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Where is a great place to retire to in the Western United States?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 10
Location: Frederick, Oklahoma
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I will be retiring in about 10 to 15 yrs and I am looking to retire on 5 or 10 acres somewhere in the Western United States. I have been in the chimney of Idaho and the Western part of Montana, both places I really like.  Any suggestions of a state and town with low taxes and farmer friendly?  
 
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Howdy James, welcome to permies!

Can I get some more idea of what you are looking for?  Do you want to stay north? I am wondering if you are focused on certain states? Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico out of the running? Do you need anything specific on the land you are hoping to retire on ? Water, trees, utilities etc?
A house, barn etc?
 
James Pierce
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Location: Frederick, Oklahoma
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Hi Miles,

Thank you for the welcome and reply to my question.  I was born and raised in North Louisiana which has a lot of Pine trees.  I have be thru Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico on the I 40 corridor.  I do like the desert areas, but I need trees.  I dream of some vacant land, but not to sure how will be my psychical abilities will be then.  I still want to build my dream house with a lot of passive heating and cooling systems in place.  My mind changes daily on living in the mountains or the high desert.  I just would like to start buying some land and have it paid off when I retire.  All I know is I do not want retire in Southwest Oklahoma and I want to be near some type of mountains.  

I hope this is a start to answering some of your questions.  
 
pollinator
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check out eastern/central oregon. relatively cheap land, lots of pine trees, not sure about taxes but you're also closeish to mountains and high desert and ocean
 
James Pierce
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Location: Frederick, Oklahoma
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Thank you for the suggestion Stephen.  I have been through Oregon on the I-5 corridor and the views are amazing.  If I could find a piece of land and someone to work with we to buy it, that would be great.  I am thinking about a contract for deed.  That way the seller would have a steady month income on the property and if I miss 3 payments in a row, they keep the land and the monies I have paid on it.  Of course there needs to be legal paperwork to protect the seller and me.
 
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Take some road trips. For 3 years on our vacations we checked out Oregon, Washington, Idaho Panhandle, and Western Montana.
Deciding factors were:
1 hour distance to a good airport.
Hospital access.
Supplies...Food, Lumber, Welding, etc.
Free water...sky or creek
Recreation like fishing.
Weather. Drastic changes happen in a few miles. Roads that get little winter sun can be a nightmare. Bugs I lump with weather since they follow mucky soils.
Government intrusions. Some areas have little to no building permits.
Like minded people. Talk with the natives.

Make your list of wants and hit the road with open eyes.
When the market crashes (it will) get ready to pounce. Stuff doesn't sell well here like in the cities and prices can really plummet.

Good luck.



 
James Pierce
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Location: Frederick, Oklahoma
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Thank you Dave, that is good sound advice.  I need to slow down a little and not stress on it.  I know it will happen.  What part of the country you live in?
 
              
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James Pierce wrote:I will be retiring in about 10 to 15 yrs and I am looking to retire on 5 or 10 acres somewhere in the Western United States. I have been in the chimney of Idaho and the Western part of Montana, both places I really like.  Any suggestions of a state and town with low taxes and farmer friendly?  



What do you plan on doing with your land?

We considered the West but ultimately decided that lack of water, warming temperatures and rapid aridification are all going to make the West less welcoming to people.

I consider Texas to be the West and for example, I think Texas west of I-35 (and some mileage east of I-35) will face extreme water problems in the next decade. Having lived around Austin before/while it turned into boom town and having seen the amount of building going on around Dallas and San Antone, I think most of those are totally unsustainable. El Paso recently started filtering/processing sewage water to turn into drinking water.... sigh.

Nevada is a problem for the same reason, same with Arizona (places like Phoenix and Tuscon in the middle of the desert - really?) and probably most of Colorado.

New Mexico has low population so there is some possibility there. The control of underground water aquifers in NM seems very strict and the water sources seem well protected. I would avoid the area around Las Cruces maybe (for water concerns) but that sucks since Las Cruces is actually very nice :). Maybe Deming in Luna county - close enough to Las Cruces and El Paso for medical care, services and shopping but rural enough... One downside to NM is the amount of petty and not so petty crime - poverty is rampant, drug use is rampant as well. If it ain't bolted down or chained, it will "walk away" - better have good neighbors if you want to go somewhere for a day or two.

