ERE City (US)

How to avoid signing your life over to a mortgage
jacob
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Postby jacob » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:40 pm

One of the problems with ERE is to find like-minded people locally. This is an issue both pre-FI in terms of having sympathetic people to talk about ERE to and post-FI in terms of having people to do things with when everybody else spends most of their time working, watching TV, and attending paid events.


See http://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/viewtopic.php?t=1298


One solution would be to designate an "official ERE city" to which those who are interested would move. Obviously, there could be more than one such city, but I believe it would be helpful to agree on some cities, which could be officially supported so to speak. We may even have one in each state(?).


I'd model this idea on http://freestateproject.org in which states where judged for the alignment with libertarian values. Ultimately, one and a half were chosen: New Hampshire with Wyoming as a runner up.


In the same vein, maybe we should try to find out which states/areas are most suitable for ERE people.


So use this thread to post your needs and wants (big city, small city, access to hiking, train systems, international airports, bicycle friendly, low cost of living, low taxes on investment income, ability to work pre-FI, ... ) AND suggestions for such places.


Maybe then we can agree on something.


(Feel free to start similar threads for other countries, e.g. ERE City (Germany) ...)



jacob
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Postby jacob » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:44 pm

I would actually like to propose finding some city in New Hampshire.


Many of us are libertarians, so the existence of the free state project would already mean that this state is sympathetic to many of our ideals.


Furthermore, housing is cheap, taxes are low, there's great access to outdoor activities which are largely free.



dragoncar
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Postby dragoncar » Thu Jul 21, 2011 9:56 pm

Wouldn't we prefer a place with relatively high income taxes, and lots of services (ethical arguments aside)? That way, we have access to good libraries, cheap public transportation, public services, etc. Just a thought.


It's a tough trade off between interesting stuff and low COL.



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Postby jacob » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:25 pm

I think the ethics is important. Especially if ERE gets well-known, I definitely don't want to be the figurehead of a movement that's considered parasitic.


On a more practical level, the only city service I use is the library. The rest, zoning, city taxes, etc. just seems to get in the way. The road impact of a bike is quite low.



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Postby jacob » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:27 pm

Seabrook, NH?


"We are but 36 miles from the Greater Boston area, 20 minutes from a deep-water port of call, and an hour’s drive from the White Mountains and New Hampshire’s pristine lakes."



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Postby KevinW » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:31 pm

Part of me wonders whether this is actually feasible. I don't subscribe to the "if everyone were ERE the world would end" line of thought, but there may be problems creating an ERE island in a non-ERE world full of institutions that expect the country to be homogeneous. Examples: municipalities usually get revenue from taxes on sales, meals, and automobiles; how would a town of mostly-ERE residents pay for services? Would any supermarket chain be willing to operate a store where people only buy loss leaders?


Maybe the solution would be to create a "Little Fiskerland" ;) in a town that's large enough to still have a critical mass of mainstreamers.


+1 on NH. If you want a major airport then Manchester is pretty much your only choice.



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Postby jacob » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:40 pm

Yeah, maybe I should just buy a town, ... maybe Pontiac, MI. Towns that share their names with cars are going cheap these days.


I don't think we'll ever overwhelm the "general population" unless we pick "Podunk, population 150".


Frankly, I don't see more than 50 of us (and that's optimistic) moving to "ERE city" within the next 5 years... but that would be enough for our purposes: people to hang out with during work hours, have fun with, freecycle, lend books, start projects, etc.



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Postby dragoncar » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:44 pm

I said ethics aside -- I actually think there are strong arguments that it would be ethical for me to use public services after ERE (I've paid my share of taxes, and some might say more than my share).


Being "considered" parasitic is not equivalent to being unethical.


Maybe the cheapest way would be to start our own expat community in a cheap locale. Once we have started the community, it would be more attractive to other, "normal retired" expats who would be willing to buy our land at a premium.



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Postby Maus » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:54 pm

While I like the vibe of NH, the tax situation is not as clear cut as it might seem. Yes, they have no sales tax. +1 NH. But since the bulk of an EREista income will be spent on non-taxable food and housing, even CA with it's 8% rate isn't necessarily a problem because ...


NH taxes dividends and interest at 5% over $2400. http://www.nh.gov/revenue/faq/gti-rev.htm#Interest_Dividends


$12K dividends and interest in NH would yield $480 in taxes. Same $12K in CA, $0. Property taxes are as high as 3% compared to the typical 1.25% in CA. This will effects renters as well as owners.


Still, I've considered moving to Maine, so NH is not completely out of the ballpark.



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Postby jacob » Thu Jul 21, 2011 10:54 pm

@dragoncar - Do you mean putting up housing in the middle of nowhere? Unless the existing population is very tiny, I don't think any of us moving there is going to materially impact anything/anyone.


I would focus on areas that are ERE-aligned/friendly already and simply designate the best of them and deem this the "officially supported city". This would increase the odds of having more than 5 people show up for the rare meetup.



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Postby Hoplite » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:03 pm

New Hampshire has attractive cities and towns, but Seabrook is particularly small and dominated by the nuclear power plant located there.


Nashua: a small city with close border proximity with MA, downside is competing with Boston commuters but otherwise a very nice place.


Manchester: the largest city which isn't saying very much. A bit on the boring side for a city, and further from the border.


