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Would like to hear from Pennsylvanians...
Old 01-17-2009, 07:15 PM   #1
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Would like to hear from Pennsylvanians...

Our tax CPA estimated that after I retire, we could save significant (to us) $$ by living in a state that does not tax income from pensions and government 401Ks. After considering all the states that fall into that category, we decided Pennsylvania may suit us, with its temperate climate, mountains, woods, and streams. (I know there are many in this forum who live in other no-tax states, but for purposes of this thread I’d like to stick with PA).
We can make a couple of overnight trips per year to different parts of PA, to see if we like the area. I would love to hear PA residents’ views on what makes your part of the state a good choice to live in. I guess I need to hear any negative stuff, too J

Thanks for taking the time to respond,
Amethyst

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Old 01-17-2009, 07:36 PM   #2
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Frank and I have thought about Pennsylvania, and in fact he used to spend a lot of time there when he worked on contract in a neighboring state. He really likes the people and the low cost of housing in rural western Pennsylvania.

We are under the impression that property taxes in Pennsylvania may tend to be a bit higher than in some other states that are not in the northeast. And then, there is the snow which is a problem for some people.

But really, it seems like a very reasonable place to retire.
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Old 01-17-2009, 07:39 PM   #3
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Perhaps you can tell us something about what you like and do not like. Pennsylvania has lots of places with differing attributes.

FWIW, I tend to mentally think of PA as Philly on one side, Pittsburg on the other, and the equivalent of rural Alabama in the middle (what some friends refer to as "Pennsyltucky"). There is everything from urban sophistication, to Amish country, to burnt out steel towns, to artist colonies, to wilderness. What did you have in mind?
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Old 01-17-2009, 08:28 PM   #4
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I grew up in Pa.. and still have many relatives that live there . As with most states there are nice places and some depressing ones . Since you are thinking of relocating and also looking for a warmer climate for the winter why do you not just look at the Carolina's or Tennessee and kill two birds with one stone .
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Old 01-17-2009, 08:33 PM   #5
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DW and I left Maryland for PA exactly for the reason that pensions are not taxed, neither is food or clothing. Though the clothing is not an issue, we both have more than plenty.

We picked the Laurel Highlands area, SE of Pittsburgh, about 65 miles. A very small town. I worked in Baltimore, DW worked near Baltimore. We have no desire to deal with any medium or high density population areas ever again.

This town has no industry or opportunity for w*rk, unless a relative died on the job and family been here at least 75 years.

Which for us is perfect. The nearest big box store of any kind is about 15 miles, on cruise control along a nice parkway like road next to a stream. 2 traffic lights. For us three cars in row is a traffic jam. Sometimes there are as many as 7, horrors.

We are not into any of the busy social scenes. There is not that much anyway. Though if you are so inclined there are at least 4 very high priced country clubs within 5 miles, with the requisite golf etc.

The climate suits us fine, not too hot in summer, only a few really cold days in winter, roads are unusually well maintained for PA. PA's roads are reputed to be crappy, the government nearly as stellar as that of Illinois. We have not yet, in three years have made it to Pittsburgh, and have no intentions of either.
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Old 01-17-2009, 10:41 PM   #6
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I live in MD and consider DE as well as PA to be options. My brother went to WV, like Walt34. My "plan C" involves living in PA for the reasons stated, but close to DE for tax-free shopping.

So.....where are these temperate climate areas of PA?
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Old 01-17-2009, 10:52 PM   #7
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I do not know if it matters to you, but PA has the toughest estate / inheritance taxes in the nation. They start from dollar zero - every dollar not left to a spouse is taxed.

Inheritance Tax Pennsylvania
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Old 01-18-2009, 10:09 AM   #8
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We have some in-laws living in PA. Their property taxes are twice what ours are so that may matter if you buy a largish house. Winter weather is about 10 degrees colder if that matters to you.

My paternal grandparents lived in Tyrone, PA, a paper mill town near Altoona. Other than the winter weather I always liked the area. The mill spewed a lot of soot and chemical smells though.

We are in WV solely because DW wanted to be within an hour of family in nearby MD. It turned out to be an easy 35-minute drive even at 5:00 pm on Friday so she's happy. Otherwise we'd be in one of the Carolinas.
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Old 01-18-2009, 12:02 PM   #9
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Just came in for a break from pruning the apple trees. Some of you asked for more about what we are looking for, so I tried to boil it down to basics.

