Archive for October, 2013

Retirement Gypsies, Idaho

Many retirees have fled California for the “potato” state of Idaho. As I had discussed previously, the government of the District of Columbia publishes a study comparing the total tax ramifications for the largest city in each state. They take into account such items as: state tax, sales tax, gas tax, tobacco tax, income taxes and property tax. It then ranks each state by the highest overall taxes paid to the least. On page 18 of the 2011 study, the estimated percentage burden, of major taxes, for a hypothetical family of three making $75,000, was 8.8% in Boise, Idaho. To give you a comparison, the highest city and State was Bridgeport, Connecticut with a total tax burden for the same family at 21.5%. The lowest was Cheyenne, Wyoming at 3.1%. This placed Boise, Idaho at the 31st highest tax burden state. Not bad.

Idaho does have income, sales/use tax and property taxes. Generally, all income received by an Idaho resident, regardless of the source, is subject to Idaho income tax.  Idaho does not tax social security benefits, benefits paid by the Railroad Retirement Board or Canadian social security benefits (OAS or CPP). 

 Taxes aside, I made my first stop in Twin Falls, Idaho. Upon stepping from my car, I detected a slight “cow” aroma. Since their economy is agriculturally based, I guess this is to be expected. Claiming to be the “Base Jumping Capital” of the nation , this is a rapidly growing city in South central-Idaho. Their climate averages 34F. in Jan to 85F. in July. Low temperatures are often below freezing from Dec. through March. Twin Falls, like other desert communities, does experience fast moving electrical storms. Their 3 great recreational and tourists areas are the Sawtooth Mountains, Shoshone Falls and the Perrine Bridge area.

Housing in Twins Falls, was priced well, compared to the Bay area. The current average listing price for a home is $209,531 and climbing. In touring some neighborhoods, I found many beautiful, newly constructed homes, below $300,000. A gallon of gas was $3.56, a gallon of milk was$2.99 and a dozen eggs ran $2.09.

In the spring of 2011, they did open a new hospital which is always high on my list of must haves for a permanent retirement location. The College of Southern Idaho, a large junior college, is located here as well. Twin falls also has a full orchestra Symphony and operatic productions at the Idaho Falls Opera Theater.  Twin Falls offers all the conveniences of a mid-sized city. Venturing out into the public, I asked two local mid- aged men what they thought of their fair town.

Both agreed that the town was excellent for children up to the age of twelve but when they reached high school  the kids seemed to lack  activities. They also agreed that this was the same for retirees. Unless you loved hunting and fishing, and the small town atmosphere, this was not a place that offered much for these two age groups. Both men were avid hunters and naturally said they would never move.

As for me, Twin Falls, meets many of my retirement requirements: Affordable housing, reduced taxes,  a college community, a quality hospital, a regional airport, cultural venues and outdoor activities. Where it seems to fall short is in having months of winter weather and the distance from other diverse communities and activities.



be found on City Data’s site.

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Retirement Gypsies, Winnemucca, Nevada

English: View along South Bridge Street in Win...

English: View along South Bridge Street in Winnemucca, Nevada, United States. Looking north toward Winnemucca Mountain. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After hours and hours of traveling through what I fondly call “The Land of Brown” we reach the town of Winnemucca, Nevada. The day was a perfect 75F with little wind and fewer people. Boasting only  8,000 or so residents, it was a pleasant surprise to find everyone I met incredibly nice. This fact and the three others, gas was only          $ 3.55 per gallon , sales taxes ran only 6.875% and the average home price is $189,737  made me question whether or not I could live in such a small community. I am, after all a city girl.

As I was having difficulty seeing the “draw” to this town, I queried  a Winnemucca born and raised local 25 year old woman as to what she thought were the towns best and worst qualities. Without hesitation, she heralded her fellow townspeople for being exceeding helpful to one another. This certainly comes in handy if you plan on retiring and depending on, at some point, your neighbors.

Many of the people here appear to work in the mines or the local businesses. She and her husband were planning on staying  and raising their family, and, had already purchased some acreage and a partially completed home for approximately$240,000. Not a reachable goal in the Bay Area.

