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  1. Comfort level is an important factor for me. It’s cold and miserable in Indiana during the winter. It’s hot and miserable in Mississippi in the sumer. All that heating and air conditioning can take a bite out of the budget!
    You mentioned Tennessee as having no state income tax, but there are other states with no state income tax – I’m planning to visit some when exploring potential retirement spots.
    I agree with the idea of side hustles – having lots of different tools in your toolbox or a variety of hats you can wear gives you plenty of options if needed.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Kathy. Excellent points. Indiana is brutal in the winter and Mississippi is brutal in the summer. I relocated from New York to North Carolina eleven years ago, and one of my biggest fears was the summers. Fortunately, the Charlotte area isn’t too oppressive during the summer. We very rarely get above 100, and the humidity isn’t too rough. One way to mitigate heating and cooling costs is to downsize. We currently have a 2000 sq ft home and our electric bill is about $175 a month during the summer. Our plan is to relocate to the Wake Forest area next year and build a smaller home (1200 – 1400 sq ft). That should cut our cooling bills significantly. Thanks for stopping by, Kathy. I really appreciate your insights.

  2. Great breakdown. So how did you and the Mrs. decided on NC?

    I agree on the tie. I never feel comfortable wearing one. My son and daughter just graduated high school, and they looked pretty good in their cap and gown. The adults, however, looked goofy.

    Groovy on!

  3. Those education numbers are very interesting. We have a move in our future – probably about two years. It won’t be to another state, but taxes can vary a lot from county to county. Up until a few years ago, I adamantly believed that we needed to move into a better school district. But I’m no longer convinced that my children’s future is dependent on attending only the best schools. Instead, I think parental involvement is highly underrated and want to encourage my kids to consider nontraditional education/career paths.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Harmony. I couldn’t agree more with your comment. The education-industrial complex would have us believe that we are lost without its munificent guidance. Really? What are our public schools teaching our kids that we can’t teach them ourselves with an internet connection. Read for a half hour a day and answer five math problems a day from the Khan Academy and you’ll be a freakin’ genius after twelve years. Thanks for stopping by, Harmony. Hope the cute little devils aren’t being too rough on you and the rest of the household.

  4. Those are some scary thoughts…particularly being that I live in Illinois!! Thanks for all the fabulous insight. I’ll be taking this into consideration when I make my next move!! 🙂

    Besides the robes for a judge, which is just plain weird, what about the powdered wigs??

    • Mr. Groovy

      The powdered wigs take it to a whole new level of absurdity. I get tradition and all that, but when you realize the people under those robes and wigs are just as flawed as you, you can’t help but have less respect for those costumes. Show me you’re worthy of respect by your actions and comportment, not by the silly clothes you adorn. Thanks for stopping by, Miss M. And get out of Illinois while you can. I just read an article that claimed Illinois’s pension system may be underfunded to the tune of 29%, not 43%. Wow! Scary times are rapidly approaching.

  5. Thanks for this post. My wife and I want to escape the northeast when we reach FIRE. We stop in Charlotte almost every summer. It seems like a very clean and modern city. We would be more into living outside of the City. Your positive reviews on that area are causing me to do more research on NC. Maybe we will be neighbors one day.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love it. If you can tolerate a simpler life, Charlotte is fine. The people are nice and annoyances like traffic and snow are relatively minor–especially when compared to New York. Mrs. Groovy and I are very happy here. But don’t forget, a big Saturday night for us is having Blizzards at the Dairy Queen. Best of luck, Dave. And shoot me an email when you’re going to be down here. We’ll have to get together for a pint or two.

  6. I’m with Mr. PIE on healthcare costs and taxes being important factors. That being said, I’m retired in one of the most expensive cost of living, healthcare, and tax states (NJ) due to other factors like family.

    I’m right with you on the ties, however. I have never understood them and I hate wearing them.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I hear ya, Gary. Family is important, and sometimes we have to endure a lot of unpleasantness to do right by our loved ones.

  7. Lila

    It’s funny how we spend so much on education in this country and yet the quality of education in many public schools is poor.

    A lot of times if you compare the curriculum in private, public and home-school they are usually pretty similar. Everyone usually has to take the same amount of classes in English, History, Science, Math, P.E., Art, etc.

    The only thing about private schools is that the parents of kids in private schools, have more time and resources to spend with their kids so the kids often come out better educated and prepared for universities.

