Searching for a new home

As a resident of New Jersey, I know that we aren’t going to be able to retire “in place,” i.e. we won’t be able to stay where we live when we retire. New Jersey is already one of the most expensive (or the most expensive) states to live in, and it’s only going to get worse. Taxes keep going up, and as the “Pension Bomb” goes off, there won’t be any money for basic services. The roads are already starting to look like California’s (i.e. rotten). It’s a shame, because the state does have a lot to recommend it, especially its awesome beaches. Still, if we want to be financially independent for the long-term, we’ll have to leave.

There are parts of the country that we have vacationed in that we really like (Pacific Northwest, Northeast US) but we don’t want to retire to. We have ended up concentrating on two areas, Delaware and North Carolina/Tennessee. We can’t decide between beaches and mountains to retire in (I really like mountains, and Mrs. 39 Months and I both grew up in areas that had mountains). We want an area with decent services (hospital, shops, things to do, etc.) and Mrs. 39 Months would like to live in a town setting (she grew up in something like that) where you can walk to things.

Delaware has the advantage of being close to our current area, and the support network we have created (friends, hobbies, clubs, etc.). It has beaches, though the decent ones are very far south (Rehoboth, etc.). It has no sales tax, something that a FI person, who isn’t really generating a lot of income, should concern himself with (Tennessee has no income tax, but a high sales tax). It’s also got relatively low property taxes (because it doesn’t spend a lot on schools, something that shouldn’t concern us). Some of its disadvantages are that it’s very flat, and the beaches aren’t great up north (where the towns and services we like are).

In North Carolina, we are thinking of the Asheville area (near the Smoky Mtns) and in Tennessee we are considering Chattanooga. Both of these spots are in the mountains, offer a lot of outdoor activities, and a thriving social scene in the city. Services are good, though the cost of each (because of their great retirement possibilities) are a tad expensive. Normally I’d think we could sell the house in NJ and buy something in NC/TN and have some money left over, but not so much. Seems everyone is retiring there. Also, it would be a big move, away from all the relationships and everything we’ve built around us here.

I guess that is one of the issues with FIRE. You can use geo-arbitrage to speed up the process, but you still have to consider the move.

 

How are your plans going for where you want to retire?

 

Mr. 39 Months

Real Estate  – starting to do further research

I have always been interested in real estate, and real estate investing. I’ve got a ton of books on houses, remodeling, layouts, etc. As an engineer, I have been fascinated by calculating costs (and remodeling costs), drawing things up, and imagining how it could be built or altered.

I’ve “puttered” some around my house, built a deck (twice), did a bathroom remodel and a kitchen remodel, and also did some work with Habitat for Humanity. Still, I have the “bug” and have it bad. Plenty of time spent online and YouTube looking at videos and shows. Probably could have used the time more productively.

Unfortunately, the one chance I’ve had in my life to really do a remodel, back in 2006, was when we added a second story to our house (made our rancher a cape cod). We worked with an architect, hired a builder, set up our funding, and got everything ready. Then my job came to me and asked me to do them a big favor, and help run a warehouse out in KY for 3-4 months because it was having trouble. I did it, coming back every 2-3 weeks for the weekend. I got to see the work in increments, instead of being able to “live it” every day. I still regret this – but I was a dedicated employee, working for a good company. Ah well.

Now we are closing in on financial independence, and we have a sufficient amount of funds to the side that I could consider getting involved in real estate. However, as an engineer, I now have to start digging into the numbers again, and do my reading and research. I know, I’m boring at times, but I am a planner, so that is the way it goes.

Luckily for me, there is a local real estate club in my area, one that meets regularly and has spin off groups for each county in my state, and for new investors. I took the opportunity to attend their monthly main event at a local hotel last night, and see what they had to offer. They let you attend the first one for free, but then charge non-members a fee. Membership runs around $150/yr.

The group has a “meet and greet” from 6pm – 7pm, where there are snacks, vendors (insurance, banks, contractors, etc.) and an opportunity to talk to similar folks. At 7pm they do announcements (upcoming events, things members get like discounts, folks you can talk to, etc.) then the speaker goes for another 45 minutes. Depending on the speaker, they can be quite informative.

I think it’s a potential source of real estate knowledge. I will probably go on a month-to-month basis to see if its worthwhile. Depending on that, I’ll sink in for an annual membership. My timeline is to look at a potential flip in 2018, so we will see how the market goes.

 

How are your real estate experiences going?

Mr. 39 months.