Author Topic: Where to relocate for FIRE?  (Read 14202 times)

ohsnap

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Where to relocate for FIRE?
« on: March 02, 2016, 12:13:39 PM »
If we wanted to FIRE today, our max spending would be no more than $40,000 (we'd probably pay cash for a house).  We currently live in a high COL area and couldn't survive on that amount here. 

I've done so much research online but I started with low-tax states like FL and TX.  Everywhere I look, something kills the deal.  For example, in TX the property taxes might be $500/mo, in FL the homeowner's insurance might be $300+/month.  It's funny that throughout our working lives we've wished for low income taxes but in retirement it will be property taxes that hurt!

Here's what I'm looking for:
Small 3BR house <$200k
Outdoor lifestyle (hiking, etc)
Reasonable proximity to healthcare (I've had some health problems, nothing going on now but need periodic checkups with specialists)
Landscape: Hills, mountains preferred
Climate: cooler weather vs hotter, wouldn't mind some snow
Walkability/bikes/buses would be nice as I'd love to cut back to one car.
College town would be nice.

I saw the sticky post "Mustachian Relocation Guide" but I need to narrow it down some before I ask for advice on specific areas in that thread. (I can't really ask for reviews for all the 20 locations that FindYourSpot suggested to me!) 

Does anybody have a fantastic suggestion for a location I can add to my research? Asheville NC, Chatanooga TN,  Knoxville TN, St George UT, and Tacoma WA were some of FindYourSpot's suggestions that I'll be looking into.  Many of their other suggestions were probably too expensive (e.g Bellingham, Kent and Olympia WA were all recommended, but all have high housing costs).

Thanks!

andy85

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2016, 12:42:07 PM »
Everything you described screamed somewhere along the Appalachian Trail to me, so eastern TN/western NC stands out (which are where my daydreams also run to). If you don't mind a little drive to your mountain areas then Lexington, KY could fit the bill as well or even Danville, KY (very small town USA, but a surprisingly popular retirement spot in the state. Center College is in Danville - private liberal arts college)

fdubz

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2016, 12:44:45 PM »
We're hoping to FIRE to Florida, but currently live in what may be your perfect spot!  (Disclaimer: I was born, raised, attended college, and now work here. I'm possibly biased.)

Blacksburg, Virginia, home of Virginia Tech, hits pretty much everything on your list!

Housing might be a tad more to live in the B'burg town limits, but think 240k-260k depending on fixtures, paint, yard space. etc.
Outdoor lifestyle can't be beat!  We have beautiful mountains with tons of fantastic hikes.  Waterfalls, lakes, the New River (actually one of the oldest in the world!), ponds, and tons of nature.
We've got a big medical center right in town, then a larger one about 20-30 minutes away in Radford.  There's also a huge Medical Center in Roanoke (about 45 minutes).
Landscape: we're in the mountains, but Blacksburg is actually on a plateau so there are plenty of rolling hills and pastures, with the Blue Ridge Mountains all around.
Climate: we have 4 distinct seasons.  Winters are not terrible, but mid-November-Jan can get pretty grey. Yesterday was mid-60s, but tomorrow we're expecting 3 inches of snow. Fall is GORGEOUS. Summer and Spring are nice, too!  It can get hot, but not overwhelming.
Transportation: because of the university we have an awesome bus system called the BT (Blacksburg Transit).  It's also very biker friendly and we've steadily been increasing the miles of trails. My husband and I are down to one car.
College: only the best ever!  Go Hokies!!! :)  We attend sporting events (all of which are free except for football & basketball), concerts, and tons of other university sponsored events. There is a great on-campus library and a great regional library, too!  We have a renovated old-timey theatre downtown (The Lyric) that is only $5.  Right now they're running a special with some of the downtown restaurants: spend $10 on food, get a free Lyric ticket.  I'm going with folks tonight to see The Big Short.

Like I said, I've lived here my whole life, so I can't compare it, but I can definitely answer any questions!
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 12:47:25 PM by fdubz »

FLBiker

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2016, 01:00:12 PM »
Re: FL, it's true that homeowners insurance CAN be very expensive, but it doesn't have to be.  We live just outside Tampa, and our initial insurance policy (for a house we bought at $143K) was ~$2700.  We "couldn't get" insurance (a common problem down here) so we were on Citizen's for a year or so, then another company bought our policy (for a similar rate).  Last year (so after 4 years or so) I asked our agent to put us on the market, and we now have insurance for $1700 per year.  The trick seems to be not buying in a flood zone / on the coast.

Eric

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2016, 01:13:20 PM »
If I had a budget of $40k/yr in non-housing expenses, I definitely wouldn't let a trivial amount like $300 or $500 per month affect my decision of where to live.  Or at least it wouldn't be a determining factor.  Maybe only a way to narrow down between places that were otherwise at the same level of desirability.

As far as suggestions, I'd check out Boise.  Seems to check all of your boxes.

StacheInAFlash

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2016, 01:22:47 PM »

I've done so much research online but I started with low-tax states like FL and TX. 


