Sunday, September 1, 2013

Living Richly In Retirement-Even in a Higher Priced Area

When I moved to Denver I went to a location with a 33 percent higher cost of living-with no income increase.  Being someone on a fixed income, I knew there would be adjustments. I mitigated the most important costs by buying a home with someone else, leaving my house payments at seven hundred dollars vs fourteen hundred dollars.  That choice left me better situated financially, but cost of living is not only about housing. I did have some concern regarding other costs.


I'm sure that I am not the first person to move to a higher cost of living area, or to stay there rather than move to a cheaper place. Sometimes we may want to stay near family, sometimes we are committed to their homes, and sometimes we simply like  what the area has to offer. So the question is, after the move and after the basics, is there enough to have that rich retirement life.  My experience is, yes. Admittedly while Denver's index is higher than Dallas, it is not as high as some places.  Still, I lived in an immediate suburb of Washington DC for almost twenty years, on a single income.  I lived seven years in Germany where not only were prices higher, but where I was paid in dollars and spent Euros (gulp).


So far, my experiences in Denver are the same.  What is free will vary by area, certainly. In Washington DC, one could entertain oneself through the Smithsonian system alone for weekends on end for free. Although I am still learning about my new home, this is what I have learned so far:

  • Being an outdoor city near the mountains, Denver is full of recreation in the mainly outdoor sense. This means that there are mountain drives and mountain trails. In the city there are bike paths, walking trails and all kind of recreation opportunities.  Even though I am a cripple non athlete these days, I do enjoy the out of doors. Equally important is that my area has a wide network of recreation centers, trails and golf courses that are reasonably priced. One could play nine holes of golf for nine dollars-not free but certainly less than many other cities and private clubs.
  • Depending on what one wants to do, there are many seasonal festivals every weekend. I found some Denver specific websites where all the choices are ten dollars for less. This week there was the Taste of Colorado, where entrance, music and much of the food was free. Friday there is a street fair in the city of Golden (home of Coors) with free carriage rides and the like, along with the Golden farmers market. 
  • As much as I like free festivals and concerts and the like, I also enjoy the "real thing" on occasion, like that Book of Mormon performance.  In addition to the traditional discount opportunities of Groupon and Goldstar I have discovered a website called Denver two for one, where each week two tickets are offered for the price of one ticket and where the tickets range from the Philharmonic to Paint and sip events.  I love fifty percent off and my life is flexible enough to take advantage of last minute deals! Note:  for those of you who live where there is a Fill a Seat option, I am curious  of your experiences. On the one hand I hesitate to pay a membership but on the other hand I am the type of girl that CAN say at five pm that I can be at a concert at seven if you offer me free tickets.
  • As far as so called local (read one overnight or so travel), I did not want to be counted out on account of the budget (although of course I have been counted out  for months because of house hunting). I've been fortunate to find great deals because of the off season and various travel deals such as this one for Glenwood Springs. My longer range travel is really not affected cost wise because I generally drive rather than fly....although it is nice to be more centrally located for some cross country train travel. I'm still budgeting the same amount as before.
  • When it comes to my various hobbies, none of them are cheap. I afford and maintain my hobbies in a similar fashion to when I lived in Dallas-I belong to quilting and art groups and walking groups, where we not only craft together but also share supplies and Ideas. I do have to say that when it comes to community education for adults, so far I have found the prices higher than in Dallas-I am working on that one.  I'll add here that I have been happy to find many small boutiques, and some co-ops including some that are looking for folks to teach classes. While that's not a money save per se, it could be a money maker-and shows how much various art forms are appreciated.
  • I shop for the basics of groceries as I always have. Some items are more expensive in the cold north, and some cheaper. I'll certainly be paying more for out of season produce living further north, and I accept that fact for what it is. I've been spoiled awhile living where fresh produce is available all year long and admit that rather than frozen I'll be paying out of season prices. I also take advantages of senior discounts at grocery stores and other places. I like to cook good food and since I have  cut down on dining out, this is my solution.
  • I've stretched myself to spend a tad  bit more time looking for senior related discounts. I'm actually thinking of joining AARP and I make note of the days and times of senior discounts. I was thrilled to see that my local Goodwill offers twenty five per cent off four seniors every Monday-a boon to me since I am looking for dresser and table to finish and paint bright yellow. This store also offers fifty percent of everything twice a month so I am thrilled.
  • Other than that, I continue to do most of the things I have always done-take advantage of free and low cost items much of the time to be able to afford those big ticket items the rest of the time.
The end result is that life is just as fuller (fuller when you add my family to the mix), on the same budget in a more expensive state. It works for me.



Oh and that refrigerator?  The space could not be fixed, so a new one has been order to replace it. Still a bottom fridge, with the top a single door rather than french doors. To say that I will be thrilled when the new one arrives and the old one is no longer a box in the middle of my kitchen would be an understatement!

18 comments:

  1. Did you think of taxes:
    Retirement Income Taxes: Colorado has a pension/annuity subtraction where, depending on the age of the recipient, the first $20,000/$24,000 is not taxed. As a result, taxpayers 55-64 years old can exclude a total of $20,000 for Social Security and qualified retirement income. Those 65 and over can exclude up to $24,000. Property taxes are higher in CO and unless you are 65 and lived for 10 years in CO, you will not qualify for any property tax reduction.

    In Texas, all social security and military pensions are tax free. Ditto with all income tax. Property taxes are automatically reduced for all over 65.

    New retirees must now take in effect rising income taxes and seek out states that do not tax social security and if they intend to own a home, ditto......reduced property taxes. With just the rising costs of basic living, getting taxed on top of everything else is a killer.

