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Old 02-23-2010, 01:24 PM   #41
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2800 sq ft, with a pool. Total property tax bill for 2009, (county, school, etc.) $2800. I don't consider that "outrageous."
Wow. You either have an outrageously low appraised value, an unusually low tax rate - or both.
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:35 PM   #42
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Wow. You either have an outrageously low appraised value, an unusually low tax rate - or both.
And you have a very nice house, Sarah! At only $1 tax per square foot, too.
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:41 PM   #43
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Illinois has 3 percent income tax on earned income, 6.25 percent state sales tax (1 percent on food and medical) plus whatever a county/municipality can tack on (in Cook County it was just reduced to a total of 9.25 percent, from 10.25 percent), and I paid $8K property tax last year on my 3 br, 1.5 small old house. You'd think with all these tax dollars we'd be a little lower on the top 10 list of places not to retire! Maybe the current campaigning to increase our income tax to 5 percent will do it....
I grew up in an extended family of City of Chicago employees. We were loyal (understatement!) Chicago Dems and absolutely devoted to oiling the machine. Even had a picture of Mayor Daley I (God rest his soul) on the living room wall!

But things seem to be changing here in Illinois....... Careless politicians unable to rake in payola and keep the machine on track while still delivering services and keeping a reasonably balanced budget. Some even winding up in jail!

No doubt our flat 3% state income tax is toast. Under funded past promises to gov't employees need to be met and current employees need generous raises and benefit improvements while being asked to do less.......

It's bad. I hope this Illinois thing, this deterioration in the ability to manage gov't and increased shenanigans, doesn't spread to the rest of the country. Then there won't be anyplace for retirees to hide.
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:45 PM   #44
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Wow. You either have an outrageously low appraised value, an unusually low tax rate - or both.
Probably a bit of both, though we aren't in an "upscale" area of Harris County.
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And you have a very nice house, Sarah! At only $1 tax per square foot, too.
Thanks; it's not fabulous but it's home. (Oh...thanks for posting the $1/sq ft. I notice that I posted the sq ft incorrectly in my other post. It's 2600 sq ft @ $2800 tax. Duh.)
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Old 02-23-2010, 01:55 PM   #45
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It has been several years since we paid property taxes, but isn't it true that the state of Texas has neither income nor property taxes?

If memory serves, our property taxes were city, county, school, hospital district, and community college district. We sold our home and hit the road (or rather water) in 2004, and our property tax bill that year was more than $14K in Austin, for a 50 year old tract house not nearly as nice as SaraW's. When we bought the place in 1991 the taxes were about $2500.

A warning for those thinking of moving to Texas: check local taxes carefully.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:02 PM   #46
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Sometimes living the lifestyle we want, is not always possible in an expensive area and living in an area that costs less can make all the difference in giving the retiree enough extra spending money to realize his/her plans and dreams.
Every expensive city in America is full of some not very well off immigrants. An area of Seattle no more than 2 miles south of me seems mainly to house Ethiopians and Somalis. New York city has more Dominicans than any city outside of Santo Domingo. A Cambodian lady I got to know who runs a donut shop bought a nice house in Seattle's North End.

So while you probably don't find too many of these folks on the lakefront, or Park Avenue in NYC, they seem to be able to get along well enough elsewhere.

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Everyone has their own set of internal criteria for selecting an ER location, whether they admit it or not.
I like to multiply the pleasure of any given activity by the number of times I am likely to enjoy that activity, say in any two year period.Then I have a rational way for giving up some things to achieve others, since my constraint is money. Girl watching in Rome, maybe 1.5. Girl watching downtown Seattle, maybe 1.35. Cost of former, at least $3500, cost of latter, maybe $1 for a McDouble if I get hungry. Frequency, Seattle maybe 100-150 times per year, Rome, let me guess...

Looking at architecture in Rome, maybe 2.5. Looking out the window at the waterfront in Seattle, free, and at least a 2.25. Going down there, free walking to 75 cents for the bus.

Doing some hiking in the Alps, maybe $5000 with a guide and lodge.
Hiking in the North Cascades maybe $175 with freeze dried food, etc.

Hiking in High Sierra, maybe $650 with travel, etc.

Museums. I would definitely prefer being able to go frequently to any one of the major US or European Museums over Seattle's. But Seattle has had some very good exhibits, as well as some excellent owned exhibits. We are definitely on the first class exhibit circuit- big Picasso exhibit coming this summer, good sized Alexander Calder Exhibit almost finished, as well as a giant permanent Calder sculpture in our Olympic Sculpture Park in a spectacular site on the water at the north end of downtown.

Libraries- with King County, Seattle and the UW, almost any book. Cost, Seattle free, others very inexpensive.

Many books are hardly available outside of major metros, except purchase from Amazon, or interlibrary loan which now usually costs money, may be limited to one week borrowing, and may take months to get the book.

