Monday, September 16, 2019

Finding The Perfect Place To Retire


This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

My parents moved to Central Florida when they retired many, many years ago.  We loved visiting them there at least once a year, especially our kids who not only got tons of attention from Grandma and Grandpa but also looked forward to having a great time at one of Orlando's amusement parks.  Me and Soko would drive around my parents' community and imagine that we would retire in this perfect place one day.


But when the time came for us to retire, we were not ready to live full-time in Florida like my parents did, but knew we couldn't afford to continue to live in New York on our retirement budget.  Our house was paid off but the taxes were ridiculous and constantly increasing every year.  There must be other options for us, we thought, and that's when we started thinking about living part-time in North Carolina where our daughter Lisa lived with her husband.

North Carolina's property and school taxes are a fraction of what we paid in NY but besides for saving on taxes, we considered making NC a vacation home so that we would only be 10 hours, by car, away from our sons in NY, compared to over 20 hours if we had to make the trip from FL.  And it would be where we could go to get a break from Florida's summer heat.

After looking at real estate websites for something to buy in southeast NC, we found out that when we sold our home in NY, we would have more than enough to buy something in NC and Florida!  And the local property and school taxes in both of these states were 1/10th of what we were paying in NY.  But what about other taxes and what type of dwelling do we want to live in and what were our community choices?  These were some of the things we needed to consider when deciding on a place to retire.

The difference in the local property and school taxes between where we were looking to live in NC and where we lived in NY was substantial to say the least.   But NC has a state income tax.  Florida, on the other hand, is one of only seven states that doesn't have a state income tax nor does the state tax social security benefits.  There are 13 states that collect tax on social security.  This is why FL would be our permanent residence and NC our vacation home.

So now that we knew what states we would settle in, it was time to make a decision on the type of dwelling we would live in.  In FL, we pretty much knew.  We would be living in the community that my parents lived in.  When this community was created, it was made to be an RV park.  Many snowbirds parked and lived in their RVs here during the winter.  My parents were not people who ever camped or even did road trips.  But since this was an RV park they had to buy an RV to live in.  They attached a Florida room to the RV.  The house definitely could not be moved after that but it still had to have wheels.   They covered the wheels with a skirt.

Things have changed over the years in the park.  It is still where some snowbirds come in their RV's to spend the winter and there are lots of unmovable RVs, like my parents, still around but any new construction being put up is a single or double-wide mobile home.  So that is what we live in in FL.  We bought a previously owned double-wide that came with furniture and we love it.  It was so inexpensive that we paid cash for it and because it is smaller than a house, it is so easy to take care of.  But it's not as sturdy as a permanent structure and we get nervous when we hear of threats of hurricanes and tornados inching towards us.  We do have a community room in the park for the residents here to gather in until the storm passes.


Speaking of our Florida neighbors who live in their RV, that is an adventurous dwelling that some retirees choose.  A few of our Florida RV friends live in their RVs year round.  Some of them are renters who leave us for their parks up north at the end of  March.

We have also met more than a few retirees in the campgrounds we've stayed in on our camping trips that have made their RV their permanent homes and travel around in them all year round.  Lots of them camp for free by taking on the job of campground host during their stay at the campground.  Getting mail and medical needs taken care of gets a little complicated with this lifestyle but probably is worth it to enjoy the freedom that these campers do.

We had a few choices of housing in NC.  We needed someone to help us find our perfect place here.  Lisa had been working with a Real Estate Agent because her and her husband were ready to settle into their own home.  We gave Tim a call and met with him at his office.  After this first meeting, we knew that we would be happy working with Tim.  We needed someone we could trust and feel comfortable with most importantly.  He also listened carefully and considered all of our wants and needs.

We looked at condominiums and townhouses at first because we thought it would be a little less expensive than a house, and they were, but most of the HOA fees were very expensive.  If we lived in a condo or townhouse we would not have to worry about yard work which would get harder to do the older we got.  But the townhouses we looked at were often 2 or 3 stories high which means climbing a lot of stairs inside the house.  Also, it was hard to find a condominium apartment on the first floor.  I know, from watching family and friends grow older, that stairs are often physically challenging for many seniors. 

Deciding on the community we wanted to live in was another decision we had to make.  Our community in FL is 55 and over.  We are very active in many of the clubs here and we enjoy living in a community of  people our age.  We have a clubhouse where we can join in many activities that happen here and also a small gym, game room with pool tables, shuffleboard, tennis and horseshoe courts, lake and pool with hot tub.  We pay an HOA fee here so that all these areas are taken care of for us.  Our fees also pay for the security patrol we have in our gated community and our garbage pick up.  We knew we wanted a pool like we have in Florida but we didn't necessarily have to live in a 55 and over community. 

In the end, we chose a one level single-family home in a wonderful community with a pool.  We pay hardly anything in HOA dues but lawn service is not included.   Lisa and Pete actually really liked the community Tim found for us and decided to buy the lot two doors down from us.


It's never too early to start thinking about retirement and where you could envision yourself enjoying these years.  There are many websites to visit and blog posts to read that can help you make your decision.

