Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

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Random Poster
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Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Random Poster » Tue May 02, 2017 1:35 pm

I could use some guidance.

Suppose that you would like to live off of no more than $60,000 a year from your investments, which are a mix of monies in retirement accounts and a taxable account, starting today and continuing on for around 50 years.

Further suppose that you have around $300K (give or take, a little) in cash, ready to spend on a residence---ideally, one located in an area that offers:

* Abundant outdoor activities such as hiking and bicycling (within 60 miles of mountains would be ideal, but I'll take what I can get) or free cultural activities;
* A low crime rate;
* Per-capita income at or below $50,000;
* An average or below-average cost-of-living;
* Generally decent weather (i.e., no long gray spells, 20 foot snowfalls, 300 inches of yearly rain totals; 90 degree heat for months on end; sub-0 degree cold for months on end; constant 15+ mph winds every few days; etc);
* Reasonably comprehensive health care facilities within a 50-mile radius (not looking for a cutting-edge research facility);
* A community whose residents are generally healthy enough that non-employer provided health insurance costs would be widely considered to be affordable by most, or who are offered health insurance through various State or Federal health exchange programs;
* An overall tax environment that, when considered in totality, ranks somewhere between the 25th and 75th percentiles; and
* An airport within a 50-mile radius that offers service to at least 2 hub airports.

Where would you choose to live, and why?

My wife and I have come up with the following possible places, but none of them hit all of the qualifiers (and some of them miss one or more of them by quite a huge margin):

Amarillo, Texas
Atlanta, Georgia
Bentonville/Fayetteville, Arkansas
Blacksburg, Virginia
Bozeman, Montana
Brookings, South Dakota
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Davis, California
Denver, Colorado
Durango, Colorado
Flagstaff, Arizona
Fort Collins, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Morgantown, West Virginia
Nashville, Tennessee
Ogden, Utah
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
Prescott, Arizona
Provo, Utah
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Washington, D.C.

Trying to determine where to live has become an exhausting and frustrating chore and, at this point, I'm almost ready to give up and steal a box from Costco and hole up under a bridge. Surely there has to be a place that meets all of the above criteria---but does anyone know where that place is?

Any and all leads or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Rupert
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Rupert » Tue May 02, 2017 1:39 pm

I don't think you're going to find a place that checks all those boxes, but I would add Greenville, SC, Chattanooga, TN, Knoxville, TN, and Huntsville, AL to the list as places to investigate. They all have hot summers but certainly no hotter than Atlanta and a few of the others that are already on your list.

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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by KyleAAA » Tue May 02, 2017 1:41 pm

The far-northern suburbs of Atlanta fit that bill (it's considerably cooler as you get closer to the mountains), as do Chattanooga and Greenville, SC. From your list, Colorado Springs and Nashville would be intriguing choices for me as well. Atlanta would likely be your best overall fit.
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rob
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by rob » Tue May 02, 2017 1:42 pm

How about Albuquerque NM? I've been looking at it as a potential retirement location.... I'd be interested in your summaries of the list you already have....
| Rob | Its a dangerous business going out your front door. - J.R.R.Tolkien

Catalina34
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Catalina34 » Tue May 02, 2017 1:46 pm

San Angelo Texas is nice.

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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by bloom2708 » Tue May 02, 2017 1:46 pm

Looking at your list of "must haves", I do not think you will find a location that meets all the criteria.

MN, CO, SD all have very cold temps and can have a lot of snowfall. Texas, Georgia, Florida will all have high heat/humidity.
Hawaii meets your temp requirements but is too expensive.

Have you spent much time in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area? I think the temps are misleading due to the low humidity. 95 in Phoenix is not 95 in Houston. My parents and I were at a baseball game in Phoenix. It was 85 with a breeze and we were "chilly".

We have purposely gone to Phoenix in June, July and August. Yes, it is hot, but the mornings and evenings are generally nice. It was 120 with 5% humidity. We were out shopping, went to a movie, got ice cream. Just another day.

Maybe looking at a two prong approach is better? Buy a lake cabin in Minnesota for the summer. Buy a 3 bedroom home in the Phoenix area (we like Anthem, New River on the NW side of Phoenix) for the other 9 months.

It seems your biggest enemy is "perfection" at this point. Pick 3 potential areas and rent (or at least visit) for 1 year in each. Then decide to buy or try another 3.
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farnsy
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by farnsy » Tue May 02, 2017 1:47 pm

A couple of these really don't seem to fit your bill. For example, Santa Fe and especially Washington DC are very high cost of living areas. Nice cultural attractions, but on $60K a year, they won't be as fun.