So, for me, even without taking into account the very superior local weather (as long as one is not depressed by clouds) or taking into account presence of friends and family, I think there are good reasons to give up some very occasional bucket-list type activities for daily or at least very frequent activities.

In your case, W-2, you have mainly lived in quite attractive and usually sophisticated places-even College Station is a long cut above the typical Midwestern small city or small town-so a move like you have been contemplating could be a bigger change than you expect.

Ha
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:08 PM   #47
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Here's our house, 22 miles outside of Houston in a river-front subdivision.
...

2600 sq ft, with a pool. Total property tax bill for 2009, (county, school, etc.) $2800. I don't consider that "outrageous."
In 2009, I paid $3100 in property taxes for a 1200 sf (3 bedroom, 2 bath) 50-year old house in a solid but working class neighborhood of the San Francisco Bay Area. No pool. I've owned the house for almost 12 years so I have some benefit from Proposition 13. I'd pay about $5000 in property taxes if I bought the same house today.

Last year, I was seriously considering a job offer in Denver, where I grew up. I spent a lot of time looking into home prices in a nice suburban neighborhood. I could buy a house double the size of what I have now at 2/3 the cost and 2/3 the property taxes. Less income tax. Less sales tax. Since the taxes are so much lower, that must mean they don't have police, fire, and other essential services there.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:23 PM   #48
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I Since the taxes are so much lower, that must mean they don't have police, fire, and other essential services there.
I don't know about the services in the Denver area, but living outside the city limits in Harris County TX means that we don't have city fire/police. We do have two county fire stations within 5 miles of our house, and a Sheriff's Dept. substation about 2 miles away. Our water, sewer, garbage, etc. are city services; no water wells or septic. I'm a bike-ride away from the county library branch.

Ours is also a middle-class neighborhood; our house is 15 years old.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:24 PM   #49
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A warning for those thinking of moving to Texas: check local taxes carefully.
Of course, when I "lived" (stationed) there our taxes were paid by the rattlesnakes, tumbleweed, and blowing dirt ...

Here's my own picture of my former "back yard". If you squint, you can probably see the curvature of the earth...

Street View - View your home, revisit childhood places, virtual tourist and more
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:31 PM   #50
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In your case, W-2, you have mainly lived in quite attractive and usually sophisticated places-even College Station is a long cut above the typical Midwestern small city or small town-so a move like you have been contemplating could be a bigger change than you expect.
College Station is a unique place, due to the overwhelming influence of Texas A&M on the community and its proximity to Houston.

But for example I think few would argue that Meridian, Mississippi, where I also lived back in the mid-1970's, was inordinately attractive and sophisticated at that time. Nothing against Meridian. I liked living there, a lot, and had ball there. My ex (from Orange County, California) hated it, and loved the TV ad in which a local car dealer in Meridian advertised that his dealership was in "the worst location in the world!"

The growth and advancement that has occurred in Meridian in the past 30 years is impressive. I can hardly recognize it. The same is true for Springfield.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:41 PM   #51
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Here's our house, 22 miles outside of Houston in a river-front subdivision.



2600 sq ft, with a pool. Total property tax bill for 2009, (county, school, etc.) $2800. I don't consider that "outrageous."

(Best part...NO mortgage. Yeah, baby. )

Gorgeous house Sarah and I think $2800 in property tax is a bargain .
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:44 PM   #52
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In 2009, I paid $3100 in property taxes for a 1200 sf (3 bedroom, 2 bath) 50-year old house in a solid but working class neighborhood of the San Francisco Bay Area. No pool. I've owned the house for almost 12 years so I have some benefit from Proposition 13. I'd pay about $5000 in property taxes if I bought the same house today.

Last year, I was seriously considering a job offer in Denver, where I grew up. I spent a lot of time looking into home prices in a nice suburban neighborhood. I could buy a house double the size of what I have now at 2/3 the cost and 2/3 the property taxes. Less income tax. Less sales tax. Since the taxes are so much lower, that must mean they don't have police, fire, and other essential services there.
You might like Denver! It all depends on your priorities and what makes a difference to you. As Rich points out, tax structure isn't the ONLY criterion in selecting a location in which to live or retire, but I believe that among others, this is one to consider.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:55 PM   #53
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When we were stationed in Germany, we got a briefing upon arriving at the base. The Sgt. told us that we would either have one of the best tour of duty ever or we would hate the place. It all depended on weather you played the game 'Ain't it Awful!'. He said if you walk around and think 'Ain't it awful they don't speak english! Ain't it awful a call home cost so much! Ain't it awful it snows so much! Ain't it awful it's so hot!' You get the pitch.

