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Old 09-09-2008, 06:35 AM
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My wife and I are thinking about retiring in West Virginia. Can anyone tell me what kind of a tax burden we'd be facing? We currently live in a state that has no state income tax, so I'm concerned about how much we'd have to pay in WV on a fixed income of about $40,000 a year. Also, how are the property taxes there? Finally, can anyone give us an idea what heating bills are like in the winter, say in the Charleston area? We are planning on taking a trip to WV sometime in November to look at different cities before making a final decision, but in the meantime, any answers to the questions above would be a great help! Thanks.
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Old 09-09-2008, 07:57 AM
Location: Huntington, WV
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Here's the best breakdown of the tax structure in WV that I've ever come across.

The Tax Foundation - Tax Research Areas > West Virginia

Hopefully that will answer all of the tax questions that you and others have (it even told me a few things!).

In terms of utility bills, that depends on where you live and how well your house has been weather proofed. Huntington, Charleston and the Eastern Panhandle seem to have the most mild winter weather in the state so the heating bills would likely be lower in these areas but it does vary. As you get into the higher elevations, you get cooler temps and typically more snow. Electricty for my family tends to run around $100/month on average with our gas bill being just a little more(as we take the yearly average to avoid a huge monthly bill in the winter). Water bills are hard to generalize because I tend to do more pressure washing and lawn watering in the summer and not so much in the winter. I'd say typically, water runs around $40 per month but this has/is changing due to rate increases all over the state. Hopefully this has been helpful and let me know if you have any other questions.
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:22 AM
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Default Re: Tax Burden/Utility Bills in WV

Thank you VERY much for the link; that was most helpful. And I appreciate the info. on the utility bills...that gives us some idea of what we might be facing! Thanks again.
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Old 09-09-2008, 06:50 PM
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CSO your income level relative to the avg median incomes of WV is higher. Your $ will go much further in WV if sacrificing amenities is a non issue. Some who've become accustomed to 12 layers of government services might be disappointed, and therein lies the answer how the lower cost of living has held fast here even when the rest of the country is going haywire with tax on tax on tax. Want amenities for 5 cents, don't we all! hahaha BUT... we all know that can't happen even when comp'd in vegas- they'll get their money back one way or another.

Generally speaking WV is slow and steady, and more a bargain for people wanting a reasonably modest life away from jet set silliness than people seeking huge investment returns that inevitably end with the ensuing slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Having yourself in a position where you've liquidated equity from another home sale will allow you to get more for less. It might even be an upgrade if you've had to live in a high cost of living area.

Utilities are variable depending on how well a property is insulated, and now more than ever that insulation investment will pay for itself at accelerated rate because energy of any sort is not stabilized in US economy. Also a tax write off if I'm not mistaken- check IRS website for details. No one can know what kind of useage you're talking, but if you compare my utility rates to your actual useage for past 12 months it should give you a decent estimate. For example if you used 500kwh last december X my rate= your budget.

I live in charleston so everything below is real time #'s relative to that- what charges are elsewhere I'm not privileged to know.

Main power company is appalachian power- they have a website. Big grumbles from WV when 6 cents kwh were raised to 7-8cents. Let them see 18-24 cents kwh plus tax elsewhere to know what pain is!

Water- 1500 gallons of useage in my charleston home (including a broken garden hose running for hours unnoticed) came to a whopping $20.55 website is www .wvawater.com

Gas- I cannot say this is true everywhere, but within city limits charleston has gas line service to most houses. Depending on the neighborhood will determine who will be the company you deal with from what I've been told, as opposed to 5 companies competing on one block. The rate on my bill from august was $14.0070 per MCF. West charleston is mountaineer gas, and my summer month usage for a hot water heater and gas stove was avg about $30 per month (they keep rounding my usage on meter readings because I just don't use enough). Using it for winter heat, expect a much larger bill. Have augmenting/alternative heat sources like pellet stoves or wood burning fireplaces, you'll be in a position to manage heating costs better. Here is their # if you have questions. 1-800-834-2070

The bill that surprised me in charleston as a new comer- Where I came from sewer/fire/refuse were incorporated onto the property tax bill. In charleston it's a separate bill that comes monthly to the house. Break down for my home per month:
sewer- $16.38
fire- $1.75
refuse- $15
Where I come from, this is still a bargain for full city services @ $33/month. Choose a rural location, these services won't necessarily be available, and you'll know first hand the distasteful chore of sorting trash for a trip to a county dump or grief of a mismanaged septic system when company is over for thanksgiving.

Property taxes are close to the lowest in the USA. New construction will be more, old construction grandfathered into the system is significantly lower. I paid my bill in full for my 100 yr old home- based on the previous owner registering it in the inflated category of rental unit. $661.82 Owner occupied non rental rate for next year is $339.34 . This is without homestead exemption that senior citizens have available to them.

If you're really digging our digital age, every utility mentioned above has auto pay/electronic payment set ups available if you'd rather not chase stamps around.

TIM! Thanks for the tax tips- I'm also learning a thing or two.
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Old 09-09-2008, 06:52 PM
Location: Puerto Penasco, Mexico
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I'm doing just what you're thinking of doing. I'm retiring with my military pension which is the same amount you're planning for. After searching several states, we settled on Hinton. It's a small town in the south eastern corner, between Beckley and Lewisburg. Even though I will have to pay tax on my pension, the offset is the low property tax and cheap electricity. We have a well and septic, so no water bill. Plenty of wood for heat, so really the only utility is electric. We don't live there full time yet, but our neighbors electric bill is never more than $75.

I would say you're going to be able to live comfortably on $40K. That's nearly twice what my neighbors make.
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Old 09-13-2008, 11:36 AM
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Harbourlady, I really appreciate the detailed breakdown you provided...since Charleston is one of the main areas we are considering, it was most helpful!

And, Hinton Bound, thanks for the info. Hinton is another area my wife and I are looking at, so it was good to hear from someone who is familiar with the city and planning to retire there.

All three answers I've received provided my wife and I with exactly the kind of information we were looking for. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to respond!
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