I see you have Fort Collins, CO in your list. Why not go across the border into Wyoming where there is no state income tax and property taxes are very low. Cheyenne or Laramie. Windy, I think, but lots of outdoor activities and reasonably cost-effective. I might be biased because if I were looking at this choice, low taxes is practically my #1 priority, but it probably will not be yours.

rebellovw
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by rebellovw » Tue May 02, 2017 1:51 pm

I choose Prescott. I left the Bay Area and am fortunate enough to work from home.

AZ is a very beautiful place - quite a difference from the bay area. People are very friendly.



Good luck.

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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by hicabob » Tue May 02, 2017 1:53 pm

Arcata California perhaps? I think it checks all the boxes except perhaps low crime rate.

stoptothink
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by stoptothink » Tue May 02, 2017 1:55 pm

I believe I recall OP posting this before. As a resident of Utah, there are a ton of areas here which fit the bill (household of 4 and our total annual household expenditures is well under $60k), but Ogden may be the single least desirable area in the state to live in.

open_circuit
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by open_circuit » Tue May 02, 2017 1:57 pm

Santa Fe or Albuquerque are good options. Amarillo, TX can be extremely windy. I wouldn't want to move there expecting to cycle frequently.

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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by sschoe2 » Tue May 02, 2017 1:59 pm

I lived in Athens, GA for a year. A nice college town ~1.5hr out of Atlanta. It meets a lot of those check boxes. There is a lovely cycling community, decent healthcare, major airport, affordable housing, 2hr to the Appalachians.

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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by acanthurus » Tue May 02, 2017 2:01 pm

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climber2020
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by climber2020 » Tue May 02, 2017 2:01 pm

Somewhere between Knoxville, TN and the Smoky Mountains might check off all your boxes.

If you want outdoor activities and hiking, cross Atlanta off the list.

Gropes & Ray
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Gropes & Ray » Tue May 02, 2017 2:02 pm

I have been to Colorado Springs many times, and I am surprised to see you do not think it fits your list. It is exactly the place I thought of as I read your desired description.

Random Poster
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Random Poster » Tue May 02, 2017 2:07 pm

stoptothink wrote:I believe I recall OP posting this before. As a resident of Utah, there are a ton of areas here which fit the bill (household of 4 and our total annual household expenditures is well under $60k), but Ogden may be the single least desirable area in the state to live in.
In March, 2015, I posted a query entitled "Looking for Location Leads," but I've changed some of the parameters and criteria since then largely because the original ones were too constricting and, essentially, resulted in "address unknown".

After several years of researching the matter, my wife and I are still at a relative dead-end, and we just cannot figure out where to go. We've come up with the aforementioned list, but I wanted to see if there was anywhere else that maybe we've overlooked and that the people here know about (and are willing to share....).

Ron
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Ron » Tue May 02, 2017 2:12 pm

https://www.forbes.com/sites/williampba ... 01ca3ff3ad

Here's a resource (opinion) for you. I'm a bit prejudiced since I live in one of the towns :wink: .....

- Ron

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JupiterJones
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by JupiterJones » Tue May 02, 2017 2:15 pm

What about a more affordable suburb of some of those places on your list?

Take Longmont, CO, for example (which I only know of thanks to Mr. Money Mustache... who claims to live off a lot less than $60K, incidentally). You get the same weather and nearby mountains as Boulder or Denver, plus a similar "Colorado vibe" (ride your bike to get a Snarf's and a craft beer!), but there are still plenty of houses on ZIllow for $300K or so.
Stay on target...

emoore
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by emoore » Tue May 02, 2017 2:18 pm

Gropes & Ray wrote:I have been to Colorado Springs many times, and I am surprised to see you do not think it fits your list. It is exactly the place I thought of as I read your desired description.
+1. I thought of CO in general. Colorado Springs and Fort Collins are great places to retire. Denver is a bit bigger and more expensive but it's also nice. We do get a decent amount of snow but its usually sunny and the snow melts quickly. I've lived in Chicago, LA, and San Fran before and Denver is my favorite place so far.

tchoupitoulas
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by tchoupitoulas » Tue May 02, 2017 2:23 pm

I was surprised Boise ID isn't on your list. I've never been there but my impression is that it's affordable, relatively urbane, and the access to the mountains is unparalleled. It might be cold in the winter, but probably less than Minneapolis.

Also what about Asheville NC, Burlington VT, and Ashland/Medford OR?

wolf359
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by wolf359 » Tue May 02, 2017 2:28 pm

http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost ... index.html

For comparing a future location to where you currently live, try the comparative cost of living calculator.

