America's Most Expensive States to Live In

Lethe200

Active member
Joined
Aug 24, 2014
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
I agree, those kinds of articles are just 'clickbait'. True, but also a lot of generalization which can render its definitions of "expensive" meaningless. We live coastal Northern CA and have no financial issues to speak of, in our retirement.

Our home is paid off except for a small second. Our utilities are low because we purchased a roof solar system that has almost eliminated our electric bill (still have the natural gas bill, tho). Maintenance, repairs and remodeling can be expensive as we are a high-cost labor state.

Our property taxes are capped by Proposition 13 which only allows a 2% max increase per year and is based on the last sales price, which in our case was 1989 and $180K. The county raises it annually when possible - in RE recession times we were approved for a tax CUT - but it is still only appraised at maybe 60% of market value.

California is expensive if you are renting in an urban area, or if you currently want to buy a home near the coast - which of course, everybody does. But if you are mostly debt-free in retirement and a homeowner, then it's a great place to live. There's no dearth of opportunities to spend your discretionary income, that's for sure!

Some Boomers move away to save money. Some sell because they are house-rich/cash-poor, so they need to free up the equity for their old age healthcare. Some sell because they want/need to be closer to family. One of our old neighbors did so, but comes back as often as she can - she really doesn't like living in AZ.

It's hardest for the Gen X and Y, who are marrying and starting families. Developers build a lot of condos but not many SFH: in coastal CA there are no inexpensive large acreages on which to throw up the usual cookie-cutter tract homes. So SFHs are built much further out, which adds to transit issues as there is little public trans built out to those locations, so people have to drive at least part of the way.

Distance is a big problem in CA. As with TX and AK, unless you live here it's hard to imagine the scope of it. We don't talk about how many miles from 'here' a place is - we frame it in "how long does it take to get there?"

You can buy a nice tract house for $350K, but you could be driving three hours one way just to reach the office!

Our home is 10 mins from where DH worked. Even when I worked in SF it only took 1/2 hr on public trans, and that included driving to the station. But that's why our little home is now in the $750-800K range - whatever was built before, will probably remain in place as-is. In many neighborhoods and cities, you can't build huge condo buildings to replace SFHs; the zoning wouldn't allow it. Usually the most that can be done is to upgrade a SFH into a legal duplex, but that's costly (another neighbor just did it for her daughter, and it cost them close to $250K).

Even if the land costs were affordable, this is Earthquake Country. High-density can be extremely dangerous. Thus....RE prices are high, which drives most other costs higher as well.

Hence, we look very expensive, and for certain costs - food, gas, etc. - it is. But if your fixed costs are manageable, the higher salaries out here make it easier to enjoy life.
 

Pete

Active member
Joined
Oct 10, 2017
Location
Texas
Who wants to live in Alaska?
I do and this summer here in Texas makes me want to return home even more. I know this year it is also warm/hot in Alaska but during the 20 years I lived up there 70 was considered a heat wave. If I had my health no question I would be living back in my cabin pictured here.
72167
 

Lara

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 4, 2015
Location
North Carolina
Wow, @Pete, that's beautiful. My son loves Alaska when he's here on the mainland but when he goes back he complains and comes back here. My comment was based mostly on that as I've never been to Alaska myself. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I totally respect that.

Be careful there in TX. Are you going to be safe from the approaching hurricane? Evacuate when they say to. Keep us posted.
 

terry123

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 24, 2016
Location
Houston, Tx.
Sounds like heaven to me. If my health was better I would consider moving there too! Last report I heard was that the storm will probably hit La. but we are prepared to leave if necessary. Daughter keeps car gassed up, she got some cash and filled the scripts we would need if we have to leave. We have had to leave before so we know what to do. She is expecting a rush today at the pharmacy as folks try to get their scripts filled in a hurry if they have to leave. If the storm heads here we will go to my sisters in La.
 

DaveA

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2016
Location
Coastal Massachusetts, USA
I can't speak for the individual states but many of those on the list of "high priced' also have some of the top educational systems and the opportunity for residents to attend them. Their health care systems, it's availability, and care for the disabled are also apt to be far above many other states.

Putting aside money that's stolen by state and local government (which probably averages out in all of our states), you get what you pay for.

Also many of these states provide help for the needy, which means little to those of us who are more fortunate but some of us do feel a "duty" to help those in a lower status. And before the "hard workers" start to bluster, there are many of the low income folks who work as hard if not harder than some of the humble braggers that we always manage to hear from.

I consider myself fortunate to not be among those depending on aid, but all of my luck is not self-made. There have been helping hands along the way when I've stumbled. Family, friends, fellow workers. Just because I've never needed a financial hand-out doesn't make me some sort of a superior being. Just someone who was in the right place at the right time and took advantage of it.
 

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