If you are considering Florida, as many people do, as the state you might want to retire in, there are many wonderful cities to look into.  One website you should take a look at for homes in Jacksonville's beautiful neighborhoods is run by Erin E. King, a Best of Zillow Realtor, who specializes in Jacksonville's historic neighborhoods.  His website answers many questions you might have as a buyer, or seller, and is designed to not only show you pictures of available properties, but to give you lots of information about the communities they are in and what it would be like to live in these neighborhoods.  Visit Erin's website, Jax Historic Realty, and then here to view the gorgeous homes he helps to sell.



We spent years exploring the possibilities of how to spend our retirement years.  We learned a lot from our parents and others that retired before us and we looked at different websites and blogs.  Now we can say, we have been happily retired for 4 years and love living the life of 2 snowbirds.  Our good life got even better when we bought our RV last year, but that's a whole other story!
(You can read all about it here!)



14 comments:

  1. I’ve been retired for six years, and after considering a move I decided to stay put. That was partly a financial decision, but mostly a fear of stepping into the unknown and making what I feared might be a mistake. I’m glad to hear that you have made such a success of it! #SeniSal

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    1. It sounds like you are happy with the decision you made for yourself. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your story with us. Please come again!

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  2. Lots to consider but sounds like you found the best places to retire. Thanks so much for linking up at the #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 4. Shared.

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    1. So far we are happy with our decision. Thanks for coming by!

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  3. I was an editor at Governing, a magazine for people who work in state and local governments, so I was really interested to read about the role state and local taxes played in your retirement decision. Those taxes can really loom large. The question we've always wondered at Governing: Do you find there's been a trade-off--less tax to pay but lower quality--or fewer--government services?

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    1. We haven't noticed any difference in that respect since moving to Florida, but then again we haven't needed many services. I do know that although we paid extremely high school taxes, they were even more than our property tax, our kids got an exceptional education and got into good colleges. I can see a big difference in the school districts where we live now where we pay hardly anything in taxes. Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope you will return again soon!

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  4. So happy to meet you! Look forward to reading your blog more! My mom's side of the family lives in W. Melbourne. We really enjoy visiting them! Thanks for sharing at Tuesday Turn About!

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you will visit again!!

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  5. My retirement story is similar to yours but had a very different ending. We're from New York too but downsized in 2001 as a means to prepare for our future retirements. We left a very expensive area in NY (suffolk county) to a less expensive area in upstate NY. Taxes were low to begin with and we downsized from a 9 room home to a 4 room custom-built modular home on 3.5 acres (now that all the kids were out of the house) We went from a $5600 a month budget down to a $2500 a month budget.
    Our goal was always to retire in a condo in Florida, just like my own parents did! My older sister and brother already made the transition and settled in Sarasota Florida. In 2014 we made the leap, bought a condo near my siblings and were just about to sell our NY home but my husband kept hesitating. Turned out our condo neighbors were heavy smokers. We fought the system for 1.5 years but couldn't get them to stop. We even got the condo board to change some of the rules but to no avail. Our health suffered greatly from the 2nd hand smoke and we sold and moved back to NY. It was a big disaster and disappointment. This was our 2nd attempt to relocate. The 1st was to a beach house but that too turned out wrong due to government interference with preposterous rules & regulations.
    Thankfully, it turned out to be very affordable to remain in NY. Being over 65 and having low income awarded us low school/property taxes and affordable health care uncomparable to anywhere else.
    Who knew?
    We always RVed but this time around we purchased a very cozy and comfortable 22 foot RV and found inexpensive trailer parks on both the east coasts of Florida and Rhode island. So, our retirement takes place in 3 locations vs one. We winter in Florida. Summer in Newport RI and the rest of the time we're happily retired in our New York home. Go figure, right?
    I have a blog too chronicling the whole kit and caboodle. I'm glad I found your blog. It's nice to "meet" similar people with the same goals and lifestyles. You guys rock!

    https://diaryofamadretiree.com/

    Stop by and leave me a comment!

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    1. I enjoyed reading about your retirement experience so far. Our stories are very similar. That was what I was afraid of when we thought about settling into a condo, neighbors with bad habits! We got too used to living in single family homes. I had no idea that we our taxes would get more affordable for us after we turned 65. We lived in Rockland County, NY so I'm not sure. That $2,500 monthly budget to live in NY sounds wonderful and having an RV allows you to leave in the winter!! You are doing retirement "right" in my book. I am going to take a peek at your blog now!!

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  6. Wow, I love your story! My husband and I are a few years from retirement, so I have been thinking about this very thing for a while. I love the idea of being a snowbird. It's a little bit of a foreign idea to my husband, who loves being near family all of the time. We live in Missouri. My sister retired to Florida (from Missouri) and has never looked back. She loves being warm year round! You have given some great info here! Thanks so much for sharing at Thursday Favorite Things!

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    1. It takes awhile to figure out what would work for our retirement years. It's great that you have your sister in Florida so that you could imagine what life in Florida might be like. I hope that you will figure out the perfect plan for the two of you when the time comes!

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  7. Thanks for sharing your experience. My husband and I are retiring in the next year or 2 so I look for posts such as yours. I am from Florida so have looked at housing there and find it to be very reasonable. While living there would be nice, we are based out West and our kids are all out this way so not sure we will go that far from the kids, grandkids. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I don't know if we would have been able to leave NY if our grandson had been born before we left. It was hard enough leaving our boys but everything is working out really well, thank goodness!

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