For the weather, amenities and recreational opportunities, you'll have to assess it separately.

fishmonger
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by fishmonger » Tue May 02, 2017 2:30 pm

How about Southern NH? It's a slam dunk for your first four points, and the weather in the southern part of the state is not that bad, you'll get a few snow storms a year but most are 6-10" max. Most towns are within 1-2 hours of Boston (best medical facilities in the country, if not the world).

The tax environment overall is good. The state does tax dividends and interest (5% of amounts over $4800), and property taxes can vary greatly by town. No sales or income tax. Manchester has a nice airport, and again Boston is close for international flights

Random Poster
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Random Poster » Tue May 02, 2017 2:34 pm

rob wrote:How about Albuquerque NM? I've been looking at it as a potential retirement location.... I'd be interested in your summaries of the list you already have....
I've got a handwritten chart that lists all of the possible locations, which then assigns each of them a score in about twenty categories (ranging from driving distance to family, average windspeed, if there is a Costco or Trader Joe's in town, number of days with highs above 82 and days below 20, number of days of sun, median housing price, and so on), and which ultimately force-ranks them against each other. The lowest-rated (and thus, the "best" according to my math) is Prescott, followed by Fayetteville, Grand Junction, Brookings, and Colorado Springs. The "worst" is D.C., followed by Minneapolis, Durango, Pittsburg, and Nashville.

The best way to describe the summaries is that every place has "too much" of something and/or "not enough" of another. All I see are negatives of every place, all the time.
bloom2708 wrote:It seems your biggest enemy is "perfection" at this point. Pick 3 potential areas and rent for 1 year in each. Then decide to buy or try another 3.
That is certainly true. I'm deathly afraid of making a mistake, as I only want to move once and be done with it.
Gropes & Ray wrote:I have been to Colorado Springs many times, and I am surprised to see you do not think it fits your list. It is exactly the place I thought of as I read your desired description.
It is getting increasingly difficult to find housing for $300,000 or below in Colorado Springs these days.

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lthenderson
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by lthenderson » Tue May 02, 2017 2:34 pm

I can think of many other countries I have been too where all those points apply and where $60/year income would be extreme overkill.

Wakefield1
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Wakefield1 » Tue May 02, 2017 2:36 pm

Saltville Va
Ona WV
Ashboro NC
Lynchburg VA suburbs?
Kings Crossing VA
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knpstr
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by knpstr » Tue May 02, 2017 2:38 pm

South Dakota is ranked the 3rd best state to retire in by Wallethub... perhaps there?

Living in Michigan now, I think this is a great state to retire in, 15th on the list.
$60,000/yr and $300,000 house goes a LONG way here.

Cold/gray in winter but can vacation those months to break it up.
Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. -Marcus Aurelius

smithers
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by smithers » Tue May 02, 2017 2:40 pm

farnsy wrote:A couple of these really don't seem to fit your bill. For example, Santa Fe and especially Washington DC are very high cost of living areas.
I have to agree, many of the choices on your list strike me as pretty far from your list of requirements. The average home in Davis, CA goes for about double your $300,000 budget.

What about Reno, NV? Relatively affordable, no state income tax, close to the mountains (you can be skiing/biking/rock climbing within about 40 minutes), several large hospitals, and an uncrowded international airport. The weather is almost always sunny (300+ days/year) and swings from the occasional snow in winter to hot-ish in summer (though not stiflingly humid, which is more than you can say for DC or Atlanta!).

CFM300
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by CFM300 » Tue May 02, 2017 2:51 pm

Random Poster wrote:I've got a handwritten chart that lists all of the possible locations, which then assigns each of them a score in about twenty categories (ranging from driving distance to family, average windspeed, if there is a Costco or Trader Joe's in town, number of days with highs above 82 and days below 20, number of days of sun, median housing price, and so on), and which ultimately force-ranks them against each other. The lowest-rated (and thus, the "best" according to my math) is Prescott, followed by Fayetteville, Grand Junction, Brookings, and Colorado Springs. The "worst" is D.C., followed by Minneapolis, Durango, Pittsburg, and Nashville.
I've been in your shoes, and I can tell you that you're taking the wrong approach. I say that not only because your approach didn't work for me, but because it's not working for you either! And it's a mistake to think that if only you continue to apply that approach further, it will work.

You're taking a fact-gathering, "engineering approach" when what you need is an experience-based "design approach." I recommend that you stop trying to make the decision and first read "Designing Your Life." There are many concrete suggestions in that book that will help you make THIS decision, better.