Oklahoma means tornadoes although there is an area around the Ouachitas that is beautiful and with very low population and gets almost Florida amount of rainfall. However, places like Talihina, OK (in the middle of the Ouachita national forest and near Kiamichi river) are hours from services and medical care, in retirement that may be an issue, not to mention that for some people it may be extremely boring.

I would not live in WY or MT or even ID because of the amount of cold weather they get but that's just a matter of taste :) These states are beautiful, you just have to be used to the cold...

I am not even mentioning California...

Does that help? :)
 
              
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Location: Virginia
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James Pierce wrote:Hi Miles,

Thank you for the welcome and reply to my question.  I was born and raised in North Louisiana which has a lot of Pine trees.  I have be thru Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico on the I 40 corridor.  I do like the desert areas, but I need trees.  I dream of some vacant land, but not to sure how will be my psychical abilities will be then.  I still want to build my dream house with a lot of passive heating and cooling systems in place.  My mind changes daily on living in the mountains or the high desert.  I just would like to start buying some land and have it paid off when I retire.  All I know is I do not want retire in Southwest Oklahoma and I want to be near some type of mountains.  

I hope this is a start to answering some of your questions.  



By the way, you have mountains, trees, rivers, plenty of rainfall and ground water for farming, low cost of living etc. right there in Oklahoma - have you been to the SE portion of the state? Places like the Ouachitas? Land there is one of cheapest (and it can actually be used for something, not like desert rock) you will ever find. Climate is milder as well. For us the choices were either SE Oklahoma or rural Virginia since we wanted to farm. We decided against SE Oklahoma because of the tornadoes... ;)
 
pollinator
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James Pierce wrote:

... I need trees.



The problem with trees is wildfire, especially if you are in an area that is getting drier. The wildfire season just keeps getting longer. There are maps online of USGS' best guess of how climate change will affect different areas/states. Some places are supposed to be wetter.
 
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James, that's a question that can't be answered for others, only for yourself because everyone's lives are so different. This is because destiny figures into the equation. We retired in California. It was chosen for us. When the door of opportunity opened we simply walked through. We looked in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico but it was not our destiny to be there.

Just keep looking... but don't decide.

When you see where you are supposed to be you'll know it.

 
James Pierce
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Thanks Oddo Da for the different prospective of moving out West. As I little kid and as an adult I have always wanted to move out West. Maybe it is the Grizzle Adams in me. It might be silly of me, but I hate paying to use a toll road.  That is one of the reasons I have not explored Eastern Oklahoma.  I believe it is time for me to adjust my thinking on that and explore that side of the state. You are correct, taxes are not that bad and cost of living is pretty cheap compare to some parts of California where I used to live.  It probably be easier to move my life partner to Eastern Oklahoma that up in Northern Idaho where the winters are tough.(He has not experience snow deeper than 2 inches. He has already him and 6 to 10 feet of snow is not going to work.)

I took a quick glance at your web page. Do you offer tips on the proper food to eat to lose weight?  I fell down a flight of stairs yesterday and relyzed I am not as young as I believe I was.  I do need to loose about 50 lbs and get back into my yoga to keep my mind and body in balanced. Any suggestions would be helpful.

James
 
              
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Location: Virginia
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James Pierce wrote:Thanks Oddo Da for the different prospective of moving out West. As I little kid and as an adult I have always wanted to move out West. Maybe it is the Grizzle Adams in me. It might be silly of me, but I hate paying to use a toll road.  That is one of the reasons I have not explored Eastern Oklahoma.  I believe it is time for me to adjust my thinking on that and explore that side of the state. You are correct, taxes are not that bad and cost of living is pretty cheap compare to some parts of California where I used to live.  It probably be easier to move my life partner to Eastern Oklahoma that up in Northern Idaho where the winters are tough.(He has not experience snow deeper than 2 inches. He has already him and 6 to 10 feet of snow is not going to work.)

I took a quick glance at your web page. Do you offer tips on the proper food to eat to lose weight?  I fell down a flight of stairs yesterday and relyzed I am not as young as I believe I was.  I do need to loose about 50 lbs and get back into my yoga to keep my mind and body in balanced. Any suggestions would be helpful.

