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Hello,

I wonder if anyone still reads this board?


Is there a place I can easily search for a city/state with lower cost of living? I've found a comparison calculator at Bankrate.com, but you plug in two places and it compares the two. I'm looking for an over view of the USA which will let me scan for a cheaper place to live.


Thanks in advance.

Penny
retired at 30, but not by choice.
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It's not what you want but maybe more than you've found :
http://www.coli.org/

rad
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Thanks, rad.

Not quite what I was looking for, but it's a start.

I appreciate the response.

Penny
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Hi Penny,

Welcome to TMF! In the Summer Issue of "Living Southern Style" they had a map of the U.S. which listed the major cities, the median home value of each and a cost-of-living index number.

Nationwide the median home value is $208,500 and the nationwide cost-of-living index is 100, so any of the cities below 100 would be cheaper than the national average.

Tucson had a COL number of 95.6. Cities listed that were lower than that are as follows:

Charlotte, NC 92.1
Cheyenne, WY 92.2
Austin, TX 90.6
Sioux Falls, SD 90.4

In the 80s:

Savannah, GA 89.4
Indianapolis, IN 81.9
Louisville, KY 86
Mobile, AL 81.1
Biloxi, MS 85
Galveston, TX 81.6
Houston, TX (somewhere in the 80s)
Dallas, TX (somewhere in the 80s)
Lincoln, NE 89.5
Billings, MT 89.5
Twin Falls, ID 84.9
Hot Springs, AR 82.2
Oklahoma City, OK 81.4
Aiken, SC 87.9
Nashville, TN 85.7
Cedar Rapids, IA 85.3
Bismarck, ND 87.1

In the 70s:

Knoxville, TV 78.9
Springfield, MO 78.4
San Antonio, TX 74.7

So according to their map any of those cities would be less expensive than Tucson.

2old


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Wow! 2old!

That's it exactly.

My sister and I have been talking about how moving to a less expensive place might help us each get out of debt faster.

She lives in Palm Springs, CA! And hopes someday to be able to "afford" to move here where it's cheaper.

I think I have my sights set on San Antonio, TX -- (grin)


Thanks for doing all the leg work for me!

Penny
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Happy to help. :-)

2old
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<< Here are two more links for you: >>


Thanks! I do wish that "find your spot" had cost of living questions, like "Do you want to stretch your income farther?" If it sorted by proximity to VA hospitals, I'd be in heaven!


OK, I know. I've got to do SOME of the leg work myself. (grin)


Thanks for the support.


Penny
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Four of the places it came up with were very close to where I live now...

I must be happy where I'm at, so I'll just stay here.

--Chooey
(The town where I'm living now was #3 on my list)
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I know there is a VA hospital in Houston and would expect one in San Antonio as well. Truthfully, Texas in general has a low cost of living compared to most places. There is no state income tax (real estate property taxes are high, though but then price of property is itself low). I should say that one reason Texas costs of living are low is that it is a state that doesn't spend much on social services. As long as you don't need such services that is fine...but something to be aware of.
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Determinedmom,

Thanks for the heads up.

I'm not worried at all about income tax, since all my "income" is tax-exempt disability benefits. Of course, the social services is an important point.

I really like living in Tucson, and we have a nice balance of services, so I might be well served by staying put. Also, a few years ago our VA hospital was rated as 2nd in the US -- one in CA won top honors.

Lots to think about.

Penny
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"I really like living in Tucson, and we have a nice balance of services, so I might be well served by staying put."

----------------------------------------

hi, Penny - also, if you really like living in Tucson, maybe it's worth the extra expense? Unless, you already have friends in Texas (or whatever place would be the cheapest) - is it worth moving somewhere you don't know anybody? Especially, as you get older?

There's security in having friends and acquaintances living close by, or at least within commuting distance. It can be lonely in a new place. People that care about you can help you when you need help, and you can help them if they need it.
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<< "I really like living in Tucson, and we have a nice balance of services, so I might be well served by staying put." >>

----------------------------------------

<<< Hi, Penny - also, if you really like living in Tucson, maybe it's worth the extra expense? Unless, you already have friends in Texas (or whatever place would be the cheapest) - is it worth moving somewhere you don't know anybody? Especially, as you get older?

There's security in having friends and acquaintances living close by, or at least within commuting distance. It can be lonely in a new place. People that care about you can help you when you need help, and you can help them if they need it. >>>


Yes, these are my thoughts as well.

