Author Topic: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?  (Read 6541 times)

Joy

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Hello Mustachians!  I am here seeking some advice.  My husband and I (ages 48 and 38) would like to relocate to the Raleigh North Carolina area with our two little ones (ages 5 and 7) in search of low cost housing, better schools, a safer neighborhood and better weather.  We are increasingly unhappy with big city living and the crime and stress that comes with it.  However, moving would greatly reduce our income.  We currently live in a high cost of living area and our salaries reflect that.  We live frugally and bank a large percentage or our earnings.  I am a teacher and starting over in a North Carolina School system would result in my pay dropping 50%.  My husband is self-employed as a private dog trainer.  He has worked hard to build his business over the past 15 years and is very busy and able to charge top rates.  But, we have been told that the market for dog trainers in the Raleigh area is saturated and we are unsure if he would be able to rebuild his business to where it is now. 
We could stick it out here for two to five more years and continue to save, so that we could be FI before we move, but we are growing increasingly impatient.  This is in large part due to the school system that I work for and that my children attend.  The system is currently under resourced and facing further cuts.  My childrenís education is suffering and it makes my work very difficult. 
So, I would love to hear what you think about us giving up our high incomes for a potentially better quality of life. 
Here is where we would be with our savings and debts if we moved at the end of this school year (I plan to withdraw my pension contributions and add them to my IRA, and sell my house to increase my cash savings):

Retirement:         336K
Cash savings:     172K (includes the 150K in equity from selling house)
529 plans:            40K

Debts:  My student loans 36K (at 2.75% interest)

We plan on renting once we get there, so we would have a big cash buffer to start with.  We would hope to invest the cash (minus an emergency fund) once we were settled.  My husband would be willing to walk dogs for extra income while he is getting his business off the ground.  With my income and what he could make dog walking, we would be able to meet our expenses, however there would not be anything left over each month to add to savings.
So, should we start packing, or stick it out a few more years?  What would you do?  Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.  Thanks for reading! 
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 01:16:18 PM by Joy »

Nick_Miller

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2017, 10:36:58 AM »
I guess my first question is, why does it have to be the Raleigh area?

I understand your desire for LCOL, better schools, less crime, etc.. I totally do! But what made you all decide on Raleigh as the only landing spot, especially considering you've been told his business market is over saturated there? The mid-south/mid-west has lots of LCOL spots to choose from.

That being said, if you left your $336K stache alone for a decade and would just "tread water" in NC, it should double within 10 years, assuming around 7% returns, so then with him 48 and you 58, you have around $680K plus a huge pile of cash (hopefully still). I guess it's doable! I would just personally want my stache a bit higher, if it was me.


acroy

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2017, 10:55:03 AM »
I'd suggest go for it,
You have NW of over half a million, many reasons to leave, no huge reason to stay where you are other than the comfort of current incomes. Go for it! Good luck!

Joy

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2017, 01:10:14 PM »
I guess my first question is, why does it have to be the Raleigh area?

I understand your desire for LCOL, better schools, less crime, etc.. I totally do! But what made you all decide on Raleigh as the only landing spot, especially considering you've been told his business market is over saturated there? The mid-south/mid-west has lots of LCOL spots to choose from.

Great question Nick_Miller!  Three years ago I was feeling really discouraged about the crime in the area and I googled where the safest place to live in the U.S. is and the answer that I got was a suburb of Raleigh.  I then started researching the area and found a lot that I liked.  I love that there are three universities in the area, lots of diversity, and the mountains and ocean within a two hours drive.  Despite being in the south, the area is progressive.  It would be the same distance from my parents as we are now so visits will still be doable by car.  The weather is also a huge plus.  We went and visited over the summer and loved it.  You have a valid point though about considering other locations.  Right now I have my heart set on this area, but I should keep my mind open to other possibilities. 
 
Also, I mistakenly switched our ages in my OP.  My husband is 48 and I am 38. 

Joy

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2017, 01:15:51 PM »
I'd suggest go for it,
You have NW of over half a million, many reasons to leave, no huge reason to stay where you are other than the comfort of current incomes. Go for it! Good luck!

