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Old 02-07-2016, 10:32 PM
 
257 posts, read 477,978 times
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I love my 1920's brick bungalow located in an inner-ring suburb outside of Chicago. My husband and I paid off the house and will retire in less than five years. We have one child in college who will be finished next year. The problem is that our town has a poor reputation which is reflected in the property value. The house is worth less than $200,000. We're saving like crazy but I can't imagine where to go after being here over 22 years. My network of friends likewise have homes in the inner ring although not in my town. As a white woman I'm a racial minority now that my town has turned to majority Mexican and I am uncomfortable with the idea of retiring in place. Crime is a definite issue and I fear that one day it will be too dangerous to even take my dog for his daily walk. I have ONE good neighbor & friend on my street but she's older and may not remain in her home if her health deteriorates.

I'm really torn about what to do. This spring I'm replacing the roof but there are constant repairs to a property this old. Neither of us have any family except for our only child so my friends are very important. I have no idea what to do. Illinois is a fiscal mess and I don't want to make a bad financial mistake. I feel strongly that given the present economy it is not a time to sell or buy in the Chicago area. Every house that is in a decent community is at LEAST $100,000 more with taxes in the $7-8000 range. I don't pay anywhere near that now. I know that we have time as retirement won't be for a few years yet but this is troubling me.

Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-07-2016, 11:39 PM
 
1,734 posts, read 1,951,663 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bungalowdweller View Post
I love my 1920's brick bungalow located in an inner-ring suburb outside of Chicago. My husband and I paid off the house and will retire in less than five years. We have one child in college who will be finished next year. The problem is that our town has a poor reputation which is reflected in the property value. The house is worth less than $200,000. We're saving like crazy but I can't imagine where to go after being here over 22 years. My network of friends likewise have homes in the inner ring although not in my town. As a white woman I'm a racial minority now that my town has turned to majority Mexican and I am uncomfortable with the idea of retiring in place. Crime is a definite issue and I fear that one day it will be too dangerous to even take my dog for his daily walk. I have ONE good neighbor & friend on my street but she's older and may not remain in her home if her health deteriorates.

I'm really torn about what to do. This spring I'm replacing the roof but there are constant repairs to a property this old. Neither of us have any family except for our only child so my friends are very important. I have no idea what to do. Illinois is a fiscal mess and I don't want to make a bad financial mistake. I feel strongly that given the present economy it is not a time to sell or buy in the Chicago area. Every house that is in a decent community is at LEAST $100,000 more with taxes in the $7-8000 range. I don't pay anywhere near that now. I know that we have time as retirement won't be for a few years yet but this is troubling me.

Any thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

I have never been to Chicago, so I do not have a good feel for it. I DID live in CT, however, and I can tell you what happened there. IMHO, the scenario has played out a number of times over the past generation, in a number of areas. It always seems to look the same.


CT is similarly highly taxed, over-regulated, rife with corruption, with egregiously unfunded pension liabilities, and is a magnet for illegal aliens because of the ease with which they qualify for high welfare payments and entitlements. Two of its major cities - Bridgeport and Hartford - appear every year on the FBI's list of most dangerous cities (these are segregated by size: Hartford will not appear on the same list as Chicago). These circumstances developed systematically since the early 90s recession, from which CT never recovered. Companies left (are still leaving). At one point in 1994, the commutable Tri-State area had three major corporations lay off 100,000 white collar professionals (at the time, $70K+ salaries). I met quite a few of them the year after, stocking shelves in Home Depot or running the registers at the local supermarkets.


By the late 90s, in case you had not yet woken up and smelled the coffee, you were at risk of being left behind. The people who packed up their houses and got out of Dodge before the 2000 recession hit got out whole. The people who stayed behind got less and less for their houses. Thankfully, the Real Estate bubble gave the hold-outs one last chance to get out. The smart ones did. The ignorant ones did not, and watched aghast as they all went underwater during the Great Recession. CT housing has not recovered. CT has lost population for over a decade. Professionals leave in greater numbers than illegal aliens can move in. In many cases, the professionals take haircuts on their houses just to leave.


Chicago, too, has been losing its professional population. If the CT story plays out there, the longer you wait, the more the area will deteriorate, the more dangerous it will get, the higher the taxes will go, and the less you will net on your house. There are not enough professionals moving into Chicago to backfill the rush to the exits - hence, it does not pay to hope for gentrification.


If your friends are smart, they will already have gotten out, or are in the process of leaving. Where did they go, if they already left? IMHO, I'd study up on where people go from your area, and head there. At least you'll have a "Chicago expat" community. If not, go somewhere else and start anew. C-D has abundant resources that you can comb through to research.


