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Old 08-09-2011, 07:01 AM
 
Location: Nebraska
31 posts, read 56,233 times
Reputation: 21

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Good morning. My husband is being considered for a civilian position at Scott AFB. This job opportunity is completely out of the blue and we really know nothing about the area other than it is about 30-45 minutes east of Saint Louis. We have lived in the midwest before (Omaha) and have been trying to make our way back to the midwest, mainly because we want to raise our kids (8 and 2) in a nice, family oriented environment with a relatively low cost of living. But, as I said, we know very little about the area and, if he is selected for the position, would pretty much be moving there blind. Specific questions:

1) We don't mind a commute of up to 45 minutes to find a family oriented town with EXCELLENT schools (not just elementary, but middle and high school). I know many who work at the base live in OFallon. What about Edwardsville? Is that too far away for a feasible commute? Our oldest is currently in the gifted program at an outstanding school. We'd like to lives somewhere where she can continue on the gifted "track" if at all possible.
2) I don't understand how property taxes are figured out. I know the tax rate is high but from my cursory research, it seems like they are based on a portion of what the house is assessed at. We will be looking for a house in the 300,000-400,000 range. How do I figure out what the taxes will be?
3) Is there a car tax? In Virginia, we pay about $3000/year for our three vehicles (two late model cars and a motorcycle).
4) Is military retirement taxed? My understanding is it is not taxed in Illinois but is there any move to tax it?
5) What is the weather like? Omaha had scorching hot summers and bitterly cold winters. Is it similar? What about snow?
6) What does the area look like? Rolling hills? Flat? Trees? Lakes?
7) What kind of recreation opportunities are there? We like the idea of living/working in a small town environment with the opportunity to easily travel to the big city. Looking at the map, it appears the Scott AFB area will fit the bill in that regard.
8) How is the housing market out there? From looking at zillow and trulia, it appears that a lot of houses in our price range that have been on the market for a while have been dropped a LOT in price. A lot are being sold for much less than the purchase price 3-4 years ago. Are there a lot of foreclosures & short sales? Are prices still dropping or have they stabilized somewhat?

Sorry for all the questions. Any information about the area is greatly appreciated!
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Old 08-10-2011, 02:17 PM
 
20 posts, read 45,369 times
Reputation: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by albus87 View Post
Good morning. My husband is being considered for a civilian position at Scott AFB. This job opportunity is completely out of the blue and we really know nothing about the area other than it is about 30-45 minutes east of Saint Louis. We have lived in the midwest before (Omaha) and have been trying to make our way back to the midwest, mainly because we want to raise our kids (8 and 2) in a nice, family oriented environment with a relatively low cost of living. But, as I said, we know very little about the area and, if he is selected for the position, would pretty much be moving there blind. Specific questions:

1) We don't mind a commute of up to 45 minutes to find a family oriented town with EXCELLENT schools (not just elementary, but middle and high school). I know many who work at the base live in OFallon. What about Edwardsville? Is that too far away for a feasible commute? Our oldest is currently in the gifted program at an outstanding school. We'd like to lives somewhere where she can continue on the gifted "track" if at all possible.
2) I don't understand how property taxes are figured out. I know the tax rate is high but from my cursory research, it seems like they are based on a portion of what the house is assessed at. We will be looking for a house in the 300,000-400,000 range. How do I figure out what the taxes will be?
3) Is there a car tax? In Virginia, we pay about $3000/year for our three vehicles (two late model cars and a motorcycle).
4) Is military retirement taxed? My understanding is it is not taxed in Illinois but is there any move to tax it?
5) What is the weather like? Omaha had scorching hot summers and bitterly cold winters. Is it similar? What about snow?
6) What does the area look like? Rolling hills? Flat? Trees? Lakes?
7) What kind of recreation opportunities are there? We like the idea of living/working in a small town environment with the opportunity to easily travel to the big city. Looking at the map, it appears the Scott AFB area will fit the bill in that regard.
8) How is the housing market out there? From looking at zillow and trulia, it appears that a lot of houses in our price range that have been on the market for a while have been dropped a LOT in price. A lot are being sold for much less than the purchase price 3-4 years ago. Are there a lot of foreclosures & short sales? Are prices still dropping or have they stabilized somewhat?

Sorry for all the questions. Any information about the area is greatly appreciated!
Answers to your questions:

1: Edwardsville is nice, but the way the roads are set up would make commutting to Scott a challenge. The most direct way would be on back roads. The interstate isn't very direct. O'Fallon, Belleville, Shiloh, Swansea, and Fairview Heights are probably your best bets. Mascoutah has a really bad reputation for how they treat Air Force people, even civilian employees. Plus, for some bizarre reason, they have their own phone company, so any phone call made outside of city limits, even to a town just a few miles away is long distance.