Thanks Acroy!  I appreciate the vote of confidence.  I tend to vacillate between feeling confident and ready and then thinking about all of the what ifs and psyching myself out.    It is good to hear that you also think it could work out. 

Lews Therin

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2017, 01:31:13 AM »
Have you looked at your expenses and income in detail? The lowered cost of living in Raleigh might make the difference in salary less than you expect. Or then again, maybe you are only a short way from being FI and no longer needing the large surplus!

Your 500k+ stash will be lifting a large portion of the expenses with 20,000$ at 4% gain.

It might be worth sticking it out a short while, especially since you can wait until you are both ready for the move (jobs lined up, and moving at the right time of the school year for you children), since that will allow you to both increase the stash size, and increase the buffer.

In other words, by doing the cost analysis, you'll be able to put an number to how many extra years until FIRE, and then you can decide which you want, the extra time, or the new location.

SuperMex

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2017, 02:27:12 AM »
I would suggest you at least go to the Raleigh for a short trip and see if it is as nice in person as it is on paper.

The grass is always greener syndrome is alive and well.

My father used to have a small cabin on Lake Eufaula, AL. where we went fishing. Every morning you would see boats flying across the lake heading to their favorite fishing spot on the other side of the lake.




MandalayVA

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2017, 03:30:59 AM »
Where do you live now?

FrontRanger

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2017, 05:34:51 AM »
I'm going through a similar situation, but in reverse. Currently live in a low cost area (Des Moines), but miss all of the things I enjoy doing back in the Denver area, where it is significantly more expensive. My advice is pursue the happiness. I thought I'd be happier taking a promotion her in Iowa, going to a much lower COL, better schools, etc. However, it didn't make us happy on a daily basis. Yes, I have way more money saved as a result, but that is only one view on it.

I vote move if that is what you want to do.

Cassie

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2017, 03:52:05 PM »
I would stay and save more $ before moving. Have you checked to see how big your pension would be if you let it sit in their account versus taking it when you go?

FrontRanger

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2017, 05:49:56 AM »
I'm going through a similar situation, but in reverse. Currently live in a low cost area (Des Moines), but miss all of the things I enjoy doing back in the Denver area, where it is significantly more expensive. My advice is pursue the happiness. I thought I'd be happier taking a promotion here in Iowa, going to a much lower COL, better schools, etc. However, it didn't make us happy on a daily basis. Yes, I have way more money saved as a result, but that is only one view on it. My savings rate will probably go from high 50's to low 40's, so not like I'm going to get clown punched any time soon.

I vote move if that is what you want to do.

Joy

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2017, 06:00:59 AM »
Thanks so much for all of the comments and suggestions! I will do my best to answer them below: 
Have you looked at your expenses and income in detail? The lowered cost of living in Raleigh might make the difference in salary less than you expect. Or then again, maybe you are only a short way from being FI and no longer needing the large surplus!

Your 500k+ stash will be lifting a large portion of the expenses with 20,000$ at 4% gain.

It might be worth sticking it out a short while, especially since you can wait until you are both ready for the move (jobs lined up, and moving at the right time of the school year for you children), since that will allow you to both increase the stash size, and increase the buffer.

In other words, by doing the cost analysis, you'll be able to put an number to how many extra years until FIRE, and then you can decide which you want, the extra time, or the new location.
The lowered cost of living is a huge reason we are attracted to the area.  It definitely decreases the amount that we would need in our stash to support us once we are FI.  However, with our incomes decreasing by 75% at the time that we move (assuming that we only have my income coming in) we would have nothing extra to add to savings.   Based on my budget, which includes room for kids activities and travel, my husband would have to earn 600 per month to make up for a shortfall.  He could potentially make this walking dogs, while he builds up his training business.
We would not want to touch our stash to make up the shortfall, but it is nice to see how much we could pull from it in a pinch. 
We would definitely wait until summer to make the move, and would only do so if I am able to secure a teaching position before the start of the new school year. 