You HAVE to go visit these places. Some place may be the RATIONAL choice based on your ALGORITHM and DATA, but when you get there, it just doesn't feel right. And you won't know what it feels like to be in Santa Fe until you're in Santa Fe. (I speak from experience.)
Random Poster wrote:I'm deathly afraid of making a mistake, as I only want to move once and be done with it.
You've done enough research-from-a-distance. Narrow your choices to 3 or 6 or however many places you want to visit. When you have 20 choices, you have none. (Again, read "Designing Your Life.")
Random Poster wrote:It is getting increasingly difficult to find housing for $300,000 or below in Colorado Springs these days.
Fantastic! Scratch it off your list. :D

magazinewriter
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by magazinewriter » Tue May 02, 2017 3:02 pm

I was surprised to see Washington D.C. on your list. I lived there (Va. suburbs) years ago and enjoyed it but housing is expensive and $60k a year won't go far.

In a later post it looks like you have almost eliminated D.C. which I think is smart.

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JupiterJones
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by JupiterJones » Tue May 02, 2017 3:13 pm

Random Poster wrote:I've got a handwritten chart that lists all of the possible locations, which then assigns each of them a score...
Wait a minute... you're gathering all that information and then compiling/scoring/sorting it by hand?!?

Well heck, that makes it easy. Here's where you need to move: http://www.amishvillage.com/

:D
Stay on target...

btenny
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by btenny » Tue May 02, 2017 3:17 pm

I bet the medium sized suburbs below meet all your criteria. Each is near the mountains and has great outdoor stuff to do year round. Plus all of then are near cultural stuff and hospitals and big air ports. They are all nice four season cities with good transportation and low COLA an low cost housing. This is my list of suburbs but I am sure there are lots of other small towns near these places with great homes and nice people and wonderful climates.

Sandy, Utah. Next door to Salt Lake City and all the stuff there including the Univ of Utah. It is right next door to the Wasach mountains. Some winter snow but not real cold in winter. LCOL and low cost homes. Great skiing and biking. Good hospitals and university.

Carson City, Nevada. Next door to Reno and Univ of Reno and all the stuff there. Right next door to the Lake Tahoe and the Sierra mountains. Very little winter snow. LCOL and low cost homes. Great skiing and biking and boating. Capital city but small. Reno growing due to technology from Google, Tesla, Microsoft, etc...

Albuquerque, NM. Do not know the burbs here but I know the city itself is nice. Right next to Sandia peak and the southern Rockies. Higher altitude so moderate summers and limited winter snow. LCOL and low cost homes. Good skiing and biking.

Good Luck.
Last edited by btenny on Tue May 02, 2017 3:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

GrandMasterBlaster
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by GrandMasterBlaster » Tue May 02, 2017 3:19 pm

I'll throw in a plug for Western New York - the severity of our winters has been dampened considerably in the past decade, so NYS taxes seem to be the lone glaring omission from your list. We in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls metro area have abundant outdoor activities (both water and inland), very low cost-of-living, affordable housing (We bought our 3-bedroom with 3/4 of an acre for $90,000 five years ago, though the market is heating up), a burgeoning downtown medical campus which features Roswell Park, a world-class cancer institute, an international airport ten to fifteen minutes from the city, and a suburb that topped the list of "Safest Cities in America" for several years (though I will concede that there is an appreciable crime-rate in the city). We also have a world-class art museum (I've seen exhibits by Monet and Picasso in the last year), as well as outstanding theater and music scenes. Downtown development is thriving, there are new breweries and excellent restaurants opening constantly, and our waterfront has been revitalized. We've also got professional football and hockey teams, as well as lacrosse and a minor-league baseball team.

With that said, I agree with the poster who said that you have to experience the cities you are considering directly! I would recommend taking an extended road trip and hitting up several of the cities you have under consideration, preferably staying at an AirBnB or in some way making contact with locals to get flavor of the town. Reading about places online is half the battle, but I would never decide on living somewhere from reviews alone.

sls239
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by sls239 » Tue May 02, 2017 3:21 pm

My first thought before reading your list was, if you are a retiree, Bella Vista Arkansas. It is near Bentonville, which is already on your list, but a little more rural. The weather is really good there. My mom lived near there and didn't have a car and could make it to the grocery store on foot year round, even with her heart condition. I will say that Missouri does a much better job with the roads when it does snow than AR does.

And if you really like bicycling, Tulsa, OK has bike trails that go all the way from the SE suburb (Broken Arrow) to the NW suburb (Sand Springs). And the trail goes along the riverfront, where, when I lived there would generally have some sort of local music going on the weekends. Tulsa itself is pretty flat, but if you go east on 412 you can be in the Ozarks in just over an hour. They just got a Costco this year I think.

