Showing posts with label affordable places to retire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label affordable places to retire. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Where Retirees Pay Low Taxes

Once you leave the work force, many retirees are concerned about how to pay low taxes so they can really stretch their Social Security and pensions and make every penny count.  After all, if you are going to receive $1200 to $2400 a month in Social Security (a typical range), the money will go a lot further in low-tax, low cost-of-living states like Texas or Washington rather than states like California or New York.  Below is some of the information you will need to know in order to make the right retirement decision for you.

States With No State Income Tax

The first issue that you need to consider is whether or not you will have to pay state income tax on any of your retirement income.  The states listed below, do not have a state income tax on regular income, although there are some other issues, mentioned below, that you want to consider.

New Hampshire
South Dakota

New Hampshire and Tennessee do tax your dividends and interest income.  In addition, some of those states, like Texas, have unusually high property taxes that can amount to more than residents would have paid in income taxes in other states.  It is important for retirees to consider ALL the taxes that they will pay in their new location, including sales, personal property, estate and inheritance taxes.

Cities with Moderate Taxes and a Desirable Quality of Life

Paying low taxes is not enough to guarantee a pleasant retirement.  Most retirees also want to enjoy a pleasant lifestyle, as well.  In other words, they are looking for places where they will be able to afford to live on their retirement income while, at the same time, being able to have fun in locations where they feel safe, with good transportation and access to quality healthcare.

Many retirees also want to be able to live in the same region of the country where their adult children and grandchildren live.  Often they want easy access to parks and beaches or lakes.  They may be looking for a mild climate.

With all those considerations in mind, here are "Eight Tax-Friendly Cities" that, according to Where to Retire magazine, may meet your overall needs:

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
St. Marys, Georgia
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Manitou Springs, Colorado
Tempe, Arizona
Boulder City, Nevada
Payallup, Washington

Of course, this is just a sampling of the possible choices that are available.  As you can see, several of the listed cities are actually in the states that do have a state income tax.  This is because the magazine looked at the entire tax burden that people experience, including property and sales taxes.  Even if those particular cities will not work for you, you may consider other affordable and interesting towns within those same states.  In particular, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Arizona are popular and affordable retirement meccas.

As you can see, you may not wish to move to a state simply because it does not have income taxes, until you carefully study what other taxes you may be expected to pay, as well as the overall cost-of-living.

The best state for retirement may be different for each individual.  Some of the questions you may want to ask yourself:

Do you plan to buy or rent in my new location?
How do home prices and rents compare from state to state?
What will be the total impact of the taxes you will be paying?
What is the overall cost of living?
What will it cost to enjoy your favorite pastimes, hobbies and activities?
Will you have convenient access to healthcare and other services?
How much will it cost to travel to visit your loved ones?

Once you have researched the answers to these questions and considered the amount you will be paying in taxes and other expenses, then you will have gone a long way towards deciding the best place for you to live economically during retirement, while paying the lowest taxes possible.

"8 Tax-Friendly Cities," Where to Retire magazine, January/February 2015 issue, pg. 52.

For more ideas about good places to retire, use the tabs at the top of this article to find links to dozens of other articles, including where to retire both in the United States and in other countries.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Resources for Retiring in the United States

Are you trying to decide where you want to retire in the United States after you retire?  It can be a difficult decision.  Should you live near your current home, near your adult children or in an entirely new location?  Do you like winter sports, or are some empty beach chairs calling your name?

Your first step will be doing your research.  Do you know what the cost of living is in the different locations you are considering?  What is the weather like there?  Will your Social Security be taxed?  What about your other retirement income?  How much are the property taxes?

In the states that you are considering, which towns are the most affordable?  What types of sporting events, museums, golf courses and other entertainment options are available in the area?

If you are in the process of making up your mind about where you would like to live, you will want to be sure to check out the book review I wrote for the online magazine Squidoo about "Where to Retire: America's Best and Most Affordable Places."

This article also has links to a couple of other excellent books that will be useful in helping you find the perfect place to retire.  It's far easier, and cheaper, to do your research from the comfort of your current home than it is to drive all over the place or, worse, to move and realize that your new community is not what you expected.

If you are planning your retirement, you will also want to use the tabs at the top of this page to check out more articles about retiring in the United States or other countries, medical issues, financial concerns, and more.

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Best Sunny Places to Retire

Southern California is a fun and
sunny place to retire, as shown in
this mid-winter photo of Laguna Beach!
If you want to retire someplace that is sunny most of the year, there are plenty of locations available in the United States.  AARP, the American Association of Retired People, compiled a list of sunny places to retire. Since many retirees wish to live in a location where they can get outdoors the year around, this list will be a good place for them to start their search.

In order to make their list, the city had to have at least 250 sunny days a year, and have plenty of activities that are popular with retirees.  They also had to have a low crime rate, a strong local economy and a generally healthy lifestyle.  Since I have either visited or lived in several of these communities, I thought this would be a great opportunity to add some of my own comments about the cities they chose.  If you have additional thoughts about these communities, feel free to express them in the comments section.  The home prices listed here were the prices in about 2012.  You can assume that most of the prices are a bit higher today.

