Consumer Newsletter – February 2019
By Elyse Umlauf-Garneau
If this is the year you’ve decided to make a move and downsize or relocate to a less costly city or to a warmer climate, you’ve probably already thought about the big considerations -- health care access, climate, a city’s amenities, and housing costs.
But don’t forget to factor in taxes.
After all, retirement income, property, and inheritance and estate taxes can chip away at your nest egg. If you land in a state with high taxes, your financial quality of life could take a hit.
Kiplinger’s (https://bit.ly/2RCXqnj) has done all the research for you by providing tax profiles of each state and categorizing them as most and least tax-friendly.
It also breaks down the data into categories like states with the highest top income tax rate, states with estate and/or inheritance taxes, those with no sales tax, and those that do and don’t tax Social Security.
In addition, you can use a tool to pick several states to make apples-to-apples comparisons of those that you’re considering.
Some of the least tax-friendly are Indiana, Minnesota, Utah, and Vermont.
Among the friendliest are Florida, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.
User-Generated Reviews, Cities’ Age-Friendliness
Once the site is more populated with information, another tool that could help in the search for the right retirement community is the just launched Age Friendly Advisor (https://bit.ly/2Mr7cTu).
It relies on user-generated content and reviews to help people find answers to questions about a place’s age friendliness. It’s similar to travel sites like TripAdvisor, where you can read what regular people think of a vacation destination.
Users of Age Friendly Advisor can weigh in in several categories – living, working, and caregiving.
The living section provides city profiles and a way for seniors to find resources and connect with others. It also includes ratings on how bikeable and walkable a city is and information about its tax structure.
In the caregiving section, users can comment on in-home care, a city’s senior living facilities, and caregiving resources.
Right now major cities, including Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and New York, have the most reviews. But if you’d like to weigh in about your city, you can search for it and add your comments.
Satisfaction with Chosen Retirement City
Age Friendly Ventures, the parent organization of Age Friendly Advisor, did a survey (https://bit.ly/2F1Lkwk) about people’s choices about retirement spots.
One question concerned the factors that influenced retirees’ decisions about where to live. The top five were family, general livability, desired weather conditions , healthcare, and friends.
Not everyone is thrilled with their decision. Though 69 percent said that if they had to do it all over again, they’d pick the same retirement spot. But 31 percent said they wouldn’t.
So research your retirement options carefully before you take the plunge.
The National Association of Realtors®’ 2019 Remodeling Impact Report: DIY (https://bit.ly/2Rt3mOH) looked at the differences between undertaking remodeling projects using professional help and taking a do-it-yourself approach.
It also provides consumers’ Joy Score (ranked from 1 to 10) for each project. DIYers were pretty pleased, with 97 percent saying that they felt a sense of accomplishment (Joy Score: 9.9) when they finished a project. The Joy Score among those who hired professionals was 9.6.
The report also shows people’s love for their pets. Just consider the projects, including animal pools and built-in pet beds, that respondents undertook to benefit their fur babies.
Those who took a DIY approach for pet projects reported a Joy Score of 9.4 and a Joy Score of 9.3 when they hired a pro to complete the projects.