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Old 09-29-2013, 10:25 AM
 
44 posts, read 76,676 times
Reputation: 26

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Hello everybody from the forum, first I would like to say thank you to anybody reading this and helping provide information, and thank you to the forum operators for providing such a helpful place.

So moving forward.. my wife and I (early 30's) are beginning our family soon and we have lived in NY/NJ area all of our lives. I'm a self employed mechanical engineer, run my own small engineering business and my wife is a nurse. Once my wife gives birth she will no longer be working for at least a year (we think it is extremely important to be home to raise our children instead of put them in daycare). We are both very family orientated people and mainly conservative in our views (although we do share some liberal opinions as well). We have been discussing making a move to a new place for a number of reasons.

- The NY/NJ area has just become so expensive to live and raise a family. The property taxes, the insurances, everything is just so expensive. With starting a family and only having one income, yes we will get by, but things will be a lot more tight and it always feels like you are just trying to stay ahead of the never ending higher bills up here.
- We do not see much new economic development happening here. In fact I have read that NJ is losing more people than it is gaining because folks just can't make ends meet up here anymore. Add to this that the high taxes and regulation are leading to a number of businesses leaving the state and heading down south or out west for more business friendly areas.
- We do not see much in the way of quality of life here anymore, almost always both parents need to work full time just to make ends meet, our public school systems do not seem to be so great and this is after accounting for $6,000 plus of our yearly homeowners taxes going to the local school district. Chances are we will send our kids to private schools or charter schools.
- Our property taxes on a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, half an acre of property is close to $9k per year. Our car insurance is high, health insurance is high (lord only knows what will happen soon with this new healthcare bill going into effect). Our heating and electricity bills are very expensive, averaging almost $500 per month.
- Running a small business, the taxes and red-tape is never ending. Every year taxes seem to go up, more regulations and red tape. I want to grow my business, hire folks and build a better life for my family and for those who work for me. We need a business friendly state that is putting money into economic development and helping small companies to grow and prosper.
- The housing market in our area is just not going anywhere. As we hear most other parts of the country are stabilizing and some places going up in house values, we continue to stay flat-lined and actually still are dropping in prices. Why? well people can't afford the ridiculous property taxes and all the other bills, so our foreclosure rates and distressed properties are still so high, it's sad, people can't make the bills work anymore because they have either lost their jobs, got put into part-time or had their wages reduced, hence they eventually have no choice but to move to lower cost of living areas out of state.

So given all of the above reasons (plus more), we have began to look at places south of us. We really want a family friendly place, with a country feel but still within close proximity to shopping, family entertainment, etc. It's very important to be someplace that has a good economy, with job opportunities in the nursing/health care segment. We also would like a place that has some manufacturing industry, with high-tech workers in the fields of engineering and machining. It's important to find young folks out of colleges/technical schools who possess these skills, have a hard working attitude and are not of the mindset that they are entitled to everything for free. We grew up poor and worked our butts off to get where we are today, and we wish to be surrounded by like-minded people.
We are very fortunate because I can run my business from almost anywhere we move, and I should be able to maintain 80 - 90k in salary. So we figure if I can maintain my business income but yet live in a less expensive place, my wife does not have to return to work, although she would eventually work part time because she likes working and helping people. This would allow us to raise our children and not have to rely on day-care (not to mention that daycare is so expensive near us)

My questions at this point are more general..
- how is the quality of life in the area? family life? are people nice, friendly, low-crime? how are schools?
- how is the tax situation for folks making around 90k per year? income tax? property tax?
- is there a good pool of educated engineering/manufacturing talent? I would need to hire mechanical engineering talent and some machinists, etc.
- how is the unemployment rate? are there economic development initiatives happening to bring more business, etc. to the area?

Any information, anything at all you can share is very much appreciated!
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Old 09-29-2013, 12:11 PM
 
21,185 posts, read 30,343,833 times
Reputation: 19590
Of the two areas given your background, criteria and plans for your business I would suggest Northwestern NC well above Eastern Tennessee. Buncombe County (Asheville area) is where I would suggest given it's the economic center of the area and has the best school district in the state. The people are quite friendly in my opinion and open to "outsiders" unlike many areas in the region. The crime rate is low and it's quite family-friendly generally. The area tends more liberal (mostly from a social standpoint) but certainly isn't on the far end of the spectrum. I can't speak to the rest but would urge you to post in the Western North Carolina Forum for more specifics.
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Old 09-29-2013, 08:29 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
23,541 posts, read 17,525,434 times
Reputation: 27576
Quote:
Originally Posted by hardworkpaysoff View Post
Hello everybody from the forum, first I would like to say thank you to anybody reading this and helping provide information, and thank you to the forum operators for providing such a helpful place.

