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Hi all, Posted a couple of weeks ago, and have more clarity now,
so wanted to post again. To recap the main points:
DH is almost 67, I'm 54. As I said last post, our Soc. Sec. and pension income is $23K, and due to health and other issues, our income fluctuates 10-40K/year.

The health issues we've had are being resolved (post-accident issues)...so chances of 20-40K additional income or more are
possible, but I want to do the math as if
we are lowballing income. Life has taught us that health is not
guaranteed...

We have narrowed down the places we want to live, but with my husband's
vocation, he needs a studio to work in, so renting isn't an option.
The three places we like have houses for around 250-375k, and they have
things we "need" as a couple -- good transportation, good cultural, etc.
Taxes in 2 of 3 places are high (5-8k). I know this may not be feasible,
but DH doesn't drive (never has), is an artist, and really wants the transport and culture. I want him to have it if we can swing it.
We want a lot, and are not rich. But we live very modestly apart from
the "location" issue - no credit debt, car paid off, and health plan
for me covered by DH's former employer, and he's on Medicare...

We want to live in a beautiful, interesting, accessible place
with access to excellent health care, more
than we want fancy things or even a lot of world travel (though a few
trips now and then would be nice, if we are earning good $ in a given year!). DH also wants 2 hrs max from NYC.

And from what we can tell, these things that we want (walkable town, on
major train line, near cultural institutions, etc) generally lead
to high taxes. That's the fly in the ointment for us, as far as I
can tell, HOUSING.

We have dear friends in all 3 "possible" locations.
SO.

IF we get a place for no more than 350K, we'd have (with current savings and leftover from current house sale) 225k in the bank, maybe a bit more. I would consider getting a place with a rental or in-law suite in case we needed extra
income, but not sure if we could find that in all 3 places.

Does the above sound feasible?
Thanks in advance for any feedback.
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No harm in looking.

If you can't find what you would like to have at a price you can afford, you can cut off elements you'd like to have or keep working.

Particularly at age 54, early retirement is a luxury. Furthermore, being significantly younger than your husband, you should have a special interest in making sure you will have the assets to support you for decades to come. That would be my first priority, if I were you --- and at age 58 but single, I more or less am.



Seattle Pioneer
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We want to live in a beautiful, interesting, accessible place
with access to excellent health care, more
than we want fancy things or even a lot of world travel (though a few
trips now and then would be nice, if we are earning good $ in a given year!). DH also wants 2 hrs max from NYC.

And from what we can tell, these things that we want (walkable town, on
major train line, near cultural institutions, etc) generally lead
to high taxes. That's the fly in the ointment for us, as far as I
can tell, HOUSING.


Have you considered the Lehigh Valley? While there's no train service into NYC (although they're talking about it), there's frequent bus service. It's 90 minutes to the Lincoln Tunnel by private car. The bus takes longer, but it's not awful, and you can go into the city just for an evening. There are multiple universities in the area, which increases cultural opportunities. An added benefit is that PA is very retiree-friendly when it comes to taxes.

Phil
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Seattle Pioneer, It is really good to hear your thoughts. And yes,
I have to set myself up for a possible longer term on my own.
Which means, in part, I want to only buy something in a really
stable area, where I could sell pretty easily. If something happens
to DH, I would probably downsize in a MAJOR way, as I need very
little space on my own...

I am definitely not thinking early retirement, per se,
but an accident I was in made it unclear if my current type of freelance
work is going to be feasible longterm...because it is VERY detailed
work and requires a lot of focus and speed for meeting deadlines.
Also, changing fields isn't the easiest thing for me now....
but I do like work, and have recovered enough that (barring other unforeseen health hits)I am PRETTY confident that I can bring in
some $$ for at least several years ... I was, though, totally
humbled by the reality of extreme fatigue and other
physical and concentration/focus issues post-accident. It took me
2 solid years to get back to anything near "normal," and even now,
I am not as able as I was before the accident. I'm no longer cocky
about my ability to just do whatever
I have to to survive, as I know life can throw some pretty hard
curveballs that can knock one flat out of the game...

Phil, I will look into that -- 2 of our 3 places of choice are in
PA. I am pretty impressed with the beauty of the state, and the
advantages/services for older folks in some areas. I'm not sure
how DH would feel without a train, as he has pressed for that, and
we don't know people in Lehigh Valley, so that is an issue, but
if the situation was right, it might outweigh those two issues...
THANKS to both of you for the replies. These boards are invaluable
for giving perspective, and helping me see options I might otherwise
miss.
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As you say, the 2 hours max to NYC is an issue. I don't know if you really want to be in the city within 120 minutes (hell many commutes are longer) or if you don't want a long drive. To some extent it depends I guess on how frequently you think you will get into the city.

All this is by way of prelude to suggest, looking at things differently. It turns out Amtrak leaves Penn Station about 2PM daily going south. Look at the Crescent. http://tinyurl.com/h4g5x

We live in Atlanta and are thinking about downsizing. We have found to my surprise that Greenville, SC has much that interests us. It also has amazingly good medical, Furman University (Clemson is a short drive), weather that is similar to Atlanta (AC is mandatory in my view) and a cost of living that measures 6% less than Atlanta. (That would be 43% less than Queens, 31% less than Newark, and 27% less than Philly -- all data from Where to Retire Magazine.)

Now the bad news is the train that leaves NYC at 2PM gets into Greenville about 4:00AM - but you do not have to drive or find parking.

Gordon
Atlanta
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Gordon, I have a cousin in Atlanta and an aunt and uncle in Myrtle Beach,
so the southern states do have that personal appeal. But DH is very
set on the 2 hours pretty literally... sigh...I did enjoy imagining
the journey south, ending with that
4 a.m. arrival in NY, though!

When we both worked in NYC, the difference in what we wanted
lifestyle-wise was not so dramatic, as I had reason to agree about staying in the area. Now, I'd happily go farther afield, but he just
can't do it. His "old friends" are getting literally older, not as
likely to travel, and he doesn't want to leave and not see them.

But, tonight we saw a place online
that is in our lower price range, and in one of our very preferred locations, just a short train ride from Philly. Cheaper than we thought
we could get in that area (it's a case where school district lines
are weirdly drawn, so a house JUST outside the "better" area
is in the cheaper district :)) The street is lovely, and though the
house is kind of ugly plain, the taxes are low, so we could add our own
spice to the house with plantings and such. So we will check that out.

The puzzle is getting done, piece by piece.
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