People put way too much emphasis on states without income tax as a means of retiring smart and cheap. Quite frankly, these are the states to avoid in FIRE if you ask me. Why? Because most people who FIRE have hardly any taxable income! $40k a year, subtract out $20k in exemptions, multiplied by a state income tax in the lowest bracket of maybe 5% is $1k in state income tax. What does that $1k get you? It gets you a state that probably has lower property tax and sales taxes, better police/fire departments, better schools, lower crime, and better park/rec facilities, and better social safety nets. Let the high income earners subsidize your early retirement through the high income taxes they are paying being in the top brackets.

I'd suggest the upper midwest states. Wisconsin has a lot of nice rolling hills, and perhaps areas of Minnesota and Michigan too. Those states have some very bike friendly towns, reasonable real estate, tons of outdoor recreation, and skew cooler than hotter.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 01:27:12 PM by StacheInAFlash »

bobechs

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2016, 01:24:15 PM »
Muleshoe, Texas.

And you can sneak right across  the border to New Mexico to score untaxed groceries.

Latest sale:  1770 sf, $62K; $35/sf

http://www.zillow.com/muleshoe-tx/


slugsworth

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2016, 01:57:20 PM »
You mentioned a lot of WA cities. There are a ton of lower cost places on the West side in addition to Tacoma, e.g. Kitsap Peninsula (Bremerton has a fair amount of walkability), Mount Vernon, possibly even Vancouver WA. . . and Spokane has a low cost of living, a fair amount of walkability, and so forth since you don't mind snow. 

Curious about your results at the end of the day!

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2016, 02:42:03 PM »
Everything you described screamed somewhere along the Appalachian Trail to me, so eastern TN/western NC stands out (which are where my daydreams also run to). If you don't mind a little drive to your mountain areas then Lexington, KY could fit the bill as well or even Danville, KY (very small town USA, but a surprisingly popular retirement spot in the state. Center College is in Danville - private liberal arts college)

Danville is probably a little too small-town for us, but I am adding Lexington to the list!  Louisville was another FindYourSpot pick; are you familiar with it?  It's a little farther from the mountain areas.

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2016, 02:50:26 PM »
We're hoping to FIRE to Florida, but currently live in what may be your perfect spot!  (Disclaimer: I was born, raised, attended college, and now work here. I'm possibly biased.)

Blacksburg, Virginia, home of Virginia Tech, hits pretty much everything on your list!

...

It does sound pretty perfect!  You totally checked all the boxes for me; I'm definitely adding it to the list.  My son and I were just googling pics of Shenandoah fall colors.  I went to high school in the DC area and loved to travel down to that area when we lived there.

So...why are you considering a move?!

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2016, 02:53:42 PM »
Re: FL, it's true that homeowners insurance CAN be very expensive, but it doesn't have to be.  We live just outside Tampa, and our initial insurance policy (for a house we bought at $143K) was ~$2700.  We "couldn't get" insurance (a common problem down here) so we were on Citizen's for a year or so, then another company bought our policy (for a similar rate).  Last year (so after 4 years or so) I asked our agent to put us on the market, and we now have insurance for $1700 per year.  The trick seems to be not buying in a flood zone / on the coast.

That's good to know.  Tampa was originally on the short list because my husband has traveled there for business quite a bit, and every time he comes home he says, "You would love it there."  He says it's an outdoorsy kind of area, but I'm a little worried about the heat as well as the insurance rates.  I hope next time he travels there I can go with him to check it out in person.

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2016, 02:58:32 PM »
If I had a budget of $40k/yr in non-housing expenses, I definitely wouldn't let a trivial amount like $300 or $500 per month affect my decision of where to live.  Or at least it wouldn't be a determining factor.  Maybe only a way to narrow down between places that were otherwise at the same level of desirability.

As far as suggestions, I'd check out Boise.  Seems to check all of your boxes.

Well it would be 15% of expenses for just the property tax.  It just kind of shocked me that even if you had a paid-for house in TX, your payment of taxes & insurance could be 20% of your expenses.

I will add Boise to the list.  Funny that FindYourSpot has it listed for me also. 

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2016, 03:02:35 PM »
Muleshoe, Texas.

And you can sneak right across  the border to New Mexico to score untaxed groceries.

...

Ugh, not sure I can do Texas Panhandle. 
And aren't groceries tax-exempt in Texas also?

katsiki

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2016, 03:03:06 PM »
Are you sure about your TX numbers?  Seems high from what I have seen (don't live there).

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2016, 03:05:50 PM »
You mentioned a lot of WA cities. There are a ton of lower cost places on the West side in addition to Tacoma, e.g. Kitsap Peninsula (Bremerton has a fair amount of walkability), Mount Vernon, possibly even Vancouver WA. . . and Spokane has a low cost of living, a fair amount of walkability, and so forth since you don't mind snow. 

Curious about your results at the end of the day!

Spokane was in the back of my mind for some reason - I've seen somebody posting here at MMM who lives in Spokane, maybe.