Sunny Cities in the United States

Asheville, North Carolina:  This community in the Blue Ridge Mountains is in an area where some of our friends live.  The community has museums, a live theatre, and frequent art fairs.  The average home sells for about $248,000, and the median income is $34,457 ... which puts in within the range of many retirees.  Surrounded by mountains and lots of outdoor space, this is a lovely area.  Although it may be sunny most of the year, it does get cold in the winter, so be prepared!

Grand Junction, Colorado:  This small city of 58,000 people is located in the high desert area of Colorado.  The average house costs $270,000, and the median income is $47,761.  For someone who wants sunshine, along with golf, hiking, ice fishing and skiing, this is the ideal location for you.  You get wide temperature swings in Grand Junction.  In the summer it can average 93 degrees; in the winter you can have snow and ice. 

Sarasota, Florida:  My husband grew up in this area along Florida's Gulf Coast.  Sarasota is a great town for people who have dreamed of retiring to the beach.  Sarasota has a population of 52,000.  The homes are quite expensive ... over $530,000 on average ... but the median household income is $36,742, so people are obviously finding affordable places to live.  If you go outside the town of Sarasota, you may find some better home prices a bit inland, and still be within easy driving distance of the beach.  The temperature gets quite hot in the summer, but is pleasant and mild in the winter. 

San Diego, California:  San Diego is actually a large city with a population of over 3 million people.  We have lived there, as has one of our daughters.  We currently live in Laguna Woods Village, a small retirement community about a one hour drive north of San Diego.  The photo above was taken by me from the cliffs along Laguna Beach, only 4 miles from our home in Laguna Woods Village.  All of Southern California actually has sunny weather and mild temperatures the year around.  If you are considering retiring to San Diego, you might cast a wider net and look at places to live from San Diego in the south to Santa Barbara in the north.  There are hundreds of wonderful, sunny small towns throughout Southern California, and most of them are within an easy drive to the beach as well as museums, theatres, and many fun activities.  Unless you are willing to live inland, home prices in Southern California are expensive.  For example, the average home price in San Diego is $646,000.  However, prices drop substantially as you move inland.  Some of the retirement communities are quite affordable, too.  While home prices in Laguna Beach average over $1,000,000, condominiums in nearby Laguna Woods Village have an average price of about $250,000.  Sunshine, beaches and outdoor activities like golf and tennis are plentiful throughout Southern California.

Las Cruces, New Mexico:  Las Cruces is almost always sunny.  In fact, it is sunny an average of 350 days a year!  AARP Magazine actually lists Las Cruces as a "retirement dream town."  Home prices average only $178,000 and the median household income is about $37,471 ... well within the means of many retirees.    There are plenty of recreational activities, too!  It is a lovely, charming community that is very appealing to people who want to live in the Sun Belt.  I have driven through Las Cruces during cross-country trips, and it does get quite hot in the summer!

San Luis Obispo, California:  San Luis Obispo is often nicknamed SLO ... and the nickname fits.  It is a very relaxed, slow-paced small city, and absolutely lovely.  My husband's sister has retired nearby in the small town of Avila Beach, one of several charming beach towns near SLO.  San Luis Obispo was actually named one of the happiest places in the world by writer Dan Buettner in his book "Thrive."  The average home in SLO sells for $695,000 and the median household income is $38,000.  There are affordable places to live there, although the cost of living is higher than other places on this list. 

St. George, Utah:  This small community is about 130 miles from Las Vegas, the nearest large city.  The average house sells for $311,000 and the median household income is $46,000.  This is a beautiful area, with golf courses and gorgeous vistas.  About 70% of the residents are Mormon, and there are only two state-owned liquor stores in the area; so, if you are a big drinker, this may not be the best community for you.  Another concern is the fact that the nearest major medical center is in Las Vegas.  However, most residents have long life expectancies, so this may not be a concern for you!

Santa Fe, New Mexico:  Santa Fe is a fascinating mixture of Spanish, Native American and modern American cultures.  It is an artists' colony, as well as a mecca for people who love music, including the symphony and opera.  The average home sells for $433,000 and the median household income is $52,000.  It is a small city, with a population of only 68,000.  In addition to modern medical facilities, this is also a popular location for alternative healing and holistic medicine.  It has been listed as one of the 10 healthiest places in the US to live!

Bend, Oregon:  Bend is the sunny inland area where many residents of Oregon travel to get out of the frequent coastal rain.  It is in the high desert, about two hours southeast of Portland.  The average home price is $427,000 and the median household income is $53,177.  One of the upsides of living in Oregon include paying no state taxes on your pension income. 