The bottom line if you look for the awful in a place you will find it, then if you dwell on it, you will soon be miserable. We always figured someone likes living here so lets find out what they like and see what it is like. When we got assigned to Mountain Home Idaho, we thought we were in for a long assignment. It is out in the middle of know where. It was one of our better times. We camped, fished, and learned to snow ski.
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:12 PM   #54
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...It all depended on weather you played the game 'Ain't it Awful!'. He said if you walk around and think 'Ain't it awful they don't speak english! Ain't it awful a call home cost so much! Ain't it awful it snows so much! Ain't it awful it's so hot!' You get the pitch.
I've been playing that game in East Nowhere NY from November to March for almost 30 years.
However, you will not hear a single peep about "awful" out of me once the snow melts and I can garden, go to the lake and read and tan and boat and swim, yadda yadda. All solo activites right now, but I make do.
The good news is I have a guy friend who is retiring in late April.
We are already planning team fix-'er-upper projects at each others' houses, joint meals when our SOs come home from w*rk, and local outings for the Dynamic Duo's pure goof-off days.
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:17 PM   #55
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I don't know about the services in the Denver area, but living outside the city limits in Harris County TX means that we don't have city fire/police. We do have two county fire stations within 5 miles of our house, and a Sheriff's Dept. substation about 2 miles away. Our water, sewer, garbage, etc. are city services; no water wells or septic. I'm a bike-ride away from the county library branch.
I was being a little sarcastic with my comment, "Since the taxes are so much lower, that must mean they don't have police, fire, and other essential services there." I pay significant state and local taxes in California (9.55% marginal state income tax, 9.75% sales tax, 1% state SDI, $3K property taxes for a small home, etc). However, as far as I can tell, I don't receive anything more in the way of public services than what I'd receive if I lived in Colorado or Texas. On top of that, California is next to broke. There doesn't seem to be a strong correlation between tax rates and the services provided by the state and local governments. There are plenty of wonderful places to live with low tax rates.
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:18 PM   #56
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It has been several years since we paid property taxes, but isn't it true that the state of Texas has neither income nor property taxes?

If memory serves, our property taxes were city, county, school, hospital district, and community college district. We sold our home and hit the road (or rather water) in 2004, and our property tax bill that year was more than $14K in Austin, for a 50 year old tract house not nearly as nice as SaraW's. When we bought the place in 1991 the taxes were about $2500.

A warning for those thinking of moving to Texas: check local taxes carefully.
Wow - I lived in a 1800 sq ft, 20 year old house on the outskirts of Austin which we sold in 2005. Had most of the city services. Our property taxes were 1/3 of yours! Our taxes were levied by the Round Rock School District and Williamson County.

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Old 02-23-2010, 03:41 PM   #57
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...

Doing some hiking in the Alps, maybe $5000 with a guide and lodge.
Hiking in the North Cascades maybe $175 with freeze dried food, etc.

Hiking in High Sierra, maybe $650 with travel, etc.

...
Excellent post. There are many enjoyable activities that don't require much in the way of financial resources (your $1 for a McDouble while girl watching in Seattle is classic). The Alps and Rome may be nice places to visit, but there are plenty of great things to do and see within a short distance from each of our homes. And people living in Switzerland or Italy probably dream the $5000 trip to Washington or California.

Most of my activities are outdoor pursuits that have effectively no cost. It doesn't require much for me to hike or bicycle up in the local hills and mountains. I see everything from bob cats to tarantula's to eagles to road runners to incredible views. All for free. Still haven't seen a mountain lion (my friends have). Perhaps I will after I retire and spend more time in the outdoors.
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:49 PM   #58
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You might like Denver! It all depends on your priorities and what makes a difference to you. As Rich points out, tax structure isn't the ONLY criterion in selecting a location in which to live or retire, but I believe that among others, this is one to consider.
This is certainly true. Taxes are important but so are a host of other criteria. Each person is different and each needs to find what is best for him/her/them. But for many, it is possible to have the best of both worlds. There are many nice places to live that have relatively low tax rates.
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:51 PM   #59
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Still haven't seen a mountain lion (my friends have). Perhaps I will after I retire and spend more time in the outdoors.
They are very hard to see. Especially earlier in my life I spent hours every week in very wild country, and I have only seen 3. One from my car, two while hunting. OTOH, bears are a dime a dozen. I even spotted a Grizzley, when they were still very rare in WA.

Ha
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:53 PM   #60
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Most of my activities are outdoor pursuits that have effectively no cost. It doesn't require much for me to hike or bicycle up in the local hills and mountains. I see everything from bob cats to tarantula's to eagles to road runners to incredible views. All for free. Still haven't seen a mountain lion (my friends have). Perhaps I will after I retire and spend more time in the outdoors.
Just goes to show you that if you really like those kinds of activities, it "pays" to live nearby. Otherwise you are looking at major travel bills to enjoy those kinds of activities often.

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