I like the Vancouver idea.  We lived in a Portland suburb for a few years.  We left just when we were learning to appreciate the rain (in other words, just when we figured out that rain in Portland meant snow at Mount Hood!)

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2016, 03:12:11 PM »
Are you sure about your TX numbers?  Seems high from what I have seen (don't live there).

The annual property tax rates are 2-3% of valuation - most closer to 3 than 2.  So a $200k house might have $6k/year in property taxes.

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2016, 03:17:30 PM »
...

People put way too much emphasis on states without income tax as a means of retiring smart and cheap. Quite frankly, these are the states to avoid in FIRE if you ask me. Why? Because most people who FIRE have hardly any taxable income! $40k a year, subtract out $20k in exemptions, multiplied by a state income tax in the lowest bracket of maybe 5% is $1k in state income tax. What does that $1k get you? It gets you a state that probably has lower property tax and sales taxes, better police/fire departments, better schools, lower crime, and better park/rec facilities, and better social safety nets. Let the high income earners subsidize your early retirement through the high income taxes they are paying being in the top brackets....

Yes, I agree.  It's definitely a mindset change! We had hoped to "escape" income taxes in retirement, but I think our best escape will be our lower income.

Thanks to everyone who has replied so far; I think I've replied to everyone's comments.  Since I'm so new to this forum I still need to figure out the basics like replying to multiple quotes in one post.


GhostSaver

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2016, 03:21:20 PM »
Reno, Boise, Salt Lake City, Ogden, Grand Junction are all reasonable cost of living with walkable/bikeable areas and access to very nice mountains.

bacchi

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2016, 03:57:15 PM »
Spokane was in the back of my mind for some reason - I've seen somebody posting here at MMM who lives in Spokane, maybe.

We were thinking of Spokane but the salaries of the elected city staff are way out of proportion. It reminded me of Bell, CA.

Actually, now that I revisit the issue, they're working on it.

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2015/nov/22/spokane-mayor-david-condon-to-take-a-pay-cut/

ponyespresso

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2016, 06:14:14 PM »
They tax groceries in Texas?? dang!
Muleshoe, Texas.

And you can sneak right across  the border to New Mexico to score untaxed groceries.

Latest sale:  1770 sf, $62K; $35/sf

http://www.zillow.com/muleshoe-tx/



FLBiker

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2016, 06:39:27 AM »
Re: FL, it's true that homeowners insurance CAN be very expensive, but it doesn't have to be.  We live just outside Tampa, and our initial insurance policy (for a house we bought at $143K) was ~$2700.  We "couldn't get" insurance (a common problem down here) so we were on Citizen's for a year or so, then another company bought our policy (for a similar rate).  Last year (so after 4 years or so) I asked our agent to put us on the market, and we now have insurance for $1700 per year.  The trick seems to be not buying in a flood zone / on the coast.

That's good to know.  Tampa was originally on the short list because my husband has traveled there for business quite a bit, and every time he comes home he says, "You would love it there."  He says it's an outdoorsy kind of area, but I'm a little worried about the heat as well as the insurance rates.  I hope next time he travels there I can go with him to check it out in person.

We love it here.  Culturally, it took a little while for us to find our niche, but I admittedly wasn't looking very hard.  And, in terms of the weather, it's hot from June through September (maybe mid-May through mid-October) but really nice the rest of the time.  And, personally, I don't mind heat.  I love blue skies, and we have them almost everyday.  And in the summer, one great outdoor activity that is pretty plentiful in mid-Florida is cold springs.

BTH7117

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2016, 07:39:34 AM »

Here's what I'm looking for:
Small 3BR house <$200k
Outdoor lifestyle (hiking, etc)
Reasonable proximity to healthcare (I've had some health problems, nothing going on now but need periodic checkups with specialists)
Landscape: Hills, mountains preferred
Climate: cooler weather vs hotter, wouldn't mind some snow
Walkability/bikes/buses would be nice as I'd love to cut back to one car.
College town would be nice.

Sounds like you exactly described Pittsburgh.  Winters can be cold, but not any different than you'd get anywhere on the Acela corridor.  Cheap housing, the Allegheny/Appalachian Mountains, several large universities w/ top end hospitals and more cultural amenities than a city its size probably needs.

http://www.nextpittsburgh.com/business-tech-news/economist-names-pittsburgh-livable-city/
http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mjf45hkeh/pittsburgh-pennsylvania/

Disclosure: I grew up in Pittsburgh but moved away to a super HCOL area for work.  It's a really great place though.

