Author Topic: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)  (Read 1003 times)

nexus

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Hi guys,

My fiance and I are starting to entertain the idea of buying a home, but we can't rationalize buying something here in California. We like where we live now, and are fortunate enough to rent from my fiance's parents, but if we were to buy something in this area it would cost upwards of $500k and likely be mediocre at best. It is hard to get on board with that when I see other places in other states twice the size selling for 2/3 the price with a pretty similar quality of life. We don't frequent the beach, nor do we ski. (We don't need 2x the size, but just for comparison sake. "I see other places in other states the same size for a fraction of the cost")

We are planning on sitting down soon to start to sketch out a rough idea of what we're looking for, and which states we're interested in researching. If it matters, I'm about $100k away from FI with our current lifestyle (and we pay $1,300 in rent) so we're looking to find something that keeps our housing costs the same, or decreases them. I've run some numbers, and there's a good chance that if we moved somewhere else (in the near future) only one of us would need to work full-time, making $30/hr or more until we coasted into FIRE, or we could both pick up part-time jobs to supplement our income. With that being said, moving would probably happen in closer to 3 years versus anytime soon. Our wedding keeps getting postponed due to COVID, and I want to be FI in our current situation before moving the target and deciding to be a homeowner.

I have compiled a list of things to discuss with her, but I would like additional insight into other topics we should include in our conversation and considerations as we start to plot this out. And, if you have planned or done a similar move, please share your experiences and insights.

In no particular order, here's what I've got so far:
> List of states we're curious about: property tax, political leaning, laws on solar usage, and depending on distance will we have to re-home our freshwater fish or will we be able to take them with us.
> Layout/floor plan: 1 story home, 2 stories, and/or basement? Kitchen must have an island and counter space for days
> Can I keep my job (I work remotely), or will I need a new one, or will I/we be FIRE'd already*?
> Weather: humid, snow, hurricanes, tornadoes? So far we agreed on no snow/no ice. Avoid areas that have flooded, too, and we've had our fill of wildfire smoke too. Plus, our cars aren't equipped to handle it snow/ice
> Is there some form of league/recreational tennis we can play? (This is a must)
> Property features: big vs little yard, suburbs or BFE, tennis court/enough space to build one/one nearby, property backed into woods/creek/pond (do we even want this?), is it going to be high or low maintenance?
> How many beds/baths? (will vary depending on if we want kids). But likely 3-4 beds, 2+ baths**
> Wildlife? Bears, big cats, snakes, spiders, scorpions? (unlikely if in suburbs, but I don't want to deal with deadly stuff)
> How much do we want to spend, and how much do we want to put as a down payment? (No more $100k down, I'd think)
> Timeline? This will be based on whether or not I can keep my job, purchase price/time needed to hoard cash for down payment. Thinking roughly 3 years from the time we iron out the specs.
> Can my fiance transfer her license to another state & hurdles required to accomplish it?
> Is the area bike/walking friendly or do we have to drive everywhere

Thank you, as always my Mustachian friends. :)

*I figure I should have a steady source of high income while trying to buy a home
** bedroom for sleeping, one for our home office, maybe a fish room or guest room


Fuzz

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2020, 04:04:06 PM »
Maybe somewhere in Nevada at elevation so it's not too hot and still driveable to California? No income tax and lots of affordable communities.

If you're planning on children, and you like your fiance's parents, maybe stay in California?

Utah is pretty great.

These advice Qs are hard. Fun to think about, but no idea how to offer helpful suggestions.

nexus

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2020, 04:34:41 PM »
Maybe somewhere in Nevada at elevation so it's not too hot and still driveable to California? No income tax and lots of affordable communities.

If you're planning on children, and you like your fiance's parents, maybe stay in California?

Utah is pretty great.

These advice Qs are hard. Fun to think about, but no idea how to offer helpful suggestions.

I totally understand, especially because everyone's experiences and expectations are different. Either way, thanks for the input -- we'll leave no stone unturned!

Paul der Krake

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2020, 04:53:30 PM »
I am pretty sure that you can join a tennis league anywhere in the country.

"State" is the wrong item size to be looking at. You should definitely take into account state law, but what you really need to look at is individual metro areas. Brooklyn and Buffalo are both in New York, but that's about it.