 The hospital was excellent in her opinion as well as the low crime rate. On the “thumbs Down” side, she mentioned the fact that there wasn’t much to do there. I agreed.

All in all, Winnemucca seemed like a quiet small town where every night the population grows due travelers, crossing the state, stopping for the night.  But, if you treasure your privacy, enjoy off-roading and hunting this may just be your spot. Even though the  great home prices and tax advantages are a strong pull, I’ve decided not to make this friendly town my retirement Shangrala .

If you’ve retired here, I’d love to hear from you.

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Retirement Gypsies, Nevada

English: "Biggest Little City in the Worl...

English: “Biggest Little City in the World” arch on Virginia Street in Downtown Reno, Nevada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bay area is only 4.5 hrs. away from the thriving city of Reno, Nevada. Having visited often, my experience is that it is a town of extremes, both in climate and character. The State of Nevada is the driest state in the United States. It is made up of mostly desert and semiarid climate regions. Reno itself sits in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Annual rainfall averages 7.48 inches, and their annual snowfall averaging 21.5 inches. Daytime summer temperatures in Reno can reach well over 100F to an average of 35F in December. No matter when I visit, it seems to be a ‘windy city”

 From a retiree’s standpoint, Nevada offers quite a few advantages for baby boomers. The following tax information can be found on Retirement For Living’s Website.

Nevada Taxes

Sales Taxes

State Sales Tax:  6.85% until June 2013 (food and prescription drugs exempt). Counties may add up to 1.25% additional.
Gasoline Tax: 51.5 cents/gallon  (Includes all taxes)
Diesel Fuel Tax: 53.0 cents/gallon (Includes all taxes)
Cigarette Tax: 80 cents/pack of 20

Personal Income Taxes

No state income tax
Retirement Income: Not taxed

Reno’s sales tax is approx7.725%,

Their current average listing price is $390,656. They do have an International Airport , and the University of Nevada-Reno as well as a community college here. If you enjoy fishing, hunting, big name entertainment at the casinos and winter sports in the Sierra’s, this may be the spot for you.

 Let me know what you think of Reno! 

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Retirement Gypsies- Search for the Perfect Home.

Well, many of my clients are baby boomers, already or soon to be retired. Every state has it’s problems and living on a fixed income is often challenging. Having lived in the Bay Area most of my life, it’s hard to beat our state for ” Quality of Life” . The weather is almost always “perfect”, averaging 50/80 degrees  year round with only 2.8 inches of  rainfall per year in the south bay. Depending on where you live in California, you can snow ski and dune buggy all on the same weekend. We are no more than an hour away from the world class cities of San Francisco and Carmel, the giant Redwoods of Big Sur, 6 major league sporting arenas, numerous higher educational learning institutions and unlimited venues for theaters, festivals, parks, trails, restaurants and…….. Given that most places in California get at least 250 days with sunshine, our days and nights are full of opportunity. To find more about the Bay Area or any city for that matter, go to: Citydata and type in any city.  This is one of the best sites I’ve used.

All this being said, soon to be retirees that own their homes, are often sitting on a mountain of cash that could stretch a lot longer in another state. Housing expenses, cost of living expenses, property taxes, gas taxes, sales tax, state taxing of retirement accounts etc… all play a vital part in how long your nest egg will last. The District of Columbia publishes a report every year of a comparison of  the total tax consequence for each state based on their largest city. I’ll discuss this more in my next blog.

I will be travelling around this great country researching the “perfect retirement town” and letting you, my clients, know how each stacks up. Naturally, this will be rather subjective, but, I’ll be posting the average price of a 2ooo sq, ft. 4 bed 2 bath home, the prices of basic grocery items and the cheapest local unleaded gas.I’ll post the sales tax in each town and the pros and cons of each area based on an interview from a local agent and resident.

Let me hear from you, I’d love to know your reasons for wanting to move from, or stay at, your local and what  issues are of upmost concern for you as a prospective retiree.

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