MickeyMoustache

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2016, 08:11:43 AM »
Bloomington IN is a great college town with a lot of what you're looking for.   Good CoL and close to a couple of cities. 

ohmylookatthat

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2016, 08:16:38 AM »
Somewhere in Northern Nevada. Reno/Sparks. Outdoors, still close to Bay Area and 35 minutes from Tahoe

andy85

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2016, 08:20:05 AM »
Everything you described screamed somewhere along the Appalachian Trail to me, so eastern TN/western NC stands out (which are where my daydreams also run to). If you don't mind a little drive to your mountain areas then Lexington, KY could fit the bill as well or even Danville, KY (very small town USA, but a surprisingly popular retirement spot in the state. Center College is in Danville - private liberal arts college)

Danville is probably a little too small-town for us, but I am adding Lexington to the list!  Louisville was another FindYourSpot pick; are you familiar with it?  It's a little farther from the mountain areas.
I should be familiar with it...I've lived here my whole life, so I'm a little biased. But yes, i do enjoy my city. I think we are in the top 20 of biggest cities but you can still get rural pretty quickly here, so i enjoy it. There are pockets within the city that are pretty distinct.

I'd consider the 'highlands' area (bardstown rd/baxter ave). it is like a hippie/hipster mecca (i dont mean that in a bad way). lots of shops and dining all within walking distance. Multiple farmers markets close too. Also has 2 sizeable parks within walking/biking distance - Cherokee and Seneca Park. Downtown attractions, the 'waterfront' park on the river, and major hospitals are also only about a 10 minute drive away. Hoosier National Forest in Indiana is about an hour away. Couple of hours east and you have the Appalachians/red river gorge (only 1 hr from lexington). Plus we have the bourbon trail, horses, largest firework show in the world (maybe just the U.S.), forecastle festival, and countless other little fun things to do in the spring through fall. It can be hot as hell in the summer 90-100 with some awesome humidity and freezing in the winter...hit like -10 for a bit this winter with the wind chills. You may also get 3 season in 1 week....it was literally snowing here a few minutes ago, supposed to be 50 this weekend, and then 70 and sunny next week...it is bizarre.
(a house in the higlands area http://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/fsba_lt/house_type/73459159_zpid/3-_beds/2-_baths/150000-375000_price/538-1346_mp/any_days/38.237354,-85.672224,38.218543,-85.709903_rect/14_zm/0_mmm/ )

Lexington is similar in that it feels like a decent size city, but drive 20 minutes outside of the city and you're in horse farm country. Smaller feel than louisville. Lexington also has more of a college town feel just due to the layout of the college.

I like them both. Like any cities they have their pro's and con's.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 08:23:33 AM by andy85 »

2Saving4Life

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #25 on: March 03, 2016, 08:53:55 AM »
You mentioned a lot of WA cities. There are a ton of lower cost places on the West side in addition to Tacoma, e.g. Kitsap Peninsula (Bremerton has a fair amount of walkability), Mount Vernon, possibly even Vancouver WA. . . and Spokane has a low cost of living, a fair amount of walkability, and so forth since you don't mind snow. 

Curious about your results at the end of the day!

Spokane was in the back of my mind for some reason - I've seen somebody posting here at MMM who lives in Spokane, maybe.

I like the Vancouver idea.  We lived in a Portland suburb for a few years.  We left just when we were learning to appreciate the rain (in other words, just when we figured out that rain in Portland meant snow at Mount Hood!)

We live in Spokane, I think it fits your criteria for a FIRE location. 

$200k housing
Outdoor lifestyle: Lots of hiking and biking trails.
You can be close or super close to Healthcare professionals depending on what neighborhood.
We have hills and there are mountains nearby.
Temp: We can go below 0 F and above 100 F.  You get all 4 seasons here.
We have one car(no problems), decent bus system, walkable, biking could be better but is doable (it's getting better)
I wouldn't consider it a college town but there are multiple college's here.

If you have specific questions about Spokane feel free to ask. 

We could use a few more mustachians here.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2016, 09:53:38 AM by 2Saving4Life »

ooeei

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #26 on: March 03, 2016, 09:51:40 AM »
They tax groceries in Texas?? dang!

Groceries are not taxed in Texas.  I'm not sure about stuff like toilet paper, cleaners, or some processed foods, but "groceries" are not taxed here.

UnleashHell

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #27 on: March 03, 2016, 09:54:53 AM »
Re: FL, it's true that homeowners insurance CAN be very expensive, but it doesn't have to be.  We live just outside Tampa, and our initial insurance policy (for a house we bought at $143K) was ~$2700.  We "couldn't get" insurance (a common problem down here) so we were on Citizen's for a year or so, then another company bought our policy (for a similar rate).  Last year (so after 4 years or so) I asked our agent to put us on the market, and we now have insurance for $1700 per year.  The trick seems to be not buying in a flood zone / on the coast.
I'm just outside tampa too. I bought a similar sized house but made sure it wasn't in a flood zone. my house insurance is $538 a year. near the coast it could be that per month!!

not much in the way of mountains or snow and after living in NH for 12 years I'm just fine with that.

Walking and biking is excellent where I live.

ponyespresso

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #28 on: March 03, 2016, 10:20:22 AM »
I'm glad TX doesn't tax food groceries! That made me wonder if any states do tax groceries and the answer is yes.

According to Google: "States that tax groceries (rate if not fully taxed): Alabama, Arkansas (3%), Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois (1%), Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri (1.225%), Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee (5.5%), Utah (1.75%), Virginia (1.5% + 1% local option tax), and West Virginia (5%)."

