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Thread summary:

Moving to Texas: Houston, cheap houses, realtor, tax help, real estate.

 
 
Old 04-04-2007, 06:54 AM
 
15 posts, read 76,148 times
Reputation: 18

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Hello -- i am a 40 year native of SoCal. 3 years ago I moved from SoCal to Houston. I would like to simply let others considering the same move know, that contrary to popular wisdom, the facts are, it is NOT that much cheaper to live in Houston than SoCal, particularly if you hoping to improve your life -- ie, not live in a tiny house in a so so neighborhood. THis is not a hate note, simply a chance to help others with knowledge i wish i had when i moved. Here are a few facts for you to consider:

1. yes, the houses are cheaper. much cheaper. I lived in a 1700 sqf home in a bad neighborhood in lovely Pasadena, CA. I bought it for $400K and sold it for $600k 2 years later.

2. The main reason i moved to Houston was to get in a better neighborhood because i recently received custody of my 2 troubled teenage stepsons. so we moved into a nice neighborhood in Kingwood (suburb 25 miles North of Houston). the house we bought was only $300K, 3500 sqf and the neighborhood and schools are MUCH MUCH better.

So, i bought a cheaper home, a BIGGER home, in a BETTER neighborhood. I didn't want a home that big, but my realtor convinced me that the smaller homes i was looking at (2200 sqf which seemed big to me) "Nobody would buy a smaller home out here, you'd never be able to sell it." OK, mistake number 1.

3. First RE taxes...in CA you pay 1% and let's face facts, in 20 years of home ownership, i have never had the county appraiser "reappraise" my tax base. So, i was paying $4,000 a year for RE taxes and 2 years later when my home had increased in value to $600k i was STILL paying $4,000 a year.

In Kingwood, the tax rate is nearly 3% so my "cheaper home" which is now HALF the cost of my CA home now costs MORE THAN DOUBLE in RE taxes -- yes, i pay almost $9,000 a year in RE taxes.

4. THe pay scale is considerably less than CA -- get used to it.

5. Yes, there is no state tax -- but the sales tax is the same as CA, you make less money and you pay huge amounts of RE tax, so no savings there.

6. I pay 30-60% more for all of the following:

--electricity -- my current kw rate is 15.8 cents and summer lasts a minimum of 6 months
--gas
-- car insurance
-- home insurance (this is REALLY outrageous, you pay more for sooo much less coverage)
-- water

7. Gas for your car is cheaper! REally, it's usually 20-30 cents cheaper a gallon than CA. Do you know what that averages out to a month in savings? Not that much.

8. OK, here is another point of savings -- car registration! Even on a new car, the annual fee is under $100

So, if you are looking to improve your life by moving someplace "cheaper" be careful. And do your research. Don't take my word for it -- go to the county assessor's office and LOOK at the tax bases. Call insurance companies and have them price out your car and home insurance.

And don't forget, bigger homes mean bigger bills. And since i've had to run my a/c in every month except DEC, that is a big consideration. No, not run every day in JAN, but several days. And from MAy to OCT you run your a/c 24/7 because something you can't really grasp if you haven't lived in the South is, the HEAT NEVER GOES AWAY in summer. In CA, most summer evenings by 7pm i'd be sitting on the porch enjoying the cooling night air. Forget about it. In summer at 11pm it will still be 78 degrees with 80% humidity.

 
Old 04-04-2007, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Houston
657 posts, read 2,291,441 times
Reputation: 238
I'm paying less than half of the house tax you are, but my home is worth about half of what yours is. That is a lot of tax to pay a year and it sounds like your real estate agent wasn't being honest with you. With taxes and electric bills, it costs a lot these days to maintain a big house. My electric bills are almost double what they were 10 years ago.
 
Old 04-04-2007, 04:45 PM
 
Location: Perth, Western Australia
9,594 posts, read 23,743,174 times
Reputation: 3506
Very interesting post, lots of good points brought up. Thanks for the heads up bringjoy
I'd be just as suceptable (sp?) to being gouged, except in one area:

Quote:
Originally Posted by bringjoy View Post
the HEAT NEVER GOES AWAY in summer. In CA, most summer evenings by 7pm i'd be sitting on the porch enjoying the cooling night air. Forget about it. In summer at 11pm it will still be 78 degrees with 80% humidity.
I like the sound of that; 78 F and 80% humidity at 11 pm is still cool enough to be refreshing to me.
 