2: No one understands how property taxes work around here. No even the tax assessors office. Sorry, I can't be of more help, but expect the taxes to be on the high side, but there are lots of places in the country that are much worse. One of the biggest issues is that there are so many taxing bodies. Illinois has way too many elected offices and a lot of times stuff gets duplicated. For example, Belleville, O'Fallon, and Fairview Heights each have a library but the library isn't run by the town. It's a completely seperate entitty and people are elected to the library board and if the board wants more money, then the board decides to levy a tax while the city can do nothing about it. Weird. The theory behind this is that by having lots of elected officials, they will be closer to the people and thus more responsive and not feel obligated to the political machine. It hasn't really worked out that way. Anyone next question.

3) No car tax. Sales tax when you buy a car. Registration renewals are about 100 bucks a year, a bit higher if you want some kind of special plates, like vanity or to support a cause. This area is subject to emissions testing so you can't renew your plates if you car doesn't pass that, but the test is free.

4) I have heard nothing about Illinois trying to tax military income. If it's been proposed in state legislature, it's being kept quiet.

5) weather can be miserarble at times. We just went through a major heat wave (like most of the country) but even normal times can result in summer temps that are in the 90's. But it's usually balanced. A 90 degree day can easily and often be followed by a 78 degree day. Winters are usually mild. A couple of big storms usually. Winter temps mostly in the high 30s. The wind can be nasty at times though. Overall, the weather is decent.

6) Rolling hills, river bluffs, lots of trees, lush green grass, lots of lakes and rivers (including the Might Mississippi) and lots of farmland.

7) The area has pretty much everything within a relatively short distance excpet deep sea fishing. In the area directly around Scott AFB and St. Louis it's mostly fishing and hunting if you are outdoorsy. A lot of bike and hiking trails are being built. St. Louis has professional sports teams, including some minor league teams if you don't want to pay the major league prices. Lots of history in the area. The St. Louis Zoo is a hit with kids of all ages and it's FREE. (Expect to take out a small loan if you want to buy lunch though) Further out, there is wine country. A few hours southwest is Branson and the Ozark Mountains. Chicago is only 6 hours away by car and pretty cheap to fly via Southwest. Recreation abounds.

8) It's not the worst market in the country. It hasn't been hit nearly as hard as other areas, but then things weren't nearly as great back before the housing bubble burst. I'm not really sure too much about prices dropping though since I haven't been in the market for a new home for several years. But I think things are about as low as they are going to get for awhile.

I hope this helps.
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Old 08-10-2011, 06:08 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
31 posts, read 56,233 times
Reputation: 21
Haj3100 - thanks so much for the information! I really appreciate it. We should find out in a few weeks if my husband is selected for the job. It sounds like a really nice area - just like what we are looking for to raise our family. I especially like your description of the area - rolling hills, river bluffs, lots of trees and green grass. It sounds beautiful.
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:54 PM
 
3 posts, read 6,093 times
Reputation: 17
I live outside of Scott in a community called Mascoutah (actually have a house on three acres and two other 3 acre lots for sale here outside of town).

Mascoutah is a nice community, compared to those surrounding it. It's located in St. Clair county. The previous poster is correct in that the property tax is kinda messed up here. Madison county is north, randolph south. Both of those counties are higher in taxes than St. clair. Be careful buying a house in the following communities,

Edwardsville, excellent schools, great community but very very expensive.

Belleville (have rising crime rate, mining some very expensive subdivisions are sinking into mine shafts), schools are getting dangerous.

Freeberg for the mine shaft problem, It's further away from Scott.

Property values in Lebanon aren't doing very well, schools aren't very good.

O'Fallon is going downhill, as is Fairview Heights sales tax is 7.1 % home values are falling.

Mascoutah has been a nice place to live (been here 9 years) our property taxes are high ( pay 3800 a year for property valued at 365000. with a pond and near 10 acres), new High school, and jr. high, terraine is fairly flat, but lots of trees. We have lived in other communities around here the schools are good, and there is a private catholic school for elem. aged kids.

Summers get pretty hot during the end of July and through August, Winters can get cold, icy, icky, spring is beautiful, fall is too. I have lived in Denver so it's great compared to there. It does get humid (charge the ac in your car).

As to cars, we don't need inspections in Mascoutah, You pay a tax on new cars (sales tax) on new cars, otherwise it costs about 115. to register a car, and 95.00 for tags after that they don't charge personal tax annually like they do in Missouri.

Our electric company outside of Mascoutah is a co-op. They are very cheap compared to Ameren that is in belleville and other cities.

Scott AFB is a good base, traffic during shift changes is a nightmare sometimes. They have a lake, hobby shop, and lots of activities. Good grocery shopping. I get our meat from Sams in Fairview Heights, and other commodities, then everything else at the commissary.

Good luck,
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