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Old 11-09-2017, 07:36 AM
Location: Tennessee
23,561 posts, read 17,544,804 times
Reputation: 27618


This board, and many retiree oriented area local boards, often receive post after post from people considering retiring to such and such area.

Being in Tennessee, one thing I've never understood is why people from big, rich, prosperous areas often become fixated on rural retirement living, oftentimes in areas they've never been to or know anything about. We often get posters on our local boards from California, New York, etc., who have never been to Tennessee (if they have - it's almost always to the tourist attractions only), nor lived in a small town, and seem downright set on moving, come hell or high water, with no one being able to change their minds.

Let's face it - we're mostly a suburban and urban nation now. Most of the population lives in fairly significant metro areas and their suburbs/exurbs, not isolated small towns and rural areas. We get used to certain lifestyles and amenities over the years. When I moved back to my small town in Tennessee from an affluent area of Indiana, it was a major shock to me, and often still is. I feel like the rug was yanked out from under me in many ways.

When people look at areas for retirement, it seems like people get overly obsessed with certain things. Taxes always come up. While taxes are important, I'd rather pay several thousand more in taxes annually in a place I'd rather be, rather than simply chasing areas with the lowest possible tax burden. When areas have very low tax burdens, they also usually have very little in the way of services or amenities, which may be important as people age.

People often seem to assume similar medical care is similar everywhere, but it isn't. I know a professor who is going through brain cancer. He cannot get all of the treatment he needs locally, so he goes to Duke periodically. Truly rural areas and very small towns may not even have a family doctor or small community hospital around for quite some distance. There are plenty of beautiful areas over in southwest Virginia that may not have a family doctor within hour in any direction.

Do we often place outsize importance on weather? In this area, we often get people who want a mild four season climate. We generally have that, but I wouldn't consider this a weather paradise. A lot of people want to move out of say, Ohio, for its cloudy winters. In my neck of the woods, we've been cloudy and cool all week, with seven of the next ten days either being mostly cloudy or raining. We're five to ten degrees warmer than Columbus, OH, which is also scheduled for about the same cloud cover and rain. November to March in most of the country is a slog weather-wise.

It seems to me that, in planning for retirement, many people are looking for significant life change, often having never experienced the lifestyle that they're "looking" for at all. It almost seems like people are wanting to buy into the brochures and vacation guides they see.

If someone desires to leave the rat race of NYC, DC, whatever, why did they wait forty years or whatever to do so? Yes, those areas are where the jobs are, but there are interior cities that also have good job markets. If the kids didn't want to relocate, well, they're probably gone by the time people reach traditional retirement age. If they are young, they go with you.

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Old 11-09-2017, 09:15 AM
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I agree with the warning. Most of us in congested and high COL areas think of retirement elsewhere. I know I wanted less congestion, lower taxes and lower cost of living. I also wanted a better climate and proximity to beautiful areas. I had intended to find a place that met my expectations.

Well, I found plenty of places, but lots of attributes were missing. I found I am not a rural person. I wanted museums, art galleries, educational opportunities and, for want better words, a level of culture and intellectual interests that were often severely lacking in some parts of the country.
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:16 AM
Location: Middle Tennessee
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My thoughts are that everyone is different as to what they want out of life. And if someone wants to move to a rural area in retirement because they feel it will make them happy, so be it.

And another thought is if you are so unhappy in Kingsport, why did you move back from Indiana and why are you still there?
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:21 AM
Location: Tennessee
23,561 posts, read 17,544,804 times
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Originally Posted by JRR View Post
My thoughts are that everyone is different as to what they want out of life. And if someone wants to move to a rural area in retirement because they feel it will make them happy, so be it.

And another thought is if you are so unhappy in Kingsport, why did you move back from Indiana and why are you still there?
I was losing my job in Indiana, and had the offer back here before I left Indiana. I want to get a little more stability on my resume, more money in the bank, and I like my job here. I'll be 32 in April. The odds of me being here in the Tri-Cities at 35 are slim to none.

I also want to move to somewhere I actually want to move to. When I moved to Iowa and Indiana, it was out of financial desperation because I was making <$15/hr here at the time. I'm not financially desperate like I was, so I can be more selective. I would much rather be in central FL (Orlando/Tampa areas) than Kingsport.
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:26 AM
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I am amazed by the number of people I have met recently that have relocated to our small south Texas town.

I guess that is what they want to do. Met a lady from New Hampshire the other night that has even started farming!