Salem: again, close to the border, no nuke, about 3 times the size of Seabrook.


Concord: the capitol, it always had a bit of a friendly college town feel to it.


Durham: University of NH, a real college town. It does, i believe, boast its own Amtrak station.


Laconia: More of a resort town on Lake Winnipesaukee, great town except for a couple weeks in the summer for a motorcycle festival (which can get wild), though Laconia is a bit off the beaten track.



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Postby Maus » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:03 pm

Provided the state doesn't collapse from its interminal legislative gridlock (a big caveat), what about Sacramento, CA. It has abundant cheap housing, decent light rail and bus system, good farmers' markets, proximity to Amtrak and an international airport (if such were needed), close (w/i 2 hour drive) to snow in Tahoe and ocean in Bay Area, good library system, reasonable weather (meaning no snow in winter and only a few 100+ days in summer), many free musical and cultural events.



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Postby dragoncar » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:04 pm

Anyone an expert in surveys? I think we need a decent amount of background data to make a determination. Things like climate preferences, importance of various factors (e.g. proximity to university, major body of water, etc.) We can do tax and COL analysis from public information, but preferences are hard to predict. I, for example, would be very unlikely to move somewhere that gets terribly cold for significant portions of the year.



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Postby buzz » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:12 pm

Portland, Oregon is very popular among the FI-minded



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Postby KevinW » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:13 pm

I imagine that the viability of living car-free is important. Due to snowy winters that probably means either living somewhere with a walkable downtown or developed bus system. There's a short list of those in NH.


There's also a short list of towns with non-automotive access to a major airport. Manchester has an airport. There are a few Amtrak stations in NH which makes it feasible to get to BOS. After that you'd have to rely on private bus service.



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Postby Hoplite » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:23 pm

On the tax side, although NH does not tax earned income, it does tax unearned income (dividends etc.) at a flat rate of 5%. And the free state is also home to a socialist anomaly; all liquor stores are state owned and run; so if you live on dividends and interest, and drink heavily (non-homemade), you will pay more than your share of taxes.



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Postby JohnnyH » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:24 pm

Portland? High cost of living (rent, food, energy)... Taxes in Oregon are insane.


Virtually everyone I talked to in Portland was on food stamps, LOL.



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Postby jacob » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:35 pm

@Hoplite - That was a very helpful list. Could you expand it to discuss the impact of snow?


Given peak energy, I'm semi-attracted to living close to deep sea ports (water way access) and nuclear plants.


It seems that real estate prices go up significantly near the southern border (Salem).


I think we'd all be brewing our own beer anyway 8-)


What about capital gains taxes?



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Postby KevinW » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:36 pm

@Hoplite

Are IRA withdrawals taxed by NH?



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Postby jacob » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:38 pm

@Maus - How much for a 1BR/1BA in Sacramento? I can get this + lake access + 2 acres of woodland for <$100k in the north east.



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Postby Hoplite » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:51 pm

@Jacob,

Nothing like a good nuke to improve the neighborhood :)


Yes, prices increase towards the southern border because of the MA commuters escaping taxes and other obligations. Otherwise, prices drop the further north, until you reach the ski destinations like N. Conway. Still, you pay for proximity to the larger cities to the south, including Boston and Logan Int'l Airport.


As far as I know, for individuals, only interest and dividends are taxed (and decedents' estates), not capital gains and not, to KevinW's point, retirement distributions.


And be calmed on the beer front; wine and beer are still freely available outside of the liquor stores; only the hard stuff is under the state monopoly.



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Postby JohnnyH » Thu Jul 21, 2011 11:51 pm

I thought capital gains were taxed as income? So, no state income tax = no capital gains tax?...


Alaska, Wyoming, Washington, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas = no state income tax


New Hampshire, Florida, Tennessee = no state income tax, but caveats (dividend/interest taxes).


... I'm thinking Wyoming is the place for me. Land and property taxes are not low, and winters cold. Would like Washington, but I don't like the politics and property taxes are very high. Would be nice to live coastal simply for the easy climate.



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Postby KevinW » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:04 am

Thanks. So you could avoid the 5% tax by holding everything in IRAs, subject to all the usual stipulations.



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Postby jacob » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:06 am

Free State Wyoming has focused on Crook, Weston, and Hot Springs counties.


One argument against Wyoming is the absence of high tech employment(?) in bigger cities for those who are pre-FI.



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Postby Hoplite » Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:10 am

Jacob,

Snow is a problem in all NH cities and towns but on the plus side, they deal with it better than anywhere I've seen. Even the asphalt is an arctic blend to resist the usual potholes (though there are signs warning of "frost heaves").


Southern cities like Nashua and Salem certainly get snow, but I found that it's the sudden changes that occur in the north that are worse than the amounts; sudden drastic changes. I was driving through the mountains to visit friends in Laconia, and got caught in a sudden blizzard in early fall (it came out of nowhere and I think it fell in inches per minute). Waited for one of the arctic snow plows to go by and followed it into town with no problem.


Odd fact; until fairly recently, the top recorded land wind speed was at the top of Mt. Washington in NH; the measuring device broke at 212 mph. That type of situation happens very suddenly and it's not uncommon for hikers to be sweating in a t-shirt and an hour later be slogging through blizzard conditions.




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