This morning I read a friend’s blog post in which she discusses some of the issues and questions under consideration as they think about where they want to live. Coincidentally, we’ve been asking ourselves some of the same questions.
A few months ago, I thought we’d reached some conclusions about where we want to live. But the more we explored our options, the harder it became to come to some firm conclusion. The Pacific Northwest was our original target; we both liked it. I looked online and found many places that looked interesting. We planned a trip to the area around an unrealistic assumption that we’d have an affordable base from which to do some exploration, but it wasn’t the trip we haven’t taken that got in the way.
The more we explored online, the more reality seemed to get in the way of our wishes. We were looking, primarily, at three criteria: 1) affordable (to us) housing; 2) attractive (to us) climate; and 3) natural beauty. Online, at least, I found all three in the Pacific Northwest, especially in Oregon, not awfully far from the coast and near enough to Portland to give us access to the “big city” amenities we desire, such as ethnic grocery stores and restaurants. But my wife, being the practical one among us, kept urging me to consider things like income taxes, property taxes, and other potentially very expensive aspects of where we might live. The more I explored, with her input in mind, the more out-of-reach the Pacific Northwest became.
There’s no question we could find a place to live that we could afford…for now. But the expenses associated with the move would burn through our resources much faster there than here. We’d either have to cut back rather dramatically to make our resources last longer or plan our exits considerably earlier than we’d hoped would be the natural point of departure.
So, we began looking elsewhere. A trip to Ohio (too cold, perhaps?) revealed another very affordable place, as far as cost of housing, and a very appealing and attractive environment near Dayton. But taxes, again, are dramatically higher than we’re used to here. It’s not that they’re unreasonably high, but they’re sufficiently high enough to tamper with the length of time our resources will last. We’ve been talking about and looking online at other places; Hot Springs, Arkansas (too hot, perhaps, or insufficiently “cosmopolitan”?) and a few other spots. Time will tell whether they will be the “answer.” In the meantime, we’re planning to put our house on the market sometime around the end of February. We have set our own deadline to make some decisions about where we go.
Money, or the lack thereof, is a monstrous constraint when planning where to live. But despite these unpleasant realities slapping me in the face and making my wishes and dreams unachievable, I don’t regret my decision to retire early. The freedom we enjoy today, even being down to a house, is wonderful. That having been said, the apple is not quite as bright and shiny as it first appeared; but it’s still perfectly edible.
We’re still looking; still looking.