Old 04-04-2007, 04:51 PM
 
34 posts, read 179,448 times
Reputation: 48
do your children like it there?
 
Old 04-04-2007, 06:20 PM
 
Location: The house on the hill
933 posts, read 3,122,888 times
Reputation: 697
I would have to agree with you on several points. I also lived in CA, (Orange County) for five years. Our home was 2200 sq ft and $800K there. I was a little shocked about the property taxes here and the utility bills. It seems that no matter where you go, there is give and take with everything and it some how all evens out.

Here is something I'd like to add. I have never met a nicer bunch of people as I have living in TX. In S. Cal, people don't talk to one another. You can stand in line waiting for your starbucks coffee in S. Cal and no one will talk to you. Here, it's strange to wait in line and not talk to the people around you. It's been so refreshing.

Also, you want to make some decent money around here, work for an energy company. It seems that many people we meet that are doing really well (financially speaking) are working for one of them.

~K~
 
Old 04-04-2007, 06:44 PM
 
Location: The Big D
14,874 posts, read 37,300,688 times
Reputation: 5787
Here is what I find funny about this. Many people move here because our houses/property are much more affordable and also comment that the schools are much better. The largest chunk of the property taxes in Texas go to the schools. If our taxes were the same rate as say California then our schools would be of the same quality as theirs. Yes, our property is reappraised periodically, must be every 3 years but they can raise it every year if values have increased. I see this as fair. Here if you bought a house that was 30 years old you would be paying taxes based on the rate you paid. Your neighbor has been there for 30 years and their rate is comparable to yours. In California it does not work that way. The rate is set by when you bought your home. So in the above case you would be paying taxes based on a rate in 2007 yet your neighbor is paying a rate based on 1977. Hardly sounds fair to me as they are using basically all the same city services you are (police, fire, ambulance, library, parks, etc) yet they got a MUCH lower price to pay. Again if we were to do this here our schools and other services would be just as crappy as some of the places you came from. There is a give and take and if we want things to be evenly fair then taxes have to be based on a current value and not one from the stone ages. That saying that "you get what you pay for" sure holds true in this case.
 
Old 04-04-2007, 07:16 PM
 
Location: WA
5,399 posts, read 21,422,898 times
Reputation: 5908
Quote:
Originally Posted by momof2dfw View Post
...
That saying that "you get what you pay for" sure holds true in this case.
Not really. I pay 26% city and 8% county taxes but 54% DISD 3% DCCC and 9% Parkland hospital. Since I have not had kids in school in 15 years and would have to pay full rate at Parkland, I only get 34% of what I pay for.

I have left the state primarily due to out of control costs, especially taxes. And once I get my last properties sold I will stop caring so much about it.
 
Old 04-04-2007, 09:11 PM
 
321 posts, read 1,333,725 times
Reputation: 92
Default Do your homework

Quote:
Originally Posted by bringjoy View Post
Hello -- i am a 40 year native of SoCal. 3 years ago I moved from SoCal to Houston. I would like to simply let others considering the same move know, that contrary to popular wisdom, the facts are, it is NOT that much cheaper to live in Houston than SoCal, particularly if you hoping to improve your life -- ie, not live in a tiny house in a so so neighborhood. THis is not a hate note, simply a chance to help others with knowledge i wish i had when i moved. Here are a few facts for you to consider:

1. yes, the houses are cheaper. much cheaper. I lived in a 1700 sqf home in a bad neighborhood in lovely Pasadena, CA. I bought it for $400K and sold it for $600k 2 years later.

2. The main reason i moved to Houston was to get in a better neighborhood because i recently received custody of my 2 troubled teenage stepsons. so we moved into a nice neighborhood in Kingwood (suburb 25 miles North of Houston). the house we bought was only $300K, 3500 sqf and the neighborhood and schools are MUCH MUCH better.

So, i bought a cheaper home, a BIGGER home, in a BETTER neighborhood. I didn't want a home that big, but my realtor convinced me that the smaller homes i was looking at (2200 sqf which seemed big to me) "Nobody would buy a smaller home out here, you'd never be able to sell it." OK, mistake number 1.