Only AL and MS fully tax food with no offset (some states offer a credit or rebate or tax groceries at a lower rate).

They tax groceries in Texas?? dang!

Groceries are not taxed in Texas.  I'm not sure about stuff like toilet paper, cleaners, or some processed foods, but "groceries" are not taxed here.

fdubz

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #29 on: March 03, 2016, 12:39:50 PM »
We're hoping to FIRE to Florida, but currently live in what may be your perfect spot!  (Disclaimer: I was born, raised, attended college, and now work here. I'm possibly biased.)

Blacksburg, Virginia, home of Virginia Tech, hits pretty much everything on your list!

...

It does sound pretty perfect!  You totally checked all the boxes for me; I'm definitely adding it to the list.  My son and I were just googling pics of Shenandoah fall colors.  I went to high school in the DC area and loved to travel down to that area when we lived there.

So...why are you considering a move?!

My husband is in hospitality (hotel/event management) and there isn't much growth potential for him here.  I can work anywhere there's a college or university, so we've been looking at Tampa/St. Pete area for now and then panhandle area when we're FIRE.  We love the gulf area!  I've been excited to hear from some of the Tampa folks' on this thread. 

The Shenandoah is gorgeous!  I work in an Ag Dept and a lot of my students are from the Valley.  Blacksburg is very similar, just more mountains.

Fuzz

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #30 on: March 03, 2016, 03:03:01 PM »
Somewhere within one hour of Bozeman. Not all mountains and outdoor recreation are equal. :)

bobechs

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #31 on: March 03, 2016, 03:47:45 PM »
Somewhere within one hour of Bozeman. Not all mountains and outdoor recreation are equal. :)

And they have those pleasantly cool winters.

VAR

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #32 on: March 03, 2016, 04:39:36 PM »
I've lived in or near Asheville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Tacoma.
Chattanooga and Knoxville are going to be pretty hot during the summer and snow chances are pretty low - like 1 or 2 days of 1 or maybe 2 inches each year. It feels more like 3 seasons. Longish dull fall, Spring and Summer. The leaves don't change as nicely either that far south. That fall "crisp air" feeling usually doesn't start until sometime in november.

Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Tacoma have significant areas of crime.
Asheville is WAY smaller than it seems because it has many touristy activities - but once you've checked out that stuff it can feel pretty small town. Which I actually liked a lot. It was my favorite place to live.

I came very close to moving into Tacoma proper last year (I was living near Bremerton on the Kitsap peninsula).
Tacoma has a lot of great stuff and is so close to so much - ocean, mountains, puget sound etc etc etc. If you're a nature/hiker type person that's really the best from the above towns.
Asheville has a lot of nature - but a lot of it is private land and you don't have the variety of nature experiences.
Knoxville and Tacoma have some awful highways/traffic.

It may no be a big thing for you but one thing I NEVER thought of when I moved from TN to WA state was the daylight hours. WA is much further north and the extremely short days all fall/winter were tough. But the crazy long summer days were awesome - Sitting out and watching the sunset at bedtime. Although the crazy early sunrises made it hard to sleep in!

Also I guess there were local taxes added on (like city/county) but in TN my grocery taxes were higher than 5.5.% I've also read that the tax stuff there is not as good for living off investments etc. So unless you're working still that probably is a mark against.

JLee

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #33 on: March 03, 2016, 04:52:11 PM »
Arizona?

I love Phoenix, but it's hot and there aren't too many mountains.  It's cheap though (my property taxes are $760/year), and Flagstaff is only ~3 hours away (mountains and snow).  Sedona/Flagstaff/Prescott is probably significantly more expensive, but beautiful...

MKinVA

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #34 on: March 03, 2016, 06:07:44 PM »
I agree with whoever said you can't just look at no income tax states. Plenty of states have tax preferred statuses for retirees and older people. It's a very individual situation. For instance, Hawaii doesn't tax pensions...any pensions even from another state or the federal government. It also has very low real estate taxes because the state pays for schools unlike here in the 48s.  So if you have a state pension, Hawaii is not really that much more expensive than some of the other areas people are recommending. And talk about communing with nature. I daydream about living there. Unfortunately  my family thinks it's too far and I wouldn't see them often enough.

Fireball

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #35 on: March 03, 2016, 07:43:52 PM »
The leaves don't change as nicely either that far south. That fall "crisp air" feeling usually doesn't start until sometime in november.

I don't know. Not too bad.

fishnfool

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #36 on: March 04, 2016, 06:03:29 AM »
As mentioned Reno & Boise fit your criteria. I'd pick Reno over Boise if it were me. Closer to Lake Tahoe and easy days drive to the coast. Plus lots of cheap entertainment.

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #37 on: March 04, 2016, 11:18:25 AM »
Somewhere within one hour of Bozeman. Not all mountains and outdoor recreation are equal. :)

And they have those pleasantly cool winters.

Yeah, I don't think Bozeman is going to be on the list. :D  FindYourSpot suggested Billings (I guess because I said I was OK with some snow) but I don't think I could do that level of snow.

