a house. I specified single level, two bedroom, two baths, in a nice neighborhood in the city, near a bus line, small yard, and with a grocery story on the corner. I bought a single level, two bedrooms, two baths, small yard, in one of the best city neighborhoods, two blocks from the bus line and five blocks from a major grocery store. I did this through the internet, sight unseen except by my husband's family. His brother is a "slum lord" with multiple rentals for the students at the local university. The house I bought had a movie type virtual tour on the internet that was almost as good as being there.

This more than worked for us; it may have been the best move we ever made. Our house in Bel Air was on the market and wasn't moving despite the BRAC advantage. I got a very good bargain on the Bellingham house. Since all I wanted was to break even on the houses, I was able to drop the price on the Bel Air house to a price that was an even bigger bargain than the one in Bellingham was for us. It sold in a week.

We closed on the Bel Air house on 11 Nov 2010 and on the Bellingham house on 1 Dec, all Bellingham transactions via the internet. I retired 31 Dec and landed in Seattle 10 Jan 2011. We rented a car, drove to Bellingham the next day, met one of the brothers, returned the rental car and went to the car dealership and picked up our "retirement car" which was pre-purchase via the internet a couple of weeks before the move and sitting on the lot waiting for us.

We only shipped our important papers, mementos, a rocking chair, and two bedroom sets (without mattresses). After picking up the car we purchased mattresses, a couch, food and a few kitchen utensils. Within a week we were all set except for TVs which I ordered from Costco via the internet so they would be delivered in my house. The mattresses were delivered that first afternoon (and the couch).

Of course, I had planned the financing of the move in advance and was able to pay cash for everything out of my special fund augmented by a slight profit on the house exchange.

I covered the risk of the house exchange by initially taking out a no closing, low rate 5/5 ARM through PenFed. They do not penalize early payment. I enjoyed having PenFed skin/expertise in the game on the title search, etc. This bought time if the Bel Air sell ran into a problem. This was cheap but not free. I currently own the new house outright.

I must reveal that I did pay to have this house inspected thoroughly and hired expert inspectors for anything that was a potential show stopper for the purchase. Having a slum lord in the family helped to make sure the inspectors were on my side. For example, upon arrival, the first thing I did was to arrange to have the entire house rewired from ungrounded to grounded wiring. The house had a carport and a one car garage and I have converted the carport into a comfortable covered patio area. I still need to get an energy inspection and, perhaps, add additional insulation. This is not so big a deal in this area. At this point my moving fund is down only slightly more than the cost of the car so I have plenty to put into even frivolous things for the new house.

My husband and I still talk about how lucky we were to find and buy this house. It enabled us to reprice and sell our Bel Air house in a bad market. We flew two humans and a dog across country and had a life already set up for us. No temporary dwellings and storage of furniture. One move, not two.
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Old 06-17-2011, 10:02 AM   #36
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We moved from Bel Air, MD to Bellingham, WA in January. (My husband's family lives here.) My story worked for me but is a bit unusual.
Wow! What a wonderful story! And talk about the power of the internet.
All the best to you in your new home.

I have one question. How did you qualify for a mortgage? Do you have an income? I like the idea getting a mortgage so someone else is also interested in having a clear title.
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Old 06-17-2011, 10:47 AM   #37
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I have one question. How did you qualify for a mortgage? Do you have an income? I like the idea getting a mortgage so someone else is also interested in having a clear title.
When we applied for the loan, my husband was retired with a small non-cola pension and on SS. I was still working with a good salary. Our credit rating was very high (e.g. my FICO was 840/850). On the pre-approval they accepted my income at the time. When we got human-to-human, I had to verify my retirement income. I had to send them the pension estimate from federal government where I was employed, two years of tax returns directly from the IRS (not copies) and something verifying my SS entitlement (even though I wasn't going to take SS at first). They knew about the Bel Air house and wanted to know how we intended to cover costs on it until it sold.

It's funny because none of this was a financial problem which should have been obvious since we had such a high net worth without the pensions, etc. When I reread the emails, I ran into something I had not noticed. They asked where our 401k type accounts were invested but not how much they were worth. I had sent both but it appears that, since retirement savings are protected in bankruptcy, they don't rely on protected money. Just my interpretation and not a fact. They did ask for the dollar value of non-retirement account savings and investment. So people with high net worth in predominately protected accounts might have to discuss this with them; I don't know.

Despite the high credit ratings and proof of adequate income, they still put us through a strip search. I attributed this to a desire on their part to assure stakeholders that their due diligence was a step above considering the mortgage problems that were in the news. Despite the strip search I never doubted that they would approve the loan.

P.S. Yes, they knew I would probably pay it off in full as soon as the house in Bel Air was sold. I introduced myself to them by asking if they would let me do a transaction this way using their ARMs. Also, be aware that doing it this way means you buy title insurance for PenFed and, optionally, for yourself. It was worth the extra expense to me. That is why I said it was cheap but not free.
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Old 06-17-2011, 11:07 AM   #38
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We are staying put here in NE Ohio. Our house is paid for and the property taxes are reasonable. Our sons are here and my family is 45 minutes away. We get a full four seasons and last winter was pretty brutal but DH actually likes to shovel. I've asked him if he'd like a snowblower and he doesn't want one.

Our house is 2 BR and a bath upstairs and 2 BR and a bath on the first floor so we can downsize by just not using the 2nd floor. As we age the only problem with the house may be that the laundry is in the basement but so far the house is a keeper.

Location wise, I'd love to live with an ocean view. A community one hour's drive from the ocean would not do. I know this is out of the question because coastline property is very expensive so I will have to make do with occasional trips and rent a condo with an ocean view.

DH's family lives in the Denver suburbs. If we ever located I'd seriously consider moving to that area. It already feels like a second home because we've visited so many times.

I'd have a hard time moving somewhere where we didn't know anyone. Maybe this will change. I admire those of you who pick a new location, move there and make a life.
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Old 06-17-2011, 12:11 PM   #39
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...the good thing is we can take as long as we want and move or not move in the end, nice problem...
I don't know Midpack, I sense some itchy feet after 18 years. Get on it. There are only 3 weeks to go...
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Old 06-17-2011, 12:20 PM   #40
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If you moved, or plan to move after you retire, how long did it take, or how long do you expect it to take, to find a new place to live? Did you start looking before you actually retired?

My target date is a little under two years from now and I suspect it may take me that long to find a suitable property. If I did find the perfect place before I retire I'd either have to borrow against my retirement plan at work or take out a HELOC to pay for it. But if I wait until after I retire and sell my current house, so I can pay cash for the new property, I'll need somewhere to live while I'm looking, and my post-retirement budget doesn't include any money for rent, it assumes my home will be paid off.
We planned our original move beginning 25 years ahead, but that's another story.

When we moved recently, the process took almost a year to find the "perfect" place and then 6 months to accomplish the actual move. We stayed in the old place and refurbished it for selling while we redid the kitchen and bath at the new place (25 miles away). For the new place, we made an offer within a few days of it coming on the market. We closed within 45 days. The old place sold 4 days after it went on the market and closed 2 months later. Lucky is better than good any day.

My suggestion would be to find the place you want and then purchase it with a conventional mortgage. Since you are still employed, you have income (very important to banks as we found out when trying to secure a mortgage a couple of years ago - we were already retired). Once you retire and get ready to move, sell the old place and pay off the new place. If you get "lucky" and find a great place/great price right away, you could always rent out the new place for a year or two. There are no perfect solutions for relocating and the current housing/economy situation complicates it further. Best luck with your plans. As always, YMMV.
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