And also I thought of PA near Harrisburg - which is not in the mountains, but isn't far from them either and there are tons of smaller towns around. I think PA in general has more health care infrastructure than many states.

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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by frugalprof » Tue May 02, 2017 3:34 pm

Greenville, SC has nice biking trails, a good regional airport with multiple flights a day to Charlotte. Except for the summer, which is too hot for my northeastern blood, the weather is nice. The cost of living is cheap and property taxes are relatively low. The mountains/Asheville are about an hour away. Good beaches are about 3.5 hours away. They have lots of nice restaurants in the downtown area.

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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Strayshot » Tue May 02, 2017 3:35 pm

Albuquerque is great, but not the place to go for a low crime rate. Our APD gets an (unfairly given) bad rap when the reality is our judges and prosecutors are worthless and refuse to charge or keep criminals in jail so APD is arresting the same trash over and over again. Lots of 2 strikes offenders come here from CA because they don't want a third and realize this is like a criminal paradise. We even have violent juvenile gangs (11-13 year olds) shooting people in their driveways out "mobbing". Lots of problems with drugs as well.

The sunshine, culture, cost of living, outdoors activities are all excellent and outweigh the crime in my opinion, just be prepared that if you park your car in the street it very well might not be there once you return.

ebv
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by ebv » Tue May 02, 2017 3:35 pm

If Denver, Provo, and Ogden are on your list, why not a nice condo in downtown Salt Lake City? Or a comfy bungalow near downtown?

SLC has an international airport connected to the downtown area by light rail. It's a primary Delta hub in the west and offers direct flights to most major American cities, London, Paris, and Amsterdam.

The Utah Symphony, Ballet West, two Broadway-size theaters (with regional and national shows coming through routinely) are all located within blocks of each other and, together with a vibrant community center and burgeoning restaurant scene, several nice, larger parks within walking distance all make for loads of options for cheap or expensive date nights and cultural offerings.

Obviously, there is the ski scene--which makes for great hiking and mountain biking as well. Proximity to the mountains: 15-20 minutes to the local canyons, 30-40 minutes to the nearest ski resort. The skiing is /excellent/.

Economically, SLC has a higher cost of living (mostly housing-related) than other parts of northern Utah, but it's more than doable on $60,000 per year and $300,000 toward housing. Downtown farmers markets are plentiful in the spring through early fall. Tax rates are reasonable--5% income tax, about 1% property tax.

Weather is mostly good. Winter can be spotty--sometimes very snowy in the downtown area, sometimes not much snow outside of the mountains and ski resorts. It can also be hazy for a week or two at a time, prompting many retired locals to retreat to Southern Utah or visit family outside the state.

The local sports can be fun (if you're into that thing) with the Utah Jazz, University of Utah sports teams, a local AAA team (Angels affiliate).

Look into SLC.

Full Disclosure: I've lived some 20+ years in and around Salt Lake. mrs. ebv and I lived in downtown SLC when we were first married. Downtown SLC, condo living was enchanting. Every weekend our only questions was "what do you want to do today?"

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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by jlcnuke » Tue May 02, 2017 3:36 pm

I live in the suburbs of Atlanta (Acworth currently, retirement home in Dallas, GA). We have mountains to the north, rivers, lakes, state and national parks nearby, average cost of living, low crime, pretty decent weather (though once every 5-10 years we get some snow/ice storms), good health care systems (Emory and other very well-respected systems here), and multiple airports including Harsfield-Jackson within a decent drive of any of the suburbs.

Utilities (TV/internet/electricity/water/sewer/trash/gas) run about $450/month on average, lower if you don't want as comprehensive a TV package or less guaranteed bandwidth internet. I spend ~$700/month on groceries, but I also cook for 2-3 people most of the time and eat quite well (last night was smoked prime rib and lobster tails for instance.. not a special occasion or anything though, just what I was in the mood for).

There are tons of activities in the area, the active communities in the area tend to have stuff happening all the time if you're looking for something to do.

The major downside, however, is rush hour traffic absolutely sucks if you need to go into the city during rush hour (or leave it during evening rush hour).

For perspective, my planned retirement budget is set for ~$40-45k/year which covers maintaining my current lifestyle (~$4-5k in vacations each year, golfing about once a week during spring/summer/fall, and generally just doing whatever I feel like doing most of the time) after I pay off the mortgage on my retirement home. I'm strongly considering working an extra year or two to bump that to $50-55k in order to cover more extravagant travel however.