Arizona?

I love Phoenix, but it's hot and there aren't too many mountains.  It's cheap though (my property taxes are $760/year), and Flagstaff is only ~3 hours away (mountains and snow).  Sedona/Flagstaff/Prescott is probably significantly more expensive, but beautiful...

We do like the Sedona area; we've vacationed there a couple of times.  I think the home prices in the more desirable areas of AZ are too $.

I agree with whoever said you can't just look at no income tax states. Plenty of states have tax preferred statuses for retirees and older people. It's a very individual situation. For instance, Hawaii doesn't tax pensions...any pensions even from another state or the federal government. It also has very low real estate taxes because the state pays for schools unlike here in the 48s.  So if you have a state pension, Hawaii is not really that much more expensive than some of the other areas people are recommending. And talk about communing with nature. I daydream about living there. Unfortunately  my family thinks it's too far and I wouldn't see them often enough.

We love Hawaii, but I think the COL is just too high (food & housing).  Hubby would LOVE to live there so we've talked about maybe for a year. 

As mentioned Reno & Boise fit your criteria. I'd pick Reno over Boise if it were me. Closer to Lake Tahoe and easy days drive to the coast. Plus lots of cheap entertainment.

We love Reno, too.  We've vacationed in both Reno and South Lake Tahoe in the past.  I think housing might be a little expensive (it's really gone up recently) but I'm adding it to the list.

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #38 on: March 04, 2016, 11:25:39 AM »
I've lived in or near Asheville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Tacoma.
Chattanooga and Knoxville are going to be pretty hot during the summer and snow chances are pretty low - like 1 or 2 days of 1 or maybe 2 inches each year. It feels more like 3 seasons. Longish dull fall, Spring and Summer. The leaves don't change as nicely either that far south. That fall "crisp air" feeling usually doesn't start until sometime in november.

Chattanooga, Knoxville, and Tacoma have significant areas of crime.
Asheville is WAY smaller than it seems because it has many touristy activities - but once you've checked out that stuff it can feel pretty small town. Which I actually liked a lot. It was my favorite place to live.

I came very close to moving into Tacoma proper last year (I was living near Bremerton on the Kitsap peninsula).
Tacoma has a lot of great stuff and is so close to so much - ocean, mountains, puget sound etc etc etc. If you're a nature/hiker type person that's really the best from the above towns.
Asheville has a lot of nature - but a lot of it is private land and you don't have the variety of nature experiences.
Knoxville and Tacoma have some awful highways/traffic.

It may no be a big thing for you but one thing I NEVER thought of when I moved from TN to WA state was the daylight hours. WA is much further north and the extremely short days all fall/winter were tough. But the crazy long summer days were awesome - Sitting out and watching the sunset at bedtime. Although the crazy early sunrises made it hard to sleep in!

Also I guess there were local taxes added on (like city/county) but in TN my grocery taxes were higher than 5.5.% I've also read that the tax stuff there is not as good for living off investments etc. So unless you're working still that probably is a mark against.

Thanks for the review of all those cities! 

re: the bolded above.  Yes, we really really like to spend time outdoors.  We loved living in Portland but never got much farther north except once when we spent a weekend in Seattle for a Mariners game. 

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #39 on: March 04, 2016, 11:36:25 AM »
Thank you all for the replies so far.  I now have 15 cities on the list!  I have started a comparison spreadsheet, but the real work is coming; we need to figure out how to squeeze in visits to some of these places!

zoltani

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #40 on: March 04, 2016, 11:43:45 AM »
I've lived in Knoxville, and live in Tacoma now. In a weird way the two are pretty similar, though housing costs are likely cheaper in Knoxville. The big con is Knoxville is in the south. Tacoma is in a progressive area, and it is growing at a faster pace than Knoxville in general with 100k people expected to move here in the next 25 years! While I love the great smoky mountains, after being in the mountains here I don't think they would do it for me.

There is this feeling in Tacoma that something great is going to happen in the future, can't quite put my finger on it. That said, I think this feeling has been around since the founding of the city, lol. There is a lot of potential here and I find the number of entrepreneurs here pretty incredible.

Tacoma close to an international airport with cheap flights to other parts of the country and world. Knoxville not so much. Seattle is close to Tacoma if you need your big city fix, with Nashville or Atlanta being your choices close to Knoxville.

Cannabis is legal in WA, it will get you jail time in TN.

Anyway, I like Tacoma a lot.

Cassie

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #41 on: March 04, 2016, 12:03:48 PM »
As many people have mentioned REno/Sparks meets your criteria. A mild 4 seasons with mountains an easy drive. Property taxes are based on the age of a home so for instance a 1950's home even though completely remodeled still has property taxes of 600.00/year. No state income tax. Property is going up but an older 3 bed/2 bath home in a good neighborhood (between 1200-1400 sq ft) is going for 200k.