I would suggest you at least go to the Raleigh for a short trip and see if it is as nice in person as it is on paper.
We traveled to Raleigh over the summer and we loved it.  We talked with many of the people who live there and we were impressed with how friendly everyone was and how much they all raved about the area.  We are planning another trip this summer with our kids to further investigate and to potentially do some networking.  But, I totally agree with you on the notion that the grass is always greener. It is on my mind a lot when we are contemplating this move.   

I'm going through a similar situation, but in reverse. Currently live in a low cost area (Des Moines), but miss all of the things I enjoy doing back in the Denver area, where it is significantly more expensive. My advice is pursue the happiness. I thought I'd be happier taking a promotion her in Iowa, going to a much lower COL, better schools, etc. However, it didn't make us happy on a daily basis. Yes, I have way more money saved as a result, but that is only one view on it.

I vote move if that is what you want to do.
Our situations are very similar!  I hope you are able to make the move back to Denver soon!.  I appreciate your push to pursue the happiness.  I have been feeling that way as well, but then I start to worry that we will feel stress about our finances and that the happiness will be negated by the stress.  If only we had a crystal ball. 

I would stay and save more $ before moving. Have you checked to see how big your pension would be if you let it sit in their account versus taking it when you go?
Thanks for your thoughts on staying to save more.  It would be the financially prudent thing to do.  If I let my pension sit I would get 20K per year at age 65.  However, my pension is structured so that I do not pay into social security so my pension pay out will reduce my social security earnings.  I have enough credits from previous jobs that I can collect social security even though I have not paid into it for the past 11 years.  I was thinking that taking a payout of 66K and investing it would be better than waiting until 65 and then losing out on my social security benefits.  But I am open to other thoughts on this.  I would start to work towards another pension as a teacher in North Carolina.  From my research, I would still contribute to social security, and therefore would be able to increase social security earnings while working towards a new pension. 

yachi

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2017, 06:35:56 AM »
I guess my first question is, why does it have to be the Raleigh area?

I understand your desire for LCOL, better schools, less crime, etc.. I totally do! But what made you all decide on Raleigh as the only landing spot, especially considering you've been told his business market is over saturated there? The mid-south/mid-west has lots of LCOL spots to choose from.

Great question Nick_Miller!  Three years ago I was feeling really discouraged about the crime in the area and I googled where the safest place to live in the U.S. is and the answer that I got was a suburb of Raleigh.  I then started researching the area and found a lot that I liked.  I love that there are three universities in the area, lots of diversity, and the mountains and ocean within a two hours drive.  Despite being in the south, the area is progressive.  It would be the same distance from my parents as we are now so visits will still be doable by car.  The weather is also a huge plus.  We went and visited over the summer and loved it.  You have a valid point though about considering other locations.  Right now I have my heart set on this area, but I should keep my mind open to other possibilities. 
 
Also, I mistakenly switched our ages in my OP.  My husband is 48 and I am 38.

Some of these articles/studies place a requirement on the minimum population size of an area when they come up with lists of best places, so there should be small towns elsewhere with low crime rates too although it might be harder to find a progressive small town.  The Raleigh Durham area is heavily invested in statistics and programming and that's drawing higher incomes to the area and driving up housing prices.  You can find breakdowns of the expenses that contribute to the cost-of-living differences, and make sure they apply to you.  For example housing may be the only thing cheaper when comparing two areas, but that won't apply to you if you're planning on buying a larger house with the difference. Also, you may have much more control over housing than say, medical costs.  Not everyone will care how childcare expenses affect cost of living, but you will.

We were considering the area since my wife obtained her masters in statistics, but it wasn't significantly cheaper than our central Pennsylvania cost of living.

begood

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2017, 07:19:56 AM »
Hi! Triangle-area native here. If you want progressive and good schools, look at Carrboro, which is adjacent to Chapel Hill but has smaller houses and (comparatively) lower home prices.

In terms of progressiveness in the  Research Triangle area, the list goes, from most to least:

Chapel Hill
Durham
Raleigh

The LCOL small towns around Raleigh may not be as progressive as you'd like, and Raleigh itself is quite expensive for housing.