3. First RE taxes...in CA you pay 1% and let's face facts, in 20 years of home ownership, i have never had the county appraiser "reappraise" my tax base. So, i was paying $4,000 a year for RE taxes and 2 years later when my home had increased in value to $600k i was STILL paying $4,000 a year.

In Kingwood, the tax rate is nearly 3% so my "cheaper home" which is now HALF the cost of my CA home now costs MORE THAN DOUBLE in RE taxes -- yes, i pay almost $9,000 a year in RE taxes.

4. THe pay scale is considerably less than CA -- get used to it.

5. Yes, there is no state tax -- but the sales tax is the same as CA, you make less money and you pay huge amounts of RE tax, so no savings there.

6. I pay 30-60% more for all of the following:

--electricity -- my current kw rate is 15.8 cents and summer lasts a minimum of 6 months
--gas
-- car insurance
-- home insurance (this is REALLY outrageous, you pay more for sooo much less coverage)
-- water

7. Gas for your car is cheaper! REally, it's usually 20-30 cents cheaper a gallon than CA. Do you know what that averages out to a month in savings? Not that much.

8. OK, here is another point of savings -- car registration! Even on a new car, the annual fee is under $100

So, if you are looking to improve your life by moving someplace "cheaper" be careful. And do your research. Don't take my word for it -- go to the county assessor's office and LOOK at the tax bases. Call insurance companies and have them price out your car and home insurance.

And don't forget, bigger homes mean bigger bills. And since i've had to run my a/c in every month except DEC, that is a big consideration. No, not run every day in JAN, but several days. And from MAy to OCT you run your a/c 24/7 because something you can't really grasp if you haven't lived in the South is, the HEAT NEVER GOES AWAY in summer. In CA, most summer evenings by 7pm i'd be sitting on the porch enjoying the cooling night air. Forget about it. In summer at 11pm it will still be 78 degrees with 80% humidity.

This is what I have been saying on this board all along.. Like you said..Do you homework. Rent for 6 months to a year and learn about lifestyles and the city. Many people prefer a 2000 sqft condo in the loop than all the driving in the burbs... it is common sense that a bigger home means bigger cost to keep up. I have also said.. Don't compare when you come here.... We are Houston NOT So Cal. I can do the same and move to So Cal and tell them all the things I don't like about them.. where does that get one? Anyone who moves here looking for some fantasy Rose garden will simply find Houston, no more no less. As for running an a/c .. I grew up before a/c existed and I was quite fine.
 
Old 04-05-2007, 09:18 AM
 
Location: where nothin ever grows. no rain or rivers flow, TX
2,028 posts, read 7,464,789 times
Reputation: 444
Yup houston COL is a fairytale many of us are discovering. I'm still in my caution mode being new to hou$ton so me and my wife to duke it out in an average joe neighborhood and dont use the A/C (test once a month). we plan to use a piggy bank for each utility expense for emergencies
 
Old 04-05-2007, 10:19 AM
 
321 posts, read 1,333,725 times
Reputation: 92
Default A/C et al.

I believe there is a program that provides free a/c units to the elderly. They are usually small for one room to help them beat summer heat. Elderly cannot dissipate heat like younger adults. None of my senior family members ever had a/c .. they would keep cool via fans, feet in water if they are really elderly.... Learning to live with the environment is not that difficult. I can't imagine people complaining when its nature.. God.. one should have known about the humidity here... Many of us even picked cotton in fields .. no a/c.. nothing.... Why do people feel society has to take care of them? I was in NYC last year during their heat blast.. it was hotter than Houston any day of the week. It made me chuckle to see how helpless people were in living in hot humid climates.... All one has to do in google information about living in humid climates...

Please NOTE... Coastal Tx is HOT and Humid... with the good ...comes the not so good... Learn to live with it. We also have scorpions, mosquitos, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, copperhead snakes, coral snakes, cotton mouth snakes, scorpions, wild boars.... Sharks and man of war and jellieis off the beach.... Under tows, hurricanes, tornados and we have a huge influx of new people every year including illegal immigrants since we are a border state. Welcome to Tx.... If this makes California look good.... Bus station is downtown. We don't hold people as slaves here. There are new people who WANT to come here, work, live and help build this great city. This city is not for wusses. Its environment separates those who are worthy from those who want a free ride.
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