Fort Worth, Texas: My husband and I lived for 25 years in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of north central Texas, and we have a number of friends who have chosen to retire in that area. The summers get very hot ... often over 100 degrees.  The winters tend to be mild, although so-called "Blue Northerns" do occasionally bring frigid temperatures to this area of Texas.  However, people can golf,  play tennis, go boating and enjoy other outdoor sports almost the year around.  This area of Texas is surrounded by over 100 lakes, so you may want to expand your search outside the major cities to some of the lovely lakeside subdivisions in the area.  Within the city of Fort Worth, the average home sells for $148,000 and the median household income is $47,634.  Texas also has the advantage of no state income taxes at all, although property taxes are higher than in other states.

If you want to enjoy sunshine most of the year, any of these communities could be a good choice for you.  Remember to expand your house hunt outside the immediate area of the towns and cities mentioned.  There are a lot of wonderful communities in the U.S. sunbelt!  If you know of other communities that may interest readers, feel free to mention them in the comments sections.

If you are looking for more retirement ideas, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page for links to hundreds of other articles on a wide variety of topics of interest to retirees and Baby-Boomers.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Cheap Places to Retire

Texas Has a Low Cost of Living,
But a Few Other Places Do, Too!
Are you looking for an affordable place to retire?  Where can you live cheaply and comfortably?  Kiplinger Magazine looked into this issue in their September 21, 2011 issue.  Although this was a few years ago, the places they recommended are still good choices.  Below are some of their findings, along with my personal experience with some of these places.

Texas is one of the cheapest places to live in the United States.   When Kiplinger listed five of the most affordable communities in the US, three of them were located in Texas.  If you are trying to figure out how in the world you are going to be able to survive on your Social Security alone, you may want to do additional research on the communities listed below to see if there is one which appeals to you.

My husband and I lived in Texas for over 25 years, and raised our family there.  I also sold real estate in Texas, and know a great deal about the large, beautiful homes you can purchase there for reasonable prices. We have visited several of the communities on this list, so I have included my own knowledge of these towns, in addition to what Ms. Browne had to say in Kiplinger.

It is important to expect that there will have been some inflation, with higher wages and prices than those listed below.  However, this does not change the fact that these locations offer good retirement opportunities for many people.

Here is the Kipplinger list, along with some basic facts:

Brownsville, Texas was the cheapest place to live on their list, according to Kiplinger.  The median household income was only about $30,000 in 201l and the average home price was $209,000.  Brownsville is right on the Texas border with Mexico, but it is also near the Gulf of Mexico and South Padre Island.  We took our daughters on a vacation there, and rented a condo in a gorgeous gated community.  There are numerous golf courses and sweeping beaches.  Because of the proximity to Padre Island, there are plenty of upscale restaurants and hotels.  However, rents in Brownsville averaged less than $700 a month in 2011 for typical apartments, according to the Kiplinger article.  There is one thing you should know: you need to be prepared for the fact that it gets VERY hot in the summer.  However, the winters are mild and pleasant.

Pueblo, Colorado was the second cheapest place to live on their list and is an ideal location if you want to be in the mountains.  The median household income was about $41,000 in 2011 and home prices averaged about $200,000.  This city of 153,800 people has a wide variety of activities, and yet is very affordable.  The winters can be tough, however, if you are not used to dealing with ice and snow.

Ft. Hood, Texas hasd a median household income of $46,200 in 2011 and an average home price of $220,000.  This town is about 60 miles north of Austin, and is on the edge of a major military base.  As a result, it has an unusually large population of young adults.  However, apartments rented for only about $650 a month.  The area around Austin is very popular in Texas.  Not very far away you will also find Sun City, Texas, which is located in the town of Georgetown.  Many Texans like to retire to the Texas Hill Country, as this region is known.  It is affordable, friendly and a spot where most people can live comfortably on either their military pay or their Social Security benefits.  (Below, you'll notice that Austin, Texas came in number 10 on Kiplinger's expanded list.)

Fort Smith, Arkansas is a charming town on the border of Arkansas and Oklahoma.  The median household income was $37,000 in 2011 and home prices averaged about $250,000.  The average apartment rent was just $500 a month!  This is a comfortable Midwestern town that doesn't get as cold as Pueblo, Colorado in the winter, nor as hot as Brownsville, Texas in the summer.

Sherman, Texas came in on the Kiplinger list at number five.  This town is about 60 miles north of Dallas, near Dennison, another popular retirement location.  Houses averaged about $220,000 in 2011 and apartment rents averaged around $650.  I have driven through this sleepy town many times.  Although it is not quite as metropolitan as some of the other communities in Texas, you can always drive to the large cities of Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington if you seek entertainment ranging from Six Flags, baseball games, elegant restaurants, country western bars, and top-notch symphony orchestras!

Rounding out the Kiplinger list of top 10 cheapest places to live in the United States are:  Springfield, Illinois; Waco, Texas; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Austin, Texas; and Springfield, Missouri.  Of these, Austin, Texas is one of the most popular communities for retirees, as well as young adults.  With several colleges and universities in the city, as well as its location as the state capital of Texas, you will find innumerable activities to keep your mind stimulated and your body busy.  Sun City - Texas in Georgetown is only about 30 miles north of Austin and is an exceptional retirement community.

If you are interested in more retirement information including where to retire, medical concerns for retirees, financial planning, family relationships, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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