1. Good for hiking and general enjoyment of the outdoors.

2. Well-designed, well-built homes are available on large (2 acres-plus) lots (not a farm, though). We would rather have a modest house on a great property than a huge place on 1/3 acre,

3. You can make yourself welcome without having grown up there.

4. The atmosphere and environment fall in the middle of the scale of "pokey" on one end and "getting and spending, 24/7" on the other.

5. Good library, medical care, and shopping are available within 10-miles or so.

6. The county/township/municipal unit plows the roads in winter.
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Old 01-18-2009, 12:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Just came in for a break from pruning the apple trees. Some of you asked for more about what we are looking for, so I tried to boil it down to basics.

1. Good for hiking and general enjoyment of the outdoors.

2. Well-designed, well-built homes are available on large (2 acres-plus) lots (not a farm, though). We would rather have a modest house on a great property than a huge place on 1/3 acre,

3. You can make yourself welcome without having grown up there.

4. The atmosphere and environment fall in the middle of the scale of "pokey" on one end and "getting and spending, 24/7" on the other.

5. Good library, medical care, and shopping are available within 10-miles or so.

6. The county/township/municipal unit plows the roads in winter.
I grew up in western PA about an hour north of Pittsburgh in the foothills of the Appalachians. Beautiful area, but so are many areas of PA! It's probably more "pokey" than you would like.

I also lived in the middle of the state when I went to Penn State. Also, another very nice area.

Lastly, we lived outside of Phila (northwest) towards Lancaster and loved that area. Very laid back, pretty, good hiking and biking. Lived on a 2 acre property in a modest house.
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Old 01-18-2009, 02:49 PM   #11
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We picked the Laurel Highlands area, SE of Pittsburgh, about 65 miles. A very small town. I worked in Baltimore, DW worked near Baltimore. We have no desire to deal with any medium or high density population areas ever again.
I had a home in the Laurel Highlands area for about three years, about 25 mi north of Johnstown. Town had about 4500 people, two police officers (one was part-time) and the last violent crime was around 2000 when a domestic quarrel got out of hand. People still leave their doors unlocked around there most of the time. Home invasions and armed robberies were almost unknown - you had to go to Pitt, Altoona or Johnstown for that.

Quote:
This town has no industry or opportunity for w*rk, unless a relative died on the job and family been here at least 75 years.
True, unfortunately. Which is why I did contract w*rk in a neighboring state and came back to PA on the weekends and holidays as often as possible.


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The climate suits us fine, not too hot in summer, only a few really cold days in winter, roads are unusually well maintained for PA. PA's roads are reputed to be crappy, the government nearly as stellar as that of Illinois. We have not yet, in three years have made it to Pittsburgh, and have no intentions of either.
Pretty much agree, except I might take issue with the "...few really cold days in winter." Depends on what you define as "really cold." I remember quite a few sub-zero days where I was. Not every winter day, true, but enough to remember. However, you don't have to shovel cold - you do have to shovel snow, and there is a LOT of it. I have (not so) fond memories of patches of black ice on I-80. But the counties do a good job of plowing and sanding/salting, even on secondary roads. Now, if only they could do something about the deer (a.k.a. targets for front bumpers).

The only thing that would keep me from living there now is the price of heating oil. When I sold my place there (about 2004) the last time I bought oil it was around $1.60/gal. I used to keep the place around 50 degrees when I wasn't there and around 60 or 65 when I was, and I still went through about 500 gallons every winter. If the price goes into the stratosphere again it'll be a severe strain on people in the area.

Summers, however, are another story - really pleasant. I didn't have air conditioning in my house and didn't really need it. I used to love going to Prince Gallitzin State Park and boating on the lake. Just taking a short walk in the hills was really pleasant.

PA's roads are a lot better than they are in Louisiana, which I grant you isn't really saying much...

County government isn't too bad where you are (just guessing...Cambria County?) but state government sux big time. Fast Eddie Rendell (governor) is your typical machine politician.
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Old 01-18-2009, 03:51 PM   #12
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I used to love going to Prince Gallitzin State Park and boating on the lake. Just taking a short walk in the hills was really pleasant.
I love that park! We camped there one summer. Beautiful lake. Great little hiking/running/biking trail that goes along a good portion of the lake.
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Old 01-18-2009, 03:58 PM   #13
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We are retired. Hurry up and and speed are now foreign concepts.