    I have no idea what kind of quality of life you are going to get after you pay all of those taxes. The $700 you are saving on a mortgage payment will surely be eaten away by taxes.

    Retirees are flocking to great states like Texas and Florida. Why you moved away (in order to save money?) is beyond me.

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    1. I've written a series or articles on the cost comparison of the two locales. I encourage you to read them if you did not.

      Colorado property taxes are not highter, at least where I live now and where I lived before. In Dallas the tax on my home of 2500 square feet was four thousand yearly, here it is less than 1500 yearly on almost the same square footage. I am saving more than 700 per year, and saving on income tax as well

      Texas has no income tax statewide. They have exorbitant taxes at the city and property level to make up for no income tax. They also have toll roads on almost every road, while Denver does not.

      Some retirees are flocking to states like texas, retirees are also flocking to places like colorado which regularly has two places on the top ten or fifteen places to retire. I moved away because I had the chance to live in the same size house for half the price, as well as family members to assist with some of the things I cannot do that I was paying for. However, price was only a part of the reason I move. Again, I encourage you to go back and read the other posts with my financials.

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  2. There are always MANY reasons for a move, not just the monetary considerations..It sounds like the opportunity to share a home and other expenses PLUS be near family makes this move a real winner for you Barb. I am not surprised that your positive attitude and life skills make the budget changes not so hard to handle.Most of us could take a lesson from your approach and I follow your blog to get ideas as Ken and I approach real retirement. Thanks for sharing! PS: Fresh carrots are almost always available everywhere all year long, also cabbage, and I find that I can tolerate frozen GReen beans well..they are almost as good as fresh!

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    1. Thanks, you know, I can actually handle frozen vegetables as I can always doctor them a bit and I also don't mind the seasonal mixes in the frozen section. My downfall is fruit, especially berries. Frozen raspberries are just not the same.

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  3. From all indications, your decision to move was a good one. Learning about the options available for savings money and enjoying life comes from exploring the interests one has and being open minded. I love theatre, but my budget doesn't allow for ticket prices so I volunteer at the local Opera House here in Lexington, KY. You would not believe the quality of entertainment that comes to this area. Also, I participate in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Ky. For a nominal fee ($10-$15)seniors can choose from a variety of classes to attend quarterly. Lexington is very good to its seniors providing a substantial homestead exemption up to $36K on the primary residence. Also, SS is not taxed. Lexington is surrounded by beautiful rolling hill and horse country. Super Farmer's Markets, co-ops, with organic produce available. I get carried away with sharing some of the quality of life found in this city of around 300k.

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  4. It sounds like you have found a great place to retire. I know many people who attend the Osher program. My problem is that I prefer to attend classes with students of all ages which is why I pay more for the education costs. I have never been to Kentucky, hopefully sometime soon.

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    1. Barb, our Osher program includes auditing of standard university courses at no additional cost. No grade at the end of course, but also no tests!

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    2. My location doesn't do that it would seen. But then I've enjoyed the challenge of the final projects, so thats okay...

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  5. I live in the Northeast so EVERYPLACE seems like it has a lower cost of living to me. But don't forget, you DO get some benefits for your taxes -- roads, parks, schools, community services. Anyway ... we recently bought a new refrig. with French doors, and we HATE it. Much prefer the single door.

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    1. Tom, that is certainly my experience both in Washington Dc and in Allen texas (which had very high property and other taxes to make up for the state nut). The services received were worth it. I believe I will be very happy with the single door. Its the bottom freezer I will love.

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  6. Joining AARP is worth it alone for the wonderful magazine they send out monthly. Then you get discounts at hotels etc and maybe you would like to go to their annual convention which sounds like a lot of fun at a very low cost.

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    1. I probably would not spend my precious travel time at a convention honestly. I actually do get a magazine from them now. I think the discounts would probably be worth it. If I needed insurance it would be even more worthwhile I am sure.

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  7. Living in Canada everything is more expensive here. Harvey and I are looking at moving (really doubt that will happen in the near future) to somewhere that the price of homes and taxes are not quite as high. We may end up moving to the middle of no where in order for that to happen.

    God bless.

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    1. I would not do well in the middle of nowhere!

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  8. I live in NE Alberta; some would call it the middle of nowhere. I think it's all relative and subjective. Here in the "middle of nowhere" I enjoy beautiful lake and rolling hillside scenery along the N Saskatchewan river. There is a strong sense of community that I believe has contributed to preschool children achieving above the Alberta average on developmental scales. At the other end of the age spectrum, community supports the aged. When I worked in a community health setting, I listened to new employees who had come from urban settings complain about there being nothing to do, yet they could not define what they wanted to do (therein lies the problem). I welcome down days from the plethora of activities and commitments. The "city" is within a 2 hr drive with all it has to offer. I used to think I needed to escape the middle of nowhere. Now I know that there are different places in the world, but not necessarily better.

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    1. I agree, everything is relative. I would not be comfortable in a country setting, even at an extremely lower cost. I am most comfortable in an "inner suburb", one with a walking area if possible. I did consider some small coastal towns on the east coast at one time (such as Beaufort, SC), but that was too far away from family.

      I do have friends who live in a mroe country setting and love it. I also have couple of girlfriends who live in the country and want to move to a different area as they age.

      I am one of those who sometimes does not know what she wants to do, but can go out the door and make that decision as I go so to speak.

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  9. Obviously if we follow these ideas definitely we can live high prized area even after our retirement and also helpful in selling annuities for retirement life.

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  10. Thanks I found this blog but supposedly I'm looking for tax Preparation Tucson, Arizona, so keep on posting!

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