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