You should also probably know that the General Assembly in North Carolina is doing its level best to destroy public education in the state.

If you are a teacher, NC may not be a great environment to move to. The citizens of the state just voted out the incumbent governor for the first time in the state's history, and a federal judge is requiring new elections in 2017 due to the "surgical precision" the Legislature used to redraw districts to disenfranchise voters by race. In four years, Pat McCrory and his "supermajority" legislature unraveled fifty years of progress in North Carolina.

North Carolina's Step-by-Step War on Public Education
« Last Edit: February 02, 2017, 07:34:45 AM by begood »

Cassie

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2017, 12:00:43 PM »
Since your pension does not pay into SS you will be subject to WEP. It is quite complicated and the amount of your SS that is affected is not the same for everyone. They look at what you made each year (substantial earnings) and if you have 30 years of that they do not take any $. If you have 20 then they take a little. If you don't have enough substantial earning years then you take a huge hit.  I am in the same position so read up on it a lot. They even have your earnings on the site, and a calculator where you enter them for each year and it tells you how much you would be affected. 

Joy

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2017, 08:23:39 AM »

The Raleigh Durham area is heavily invested in statistics and programming and that's drawing higher incomes to the area and driving up housing prices.  You can find breakdowns of the expenses that contribute to the cost-of-living differences, and make sure they apply to you.  For example housing may be the only thing cheaper when comparing two areas, but that won't apply to you if you're planning on buying a larger house with the difference. Also, you may have much more control over housing than say, medical costs.  Not everyone will care how childcare expenses affect cost of living, but you will.
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Thanks for the comment Yachi!  You are right about many of the costs being the same.  Because we live frugally now, most of our expenses will likely be the same when we move with the exception of housing. Our housing costs should decrease by half whether we rent or buy.  We have no interest in living in a McMansion.  Our current housing cost with property taxes, HOA and a small maintenance budget ($200 per month) is $2,500 per month.  We are looking to rent a place for $1200.  Or, we could buy a similar property for 225K, if we find we miss being homeowners.  We are leaning towards renting because we donít want to be subject to home improvement costs and we are hoping to be nomads and travel a lot once the kids are off to college.  We would love to end up in Costa Rica for part of our retirement. 

On the bright side of the influx of higher salaries that you mentioned, it could be beneficial to my husbandís business.  He could charge a higher rate and would have a larger client base.


Hi! Triangle-area native here. If you want progressive and good schools, look at Carrboro, which is adjacent to Chapel Hill but has smaller houses and (comparatively) lower home prices.

In terms of progressiveness in the  Research Triangle area, the list goes, from most to least:

Chapel Hill
Durham
Raleigh

The LCOL small towns around Raleigh may not be as progressive as you'd like, and Raleigh itself is quite expensive for housing.

You should also probably know that the General Assembly in North Carolina is doing its level best to destroy public education in the state.
North Carolina's Step-by-Step War on Public Education
Thanks for the info Begood!  Itís nice to hear from a native!  We have heard great things about Carrboro, however the home prices and property taxes are high from what weíve seen.  The prices are comparable to where we are now.  It must be an awesome place to live, but I think it is out of our price range.  We will definitely explore Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh as options. 
I have heard about the politics concerning the school system.  I am currently in the same boat in my district.  My current school system is also being destroyed by politicians.  With DeVos at the national level, our public school systems are in peril across the country.  I have read that North Carolina teacher salaries are set to increase over the next few years.  I am also very happy with the class size limits that are in place in North Carolina.  The class sizes in my school district are unbelievable and the direction we are headed will lead to them increasing even further. 

 
Since your pension does not pay into SS you will be subject to WEP. It is quite complicated and the amount of your SS that is affected is not the same for everyone. They look at what you made each year (substantial earnings) and if you have 30 years of that they do not take any $. If you have 20 then they take a little. If you don't have enough substantial earning years then you take a huge hit.  I am in the same position so read up on it a lot. They even have your earnings on the site, and a calculator where you enter them for each year and it tells you how much you would be affected. 
Thanks for the comment Cassie! According to my research, if I switch from my current district to a district that does pay into social security, while rolling over my contributions to an IRA, then I am excluded from the WEP.   I will then have the benefit of investing my contributions and letting them grow, and continuing to work towards a full social security pay out.  I would also start to work towards another pension, that would not be subject to the WEP.  It seems like a wise move to me.  What do you think? 