Panfish

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #42 on: March 04, 2016, 02:14:43 PM »
I wrote this a while back and I think it fits your criteria very well (I think the thread was about tolerance and someone mentioned the Matthew Sheppard murder from 20 years ago):

I am here in defense of Laramie, WY.  I moved here from Alaska about a year and half ago and I must say that this is one of the best places I have ever visited (and lived).  Laramie is at extreme elevation for a town of this size (7,200').  At this elevation the winter weather is very volatile and all of the highways in and out of town close on average about once every two weeks. The wind in winter can be very brutal outside of town but it isn't to bad within the city limits. the Cost of living here is about average for the nation but a little higher than you would expect in Wyoming.

In my opinion that is all there really is for the bad.  Laramie is nestled in a high valley between the Laramie Mountain Range a few miles to the east and the Snowy Mountain Range about 30 miles to the west.  Both of these ranges have endless hiking and mountain biking trails which turn into cross country ski trails in the winter.  both mountain ranges have fishing and hunting opportunities galore as well as bountiful wildlife for viewing.  15 miles east of town is the legendary climbing area the Vedeawoo rock formation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedauwoo .  Laramie is enough off of the beaten path that most of the recreation is completely uncrowded.  There is a local ski hill 30 minutes away and Steamboat Springs is only 2 hours away.

The summer is usually about 70 to 85 degrees for the high and 50 to 60 for the low. Basically every street has a bike lane and it is easy to hop on the roads leaving town in a bike and get to any of the recreation I have talked about.

As for a 'red' town, yes Laramie is going to be more conservative than your average college town, but in reality it averages out to be very middle of the road.  It's actually very interesting politically and it is quite the melting pot between cowboys, hipsters, climbers, outdoorsmen, hippies, construction folks, and university types all getting along shockingly well.  It has a kind of libertarian thing gong on where people are just free to be themselves.  Wouldn't you rather have this culture than your average group think 'red' and 'blue' areas?

Laramie has very, very nice city parks that are spread through town and easy to get to.  The east edge of town has a 2 mile square wild prairie area that is open to the public with canyons and trails and jackrabbits and antelope.

If you need to go to a bigger town for bigger town things then Cheyenne at 60,000 population and Fort Collins at 150,000 population are both an hour or less away.  Denver is a hair over 2 hours away.  The airport does 25 minute puddle jumper planes to Denver international with free parking for about $150 round trip. 

Wyoming has no state income tax and no tax on food.  There are at least 3 breweries downtown with one of them (Coal Creek Tap) having some of the best beers in their varietals that I have every had.  The town has a Thursday and a Friday farmers market that are both very good.  Laramie has very little crime and pretty much everyone you meet is super nice.  I don't have children but I have heard that the school district is very good.

Laramie won't be for everyone but it certainly has its positive points.

Melody

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #43 on: March 04, 2016, 11:40:12 PM »
I used to live in flagstaff az, not sure what you could buy for $200k there right now, but it would tick all your other boxes. Great fun college town with hiking and skiing opportunities. When the winter pisses you off to much it's a 2 hour ride into Phoenix where it's summer all year round. It has a good bus service (for a small town) though getting into the walkable bikeable part will add to the costs. My friends lived out near the fairground and it was a five minute drive in and significantly cheaper (as not able to walk or bus to the university).

VAR

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #44 on: March 05, 2016, 07:06:14 AM »
I've lived in Knoxville, and live in Tacoma now. In a weird way the two are pretty similar, though housing costs are likely cheaper in Knoxville. The big con is Knoxville is in the south. Tacoma is in a progressive area, and it is growing at a faster pace than Knoxville in general with 100k people expected to move here in the next 25 years! While I love the great smoky mountains, after being in the mountains here I don't think they would do it for me.

There is this feeling in Tacoma that something great is going to happen in the future, can't quite put my finger on it. That said, I think this feeling has been around since the founding of the city, lol. There is a lot of potential here and I find the number of entrepreneurs here pretty incredible.

Tacoma close to an international airport with cheap flights to other parts of the country and world. Knoxville not so much. Seattle is close to Tacoma if you need your big city fix, with Nashville or Atlanta being your choices close to Knoxville.

Cannabis is legal in WA, it will get you jail time in TN.

Anyway, I like Tacoma a lot.

I agree - Tacoma just "feels" awesome. I know exactly what you are talking about and I very very seriously considered staying but my family (in Georgia) was having issues and I found it very stressful being so far away and not being able to help. The family factor is what tipped me. Otherwise I would be living there now.

icemodeled

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #45 on: March 05, 2016, 08:03:25 AM »
My husband and I are moving in 3-6 months, we are semi retired. We are packing up out of the cold ohio winters and moving south. We choose FL after 2 years of research and trips. We have family there as well, which was a big factor to. I think maybe northern FL would work for you. There are certainly affordable areas in FL, as we found out. Our housing budget is $150k so yours would go even farther. Again, north FL is much better with property tax but where were going (port Charlotte) is quite reasonable to us, just a slight increase from our ohio home. Also, TN and Carolinas sounds like options for you. Plunty of outdoor activities. We are active hikers and enjoy being out then inside also.