When I moved here to Tucson, perhaps 10 years ago, I knew no one, had no need to make prior job plans (retired already), and just looked in the Rent magazine in my motel room to find my first place. I had a nice apartment on the first day I looked, the day after I drove into town. I have moved all over the world, and arrived most places not knowing a soul. That's never been a bother before, as I know I'll make new ones. But, this is the first time since I left home after high school that I actually felt compelled to put my local friends on the list. Previous moves were required by the AF, so having good friends here wasn't a consideration. Besides, in the AF, your friends are all being sent off, either now or in the near future, so the only way to find them again was to move along. I live in an RV community, so the same thing is pretty much true. The difference here is, I've stayed put, and many of my friends leave and return again each winter.

I now realize that that one point - friends - weighs heavy.

In San Antonio, I'd have no friends yet -- that I know of -- but I'd make new ones pretty fast. I usually do. Both cities have active AF bases, VA hospitals, so all my needs would be met.

The only compelling reason to move would be to get my debts trimmed faster due to the lower cost of living. I find this time that my large community of friends is simply more important to me than the money. I'm making good, steady progress on the debts, so the friends and my comfort in the community win.


If I were to decide that moving to save money had to out weigh my friends, it would have to be for a decidedly larger amount of savings. That was the case when I moved from near Boston, MA to Tucson. That made an enormous difference! Also, I didn't really feel connected to the Boston area, even though it was where I grew up, and most of my family lived close by. Leaving was quite easy for me. I didn't even feel bad when my family protested my moving away again. They've never lived outside their 200 mile comfort zone, and they just never understood my love of new places.


I'm close enough to the border to Mexico that it would be feasible to just drive the RV down there and live for a few years. I could return periodically for routine medical treatment, and would buy an International medical policy that would fly me back in emergencies. I've been humming about that over the last few years, too.

But, my Spanish is limited. I can find the toilet and the meal that caused the need, but nothing much else. There are many US citizens living there now, and even more vacationing each year. I like meeting people of all nationalities and loved living in other cultures to learn about the people. That was my favorite part of military service.

Bottom line, I guess I'll stay put.


For now.


Thank you all for helping me mull this over. I get the itch to move every so often. Perhaps that's a hold over from military service?


Penny
finished with her annual "is there anything better" quest
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that's great, Penny
...wishing you happiness & a quick debt paydown.
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<< ...wishing you happiness & a quick debt paydown. >>


Thank you, grasshack.


I wish my sister would do a similar review and move away from Palm Springs, CA. Alas, she has wonderful friends and good doctors, so she's likely rooted in place.


Penny
shakes head sadly, while understanding completely
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I really like living in Tucson, and we have a nice balance of services, so I might be well served by staying put. Also, a few years ago our VA hospital was rated as 2nd in the US -- one in CA won top honors.

The cost of moving would offset, for a time, any savings you might make through moving. There's also the psychic cost of moving, the upheaval and the stress of resettling. You probably have a support network of friends and neighbors in Tucson and it will take a while to replace it in a new place.
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<<< The cost of moving would offset, for a time, any savings you might make through moving. There's also the psychic cost of moving, the upheaval and the stress of resettling. You probably have a support network of friends and neighbors in Tucson and it will take a while to replace it in a new place. >>>


DorothyM,

All excellent points. For me, moving wouldn't be too bad. I live in an RV, so it's almost as simple as just untethering and filling the tank before hitting the road. The cost wouldn't be as much as a more traditional brick&mortar move, and could even be budgetted as a vacation. There would also be no hurry, since I'm home where ever I am, so sightseeing along the way is a real treat.

As for the stress and emotional upheaval, that's not a problem for me. I got used to picking up and resettling in the AF -- having to find living quarters and arriving not knowing a soul. I actually get a charge from the experience, so the psychic "cost" is actually a benefit.

I do have a wonderful support network here in Tucson, and have decided to stay put for now.

I like to explore my options every few years to see if anywhere else has become a much better deal. I can't supplement my income much, so the cost of living helps me stretch it as far as possible. Also, since I'm retired and all my income is disability benefits, I get paid no matter where I go. I'm sure that not having to look for a job before hand makes a huge difference in the stress department.

Thanks for weighing in. I appreciate the help in bouncing this idea around.

Namasté,

Penny
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"I live in an RV, so it's almost as simple as just untethering and filling the tank before hitting the road."

----------------------------------------

Hope this doesn't sound too silly a question, but is an RV hard to drive? Do you have to be careful to only take certain roads, etc?
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<< Hope this doesn't sound too silly a question, but is an RV hard to drive? Do you have to be careful to only take certain roads, etc? >>


Not a silly question at all, but a large subject.


There are several different kinds of RVs, and each has it's own driving issues.