James



James, I am not aware of any toll roads in SE Oklahoma :). We drove up from Texas (back when we lived there and considered SE OK as a final destination). There is poverty in SE OK rivaling New Mexico. However, the dirt seemed very fertile, rainfall was plentiful, wildlife abundant and population low. Depending on your goals, low and poor population may not be desired - if you want a farm to sell to people, you want to be within an hour or so to a populated area with a strong, well to do professional caste. Pardon, class of professionals.

There are quite a few places around United States that you can find cheaper land but in my experience the local population may simply be too "rough". Missouri comes to mind. You generally get a different culture/mindset out West, it is more live and let live.

I do not offer any nutritional advice or anything like that, sorry :). I am just a guy like most people on this forum, trying to figure out how to live a cleaner life by doing right by the land :)

Good luck!
 
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I'm in a similar place in my life, although probably closer to needing to implement the move.  

My wife and I are currently evaluating what we want.  We've narrowed it down to a place with good rainfall and groundwater, near a large llake or river, with all 4 seasons but not too cold, totally isolated 40 acres within easy walking distance of major shopping and good employment, with gas, electric, good internet and cell phone coverage, central to where our kids live, and of course we want the land free.  

Since finding all of that is obviously impossible we are now in the tough stage of figuring what we really need (not much), what we want most, and what we are both willing to give up.  Since things work a whole lot better if you are genuinely united, this discussion is going to be ongoing for another couple of years as we move out there and rent while we make short trips to evaluate the options.  

For us, the location relative to our married children is really important, but they are still at that mobile stage so maybe our presence will be part of what decides their final location.  

I personally mind cold weather less than I do really hot weather. (I can always add clothes, but I find consideration of others eyes limits how much I should take off.  I am know longer young, tight and beautiful.  As my kids say, some things can't be unseen).  

For anyone looking for inexpensive land near reasonable employment centers in the mid west, we are in Evansville/ Mt Vernon Indiana is Zone 6, on the Ohio River and about 36 inches of rain a year.  I find the summers here brutally hot and humid, the spring and fall glorious, and the winter a couple of months long, with some cold days.  We are leaving mainly because all my kids seem to be ending up out west, where both my wife and mine's families are.  

One of  the prettier areas I've been was Arizona along the Mogollon Rim.  Places like Pine or Strawberry.  Lots of pine and oak forest, bear, elk, all 4 seasons.  Ground water is sometimes problematic though, so look that over closely.  
 
Greg Mamishian
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Mick Fisch wrote:One of  the prettier areas I've been was Arizona along the Mogollon Rim.  Places like Pine or Strawberry.  Lots of pine and oak forest, bear, elk, all 4 seasons.  Ground water is sometimes problematic though, so look that over closely.  



We also looked around there and liked Payson. It even has it's own Walmart. (lol) Family was also a major factor in where we settled. Wherever you'll be, there will always be some compromises. We made them and are very happy where we are.
 
Miles Flansburg
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James, Ok , that helps a lot. Now as others have said, what about being close to a city?

(In Wyoming we talk about drive time VS how many miles we will be driving. I have land on the side of a mountain that is about an hour and a half from 3 different midsized city's.)

I spend a lot of time on the Ladwatch website, daydreaming about buying land somewhere else.

You can type in all sorts of search criteria and see what is out there. I have found quite a few nice looking 35 to 40 acre parcels out there for relatively cheap prices. There are many of the sellers who will take payments over time too. I tend to look for land with some sort of drainage and trees. County roads or at least with some sort of maintenance.

The hard part is buying into an area that we are unfamiliar with. You never really know what the neighbors are like unless you spend some time there. So others here have made some good suggestions about that.

The biggest thing, in my mind, about all of this, would be how much the state and local governments will be taking from my retirement accounts. I think Colorado is pretty bad as for as that goes. Wyoming is pretty good. If you stay on the eastern 1/4 of Wyoming the weather is not as cold, but it is all pretty windy.
 
pollinator
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> [guvmint taking money = bad place]

Miles

I feel that depends...  As a philosophy and attitude I can understand the reluctance to part with bucks, especially if one feels the bite is unjustified for whatever reasons. But I'm not sure philosophy and attitude have a direct bearing on good deals, benefits and practicality.