House is very well insulated (thank me ), snow is nice with cup of coffee in hand looking out the window. The snow blower does a good job, when I get around to it. Three car garage never gets below 45F, and nice to get into a car without windshield scraping.

The Johnstown/Cambria side of the mountain gets a lot more snow than we do, is also about 5 degrees colder on average. The old mining town Boswell, some twenty miles from us claims to be the four wheel drive capital of the east coast (me thinks they are a bit bombastic) but they need them bad. I no longer have 4wd vehicles, don't need them here.

We like the slow pace.
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Old 01-18-2009, 08:44 PM   #14
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I'm sure it depends on where you move to in PA but property taxes are high. There are no vehicle property taxes though and we had to pay those in VA, MO, and KS when we lived there.

We live outside the Philly area and it is nice but getting a little crowded. We moved here from VA and the libraries aren't as nice since they are funded by the local townships.
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Old 01-18-2009, 11:38 PM   #15
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I grew up in Pa.. and still have many relatives that live there . As with most states there are nice places and some depressing ones . Since you are thinking of relocating and also looking for a warmer climate for the winter why do you not just look at the Carolina's or Tennessee and kill two birds with one stone .
Quote:
Originally Posted by ls99 View Post
We picked the Laurel Highlands area, SE of Pittsburgh, about 65 miles. A very small town. I worked in Baltimore, DW worked near Baltimore. We have no desire to deal with any medium or high density population areas ever again.
Quote:
Originally Posted by want2xplore View Post
I had a home in the Laurel Highlands area for about three years, about 25 mi north of Johnstown.
Summers, however, are another story - really pleasant. I didn't have air conditioning in my house and didn't really need it. I used to love going to Prince Gallitzin State Park and boating on the lake. Just taking a short walk in the hills was really pleasant.
Three words: Iron City beer.

I grew up in Murrysville, left "forever" in 1978, and returned briefly in 1988 & 2007. The only ties are high school reunions and our kid's tour of Carnegie-Mellon University. I keep in touch with classmates.

The impressions I've formed over those 40+ years are:
- Not only are winters cold, but it's a mean lake-effect cold. In some months it's not uncommon to shovel the driveway 2-3x/week. But maybe global warming will work in your favor here.
- Frost heave and winterizing.
- In 1976-7 the Ohio River froze and Duquesne Power started the "coal death watch"-- how many days of coal-burning electricity they had left before the plant would shut down or the river would let a barge through. But maybe the grid is more robust now.
- Does KDKA Pittsburgh still have the "Rhinestone Pothole" contest for the biggest & nastiest one? Eh, I guess Jack Bogut is long gone.
- Deer are pests. A classmate has turned her garden into a fenced/roofed enclosure and is still getting raided. Every neighbor has a car/deer story, usually with a sad ending for both sides.
- Summer mosquitos, especially at PG State Park.
- I used to think PA politics were corrupt until I lived in Maryland, Chicago, and Hawaii. But PA still takes honorable mention.

My major complaint would be that it's too freakin' humid, too cold in winter, too hot in summer, and too twisty/hilly for snowy/icy driving. But as Brewer has mentioned the "good" side is that the state is made up of bezillions of microclimates and smaller neighborhoods. You may find your niche somewhere.

As others have mentioned, look at the total tax picture. The taxes you don't see are more than counterbalanced by the taxes you don't expect.
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Old 01-19-2009, 02:18 PM   #16
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I grew up in Waynesburg PA, which is 50-60 miles south of Pittsburgh. I lived a short time in OH and CA also as a kid. It is a very small town and I could not wait to escape as a teenager. I ended up moving back for 6 years and then moved to Morgantown WV, which is only 20 something miles from Waynesburg. Waynesburg is not a good place to be looking for a good paying job. I drove to Morgantown for my job and my DH drove to Pittsburgh for his job for those 6 years. We still had to pay a 1% local employment tax based solely on your gross wages, even though we did not work in Greene County. Property taxes are higher in PA than in WV. People are friendly and I think that Greene Co. is beautiful. Not a lot of excitement though. WV does have lower property taxes, but it has a personal property tax on vehicles, boats,etc. I was visiting my sister in PA on Friday and stopped at 2 grocery stores on the way home and did not pay 1 cent in taxes on my approx $120.00 worth of groceries. We pay taxes on groceries in WV.
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Old 01-19-2009, 02:30 PM   #17
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Amethyst, based on your comments I bet you could find a place in PA that would suit you. Two places that I think might be worth a look are Pike County (poconos) and maybe State College. But I bet there are others as well.
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Old 01-19-2009, 03:04 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
Just came in for a break from pruning the apple trees. Some of you asked for more about what we are looking for, so I tried to boil it down to basics.