They do bring a new vision to the town since the old timers can be kind of set in their ways. And these old timers aren't even that old - just set in their ways.
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:27 AM
Status: "could've~would've~should've used 'have', not 'of'" (set 16 days ago)
Location: A Yankee in northeast TN
10,457 posts, read 14,307,686 times
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People like to dream and everyone hopes to find their own perfect place. I think a lot of what you are seeing is people who are in the beginning phase of the dreaming. It's usually obvious from the rather vague questions and information they put forth when they have just started considering TN. Everyone has to start a search somewhere and for most people it's based on just general knowledge, hearsay and stereotypes. Props to them for at least making an attempt to get at the facts by coming to CD and asking questions.
TBH I don't see these people who are so hellbent on moving, I do see some posters who are reluctant to accept or don't easily grasp that TN may not be the solution they are seeking. Nobody likes to see their dream killed.
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:27 AM
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The perfect retirement life would be one where you could afford to move from place to place all year as the seasons changed. And not do it on the cheap.
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:32 AM
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I think the reason people wait 40 years to move is that life happens - attachments to job, family, environment and lifestyle, even if you can barely stand it. The years from 30 to 60 whir by, and suddenly your vision of life's possibilities changes.

Also, as a NYC kid born and raised, I can see the attraction of a 4-season rural or semi-rural place to settle where the weather is mild and the cost of living and taxes are low. Running that rat race, looking over your shoulder 24/7, clamoring for personal space, and hanging on by your fingernails financially for 40 or 50 years takes its toll. Rural living, or what we picture as rural living, represents "the good life."

Last edited by barb712; 11-09-2017 at 10:42 AM..
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Old 11-09-2017, 09:42 AM
3,079 posts, read 818,180 times
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Topical post.

In the midst of financial planning, I've been scouring the internet considering the purchase a second home. Time after time what seems to be ideal soon shows drawbacks. The answer to the question: Can I really see myself LIVING there year after year brings doubt.

After retirement (now 10 years ago) with a then-young teen we stayed put in a close-in suburb literally on the DC line where the housing expenses are 5.7 times the national average. Sperling cost-of-living index. But our condo although large is quite affordable. Sandwiched between explosive growth in two urban areas, our costs (and property taxes) remain moderate. There will be some income tax relief (state) at age 65.

The condo size, location, design, amenities, public transportation make it so functional that it's ideal BOTH for a future little old lady and/or a young urbanite. My daughter continues to live here, commuting to college. It's more than fine for now but long-term she'll need more independence. We've always joked that it won't be HER leaving "home" but me ...

... For at least for six months a year, perhaps to establish tax residency elsewhere. Warm winter-time weather. A porch. A garden. An adventure of sorts. But to where?

State tax savings vanish (in part) offset by often high property taxes with insurance costs dependent on flood zones. Longer treks to airports. Lack of public transportation, particularly in the South. Crime actually more a practical concern. Moving as a single is potentially problematic. Plus, since any relocation would only be only part-time options really narrow. No way is my daughter leaving our current metro area, plus there are other family members, friends. Why relocate only to, as Serious Conversation points out, STILL encounter somewhat chilly winter weather.

There's a lot to be said for staying put and instead traveling and/or trying out different parts of the country in month-to-month rentals.

That's the conclusion, at least for now.

Last edited by EveryLady; 11-09-2017 at 09:54 AM..
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Old 11-09-2017, 10:00 AM
3,937 posts, read 3,259,672 times
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I'll chime in on this by siding with jrkliny, I'm also a person who really takes advantage of what the big city has to offer. "Small town culture" is a misnomer simply because most have little to none, and worse, don't want any cultural amenities beyond a few bars and the local frat clubs.

I moved to a small town when I first retired, loved it after awhile just because I do a lot of photographing and the really good stuff was right at hand in that very rural area. Night life was almost solely made up of TV, high school sports, the bar scene, or a sixty mile round trip to the nearest city. The isolation from the city was more noticeable in winter when the gloom, coupled with boredom, really set in for the long haul.

The people were all good for the most part, but the lack of city life culture, and the overall vibe of rural living showed up in ways that mirrored their isolation from the larger society. We all have complained of city traffic problems, high crime rates, noise and atmospheric pollution in the cities, but, the small town isn't simply devoid of those annoyances, they also are devoid of the things we love, some of us had to move to make that discovery, seems odd, but in my case I didn't think I would miss the city life to the extent that I eventually did.

In any case, change is good for us all, it challenges our notions of security, it sometimes gives us a jolt of reality which could have been missing amid our daydreams of life in that small town Nirvana. It's not that we "misjudge," when we make such decisions as much as it is, the fact that we CAN have a change of mind. I'd be the first to say that most of those I knew at work, when contemplating their retirement, spoke of their future as more of a vacation than a "retirement lifestyle." And many chose to move to those touristy places they loved while on vacation, yeah, they came back, but their time spent in that space was a chance to experience something new--and that's a great start on one's retirement years..
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