Retire-Canada

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2017, 08:37:22 AM »
Joy how much income do you think you'll need per year in the new location?

Have you guys actually had any crimes committed against you or are you stressed by the thought that something could happen? Assuming it's the later what is driving that fear?
« Last Edit: February 05, 2017, 08:44:47 AM by Retire-Canada »

begood

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2017, 08:38:56 AM »

Thanks for the info Begood!  Itís nice to hear from a native!  We have heard great things about Carrboro, however the home prices and property taxes are high from what weíve seen.  The prices are comparable to where we are now.  It must be an awesome place to live, but I think it is out of our price range.  We will definitely explore Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh as options. 
I have heard about the politics concerning the school system.  I am currently in the same boat in my district.  My current school system is also being destroyed by politicians.  With DeVos at the national level, our public school systems are in peril across the country.  I have read that North Carolina teacher salaries are set to increase over the next few years.  I am also very happy with the class size limits that are in place in North Carolina.  The class sizes in my school district are unbelievable and the direction we are headed will lead to them increasing even further. 

That's smoke and mirrors, from what I can tell. The pay increases do not keep up with inflation, teacher pay was flat for years, meaning they are behind to start with, and the legislature took funds earmarked for teaching assistants and used them to fund the increase in pay for teachers, meaning the teachers got slightly higher pay, but with the same class sizes and a fraction of the assistants.

Carrboro will be less expensive than Chapel Hill but have the same school system. Hillsborough is another satellite to Chapel Hill and Durham that is less expensive for real estate, but the schools aren't as good as Chapel Hill-Carrboro. North Durham is less expensive, and in the Raleigh area, Morrisville is still less expensive than Cary or Apex. When I was a kid, Apex was out in the country! Now it's up-and-coming.

I recommend doing some reading here: http://www.city-data.com/forum/raleigh-durham-chapel-hill-cary/

CanuckExpat

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2017, 08:52:17 AM »
Hi Joy, I don't know how much you want to reveal about your present situation, but roughly where are you living now that you don't enjoy, what are the housing costs like, and what are the comparables in Raleigh that you think are LCOL?

I ask because I can see the appeal of Raleigh (I think I'd perhaps lean to Durham as well), but it seems that housing costs have increased a lot recently. It's not something I would consider dirt cheap, so I'd appreciate your research on what led you there.

Ocinfo

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2017, 09:06:18 AM »
Is there any possibility of your husband selling his business? Even if it's heavily dependent on his own skills, someone would likely be interested in the client list and possibly name recognition. Alternatively, he could take on an apprentice for a year or two and then sell the business to him or run it as a silent partner. Just an idea because I didn't see any discussion about the business value.

Another option (depends on your kids age) might be to homeschool since education is one of your top priorities. This could allow you to move to a cheaper area that is still close enough to your husband's clients while cutting costs.


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Joy

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #20 on: February 05, 2017, 09:30:25 AM »
Joy how much income do you think you'll need per year in the new location?

Have you guys actually had any crimes committed against you or are you stressed by the thought that something could happen? Assuming it's the later what is driving that fear?
Hi Retire Canada!  According to my generous budget with luxuries such as travel and kids activities, we would need to net around 42,000 per year to meet our expenses. 