In my opinion, limiting yourself to "affordable" areas is a mistake. There's a reason the expensive areas are that way: it's because living there is great, or at least a certain definition of great. In the grand scheme of things, paying an couple hundred thousand dollars extra for a home is nothing. There are a ton of Mustachians who live great lives in the most expensive cities in the country.

Find where you want to live first, then figure out how to make the numbers work, not the other way around.

nick663

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2020, 05:01:22 PM »
To add to your list:
-Car insurance rates:  This one hit me hard when moving to Michigan.  I've seen a lot of people worry about a couple hundred dollar difference in property tax rates without considering car insurance.
-Health insurance rates:  Even if using the ACA marketplace it can vary significantly state to state or even county to county.
-Proximity to major international airport:  If you plan on traveling by plane much, being stuck with only a small regional airport can be awful.

nexus

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2020, 06:33:26 PM »
Find where you want to live first, then figure out how to make the numbers work, not the other way around.

This. Great advice! We definitely need to visit some areas we are interested in, which so far include Nashville (I lived there briefly) and Texas (fiancé’s sister is moving there in the next year or two), probably checking out Houston, Austin, and maybe Corpus Christi -ish.

nexus

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2020, 06:35:01 PM »
To add to your list:
-Car insurance rates:  This one hit me hard when moving to Michigan.  I've seen a lot of people worry about a couple hundred dollar difference in property tax rates without considering car insurance.
-Health insurance rates:  Even if using the ACA marketplace it can vary significantly state to state or even county to county.
-Proximity to major international airport:  If you plan on traveling by plane much, being stuck with only a small regional airport can be awful.

Awesome points. These are great for once we have our list narrowed down. The airport piece is huge. Nothing worse than starting or ending your trip with a several-hour car ride to/from the airport.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2020, 09:42:51 PM »
You're thinking about all the right things. However, I wonder if you are at risk of developing a long features list without considering the integrated plan to accomplish an enjoyable lifestyle. It's not about the number of gold star stickers a place gets in each category, weighted and scored on a spreadsheet. It's about a path that gets you the lifestyle you're looking for. Rest assured there are hundreds of places you could move to and find different mixtures of what makes you happy, each with some little headache of course.

If you are paying $1300/mo in rent (pretty good for CA!) rest assured that you could get a nice house in a nice neighborhood with a 15! year mortgage AND cut your housing expense IF you are willing to move to the Midwest, South, or rural/small town Rocky Mountains states. In fact, you might find that you are already FIRE in a lot of places where a couple can live solidly middle class for $40k/year.

What I mean by an integrated plan is something like

"We're going to move to Columbia, SC and rent for a year to see how we like it. Eventually we want to buy a modest house for $125-$150k. Something like this:https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2216-Santee-Ave-Columbia-SC-29205/11687005_zpid/ We'll technically be FIRE when we move there, but player1 will continue to work from home so that we can earn enough money to gain some strategic options, such as buying more house or trying a different location for a year. We know that having friends is the key to happiness, so we will get to know people in Columbia, SC by looking into joining these organizations: x, y, z. If all goes well, we will find ourselves financially independent, amongst friends, and with enough discretionary budget to do some traveling. When we decide to have kids...blah blah. Our proposed annual budget in the new location is attached. We plan to spend $40k/year." 

As you can see, the checklist approach is just the beginning of discovering what you like and who you are.

GoConfidently

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2020, 12:15:54 PM »
Find where you want to live first, then figure out how to make the numbers work, not the other way around.

This. Great advice! We definitely need to visit some areas we are interested in, which so far include Nashville (I lived there briefly) and Texas (fiancé’s sister is moving there in the next year or two), probably checking out Houston, Austin, and maybe Corpus Christi -ish.

Just out of curiosity, why are you considering Corpus Christi if you don’t frequent the beach?

nexus

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2020, 12:32:02 PM »
Find where you want to live first, then figure out how to make the numbers work, not the other way around.

This. Great advice! We definitely need to visit some areas we are interested in, which so far include Nashville (I lived there briefly) and Texas (fiancé’s sister is moving there in the next year or two), probably checking out Houston, Austin, and maybe Corpus Christi -ish.



