I see these articles all the time from places like Yahoo which has a list of the safest places to live in the US. They all look fine, until you see the costs of them can be pretty high. Then they have another list of the cheapest places to live in the US. You look at the real estate prices and they look amazing, but then if you look outside the article to see what the crime rate is you find out it isn’t a safe place to live. Sure, you can buy a $10k crack house in the middle of a terrible area, but even if you could stop working/retire and live there without working at all just off of savings, I think it would be a dramatic change of life to do this.
I have been thinking about this, because I believe this is what keeps most people from retiring early is that they don’t want to move to a place they feel is not safe and also can’t afford to move to an expensive place. I know you get what you pay for, but there must be some small towns in places that isn’t popular so it’s cheap to live there and it’s safe.
I can’t think of any place in the US that living there would restrict you access to most things. Like the internet, you can get that any place now it seems and broadband too, so it isn’t like moving out in the middle of nowhere is going to move you back to old dial-up modems. Cable TV and Dish now is available. As for healthcare, as long as a major city can be traveled too there should be good doctors there.
I realize I am leaving out a lot of other concerns, but I just touched on the major ones.
Anyone have suggestions of cities? Cost of homes? Is it a safe place?
There’s lots of small to medium sized cities in the US hinterland (and especially in the Midwest) that are cheap to live in and very safe. They’re also boring and have stagnant economies. They’re mostly cities that grew around farming, but as the dynamics of the rural economy has changed they’ve become somewhat irrelevant. They haven’t had spectacular Detroit-style meltdowns, but when kids haven’t been able to find great jobs they’ve left, leaving an aging population and a housing surplus.
In terms of retirement, what qualifies as accessible, decent medical care is really very different as you age. Sure, at 30 or 40, having a reasonably acceptable doctor available and a community hospital that could patch you up and send you to the big city is sufficient, provided there are specialists and such a couple hours away. But at 70, 80, 90, when you can’t drive yourself, when you start needing to go to the doctor 15-20 times a year instead of of 0-5, and when you have complicated, layered medical problems where you really want all your doctors to be good doctors, small towns become much more problematic.
My area (Upper Michigan) is safe & relatively cheap. It’s REALLY cheap if you move to one of the smaller towns (in reality, they’re all small towns, but if you live in the biggest small town you’ll pay more for a house than if you live in one of the really small small towns.) I’m pretty sure you can buy a very nice house for less than $100K - sometimes MUCH less - if you look around a bit. If you can spring for between $200-$300K, you can live quite well. Rent in one of the nicer apartment complexes in the biggest town start at about $550/month.
Safety-wise, you don’t have a problem. Really. I’m not saying we don’t have ANY crime, but compared to most places, it’s very, very minor, and most violent crime is of the friends/family dispute type of thing. Theft is minor. I leave my car doors unlocked while running errands most of the time. I wouldn’t have any issues walking around town at night by myself.
We have a huge hospital system, so that’s not an issue. We get written up in the “best places to retire” stories in the media about once a year or so.
Downside? Snow. Lots of snow. But really, it’s not as big a deal as it is in a larger area. The snow is pretty, it rarely keeps you from doing anything as we also have a huge number of snow plows and they do a VERY good job keeping the roads clear, and it makes for fun outdoor stuff (skiing, snowmobiling, dogsledding, etc). Summers are gorgeous - rarely too hot, sometimes too cold, most of the time in the 70s and 80s. Town is cute and walkable. Big lake for boating and swimming.
Other downside: lack of jobs. So if you don’t bring your own job, aren’t retired, or don’t work in health care and/or are a college professor, you will probably have a hard time finding work. If you do find work, the pay is shit compared to what it is elsewhere.
I sometimes think about where I’d move if I had to, and I honestly can’t come up with a better place to live.
Oddly, I wasn’t going to include Austin… but figured somebody would, so I jumped in there.
Anyway, in SA I bought, for $130k, a 1,500sf home with hardwood floors, a fenced-in in-ground pool, fireplace, and granite countertops. In Knoxville, I sold my 1,300sf starter home with no pool, no fireplace, and cheap countertops for $155k. The only advantage the Knoxville property had over the SA property was the lot was slightly bigger and was lush with grass (but that’s more a regional thing - Knoxville has LOTS of water.)
There are many rural areas that are remarkably crime-free and cheap to live in. Of course, you’ll have to drive a half-hour for the most basic groceries or services, every time it snows you’ll have to wait three days for a plow to come by, and good luck with anything resembling a social life.
But if all you want is a place to live (and as long as you’re still able to drive) there you go.
One step above that are towns like where my mother grew up. All the employers have moved out, but there’s subsidized housing for seniors and you can walk to most everything you need. But in this case, “cheap to live” = poor.
Naw, I don’t care. No place is perfect. But while the rest of the country is suffering under some sort of winter storm conditions, the temperature here is 58-degrees and rising… it’s a beautiful day, the traffic is easy, the economy is good, the county tends Democratic, there is a lot of diversity here, it’s very family oriented, and the living affordable. What’s not to love?
Truly, though, to each his own. Mr. Athena lived in San Antonio and other parts of Texas for much of his formative years, has family there, and says there’s no way on earth he’d ever live there again. Heck, he doesn’t even want to visit.
There are parts of Long Island, NY which would get my vote. Long Island is BIG and contains many cheaply priced enclaves (e.g, the Medford area) but which are just a short drive away from any fun stuff you’d ever want.