    If more parents were involved with their kids then I think more kids would do well. I just don’t think the education system cares that much about kids. I also feel like the teachers union cares more about themselves than the kids.

    If I ever have kids I’m not leaving them to the system. I’m going to be a very involved parent if I have kids, not a helicopter parent though. Just my opinion. Don’t skewer me. =)

    • Mr. Groovy

      There’s quite a difference between being a helicopter parent and a caring parent. A helicopter parent believes his or her child is never wrong. A caring parent believes his or her child should never be fed the educational equivalent of junk food. You have the right attitude, Lila.

  8. Ah yes, beautiful Indiana. Think I’ll move to Bloomington, shave my legs and get into bicycle racing. Perhaps I’ll manufacture an Italian accent like my hero cyclists 🚴 and drive my father crazy eating nothing but “inni” 🥘 food.

    What movie was I in?

    Hint: ah….no hint for you!

    Great post again. I’m all Groovied up for the weekend.


  9. Thanks for sharing. I would add (and a lot of FIRE people may object to this), being open to doing some side hustles. Some passion projects where it’s not something forced, but fun, but you can still make some side income. Doesn’t have to be a whole lot, but it can have some profound positive effects on the risk of portfolio failure. Especially in early retirement where most FIRE people will still have tons of human capital left and potential for sequence of return risk is highest.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love the cut of your jib, TK. A simple side hustle does a lot to smooth over the rough edges of early retirement. It should always be an arrow in your retirement quiver, especially since it’s something you control. You can’t control whether your state decides to fully fund its pension system.

  10. I think one big point that people retiring before Medicare age will need to consider is health care costs. Especially if this Republican bill passes next week. The anticipated result is much higher costs in states that choose to deregulate. All 5 of your top states are expected to have costs go way up under the new plan.

    It actually may end up being essentially the inverse of a cost of living list. The lower cost of living states are generally redder and more rural. The redder and more rural states are expected to be hit the hardest with health care costs.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Agreed. Without price transparency and competition, healthcare costs will continue to rise. The only good thing is that we’re not totally at the mercy of the healthcare-industrial complex. Medical tourism is growing in popularity, and, more importantly, we have a lot to say about our health by choosing what we consume and how we behave. Take it easy on alcohol. Don’t smoke. Limit your sugar intake. Exercise. Do these things and you won’t need a doctor very often. That’s one way to avoid the financial perils of our screwed up system. Thanks for stopping by, Matt. You’re always bring a healthy dose of reality.

  11. I love me some NC. You get all four seasons, mountains, beach, great craft brew scene and one of the best states to be runner. Cost of living is dirt cheap compared to our friends to the north.

    I’m glad you put that statistic in about SAT vs spending for NC. We got a lot of bad press about how horrible our schools are. Good thing we are delivering on the main test colleges are looking at.

    • Mr. Groovy

      After a certain amount of per-pupil spending, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER, IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER. It really boils down to culture. Do you apply yourself? Do you take education seriously? Asian-Americans don’t seem to have a problem doing well academically, regardless of how much their public schools spend per pupil. I wonder why? Thanks for stopping by, Grant. And thanks for recognizing that we got it pretty damn good in the Tar Heel State. Cheers.

  12. Yikes. I guess most retirees don’t worry about the quality of education in their state, but I do. And while dollars spent on education may not directly correlate to SAT scores, remember, not all kids take the SATs, it’s self-selecting of more academically oriented kids instead of the general population. I am not happy with the drastic drop in per pupil spending in NC despite an improving economy. No textbooks, problematic maintenance, fewer TAs in the classroom, and fewer arts courses don’t make for a good education or good quality of life.

    I agree with Julie, too. Support for museums, parks, community centers, and libraries all make life better for retirees (and everyone else.) So does good healthcare, and not just in the metro areas. Sometimes, when it comes to COL, you get what you pay for.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Good point, Emily. The SAT and ACT are liable to self-selection. For instance, New York and North Carolina are a fair comparison. I think 72% of students in New York take the SAT while 69% of students in North Carolina take it. So both states have comparable participation. Comparing North Carolina or New York to Illinois, on the other hand, wouldn’t be a fair comparison. I think less than 10% of Illinois students take the SAT.