Thankfully, we have not been directly victimized by crimes, however we have had two drive by shootings take place in front of us.  Thankfully we did not see anyone hit.  The first time we were in our car stuck behind an SUV that was shooting at group of boys who were on foot running past our car returning fire at the SUV.  We did a u-turn and got out of there before seeing how it ended.  Also, one morning when my husband was raking leaves at 9:30am a man ran past our yard while being chased by a car that was shooting at him.  People are robbed by gunpoint during daylight and after work in my neighborhood on a regular basis (at least once per month).  Break ins are very common.  Within a half of a mile from me, people are shot and killed on a weekly basis in the warmer months.  I am so worried that my children will one day witness this. 
Every year students that I work with lose family member to the violence.  Every year it gets worse.  It is a very sad situation. 

begood

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2017, 09:38:04 AM »
Joy, your high salaries are not providing you with high quality of life if you don't feel safe where you live. Given the examples you listed above, and the experience of the kids you teach, it sounds like your concerns are warranted.

You have to sell a house, and spring is absolutely the time to do it, pretty much regardless of locale. So if you are really thinking of moving at the end of the school year, now is the time to get your house ready to sell. Be aware that buyers may not be thick on the ground to move to a neighborhood with drive-by shootings, so it may take longer and/or bring you a lower price than you anticipate.

Have you applied for any teaching jobs in NC? Explored what's available in the areas where you think you'd like to live? Another area of NC you could consider is the "Triad" area - Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point. Of the three Greensboro is the more progressive, though none of them are as progressive as the Triangle area. But lower cost of living, decent schools, lower crime.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2017, 09:40:11 AM by begood »

Retire-Canada

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #22 on: February 05, 2017, 09:41:52 AM »
Hi Retire Canada!  According to my generous budget with luxuries such as travel and kids activities, we would need to net around 42,000 per year to meet our expenses. 

Thankfully, we have not been directly victimized by crimes, however we have had two drive by shootings take place in front of us.  Thankfully we did not see anyone hit.  The first time we were in our car stuck behind an SUV that was shooting at group of boys who were on foot running past our car returning fire at the SUV.  We did a u-turn and got out of there before seeing how it ended.  Also, one morning when my husband was raking leaves at 9:30am a man ran past our yard while being chased by a car that was shooting at him.  People are robbed by gunpoint during daylight and after work in my neighborhood on a regular basis (at least once per month).  Break ins are very common.  Within a half of a mile from me, people are shot and killed on a weekly basis in the warmer months.  I am so worried that my children will one day witness this. 
Every year students that I work with lose family member to the violence.  Every year it gets worse.  It is a very sad situation.

So that's $42K after taxes? What do you think you'd need including taxes?

Okay. I would say that if you are in the immediate vicinity of a drive by shooting you are the victim of a crime. You may not have been hit by the bullets, but that's not the only damage done. So I would get the heck out of there. I don't know if I would head to that area of NC, but I don't disagree you need to move and that you have enough financial resources to do so.

Since you are going through all the trouble of moving I would cast a wider net as far as places to consider. Your first choice sounds poor from an employment/income stand point and is not low cost for other important factors like housing. I would keep looking until you find a spot with decent employment opportunities, a reasonable cost of living and decent schools. The US is a big country and if you are going to load up a truck and move it's worth finding the best destination you can.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2017, 11:43:47 AM by Retire-Canada »

The Happy Philosopher

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #23 on: February 05, 2017, 11:02:56 AM »
Joy how much income do you think you'll need per year in the new location?

Have you guys actually had any crimes committed against you or are you stressed by the thought that something could happen? Assuming it's the later what is driving that fear?
Hi Retire Canada!  According to my generous budget with luxuries such as travel and kids activities, we would need to net around 42,000 per year to meet our expenses. 

Thankfully, we have not been directly victimized by crimes, however we have had two drive by shootings take place in front of us.  Thankfully we did not see anyone hit.  The first time we were in our car stuck behind an SUV that was shooting at group of boys who were on foot running past our car returning fire at the SUV.  We did a u-turn and got out of there before seeing how it ended.  Also, one morning when my husband was raking leaves at 9:30am a man ran past our yard while being chased by a car that was shooting at him.  People are robbed by gunpoint during daylight and after work in my neighborhood on a regular basis (at least once per month).  Break ins are very common.  Within a half of a mile from me, people are shot and killed on a weekly basis in the warmer months.  I am so worried that my children will one day witness this. 
Every year students that I work with lose family member to the violence.  Every year it gets worse.  It is a very sad situation.

