Cost of Living: By the Numbers

Let’s break down the cost difference between a more expensive city and Morristown, Tennessee.

By now, you’ve probably heard that Tennessee has one of the most favorable cost of living vs. quality of life ratings in the whole country. We decided to break down what this means in terms of real things you’re likely to buy.

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If you’re moving from the Albany, New York metro area to Morristown, Tennessee, you’re about to be pleasantly surprised at how far your money goes. According to this cost comparison calculator, you can take about a 17% decrease in household income, and maintain the same quality of life you had up north.

That means if your household brought in $50,000.00, you could make less than $41,500.00 and still enjoy life! Conversely, that means if your income stays the same after you move, you’ll have 17% more value out of your money to save or take an extra vacation. That’s great news if you’re considering moving for work with the same salary, or if you’re one of the many retirees who have discovered that your fixed income would go much farther in our beautiful part of the country.

How do things like mortgages and groceries compare between New York and East Tennessee?

Let’s look at a few examples:

According to the cost of living calculator, the average home price in Albany is $397,060.67. The price for a comparable home in Morristown, Tennessee: $235,086.33. The difference: $161,974.33

That’s a huge difference! The great news is that Morristown has a great market of beautiful homes for someone looking to upgrade, downgrade or just get into their first home. It’s a diverse market in more than just price; lake homes, mini (or big!) farms, subdivisions … Morristown has a lot to offer.

What about daily living? Here’s how groceries compare:

Lettuce in Albany: $1.83 In Morristown: $1.43 Difference: $0.40

Canola Oil in Albany: $3.76 In Morristown: $2.95 Difference: $0.80

Dozen Eggs in Albany: $2.65 In Morristown: $2.26 Difference: $0.39

Coffee in Albany: $4.40 In Morristown: $4.20 Difference: $0.20

If that’s all you needed to buy this trip to the store, you’ve saved $1.79.

This is just a sampling, but you can definitely see how even a few dollars per grocery trip can add up to hundreds by the end of the year! That’s money that can go toward a trip to Dollywood, or back into your investment account to earn even more money. (And, don’t worry, if you need a good banker: we have plenty of those, too.)

There’s a lot more to love about our area than just lower cost of living. Remember that part we mentioned about good quality of life? We have all four seasons here in East Tennessee, with gorgeous spring flowers, stunning autumn leaves, lush, green summers and just enough winter weather to leave us all refreshed and ready for warmth again.

Let’s do a quick winter weather comparison between Albany and Morristown.

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The average high temperature for January and February in Albany is 31 degrees and 35 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively. For Morristown: 46 and 51 degrees are the average high for January and February. The numbers prove it: our winters are much milder down here!

Between mild weather and lower costs, we’ve got what it takes to live life a little easier around here.

If you’re interested in finding out more about homes for sale in East Tennessee, visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com.

Day in the Life of a Tennessee Retiree

We interviewed a real retiree to find out what her life is like in East Tennessee.

We’ve written a lot about how great our corner of Tennessee is for retiree living. You already know about the low taxes, amazing scenery, fun festivals, parks and lakes to check out. We’ve even told you about how much more house you can get for your money compared to other states!

But what does a real retiree’s day look like in these parts? We interviewed one to find out.

J. lives in Morristown. She recently downsized from a two hundred acre farm to six acres just off the beaten path. She spent her professional life as a public schoolteacher. J. was gracious enough to give us a sample schedule of one of her recent days. Read on to find out more!

A Day in the Retirement Life of J.

7 a.m.: Wake up, get my morning cup of coffee and enjoy it on my back deck. The sunrise is absolutely amazing, full of orange and pink this morning! I hear birds chirping and the neighbor’s cows come over to moo hello from over the fence. It’s such a great morning, I decide to get another cup of coffee and enjoy it with the newspaper.

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8 a.m.: Time to go to the gym. It’s only about a ten minute drive to my favorite one in Morristown. I go at least three times a week. Sometimes more, if I have time. I prefer spin and yoga classes.

9:30 a.m.: After exercise and grabbing a few groceries in town, the weather is still nice enough to work out in my garden. I recently completed my Master Gardener class through the University of Tennessee extension service. I’m trying to get my shade garden up to snuff. My roses look great this year!

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11 a.m.: After an early lunch on the front porch, I might take a few minutes to read a book on my Kindle or take a nap. I prefer the front porch for this time of day; it’s shadier and cooler. It catches a great breeze, too.

1:30 p.m.: I’m getting ready to head over to Rogersville for a painting class at the gallery. I started painting after retirement, and the art community in the area is fantastic: supportive, creative and fun! I prefer impressionist paintings, myself. I have a particularly challenging barn picture I’m working on, and my teacher is great about showing me what it needs to really get it finished.

3:30 p.m.: After my art class, I stop in to a couple thrift stores on my way back home. I like to keep stocked up on play clothes for my grandkids, when they come over. Sometimes I help them paint some pictures, or dig around in the garden. They usually get dirty somehow at Grandma’s house!

4:30 p.m.: My husband reminded me of a free music concert going on at the park in Morristown. We’re off to enjoy the show and grab a bite of supper after!