Just out of curiosity, why are you considering Corpus Christi if you don’t frequent the beach?

Great question — simply because my SO’s sister may move there (Or near there) in the next 12-18 months, which means she would still be close to at least one family member.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2020, 02:39:13 PM by nexus »

GoConfidently

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2020, 01:14:32 PM »
Find where you want to live first, then figure out how to make the numbers work, not the other way around.

This. Great advice! We definitely need to visit some areas we are interested in, which so far include Nashville (I lived there briefly) and Texas (fiancé’s sister is moving there in the next year or two), probably checking out Houston, Austin, and maybe Corpus Christi -ish.



Just out of curiosity, why are you considering Corpus Christi if you don’t frequent the beach?

G reat question — simply because my SO’s sister may move there (Or near there) in the next 12-18 months, which means she would still be close to at least one family member.

I think Corpus would be a difficult place to settle down. I would recommend looking at the San Antonio area. I like SA and the small towns around it better than Austin, and it’s only 2 hours from Corpus. If you want to fly regularly, the DFW area might be good. Southwest has a huge hub in Dallas which makes quick domestic flights easy to go see family.

If you’re avoiding anywhere that has flooded, the entire greater Houston area is out. Seriously, the last 3-4 major flooding events have all hit different areas in/around Houston. There’s not a flood-safe zone in the city.

I think what’s missing from your list that would help other suggest states/areas is what kind of community you’re looking for and what you value/do other than sports. Your list kind of boils down to tennis and a house not in an urban setting. How do you generally meet people and make new friend now? What are your post-FIRE goals or plans?

nexus

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2020, 02:38:30 PM »
Thanks ChpBstrd!

I like your integrated approach. It suits my inner planner. We've yet to sit down and discuss certain areas yet, but the company I work for does have operations in the Carolinas, so I could feasibly move there, keep my job, and be close enough to make the incredibly rare trek into the office as needed.

GoConfidently
Thanks for the insight. Flooding is definitely something we want to avoid.

As for how we meet people, it's 99% through tennis. With all the teams we have played on (there were several seasons worth of competition year-round pre-COVID), we've met a ton of people that we've integrated into our social circle. It's hard for me to find common ground/a connection with folks that don't play tennis. I'm not into most other things, and don't keep up with tv shows or movies all that much so a lot of the interactions feel superficial. SO is the same way, except she makes friends with people she works with, whereas I tend not to since I work from home (and know a couple of them through tennis).

I'm kind of a boring person. Post-FIRE plans for me include staying in shape, playing tennis (perhaps at higher, more competitive levels with prize money), and teaching tennis. I also have a pretty solid racket stringing side hustle that really supplements things. If I didn't have my day job, I'd probably just do more of the aforementioned activities. One of the fears I have of moving away is having to re-establish my clientele, which could take a while depending on if I try and work for a club, or continue my own private venture, which is what I do currently because it is more flexible and I don't have to answer to anyone. It really just depends on how big the tennis community is, and how fast I can integrate into it. At the same time, moving to a LCOLA (and being FI) might mean that I don't need the extra money in the first place, but I do enjoy teaching, and being a racket nerd. I've also recently started keeping freshwater fish and I have MTS (multiple tank syndrome). I have aspirations to breed some of them and sell for profit or supply to local stores, but I don't currently have the space or scale to do such a thing.*

SO(DW by then) will probably still practice therapy at least on a part-time basis. She's really into art, baking, and DIY projects so between a part time job, DIY, baking, and artistic ventures she'll be pretty busy. She's also more of a traveler than I am. On a side note, she hasn't been working since late January and is basically getting a taste of what financial independence would look like. As it stands, she currently doesn't have a lot of idle time because she's a much more productive and energetic person than I am.

We don't have plans for kids at the moment, but if that changes it would open up a new world of activities and social circles.