I live in a "Class A" motorhome - the flat front-style drivable RV. I like this style because I can see over traffic because I sit at the same height as 18-wheelers. This helps me get into the best lane before traffic bogs down. My RV is 37 ft long, and about 10 ft wide. I can drive down any road an 18-wheeler can. (probably smaller, since I'm not as long, but a good rule of thumb.) Yes, there are smaller and curvier roads I have to avoid, but there are other size RVs that can if that's where you what to travel. I can take most neighborhood roads, but avoid cul-de-sacs and dead ends simply because turning in tight places can be challenging. Dirt roads are largely off limits, and roads that are thickly over grown with vegetation that would scrape the sides would make me unhappy. It was very helpful to take a sharp turn in a snow covered parking lot when I first got the RV so I have a visual idea of how tight it can turn. Tight parking lots are a challenge when I'm towing my car.

Turning is something to think about. Taking corners takes a bit of extra thought. All vehicles pivot on the rear wheels. With a car or small truck, that's not something we need to think about at all. The rear wheels will generally follow the path of the front ones. Longer vehicles get a little trickier. My RV has two rear axles, and the forward of the two is the drive axle and the pivot point. I have to remember that there is 9 ft of vehicle behind the pivot wheels that will swing out into the lane beside me if I turn too soon. I'm sure the cars beside me wouldn't be too pleased. (grin) Just as a bus or truck driver has to swing wide to make a turn without climbing the curb, so must I. That means either swinging left to turn right, or going farther forward into the intersection before turning, then guiding back into the desired lane.

Backing up is a challenge, but was pretty easy to learn. It took me a while before I remembered just where beside me the leading edge of the obstacle needs to be before I turn to slide in beside it. I have a backup camera that helps me stop exactly where I want. There are companies that give driving lessons in our own rigs that are quite helpful.

There are two other classes of drivable RVs. One is a Class C. This is the one that's built on a pickup truck-type chassis. In most cases part of the house hangs over the top of the truck's cab. These drive just like an ordinary pickup, except for the length and width. They feel more comfortable for some people, but you can see in traffic only as well as any other small passenger vehicle, and the overhang cuts some visibility as does the wider box for the living quarters. The challenge in turning and backing are directly dependent on the length, and range between barely more than a cargo van, and just like the larger RVs.

The next is Class B. This includes conversion vans, and the camper shells you can mount in/on the bed of a pickup. They drive exactly like vans and pickups, though visibility may be more of an issue depending on the model. These have the least restriction as to the size of road they can travel. They're great if you like the wilderness experience.


There are also towables -- travel trailers and 5th wheels. Turning is similar to long RV's in that the towing vehicle has to be far enough ahead of before turning in order to let the trailer clear the curb. Backing up takes a little more technique. The tricky part is that turning the steering wheel of the truck sends the trailer in the opposite direction when backing up. An easy way to keep this straight is to turn the truck with the hands on the top of the steering wheel, and move your hands to the inside bottom of the wheel when steering the trailer. I've been told that this type of rig can back into a tighter space, since it essencially bends in half. Travel trailers hook onto a simple trailer hitch behind a truck or large car, while a 5th wheel hooks onto a large hitch installed in the bed of a healthy-sized pickup truck. The 5th wheel-style hitch gives more stability and the tightest backing turns.



I hope that gives you the answer you were looking for. If I just created more questions, feel free to ask.

Penny
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Penny - thank you for taking the time to answer with so many interesting details.

I've thought of getting one of the smallest RVs in the future - in a couple of years after I retire. I guess it would be a good idea to rent one first to "try it on for size".
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<< I've thought of getting one of the smallest RVs in the future - in a couple of years after I retire. I guess it would be a good idea to rent one first to "try it on for size". >>


This is exactly what I did. I rented a 25ft then a 27 ft Class C. They weren't far beyond my comfort level as I'd expected/feared they would. I rented because I suddenly needed a mobile abode when I visited my sister to help her move. Her DH was terminally ill, the lease was up in a few days, and the moving team she'd put together had backed out. I couldn't stay with her as the move would take a number of days, and her dog was a threat to my ferret, and my ferret frightened her dog.

The RV was a great refuge from the chaos for she and I, while her DH was sheltered at his parent's home to keep his stress level low. We had a comfortable place to sleep and eat and were able to pack with no regard to our current needs. Sure beat sleeping on the floor for two nights!