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Meg77
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Meg77 » Tue May 02, 2017 3:45 pm

CFM300 wrote: You're taking a fact-gathering, "engineering approach" when what you need is an experience-based "design approach." I recommend that you stop trying to make the decision and first read "Designing Your Life." There are many concrete suggestions in that book that will help you make THIS decision, better.

You HAVE to go visit these places. Some place may be the RATIONAL choice based on your ALGORITHM and DATA, but when you get there, it just doesn't feel right. And you won't know what it feels like to be in Santa Fe until you're in Santa Fe. (I speak from experience.)
+1 I haven't read the book but have read articles about the book and listened to a couple of interviews on it, and there is some great stuff in there for us overthinkers especially.

Also how you feel about where you live is a subjective matter in many ways. Checking all the boxes doesn't mean you'll enjoy a place, whereas you may fall in love with a home/neighborhood/community that technically doesn't check all your boxes. There are also criteria you can't consider in advance which may have a big impact once you move - your immediate neighbors and their habits being the first example that pops into my head (a continually barking dog next door can ruin any dream home).

I also recommend narrowing your options considerably. I had a hard time choosing a college because I was considering the entire US and all top 300 universities/colleges and trying to narrow from there. I had a massive spreadsheet ranking all my factors I thought were important. I finally drew a line diagonally from the base of California to the top of Maine and ruled out anything above the line to help narrow my college visits and choices. I still personally toured 33 campuses and applied to I think 10. I am sure I'd have been happy and successful at any number of schools, but I get how the decision up front is difficult when you are forced to make one. For the record most of my criteria turned out not to matter much in reality (average class size, for example, did not make or break my college experience).

What are your favorite and least favorite things about where you live now? There's a good place to start - completely eliminate based on those factors first.

I also second the suggestion to consider living in a second area for part of the year. If the only downside to an area is the weather during 1-2 months of the year, an easy solution is to travel during those months or even rent a home in another part of the country for a few weeks or months a year. M husband and I love our home Dallas, but ultimately in retirement we'd love to migrate elsewhere during the dead of summer.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

retiredjg
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by retiredjg » Tue May 02, 2017 3:47 pm

Random Poster wrote:* Abundant outdoor activities such as hiking and bicycling (within 60 miles of mountains would be ideal, but I'll take what I can get) or free cultural activities;
Since this is first on your list and since you said "abundant", I suspect this is a very important item. Most southern locations (except mountains) are so unpleasant in the summer that "outdoor activities" usually involves a boat and some water, not hiking or biking. I think this rules out Amarillo, Atlanta (for sure), probably Arkansas, and Tennessee from my own experience in those places.

Provo Utah and Ogden Utah would be outstanding for year round outdoor activity. There is a lot of snow, but it is actually very easy to live there. Of the two, Ogden is the more diverse and more liberal. I would live outside of town.

AlwaysAStudent
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by AlwaysAStudent » Tue May 02, 2017 3:48 pm

Random Poster wrote:
rob wrote:How about Albuquerque NM? I've been looking at it as a potential retirement location.... I'd be interested in your summaries of the list you already have....
I've got a handwritten chart that lists all of the possible locations, which then assigns each of them a score in about twenty categories (ranging from driving distance to family, average windspeed, if there is a Costco or Trader Joe's in town, number of days with highs above 82 and days below 20, number of days of sun, median housing price, and so on), and which ultimately force-ranks them against each other. The lowest-rated (and thus, the "best" according to my math) is Prescott, followed by Fayetteville, Grand Junction, Brookings, and Colorado Springs. The "worst" is D.C., followed by Minneapolis, Durango, Pittsburg, and Nashville.

The best way to describe the summaries is that every place has "too much" of something and/or "not enough" of another. All I see are negatives of every place, all the time.
I am not sure where you are coming from but 90 degrees in a humid area is much less tolerable than 90 degrees in a dry area. I also suggest Albuquerque, NM.

You mentioned that Durango is very low on the list and obviously I don't know the exact reasoning why but I am assuming that it might have something to do with the cost of housing and the random high snowfalls. If those are true you should look a little south at Farmington, NM (or Aztec, NM). Living just south of Durango in NM will be much cheaper and I know from living there that they do not get the snowfall that Durango does.

fishmonger
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by fishmonger » Tue May 02, 2017 3:50 pm

lthenderson wrote:I can think of many other countries I have been too where all those points apply and where $60/year income would be extreme overkill.
Such as???? Just curious!