*I'd need more tanks, and would opt for solar panels if possible to offset the cost of running the tanks and keeping our utility bill low. Aquariums aren't that hard to run. You can have one air pump power multiple sponge filters, which is super cost effective. The only other thing they might need is a heater, and lights - most of which are LED. I'd also feel like a jerk with a large scale aquarium operation  in California, where water and droughts can be an issue.

freeat57

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2020, 02:58:34 PM »
Lots of good advice so far. I have lived in five US states as well as two European countries, so perhaps I can add a couple of other observations.   For quality of life, i.e. friends, recreation, culture, just about any place over, say 500K population provides ample opportunity.  It's just a matter of finding the right neighborhood.  However, weather can have a huge impact.  I have lived in both LA and the bay area and have never been so happy with the weather since.  Consider the tax structure and how it will impact you personally.  Texas has no income tax, but if you are FI and have a relatively low income on paper, that makes no difference.  What does matter is that the property taxes are sky high.  You can't escape property taxes!  Homeowners insurance is also high.  Municipalities have to find funding sources, so there are many, many fees. My water bill in Texas ran $120 or more per month, not because of water consumption, but due to all the fees the city added.  Those are some of the reasons why I left Texas after FIRE.  One nasty little surprise some states have in store for new comers is the automobile ad valorem tax.  If you have a newer car when you move to one of those states, you will pay a huge "import tax" to register your car. 

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2020, 03:22:01 PM »
OP considering your love and focus on tennis, you need to start there with where can you play tennis year round that’s not impacted by extreme heat or snow/extreme cold? I just googled some and you’ll find some good cities. Then connect with people from those cities to find the suburbs or areas where there’s affordable property in your price range.

former player

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2020, 03:31:26 PM »
Two things I'd think about -

Somewhere with a university or college, which usually increases the number and variety of extra-curricular activities.  One with a tennis program, maybe?

Somewhere that will be resilient to climate change.  I don't know how old you are, but serious effects from climate change will be noticeably kicking in by 2050 which is only 30 years away.

ysette9

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2020, 11:13:12 PM »
I second the comments about weather. If you aren’t spending your days working in an air conditioned office then the weather will matter more than ever because you will have the freedom to be outside as much as you like. Personally I don’t want to get free of the office only to be stuck inside at home because it is too hot/humid/buggy/snowy. But that is just me.

Also, the nicer the weather is, the smaller a house you can get because you can be outside more.

Definitely pay attention  to which states have expanded Medicare and are ACA friendly. I also think looking at how compétant the general state leadership is, is important as well. We are seeing now with covid the big difference in quality of life between states with competent leaders making fact-based decisions and those with their heads in the clouds governing by ideology.

Rylito

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #16 on: July 04, 2020, 09:13:34 AM »
It's great that you're thinking about solar but I'd also take a hard look at other utility costs when comparing locations. 

Also I didn't see any mention about school quality comparison if you guys think you might have kids some day.  For most parents, that's one of the top criteria for determining where to live.

norajean

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #17 on: July 04, 2020, 10:36:09 AM »
If tennis is the priority then the list gets short pretty quick if you want to avoid snow and extreme heat or humidity.  I'm thinking maybe San Diego, Santa Fe, and Rayleigh-Durham.

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2020, 08:16:50 AM »
If tennis is the priority then the list gets short pretty quick if you want to avoid snow and extreme heat or humidity.  I'm thinking maybe San Diego, Santa Fe, and Rayleigh-Durham.
Anywhere on the west coast would be lovely and not have the heat problem of Santa Fe or Rayleigh

nexus

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2020, 11:01:14 AM »
Feeat57
Good to know about Texas. It was on my list, but is slowly dropping lower and lower on my list of places to look into based on all the hidden costs. We're currently in the bay area also, so the weather is definitely nice. With that being said, I think the days of me playing tennis 5-7 days a week are limited/done for. 3-4 days a week or playing or teaching is more realistic. While I don't have any injuries or issues now, it is eventually going to take a toll on my body and result in knee or hip replacement down the road (I hope not!). But if the pandemic has taught me anything, it's that if I need to take a couple months off, I can get it back pretty quick as long as I have decent practice partners -- so if there was 2-3 months a year where the weather was unplayable (and indoor facilities aren't an option), I think we'd survive.

I actually like the rain, and thunderstorms. I didn't mind the frequency of rain when I lived briefly in Nashville (Feb to Aug). I can also handle heat and humidity. We just don't like cold/snow all that much. I'm thinking, to start, we cast a wide net and just avoid the northern states.

