I love California! Although I’m not a native, I did first move here at the tender age of one and my two sisters were born in the city I call home. However, it is crazy expensive to live here and unless you live in agricultural or desert areas very crowded and busy.
Mr. Boomer and I do fine because he bought a home when your average person could afford one some 30 plus years ago. Our property taxes are capped at the 1978 level essentially due to Prop 13 with some small annual increases. But even for us there are good reasons to leave the golden state when we retire.
1. Taxes. California has income tax and it’s not on the low end of the scale. Seven U.S. states have no state income tax and two others only tax dividend and interest income. This makes these states attractive as potential retirement sites. However of these nine (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming) a few may not be attractive to retirees. Property taxes will be a consideration, but no matter where we move I’m sure we’ll pay more because we’re locked into 30 year old rates.
2. Home Prices. It would be hard to find a state with higher average home prices than mine. We can easily replace our condo with a home for at least 50% less in many states if not most. This will work out so we can afford a small property by our kids and grandkids (right now in California mostly) and then our primary residence in a lower cost area.
I focused on home prices, but I think a lot of costs are cheaper elsewhere based on a short stint Mr. Boomer and I had living in the midwest a few years ago. Budget categories with lower costs include insurance, utilities and gasoline.
3. Outdoor Life. We like the beach, but we don’t like cold water. The older I get, the less I can tolerate the Pacific Ocean temperatures in Southern California (I like it in Mexico or Central America just fine). Also, it does get cold here in the winter even if we don’t have ice and snow. I want to be able to go to beach regularly and do more than dip my toes in the water. This is why we go on so many cruise vacations.
4. Social Life. Unless you live in a retirement community or center, I think it is hard for the elderly to get around in Southern California. Our public transportation is not very accessible unless you live downtown or right on the train or bus route. I can’t image having to deal with the freeways once my reflexes get slower and I drive less (Mr. Boomer’s mother stopped driving freeways during her last years and relied on family members for longer distances that required the use of one).
We’re leaning towards Florida, but it’s not set in stone. My sisters are also considering it and it would be really fun to be back together at the end like we started our lives … playing in the sun!
Photo by Jon Sullivan