When you choose to rent/buy an RV, it's best to think of how you plan on using it. I chose a large one because it is my primary residence. Class B's are geared toward short trips (a few days/weeks) and can be parked easily as they take up only one parking space. They're easy to sightsee in, and grocery runs are super easy. They're great to retreat into the wilderness areas, park next to a stream, and fish, hike or relax. They're not idea for more than one or two people, and the facilities (toilet/sink/fridge/stove) tend to be miniaturized. (think airline bathrooms) Some even have showers, but again, very small. I've visited folks in these, and they make a nice cocoon when traveling, but not so pleasant as a long-term living space.

Class C's tend to be fitted to load up the family and head out to explore the country. Length of the trip isn't restrictive, but space is a premium. The kids can sleep in the loft that overhangs the cab, the sofa folds out to a full-size bed, the dinette folds into a twin bed, and there's usually a full or short queen bed (with a privacy curtain) as well. The sofa & dinette have seatbelts for more people to safely travel. Stove/fridge/sinks and bathrooms are larger than a Class B, but aren't often full size. Parking isn't too bad, but they tend to take up a number of parking spaces. Parking to the back of a store's lot is easiest, so taking up more than one space isn't so much of a bother to others.

An RV with a "basement" gives the greatest storage space. Propane tanks, furnace, water & waste tanks, pumps, etc are dropped below the floor, so more cabinet space is available. Some Class C's have this feature, and all the Class A's I've seen do also. Naturally, the bigger the RV, the more storage inside and out.

Class A's are COWs -- Condos on Wheels. They generally fit 6 for cocktails and conversation, 4 for dinner, and 2 for living space. They have a queen bed in a separate bedroom, a larger bathroom, and the sofa folds out to a full-size bed. Mine has sleeping and seatbelts for 4. I have a washer that also dries, an enclosed shower, a full size bathroom sink, double kitchen sink, 3 burner stove top, microwave/convection oven, fresh, grey, black water holding tanks with about 60 gallon capacity each. My fridge is not the size of a standard household model, but has a separate freezer door, and is larger than the dorm-size often used in smaller RVs.

When I park, I turn sideways and take up about 4 parking spaces. I more enjoy parking at truck stops on the truck side, where I only take up one space, even if I'm towing my car.
There are longer, high-end RVs of 40 or more feet that have even more features, like dishwashers, bath tubs with jacuzzi jets, two bathrooms, full size fridges, etc. They also require a CDL (truck-driver's license) to operate in most (all?) states.

It's also possible to have an RV outfitted for wheelchairs. I know a woman who travels alone, full time, in a Class A. She has a van-style lift on the sidewalk side of her RV. There is a track system in the ceiling that allows her to transfer into a harness system that is electrically controlled. It carries her all through the RV allowing her to transfer again into the driver's seat, the dining chair, the toilet, shower, and bed. She can also "stand" and do dishes, cook, and retrieve things from her fridge. She parks mostly in upscale RV Resorts as they're more likely to have wheelchair accessible RV spaces and facilities. She requests help hooking up, although she can manage most of that process herself. She takes the phrase, "Life on Wheels" to heart.

There are also smaller lifts that fit onto brackets by the door. A person with difficulty climbing stairs can sit down in a chair, which lifts them up and turns them thru the doorway, letting them step out at floor height inside.

So you see, RVs are truly for everyone.


Also, as you probably suspect, TMF has a board for RVers! "RVing Fools". The traffic is kind of sparce, and we tend to check the boards less frequently due to the higher likelihood that we're driving and don't have ready access to computers. Wifi is making this easier, but the technology isn't everywhere yet. Also, when we go somewhere in the RV, we like to spend more time seeing what's there than surfing the net. Some folks even leave the computer home, and check in again when they return. When you post there, don't be dismayed if it's a few days before you get a response. We're not ignoring you, we're just out having fun.


Penny
The opinions expressed within are solely my opinion and based on my own experience. Others are invited to offer other insights.
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"It's also possible to have an RV outfitted for wheelchairs. I know a woman who travels alone, full time, in a Class A."

----------------------------------------
that's a gutsy lady - I love hearing about that kind of courage.
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<< "It's also possible to have an RV outfitted for wheelchairs. I know a woman who travels alone, full time, in a Class A." >>

----------------------------------------
<<< that's a gutsy lady - I love hearing about that kind of courage. >>>


Yes, she's taught me a thing or two about living, that's for sure!

I enjoy looking at photos of places she's been during her summer travels when she returns to snowbird in Tucson. She has an amazing eye for finding joy anywhere. I used to say "nearly anywhere", but this year she showed me a beautiful photo she took in a garbage dump. She's a real light in the darkness for me.


Penny
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Library tip:

there's a murder mystery with Anna Pigeon, National Park ranger as deteictive, which involves a heroic woman in wheelchair and RV

Hard Truth by Nevada Barr
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