As for cars, SO's car is newer than mine (paid off 2019) and mine is a paid off 2016 Corolla. I'd likely sell mine if we ever moved so that I could drive the moving truck from A to B, then buy an older used car and pocket the difference. We'd likely get hit with that tax for her car.

It may be worthwhile to peek at other locations in California, but I've been all over the state and I can't foresee finding somewhere affordable compared to other states. Sacramento is cheaper (and hotter) than the bay area, with lots of tennis. Fresno and Bakersfield are out. SoCal cost of living is not going to get us ahead either. A friend suggested San Luis Obispo area, so I'll look into that despite my hunch that it'll be expensive there too.

MrThatsDifferent
Good idea! I'll do a Google search too! I can also pose the question/get connected via the tennis forum I frequent.

former player
Ah, yes! I didn't play in college, so I could find a junior college I could compete on a team and make some connections that way!
Good point about the climate change. Both in terms of how much more volatile the weather is getting, and rising sea levels.

ysette9
Good point about the people in power. Hopefully by the time we make a decision and start working towards the plan/goal things will be settled down... at least for a while before something else happens.   

freeat57

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2020, 04:31:16 PM »
I currently live in the Atlanta metro area.  Like Nashville, it is booming with development.  Weather wise, it might suit you better than Nashville, as we are often a little warmer in winter and can be slightly cooler in summer (~1,000 ft elevation).  There are some really progressive areas of development with emphasis on alternative modes of transportation and walkable outdoor spaces.  The area I live in is like a united nations neighborhood.   I can walk to restaurants and markets from cultures like Bangladeshi, Indian, Colombian, Ethiopian, Guatemalan, Mexican, Indonesian, Malaysian, Korean, I could go on!  How about a Sushi and Robata grill brew pub? It's about 3 miles to a market with a large Russian and Ukrainian section.
GA does have the dreaded ad valorem tax on cars, but low registration costs in subsequent years.  There is a state income tax, property taxes are reasonable. 

socaso

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2020, 04:58:27 PM »
Since you lived in Nashville and liked it I would suggest you look at both Knoxville and Chattanooga. Both up and coming places with lots of affordable neighborhoods and both cities have invested a lot in their downtown areas so that there is a lot going on. Both are big college towns so you get some interesting things coming through like concerts, art shows, theatrical productions, etc. The weather is similar to Nashville but being closer to the mountains you have great hiking and biking and the thunderstorms are amazing. I love Smoky Mountain thunderstorms. There's no state income tax in TN so that's a nice bonus.

As to your overall list of questions, I think you are off to a great start. Since travel is out of the question at the moment I would suggest you look up some of those "best places to live" lists. They have them for every size city and you might start putting some places on the list you might not have otherwise considered.

nexus

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2020, 05:05:14 PM »
Rylito
No plans for kiddos, but even then we were both brought up as public school students and turned out alright as far as we can tell.

norajean
San Diego would be nice, especially because we have relatives there... but the cost of living would extend our mandatory working careers rather than decrease them. I'll definitely research the other two you suggested. New Braunfels, TX also popped up on my radar recently.

ysette9
We currently live about 20 miles inland from SF, so the weather is great most of the year. Only a handful of days above 100, and maybe a month or two of sporadic 90's.

Freeat57
How is the humidity of ATL? I'm assuming not as bad also because of the elevation?

socaso
I'll definitely do some research per your suggestions. I have been to Chattanooga to visit the aquarium on two occasions. The second time, we got rained on while we were up in the butterfly exhibit (I think/vaguely remember). It was really cool to watch the lightning and sheets of rain pour out onto the landscape and the river. I think the second time I went they didn't have all the enormous alligator gars... or I somehow missed them.

freeat57

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Re: Looking to move to another state, where to start? (add to my list)
« Reply #23 on: July 08, 2020, 10:37:31 AM »

Freeat57
How is the humidity of ATL? I'm assuming not as bad also because of the elevation?

Ha Ha!  You can't escape summer humidity in the East!  It can be pretty oppressive from mid-June through August, and sporadically throughout the year.  On the worst days, people just shift outdoor exercise to the early morning and evening.  People adapt after a while.