Best wishes to you! - Jane
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Old 02-08-2016, 12:17 AM
 
257 posts, read 477,978 times
Reputation: 565
Thanks Jane! An interesting story about CT! My retired friends are all over the country, from California to Penna. My friends here in IL are younger than us so we'll be going thru this before them. Lots of people in IL seem to be sitting tight. I think there's a lot of denial here about how bad things really are.
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Old 02-08-2016, 04:03 AM
 
Location: Whereever we have our RV parked
8,817 posts, read 7,722,693 times
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Take a hint lady, most other white people have disappeared from your neighborhood long ago. Why? Declining property values. Its likely to continue to slide, and it will be even more difficult to move out and find a home in that price range. The simple fact that if you live in a high crime neighborhood, you're more likely to become a victim of crime. Criminals typically don't travel all that far from their own home to commit crimes. They typically commit crimes close to home. Finally, the taxes. You'll be on a fixed income, and those high property taxes will make it more difficult to make ends meet in future years. Chicago is in a real fiscal crisis, and its also likely they'll be raising taxes again real soon.

Maybe you should consider moving where your son is. That would be the most logical. If the property taxes are higher, then purchase a smaller home. You probably don't need as big a home as you have now. Down size to what you need. Then he can help look after one of you if you should get sick.
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Old 02-08-2016, 05:31 AM
 
Location: SW Corner of CT
1,950 posts, read 1,541,734 times
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Sell the house.....rent in a better neighborhood till you're ready to retire....retire where it is more affordable
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Old 02-08-2016, 06:30 AM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 18,994,426 times
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I echo all of the above. I watched in disbelief as the solidly mid- to high-mid class neighborhood that I grew up in, where my mother stayed alone in that house till she was 89 and we forced her to move, went to the dogs. Crime—break-ins, drug deals, prostitution, etc right under her window. A house that in a better area would have sold for 5 times the amount she got was sold for peanuts. A large bungalow type home, with some stained glass windows, built-ins, all the charm of that kind of home. When housing prices drop, they tend to fall quickly.

I agree with whoever said sell now, move and rent for a year or so while you find a new place, maybe a townhouse.
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Old 02-08-2016, 06:48 AM
 
Location: NC
6,572 posts, read 8,005,004 times
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So sorry to hear of your plight. From your other posts it is clear that you love your home and have lovingly cared for it. Even if you are a racial minority now, that doesn't mean that someone from the racial majority won't love and appreiate your home if you sell it. Maybe it is time to put out feelers.
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Old 02-08-2016, 08:23 AM
 
7,805 posts, read 4,400,783 times
Reputation: 11604
It's better to get out earlier rather than later when a neighborhood starts to go down. O
nce it has, you're good and stuck with your property! "Location-location-location." Stop pouring money into it, put it on the market, and don't let it linger there being picky about the price (take the first offer you can afford to take). If you can't decide on a destination, rent until you do. We had only one "problem neighbor" (unfortunately, right next door on a shared driveway), and we had to practically give the place away after nearly a year on the market. The longer you wait, the worse your prospects will become. Best of luck to you!
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Old 02-08-2016, 08:26 AM
 
257 posts, read 477,978 times
Reputation: 565
Thanks everyone! Although my neighborhood is on the quiet side now and I'm currently surrounded by what seems to be hard working, working-class people I can't shake the feeling that things could change rather quickly for the worse. My town has wonderful senior services and my location is excellent so I know that I'll be able to sell the house quickly. Two affluent towns are directly north of me but one of them offers little in housing options and the other has a higher crime rate than where I live!

I'm fortunate that we'll have a good retirement income as we're one of those couples in the top 1/3 income slice mentioned elsewhere. We've lived simply for many years, saving & investing so that we wouldn't be caught short. I like the idea of renting and looking around-----getting the lay of the land.

It's truly sad to see the demise of a great city. We lived in Arlington, VA for almost 10 years but I never quite felt at home. My family has lived in the city of Chicago for over 135 years and all my people are buried here. Like many NYers, I felt great pride and affection for my city and felt like Chicago was the center of the universe and couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

I appreciate all of the thoughtful responses and kind words.
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Old 02-08-2016, 08:40 AM
 
7,805 posts, read 4,400,783 times
Reputation: 11604
It seems to be happening all over, sadly; no town/city is immune. Don't know if it's too late to turn things around, but it might be. That's a post for another thread!

Last edited by otterhere; 02-08-2016 at 09:14 AM..
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