MI_bogle
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by MI_bogle » Tue May 02, 2017 3:56 pm

CFM300 wrote:
Random Poster wrote:I've got a handwritten chart that lists all of the possible locations, which then assigns each of them a score in about twenty categories (ranging from driving distance to family, average windspeed, if there is a Costco or Trader Joe's in town, number of days with highs above 82 and days below 20, number of days of sun, median housing price, and so on), and which ultimately force-ranks them against each other. The lowest-rated (and thus, the "best" according to my math) is Prescott, followed by Fayetteville, Grand Junction, Brookings, and Colorado Springs. The "worst" is D.C., followed by Minneapolis, Durango, Pittsburg, and Nashville.
I've been in your shoes, and I can tell you that you're taking the wrong approach. I say that not only because your approach didn't work for me, but because it's not working for you either! And it's a mistake to think that if only you continue to apply that approach further, it will work.

You're taking a fact-gathering, "engineering approach" when what you need is an experience-based "design approach." I recommend that you stop trying to make the decision and first read "Designing Your Life." There are many concrete suggestions in that book that will help you make THIS decision, better.

You HAVE to go visit these places. Some place may be the RATIONAL choice based on your ALGORITHM and DATA, but when you get there, it just doesn't feel right. And you won't know what it feels like to be in Santa Fe until you're in Santa Fe. (I speak from experience.)
Random Poster wrote:I'm deathly afraid of making a mistake, as I only want to move once and be done with it.
You've done enough research-from-a-distance. Narrow your choices to 3 or 6 or however many places you want to visit. When you have 20 choices, you have none. (Again, read "Designing Your Life.")
Random Poster wrote:It is getting increasingly difficult to find housing for $300,000 or below in Colorado Springs these days.
Fantastic! Scratch it off your list. :D
+1

Paralysis by analysis here. CFM300 hit the nail on the head. Narrow it to 5 choices. Maybe create some "dealbreakers" (surely some of your criterea must haves and some are want to haves). Use a dartboard if you must, just narrow your list! Go visit them for vacation and see how you feel there.

I always like to say "If you are having a really hard time choosing among the given options, that's because they are almost all equal in nature".

Drives my wife nuts, because deep down she knows I'm right, but just can't admit it :)

Factual stuff can only take you so far, because when you get down to it, where you live is an emotional/feel thing more than it is an objective rankings-based procedure

stoptothink
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by stoptothink » Tue May 02, 2017 3:57 pm

ebv wrote:If Denver, Provo, and Ogden are on your list, why not a nice condo in downtown Salt Lake City? Or a comfy bungalow near downtown?

SLC has an international airport connected to the downtown area by light rail. It's a primary Delta hub in the west and offers direct flights to most major American cities, London, Paris, and Amsterdam.

The Utah Symphony, Ballet West, two Broadway-size theaters (with regional and national shows coming through routinely) are all located within blocks of each other and, together with a vibrant community center and burgeoning restaurant scene, several nice, larger parks within walking distance all make for loads of options for cheap or expensive date nights and cultural offerings.

Obviously, there is the ski scene--which makes for great hiking and mountain biking as well. Proximity to the mountains: 15-20 minutes to the local canyons, 30-40 minutes to the nearest ski resort. The skiing is /excellent/.

Economically, SLC has a higher cost of living (mostly housing-related) than other parts of northern Utah, but it's more than doable on $60,000 per year and $300,000 toward housing. Downtown farmers markets are plentiful in the spring through early fall. Tax rates are reasonable--5% income tax, about 1% property tax.

Weather is mostly good. Winter can be spotty--sometimes very snowy in the downtown area, sometimes not much snow outside of the mountains and ski resorts. It can also be hazy for a week or two at a time, prompting many retired locals to retreat to Southern Utah or visit family outside the state.

The local sports can be fun (if you're into that thing) with the Utah Jazz, University of Utah sports teams, a local AAA team (Angels affiliate).

Look into SLC.

Full Disclosure: I've lived some 20+ years in and around Salt Lake. mrs. ebv and I lived in downtown SLC when we were first married. Downtown SLC, condo living was enchanting. Every weekend our only questions was "what do you want to do today?"
Don't live in SLC, I live in Utah County (Silicon Slopes area), but I do agree with all of this. My sister moved from NYC to SLC last year and absolutely loves it. We were concerned that maybe it wouldn't be fast-paced enough for her or that the social scene would be too much of a shock as she has spent the last 15yrs in Los Angeles, London, and NYC and is not LDS, but it certainly hasn't been the case. Her income is well <$60k.

mak1277
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by mak1277 » Tue May 02, 2017 4:05 pm

stoptothink wrote:I believe I recall OP posting this before. As a resident of Utah, there are a ton of areas here which fit the bill (household of 4 and our total annual household expenditures is well under $60k), but Ogden may be the single least desirable area in the state to live in.
Just curious what is undesirable about Ogden from your point of view? It has always been on a list of possible landing spots for me so I'm interested in this.