  13. Finances in Indiana and Mississippi are hot messes, so when they come up as your numbers 1 and 2, I’m a bit skeptical of your methodology 😉

    I’m also not proud that AZ has the lowest per-pupil education funding in the nation… Mississippi beat us by 15%! More money doesn’t necessarily mean that kids will learn better, but I have a family full of teachers who could tell some tales about the state of our schools. We need to do better.

    Luckily, AZ has a tax credit (dollar for dollar up to $200/person, not a deduction) for donations to schools, so I hope these donations aren’t included in your figures.

    I know that FIRE has to be somewhat (a lot) about finances, but quality of life is important too. Who wants to live someplace where there aren’t any services?

    I’d like to propose a category for nice parks, outdoor adventure, senior centers, community pools and classes, and well-stocked libraries.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Yeah, who would have thunk it that Mississippi out spends Arizona in education? I was pretty surprised that Arizona was last in the country. But you guys do have the Grand Canyon. That’s got to count for some educational points. Thanks for stopping by, Julie. You made a lot of excellent points, as usual.

  14. Yikes, those underfunded pensions are some scary $hit!

    Uh-oh, I don’t see Montana on your list. 🙂

    We’ve been planning on Florida as our home base in retirement, with traveling the US as much as possible, but I like your lists for additional considerations. Thanks for sharing!

    So glad you and Mrs. G are hooking up with Fritz & Jackie this weekend. Going to make for an epic TrashTalk!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Amy. I know. No Montana. I was a little surprised to learn that Montana has a fairly underfunded pension system as well. Not as bad as New Jersey and Illinois, but worse than our top 10 states. And, yes, picking trash with Fritz this weekend should be epic.

  15. Jeez, living in those spots would be like having a Black and Decker drill boring a hole in the skull. Not how I want to spend my time. Then again, I would have more money to spend to get out of those places and travel.

    If you look at access to quality healthcare and taxes – two factors that are critical to lifestyle quality and drawdown strategies – the list would be much different I think.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Now, now, Mr. PIE. You haven’t lived until you’ve had Memphis barbecue! And don’t discount such cities as Indianapolis, Biloxi, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Boise. The healthcare facilities in those cities are just fine. And when it comes to taxes you can’t beat Tennessee. No state income tax! I know these states, especially the southern ones, aren’t for everybody. But you’re of Scot-Irish descent. These states were made for you.

      • No doubt there are some fine, fine places to visit. Completely agree. But just not my cup of tea to live there.

        I hope there is no Irish DNA in my cells otherwise I need to have a chat with Mum and Dad! Plenty of the Scottish DNA variety, hence my occasional chippy comments…..


        • Mr. Groovy

          LOL! I hear ya, Mr. PIE. I at least got the Scottish part right. And keep the chippy comments coming, my friend. I live for those acerbic morsels.

          • seclawyer

            Actually, you didn’t. It’s Scots-Irish, not “Scot-Irish.” I would know, because I’m of Scots-Irish descent and I was educated in Illinois.

  16. I’ve “roused the collective energies”, wow! I’m pleased with the results of the “Drawdown Chain” concept, and have heard from more bloggers who will be joining the Chain Gang (e-book coming, so you’ll be a published author!)

    IL is a mess. It won’t be the last. Be prepared.

    See you in 24 hours! Excited to have my “Trash Talkin’ VLog” Premier with Mr. G!! And, don’t worry, I won’t be wearing a tie!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Lot of good people in Illinois. There’s going to be a lot of pain in the future. I worry about Penny the most. She’s part of that severely underfunded pension system. Meh. On the bright side, though, I get to do my first Talking Trash interview with the FRITZER this weekend! It should be epic.

  17. Thank you for the great analysis, Mr. Groovy! Mr. FAF and I have talked about where we want to retire a couple of times. Ideally, we want to retire somewhere where the cost of living is low and where the weather is nice.

    We’ve been thinking about Florida, GA, and maybe even Hawaii (not so cheap). It’s great to give your list some thought too! Thank you for sharing. =)

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Ms. FAF. Mrs. G and I consider NC our home base. Our family is here and the cost-of-living is great. It also has all the culture we need. Our game plan, then, is to live cheaply in NC and travel the world. Not too shabby.

  18. I totally agree with “Medieval MuMus!” I graduated in southern CA with an outdoor ceremony… those “graduation gowns” were torture!

    Have a great weekend and I’m looking forward to Trash Talk with Fritz!