This seems like a horrible environment to live in. If it were me I would move immediately. No salary would keep me in an area where I feared for my life on a daily basis.

Joy

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #24 on: February 05, 2017, 11:17:55 AM »
Hi Joy, I don't know how much you want to reveal about your present situation, but roughly where are you living now that you don't enjoy, what are the housing costs like, and what are the comparables in Raleigh that you think are LCOL?

I ask because I can see the appeal of Raleigh (I think I'd perhaps lean to Durham as well), but it seems that housing costs have increased a lot recently. It's not something I would consider dirt cheap, so I'd appreciate your research on what led you there.
Hi Canuck Expat!  I would like to avoid revealing what city we live in so we can remain anonymous.  However, I can tell you that compared to where we live now, housing prices are more than fifty percent lower in Raleigh.  We live in a townhouse that we would expect to quickly sell for 450K.  We could get a newer townhouse in the Raleigh area for 225K and our property taxes would be 200 per month instead of 600.  We are leaning towards renting right now.  We have found rentals that would meet our needs for $1200 per month.

Is there any possibility of your husband selling his business? Even if it's heavily dependent on his own skills, someone would likely be interested in the client list and possibly name recognition. Alternatively, he could take on an apprentice for a year or two and then sell the business to him or run it as a silent partner. Just an idea because I didn't see any discussion about the business value.

Another option (depends on your kids age) might be to homeschool since education is one of your top priorities. This could allow you to move to a cheaper area that is still close enough to your husband's clients while cutting costs.
Good points Ocinfo!  We have talked about selling his business, however at this point we are hesitant to do so. I love your idea of having an apprentice and running it as a silent partner.  We will definitely discuss this possibility and explore it further. 

As for your suggestion about homeschooling.  I would have to give up my work as a teacher and then we would lose our health coverage and my salary, so I donít think we could make it work. 

Joy, your high salaries are not providing you with high quality of life if you don't feel safe where you live. Given the examples you listed above, and the experience of the kids you teach, it sounds like your concerns are warranted.

You have to sell a house, and spring is absolutely the time to do it, pretty much regardless of locale. So if you are really thinking of moving at the end of the school year, now is the time to get your house ready to sell. Be aware that buyers may not be thick on the ground to move to a neighborhood with drive-by shootings, so it may take longer and/or bring you a lower price than you anticipate.

Have you applied for any teaching jobs in NC? Explored what's available in the areas where you think you'd like to live? Another area of NC you could consider is the "Triad" area - Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point. Of the three Greensboro is the more progressive, though none of them are as progressive as the Triangle area. But lower cost of living, decent schools, lower crime.
I really appreciate all of your comments and the info you have shared with me Begood!
We live in a neighborhood filled with very expensive homes right next to a neighborhood filled with public housing and crime. Inventory is tight at our price point (most homes around us are single families in the 1-3 million range.  If the market stays the same into the spring, I expect to sell our townhome quickly at the 450K price point.  However, I do have a nagging worry that we are on a sinking ship and that our home price will start drop if things continue on the way that they are now. 
I have not applied to jobs yet, however I have seen listings that sound promising.  I would not move until the end of the school year, so I would start applying in the spring. 
Hi Retire Canada!  According to my generous budget with luxuries such as travel and kids activities, we would need to net around 42,000 per year to meet our expenses. 

Thankfully, we have not been directly victimized by crimes, however we have had two drive by shootings take place in front of us.  Thankfully we did not see anyone hit.  The first time we were in our car stuck behind an SUV that was shooting at group of boys who were on foot running past our car returning fire at the SUV.  We did a u-turn and got out of there before seeing how it ended.  Also, one morning when my husband was raking leaves at 9:30am a man ran past our yard while being chased by a car that was shooting at him.  People are robbed by gunpoint during daylight and after work in my neighborhood on a regular basis (at least once per month).  Break ins are very common.  Within a half of a mile from me, people are shot and killed on a weekly basis in the warmer months.  I am so worried that my children will one day witness this. 
Every year students that I work with lose family member to the violence.  Every year it gets worse.  It is a very sad situation.