We visited AZ last year and loved the outdoor options there. We wouldnt choose Phoenix as it is very hot but northern AZ is wonderful. My husband didnt like the desert feel though, he wants greenery all year but I thought many areas of AZ was absolutely beautiful!

spokey doke

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #46 on: March 06, 2016, 08:11:37 AM »
I've lived in Knoxville, and live in Tacoma now. In a weird way the two are pretty similar, though housing costs are likely cheaper in Knoxville. The big con is Knoxville is in the south. Tacoma is in a progressive area, and it is growing at a faster pace than Knoxville in general with 100k people expected to move here in the next 25 years! While I love the great smoky mountains, after being in the mountains here I don't think they would do it for me.

There is this feeling in Tacoma that something great is going to happen in the future, can't quite put my finger on it. That said, I think this feeling has been around since the founding of the city, lol. There is a lot of potential here and I find the number of entrepreneurs here pretty incredible.

Tacoma close to an international airport with cheap flights to other parts of the country and world. Knoxville not so much. Seattle is close to Tacoma if you need your big city fix, with Nashville or Atlanta being your choices close to Knoxville.

Cannabis is legal in WA, it will get you jail time in TN.

Anyway, I like Tacoma a lot.

I agree - Tacoma just "feels" awesome. I know exactly what you are talking about and I very very seriously considered staying but my family (in Georgia) was having issues and I found it very stressful being so far away and not being able to help. The family factor is what tipped me. Otherwise I would be living there now.

I think Tacoma has a lot going for it...as it is right in the middle of many good things and the city itself has gotten better than it once was, but I wouldn't live there again by choice, becuase it is still a bit of a drive, often through what I would call significant traffic, to get to so much of that good stuff.

You should go check out this thread for some good discussion on moving to the NW:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/looking-to-move-to-washington-or-oregon-help-us-choose-a-city/

For me, a small city with better access with less traffic going to (and then on) trails would be better...on my list would be:

Wenatchee (area)
Boise
any number of the smaller towns E. of Portland
Bend (except for real estate prices)

ohsnap

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #47 on: March 06, 2016, 08:40:02 AM »

I think Tacoma has a lot going for it...as it is right in the middle of many good things and the city itself has gotten better than it once was, but I wouldn't live there again by choice, becuase it is still a bit of a drive, often through what I would call significant traffic, to get to so much of that good stuff.

You should go check out this thread for some good discussion on moving to the NW:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/looking-to-move-to-washington-or-oregon-help-us-choose-a-city/

For me, a small city with better access with less traffic going to (and then on) trails would be better...on my list would be:

Wenatchee (area)
Boise
any number of the smaller towns E. of Portland
Bend (except for real estate prices)

What a great thread you linked to, thanks!  I've bookmarked it to check out all those suggestions, too.

spokey doke

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #48 on: March 06, 2016, 09:43:42 AM »

I think Tacoma has a lot going for it...as it is right in the middle of many good things and the city itself has gotten better than it once was, but I wouldn't live there again by choice, becuase it is still a bit of a drive, often through what I would call significant traffic, to get to so much of that good stuff.

You should go check out this thread for some good discussion on moving to the NW:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/looking-to-move-to-washington-or-oregon-help-us-choose-a-city/

For me, a small city with better access with less traffic going to (and then on) trails would be better...on my list would be:

Wenatchee (area)
Boise
any number of the smaller towns E. of Portland
Bend (except for real estate prices)

What a great thread you linked to, thanks!  I've bookmarked it to check out all those suggestions, too.

cool...while you are at it, go check out the Boise Ridge to River system map...while Boise is on the big side of my preference range, if you live in downtown/north end area, you have great access to both the city and the river and the HUGE mountain trail system right there...

freeat57

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Re: Where to relocate for FIRE?
« Reply #49 on: March 06, 2016, 04:31:09 PM »
I would advise avoiding Texas.  I just left there after 3.5 years.  The problem for someone who is retired (i.e. lower regular income) is precisely the fact that the state does not levy income taxes. The revenue to run the state and municipalities has to come from other taxes and fees.  I read that TX has the 3rd highest property taxes in the nation.  In addition, my monthly water bill was often larger than my electricity bill in an all electric house!  It was not due to the amount of water I used.  The city tacked on a number of fees for all kinds of things unrelated to water.  They simply had no other place to obtain funds.  These expenses are unavoidable, whereas income tax is avoidable if you simply do not have much income.  I also thought that in general, public infrastructure was fairly poor there.  I would guess that Dallas and Austin are somewhat better, but taxes are really high in those cities.  Insurance was high too.  Homeowners was high due to frequent hail storms, car was high due to very high number of uninsured drivers.

Here's my real world small town TX numbers:
House value ~180,000
Property tax - 3,725
Home insurance - 1,700 (Went up every year.)

I also did not care for many elements of TX culture.  In my opinion, the whole place just did not function well. (Again, Austin and Dallas may be exceptions.  Many people in my town wished that those places were not part of TX!)