1. Good for hiking and general enjoyment of the outdoors.

2. Well-designed, well-built homes are available on large (2 acres-plus) lots (not a farm, though). We would rather have a modest house on a great property than a huge place on 1/3 acre,

3. You can make yourself welcome without having grown up there.

4. The atmosphere and environment fall in the middle of the scale of "pokey" on one end and "getting and spending, 24/7" on the other.

5. Good library, medical care, and shopping are available within 10-miles or so.

6. The county/township/municipal unit plows the roads in winter.
I have always lived in Pennsylvania and about twenty years ago I decided to investigate better places to live with the idea of relocating. I looked around, made some trips, found some attractive locations, and then decided that none of them was sufficiently better to actually move to.

Pennsylvania is a big state and has lots of diversity of geography, industry and society. There are extremes of population density and of wealth. While the entire state of PA is too large a target to discuss as a specific place to relocate to there are almost countless combinations of these factors in various areas of the state. I am familiar with Pittsburgh and central PA but most of my time has been spent in the eastern portion. Here, in the northeastern part (not to be confused with Northeast, PA which is a town in the Northwest corner, go figure) I'm satisfied with the mixture of factors that suits me just fine.

I live on about three acres of land in the nations newly created Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It's a 90-minute drive to Manhattan or to Philadelphia. The New Jersey seashore (not to be confused with Jersey Shore which is a town in Central PA) is about a hundred miles away. The cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton in the Lehigh Valley are less than half an hour away and the Wyoming Valley with Scranton and Wilkes-Barre are almost as close in the opposite direction. The Pocono Medical Center, East Stroudsburg University and the public library are all less than 15 miles from my door. The county contains numerous small farms but thousands of people commute to the New York metropolitan area for employment.

Mention has been made of the climate and I agree that there are times when the less pleasant ends of the weather spectrum are approached but I've realized that there's an aspect of this climate that is often overlooked. There are four distinct seasons and they usually correspond with the calendar. There are some cold and also some warm days in December but winter really doesn't begin until the third week of that month. By the time March ends, spring is definitely in the air. When the occasional intrusions of more severe weather occur, they last for a few days, not for weeks or months. I could move anywhere I want to but I'm happy here.

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Old 01-20-2009, 08:55 AM   #19
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Interesting reading. I have been considering the area around Gettysburg as a possible new location. I drive through that area regularly to and from visits to my son in MD and like the looks of the area. I haven't gotten far enough along to look at housing prices and taxes yet.

Didn't know about the inheritance tax, not a show stopper but worth looking at.

Trying to juggle a location that is not any further from aging parents but closer to son and maybe cheaper than upstate NY is not easy.

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Old 01-20-2009, 09:25 AM   #20
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Former Pennsylvanian

Hi,

Like Nords, I grew up in Murrysville (small world isn't it). I left in 1981 when I graduated from high school. Since then I have lived in WV, DC, MD, back to PA (Philadelphia area) for 15 years, and now Florida.

In my experience the western part of the state is indeed pokier than the eastern part. It is also colder and rainier. In the Pittsburgh area you get to enjoy the dreaded "lake-effect" snow. I can remember having many snow days off of school growing up. I much preferred the western suburbs of Philadelphia. The area is attractive, the climate is milder, and the people are more the urban professional type. There just seemed to more going on. Plus, for me, the job opportunities were way better. This is not to say that Pittsburghers aren't nice, because they are, very. If I had a choice about going back to Pennsylvania, I would choose either the far western suburbs of Philadelphia, or the suburbs surrounding Reading. There is a nice country feel, while still being close enough to important amenities like major airports, shopping, and other major metropolitan areas.

One area I have thought a lot about is the eastern panhandle of WV. It is beautiful there and close enough to DC to provide access to everything the city has to offer without having to endure the negative parts of urban living. Shepherdstown, Harpers Ferry, and Charles Town are very nice places.

For now though, the place for me is Florida. The weather can't be beat.

Just my two cents. Good luck in your search.
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