So that's $42K after taxes? What do you think you'd need including taxes?

Okay. I would say that if you are in the immediate vicinity of a drive by shooting you are the victim of a crime. You may no have been hit by the bullets, but that's not the only damage done. So I would get the heck out of there. I don't know if I would head to that area of NC, but I don't disagree you need to move and that you have enough financial resources to do so.

Since you are going through all the trouble of moving I would cast a wider net as far as places to consider. Your first choice sounds poor from an employment/income stand point and is not low cost for other important factors like housing. I would keep looking until you find a spot with decent employment opportunities, a reasonable cost of living and decent schools. The US is a big country and if you are going to load up a truck and move it's worth finding the best destination you can.

We would need to gross 55K to cover all of our costs comfortably.

We would be saving fifty percent on our housing costs.  Do you think that with that reduction in costs Raleigh could be a favorable option?  We are set on moving to a progressive area and we want diversity and culture. We want warm weather and lots of outdoor activities.  If you have any suggestions of other areas I would love to hear them.  I will keep an open mind and do more research, because you are right about this being a big country.     

Also, you are correct that witnessing the crime did impact us.  I noticed that when I was writing about it my heart was pounding as hard as it did when it happened.  It also brought me to tears to think of the violence that is going on around us.  It certainly fuels my impatience to get out of here.  I think my husband and I often push our fears aside in an effort to keep our nose to the grindstone and meet our goals. 


begood

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2017, 11:37:22 AM »
Joy, I'm just going to keep talking because it sounds like you are thinking "in the spring" for both applying for jobs and putting the house on the market, but both of those things take time, and so I recommend you start acting now. Start clearing your house of clutter now. Ask friends for recommendations of real estate agents. Call three real estate agents and invite them to the house. Meet with all three, get their estimates, and go ahead and get that ball rolling. It is the biggest ball, and I don't think you can do it too soon.

Next, start researching job openings. Don't just browse listings. Do a search of school districts, then find their employment pages. Find the school on a map and draw a concentric circle around it to see what towns are nearby. Use the zip code of the school to start looking for rentals within a reasonable commute. That should give you a better picture of how much it would cost to rent in a particular area.

If you want low cost of living, decent schools AND progressive, well, that's kind of a unicorn at the moment in North Carolina. There are urban centers (urban by NC standards) that are progressive, but they are not LCOL. And there's a shitload of LCOL in NC, but it ain't progressive. Your best bet may be to look for LCOL near progressive areas by checking out some of the smaller towns - Carrboro, Hillsborough, and Pittsboro near Chapel Hill, Morrisville and Fuquay-Varina on the Raleigh side. There's an area in southern Durham county called Woodcroft (zip 27713). Here's a current listing for a 3/3 1500 s.f. single family home for $190K:

711 Cross Timbers Drive

There's a similar community (same developer) in Greensboro called Adams Farm (zip 27407. It's located southwest of downtown, between Greensboro and Jamestown. Prices are even lower there, and it's not super conservative, but it's not as progressive as the Triangle area.

You could also consider going ahead and selling your house and renting in a safer neighborhood as a stop-gap, but it sounds like you are ready to move forward with a change. The hardest step is the first one. Meeting with real estate agents and cleaning out your house are valuable whether you jump now or not - I see no downsides to taking those actions immediately.

CanuckExpat

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Re: Should we give up our high incomes for a better quality of life?
« Reply #26 on: February 05, 2017, 02:15:06 PM »
Good points Ocinfo!  We have talked about selling his business, however at this point we are hesitant to do so. I love your idea of having an apprentice and running it as a silent partner.  We will definitely discuss this possibility and explore it further. 

I know this wasn't what you had originally posted about, but I think it's a good piece of advice to consider. Or even double down and hire/partner with more than one person (as your husband is comfortable).
The best way a business can grow and make more money is scale. Your husband as an individual can only work with so many dogs, but his brand can work with as many dogs as you want. Once he has that up and running, he can manage from anywhere.