So moving forward.. my wife and I (early 30's) are beginning our family soon and we have lived in NY/NJ area all of our lives. I'm a self employed mechanical engineer, run my own small engineering business and my wife is a nurse. Once my wife gives birth she will no longer be working for at least a year (we think it is extremely important to be home to raise our children instead of put them in daycare). We are both very family orientated people and mainly conservative in our views (although we do share some liberal opinions as well). We have been discussing making a move to a new place for a number of reasons.

- The NY/NJ area has just become so expensive to live and raise a family. The property taxes, the insurances, everything is just so expensive. With starting a family and only having one income, yes we will get by, but things will be a lot more tight and it always feels like you are just trying to stay ahead of the never ending higher bills up here.
- We do not see much new economic development happening here. In fact I have read that NJ is losing more people than it is gaining because folks just can't make ends meet up here anymore. Add to this that the high taxes and regulation are leading to a number of businesses leaving the state and heading down south or out west for more business friendly areas.

TN east of Knoxville, and especially western NC, have always been somewhat economically cut off from the rest of their states, and are currently driven by tourism, low value services (call centers, food service, retail) and health care for the elderly. Jobs are scarce and wages tend to be very low. There is newer development where I live (Tri-Cities), but it's almost all more retail and restaurants. We are gaining people in my area (and I assume western NC is mostly the same way considering my own experiences there and the posts on the western NC forums), but many of these people are retirees from up north. Unless you're living in a depressed ghetto, I think you'd be underwhelmed with the stores, services, and goods available in this region. Knoxville, TN is a lot healthier than most anywhere else in east TN or western NC, and would more closely align with what you're probably used to. .

- Our property taxes on a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house, half an acre of property is close to $9k per year. Our car insurance is high, health insurance is high (lord only knows what will happen soon with this new healthcare bill going into effect). Our heating and electricity bills are very expensive, averaging almost $500 per month.

Your property taxes in either state should be a fraction of what you pay in NJ. NJ colects more than triple the amount of property tax per capita than either TN or NC.

- Running a small business, the taxes and red-tape is never ending. Every year taxes seem to go up, more regulations and red tape. I want to grow my business, hire folks and build a better life for my family and for those who work for me. We need a business friendly state that is putting money into economic development and helping small companies to grow and prosper.

NC has historically been one of the more moderate or "purple" Southern states, but a very conservative strain of Republicans have recently taken political office there. Taxes and likely regulations of all types are more going to be more punitive in NC than in TN, but NC may be having some relief soon. I don't like the flavor of politics in NC today - TN's state and even federal politicians, though mostly Republican, are far less strident and more practical than what you see in NC. If taxes and small business friendliness are a big factor, TN is the winner hands down. TN probably has the lowest state tax burden overall of any state in the country.

- The housing market in our area is just not going anywhere. As we hear most other parts of the country are stabilizing and some places going up in house values, we continue to stay flat-lined and actually still are dropping in prices. Why? well people can't afford the ridiculous property taxes and all the other bills, so our foreclosure rates and distressed properties are still so high, it's sad, people can't make the bills work anymore because they have either lost their jobs, got put into part-time or had their wages reduced, hence they eventually have no choice but to move to lower cost of living areas out of state.

The housing market in east TN has historically been fairly stable. While we haven't seen large busts, there are also aren't quick ascents in real estate prices like the coastal areas. Western NC tends to have higher home prices relative to income due to the amount of wealthy northern retirees.

So given all of the above reasons (plus more), we have began to look at places south of us. We really want a family friendly place, with a country feel but still within close proximity to shopping, family entertainment, etc. It's very important to be someplace that has a good economy, with job opportunities in the nursing/health care segment. We also would like a place that has some manufacturing industry, with high-tech workers in the fields of engineering and machining. It's important to find young folks out of colleges/technical schools who possess these skills, have a hard working attitude and are not of the mindset that they are entitled to everything for free. We grew up poor and worked our butts off to get where we are today, and we wish to be surrounded by like-minded people.