For me a better approach can be phrased as "add up the numbers and compare the big picture".  I look at hard dollar amounts and how that stacks up with the monthly cash flow. To do that I need to consider things like, for example, travel expense, family access, seasonal expenses (eg. need to clear snow) water and other utility expense (putting in solar is an expense; drilling a well is an expense...), disaster risk (wild fire, hurricane, drought, etc), emergency service... An example of a trade off: A good all season road that allows me to run 80-100mph for an hour or so and reach a sizable town with stuff I like to have four or five times a month might well be worth (at least) an extra $200 or so a year, totaled up in all the various taxes we pay one way or another. Might be worth considerably more. Depends.

What I'm saying is that just looking at government costs in isolation, may tend to miss the big picture. It's not that taxes aren't serious - I own property north of Chicago where I'm really scratching my head trying to figure out how to justify keeping the old family house. _The_ main problem there is property tax. But I have to look at the very serious costs of relocating, consider the reasons this area is so nice to live in, what I would give up in environment and established foot print.  Things happening, people rubbing and creating, all that schtick. Ok, so that's not something everybody would look at, but my point is, that taxes should be counted and calculated in the big picture and not elevated to some kind of stench that prevents us from considering the the actual pros/cons.


Regards,
Rufus
 
Miles Flansburg
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Rufus , we can agree to disagree on taxes. But that discusion is for the cider press rather than here.
 
pollinator
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I would like to add that it's difficult to plan for what a state or local government will be like longer term. People migrate (both to and from a place), and this can change things considerably. Other factors are at play too. Some states right now are on the brink financially. This may cause a rise in taxes short term, but we really don't know what will happen longer term. I'm not saying that it's not important, but keep this in mind when choosing.

A lot of regions in the US are worth considering. I like the Northwest for its overall mild climate. We have plenty of water, especially if steps are taken to slow it down and capture it where appropriate. Our soil is good in some places and we have a great growing season. We can also grow an enormous variety of trees, shrubs, and annuals. Our winters seem to be getting milder over time as well. The lack of summer rainfall is a nuisance but not worth giving up a farm over. It also gives an advantage in that it greatly reduces the number of diseases that affect plants during the growing season. If I weren't to live in the Northwest, I suppose I'd personally try Hawaii or parts of the northern Southeast (Virginia, North Carolina, etc.) I've lived in the Northeast and couldn't take the cold.
 
Rufus Laggren
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James

> couldn't take the cold...

I've _visited_ NC and was gob-smacked by the heat! And humidity. Not at all sure  I'd have made it as one of those people jumping off the boat from Scotland into the swamps.



> agree to disagree...

Sounds good, Miles.


Cheers,
Rufus
 
              
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Rufus Laggren wrote:James

> couldn't take the cold...

I've _visited_ NC and was gob-smacked by the heat! And humidity. Not at all sure  I'd have made it as one of those people jumping off the boat from Scotland into the swamps.



Heat and humidity are relative. When we lived in central TX, people used to whine about humidity when it reached 40%. Having just moved from South FL I was all but getting nosebleeds due to the dryness of the air....

If you are planning on living off the land, my first concern would be water availability or ability to capture it. We spent a few months in Big Bend area of SW Texas. You can have cheap desert land there and boy, it is breathtaking. But wells can run into $20-30,000 and 1200 feet depths and with 9-10 inches of rain per year (and likely to be even less and hotter with climate change), you may be able to capture enough for two people to drink but you can forget growing stuff.... Conversely (a personal preference), having lived in Saskatchewan, Canada for five years while in college, I am not keen on everything being covered in snow and ice or freezing temps 6-8 months of the year....Just on water availability alone, I would be very wary of land out West.
 
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James Pierce wrote:Thank you for the suggestion Stephen.  I have been through Oregon on the I-5 corridor and the views are amazing.  If I could find a piece of land and someone to work with we to buy it, that would be great.



Most of Oregon (and Washington) looks nothing like the I-5 corridor. That type of ecosystem only extends about 100ish miles in from the coast, at most. Eastern more closely resembles Nevada and central is more like southwestern Montana. Water availability is a major concern in both areas, and getting worse. If you do go central, and price is an issue, stay away from Bend. It's a great place to live, but priced accordingly. I liked Klamath Falls. I used to drive there to go shopping when I lived in Lakeview.
 
James Pierce
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Thanks Will for the post.  I do like the Klamath Falls and Roseburg areas of Oregon.  I do need to do research on Oregon's tax base for retirees.  The common thread I am seeing is the availability of water.  I know things will change greatly in 10 to 15 yrs, but at least I can start looking for patterns in climate, geopolitical, and other issues.
 
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