CalebHenley
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by CalebHenley » Tue May 02, 2017 4:24 pm

Marble Falls, TX. It is in the Hill Country, so won't meet your weather standards as it will be hot and humid in the summers. However, it is gorgeous, has plenty of outdoor activities on beautiful lakes. It has a small town feel(population just over 7000), but you are an hour from one of the most culturally diverse places in the country in Austin. There is so much to do in Austin, but you wouldn't have to deal with the traffic and prices of living there. Also would only be less than 2 hours from San Antonio.

stoptothink
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by stoptothink » Tue May 02, 2017 4:26 pm

mak1277 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:I believe I recall OP posting this before. As a resident of Utah, there are a ton of areas here which fit the bill (household of 4 and our total annual household expenditures is well under $60k), but Ogden may be the single least desirable area in the state to live in.
Just curious what is undesirable about Ogden from your point of view? It has always been on a list of possible landing spots for me so I'm interested in this.
While there is some gentrification going on downtown, much of the city is really rundown. Outside of Salt Lake City (Salt Lake proper has nearly 3x the population of Ogden, and like 15x for the surrounding area) it has the worst crime in the entire state and a bit of a gang problem. And there is almost nothing to do. My wife is from the Ogden and literally all her extended family has left in the last 5yrs and couldn't imagine moving back. Her grandparents are the only ones in the family that stayed and we all dread going to visit. IMO, it's just kind of a depressing place to visit. But, compared to some of the more bustling areas (ie, SLC and north Utah County, where I am), housing is certainly cheaper.
Last edited by stoptothink on Tue May 02, 2017 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rob65
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by rob65 » Tue May 02, 2017 4:27 pm

You don't have to pick one place and live there forever. Pick a spot that you like and rent there for a year. Explore living in different parts of the country. Then decide where you want to settle.

Edit: Missed your comment about only wanting to move once. But would it take some of the pressure off if you picked a place and then rented for a year before buying? Think of it as an adventure instead of a decision that can't be changed?
Last edited by rob65 on Tue May 02, 2017 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

skjoldur
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by skjoldur » Tue May 02, 2017 4:29 pm

Random Poster wrote: All I see are negatives of every place, all the time.

I'm deathly afraid of making a mistake, as I only want to move once and be done with it.
It's not possible for anyone else to really imagine what tradeoffs will work for you. But I do wonder if you might be inflating some potential inconveniences into major deal breakers at the expense of overlooking key things that would really bring you joy and satisfaction.

Do you have a strong positive attraction to any of the places on your list? Aside from the negatives you see, do any of the places actually appeal to you, make you feel optimistic or excited or curious or interested at the possibilities? If so, I would try to foster those instincts a bit regardless of what the spreadsheet is telling you.

Good luck

mak1277
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by mak1277 » Tue May 02, 2017 4:39 pm

stoptothink wrote:
mak1277 wrote:
stoptothink wrote:I believe I recall OP posting this before. As a resident of Utah, there are a ton of areas here which fit the bill (household of 4 and our total annual household expenditures is well under $60k), but Ogden may be the single least desirable area in the state to live in.
Just curious what is undesirable about Ogden from your point of view? It has always been on a list of possible landing spots for me so I'm interested in this.
While there is some gentrification going on downtown, much of the city is really rundown. Outside of Salt Lake City (Salt Lake proper has nearly 3x the population of Ogden, and like 15x for the surrounding area) it has the worst crime in the entire state and a bit of a gang problem. And there is almost nothing to do. My wife is from the Ogden and literally all her extended family has left in the last 5yrs and couldn't imagine moving back. Her grandparents are the only ones in the family that stayed and we all dread going to visit. IMO, it's just kind of a depressing place to visit. But, compared to some of the more bustling areas (ie, SLC and north Utah County, where I am), housing is certainly cheaper.
Bummer. Thanks.

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Pajamas
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Re: Where to Live on $60K or Less a Year?

Post by Pajamas » Tue May 02, 2017 4:50 pm

I think for $60k a year you can live comfortably if not extravagantly in most areas, if not in the center of a high-cost city. Taxes are less of a concern at that moderate level of income and the relative cost of living varies more depending on your lifestyle than location. There are places that would meet your criteria in every region of the country but you might narrow it down by starting with climate and location: do you want four seasons and mountains or two seasons and beach, etc. Sounds like a few months on the road visiting different places could help you make up your mind.

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