While I'd like to tell you things are good here, the economy just isn't. East TN (excepting Knoxville) and western NC are economic laggards in their states. Nursing opportunities should be available, but you aren't going to find many capable local engineers, simply because there is very little demand for skilled fields here. East TN used to have a good deal of manufacturing - much of this has been pared down or eliminated. NC used to have a lot of furniture and textile businesses - again, these are greatly downsized if not gone. Basically, I'm getting that you want pretrained workers (given your college/tech school comments) and want to pay them little to nothing (given your "entitled to everything for free" comment). You won't find workers with the skills you need, but you certainly can find plenty of workers, whether they are educated enough to be trainable or able to pass a drug test is another matter.

We are very fortunate because I can run my business from almost anywhere we move, and I should be able to maintain 80 - 90k in salary. So we figure if I can maintain my business income but yet live in a less expensive place, my wife does not have to return to work, although she would eventually work part time because she likes working and helping people. This would allow us to raise our children and not have to rely on day-care (not to mention that daycare is so expensive near us).

If you want to go down to one income, I would choose TN. Your tax burden would be far lower, housing would be a bit cheaper compared to NC, and you could live decently on $80-$90k provided you don't have much debt.

My questions at this point are more general..
- how is the quality of life in the area? family life? are people nice, friendly, low-crime? how are schools?
- how is the tax situation for folks making around 90k per year? income tax? property tax?
- is there a good pool of educated engineering/manufacturing talent? I would need to hire mechanical engineering talent and some machinists, etc.
- how is the unemployment rate? are there economic development initiatives happening to bring more business, etc. to the area?

Any information, anything at all you can share is very much appreciated!
See my answers above. Also, you need to consider that most southern states are doing worse by most metrics than mid-Atlantic states. While your tax burden will decline dramatically, so would your wife's income if she returned to work. I lived in a reasonably high tax state (Iowa) and moved back to TN. Both companies are Fortune 500s, and I make barely more than half as much in TN in the same role as I did in IA. Coming from NJ, I'd say your wages are even higher, and though your cost of living may decline, the decline in her income may be more than the decline in your cost of living, especially if you are paying NC taxes. You'd also want to check with someone very knowledgeable in tax law to see what, if anything, you will owe NJ. If you still owe NJ a boatload, I'm not sure this move makes much financial sense.
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Old 10-02-2013, 02:27 PM
 
44 posts, read 76,676 times
Reputation: 26
Thank you both very much for the information, it's greatly appreciated!
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:48 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,414 posts, read 11,910,584 times
Reputation: 10533
My brother lived in the Johnson City, TN area for work (he taught at ETSU) for around five years. We came from the Northeast like you (although Connecticut). He absolutely loathed living there, between the reactionary politics, lack of education among the general populace, lack of diversity, lack of any restaurants which weren't chains, etc. He did quite like the Asheville area though, which I think would be more your speed as a transplant from the Northeast.
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:51 PM
 
5,682 posts, read 8,752,084 times
Reputation: 4911
Eschaton, would you consider your brother a conservative, family oriented person?
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Old 10-04-2013, 09:14 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,414 posts, read 11,910,584 times
Reputation: 10533
Quote:
Originally Posted by creeksitter View Post
Eschaton, would you consider your brother a conservative, family oriented person?
No, he's 39 years old, has no children, an English professor, atheist, and someone for whom the Democratic party isn't left-wing enough. He lived in San Francisco for two years before Johnson City, and couldn't stop talking about it being the best place on earth to live (besides the high cost of living).
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Old 10-04-2013, 08:08 PM
 
5,682 posts, read 8,752,084 times
Reputation: 4911
Then why on earth do you think your brother's opinion has any relevance to the original poster?

Personally I got the feeling Johnsion City would be ideal except for the professional contacts. I'll take emigrations word for that being lacking since he lives in the area. It seems to me that if you land a good job you can get your professional contacts at conferences or the internet - but I can understand the OP wants to be able to rub shoulders with others in his field.

Along those lines, Oak Ridge TN has a lot of highly educated people in the sciences and tech.
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