 

Thanks for letting us get a peek into your day, J!

 

As always, check out DarleneReeves-Kline.com for more info about how you can enjoy retirement in East Tennessee.

Tennessee: A Great Choice for Retirement

What does Tennessee have to offer retirees?

Retirees of today are living longer and enjoying life at a much higher level than this demographic ever has before. They know what they want out of life, and they’ve saved diligently to reach their goals!

So, what do retirees look for across America, and what does Tennessee have to offer them? Read on to find out more! Be sure to click the highlighted links to more articles on the subject.

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A common sight in East Tennessee: white-tailed deer.

This article outlines the results of a survey comparing what retirees in America thought they would pursue after they punched their last time card with what they actually do now. Surprisingly, many retirees who thought they would spend the majority of their time in leisure activities, like visiting museums, golfing or painting, got bored with those things quickly. Instead, they found more value in the time they spent volunteering and even working part-time! Feeling connected to their community added value to their lives.

In addition, many retirees wanted to keep their toes in and add value to the workforce by consulting, or even opening their own businesses. Those who are just starting out in the business world benefit tremendously from a mentorship with someone who’s been there, and done that. It’s a satisfying relationship for people at either end of the work life spectrum.

Traveling and continuing education round out retiree activities. People get a deep sense of satisfaction when they achieve the lifelong goals of getting the degree or certificate they’ve always wanted, and visiting places that have been on that “bucket list” for ages.

So, where does Tennessee fit in with the parts of a retiree lifestyle?

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Your money goes further in Tennessee.

With one of the most favorable lifestyle vs. expense rates in the nation, living here means you can have a comfortable home with money leftover to pursue all the activities you want! Property and tax expenses are dramatically lower than they are in other parts of the country, and the milder summers and winters mean heating and air bills aren’t through the roof.

Our local community colleges, like Walters State, offer free or dramatically reduced community classes to keep your mind fresh. Community centers like Rose Center in Morristown offer art, exercise and other classes, too. Click here for a list of colleges offering free or discounted tuition for senior citizens in Tennessee.

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Volunteer at your local animal shelter.

Local churches, humane societies and Friends of the Smokies offer more volunteer time than you can possibly fit in, with the opportunity to make like-minded friends and make a positive difference in your community!

Fitting in leisure is easy here, too, with hundreds of town, state and national parks within a short walk or drive from anywhere in East Tennessee. Each season brings regional free or low-admission festivals and events like choir concerts and plays.
Please visit DarleneReeves-Kline.com to find out more about living your retirement dream in East Tennessee!

Invest in a Rental in East Tennessee

Investing in rental property gives a passive income stream and diversifies your financial portfolio.

If the extreme market highs and lows of this country have taught us anything, it’s that we should pick sound investments and be prepared to ride them out for the long haul. The old adage says that real estate is a sound investment, but have you explored the concept for more than just your personal home? As real estate agents (and many of their clients!) know, investing in rental properties adds a robust element to any investment portfolio.

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Example of a possible rental property in Morristown, Tennessee. Picture from darlenereeves-kline.com.

A few good points from this article on the property management site rentalutions.com explain more: *Note* We’re not recommending Rentalutions services, we just think the article is pretty good!

High Leverage.

It’s much easier to get a loan for real estate than other types of investment (such as gold).

ROI: Return on Investment.

Because your tenants are paying your interest payments on the rental mortgage, you put in less of your own money and get the financial benefits.

Diversification of Assets and High Appreciation.

Property gains value over time (as long as you keep it up.) By putting your money into different rentals, you are diversifying your real estate investments. By getting a rental in the first place, you are diversifying your investment portfolio. It’s good to branch out!

Tax Benefits.

There is a whole list of items eligible for tax deduction when you become a landlord: mortgage interest, repairs to the property, keeping a home office, your rental’s insurance, depreciation. These tax benefits go a long way toward mitigating the costs associated with owning and operating a rental, which means more money in your pocket.

Inflation Safety Net.

Raising rents can help you keep up with inflation.

Retirement Income.

Real estate investment is an excellent retirement income. As long as people need a place to live, your property will help you finance a comfortable retirement.

Control Over Your Investment.

Although keeping your rental long-term gives the best financial gains, you still have control over when to sell.

Other considerations:

Being a landlord sets you up for what’s called a passive income stream: the property accrues value even while your tenant pays the mortgage interest. But this is not a “set it and forget it” deal; absentee landlords open themselves up to a slew of losses, such as extensive property damage by tenants who think they’ll never face consequences and even lawsuits from tenants if their repair and maintenance requests aren’t heeded. Face time with tenants is the best way to avoid these unpleasant events. Still, most landlords agree that a flurry of maintenance and repair activity a few weekends out of the year is worth the effort.

Investing in rentals is the kind of personal business that lets you set the tone. Want to help lower income families out? You have the executive power to lower your rates to match those needs. Want to upgrade your property and get more income out of it? You can choose all the details of your renovation (or just do it yourself, and save thousands of dollars!) and set the rent to reflect the higher quality of your property. It’s really up to you.

Want to learn more about properties available in East Tennessee, and start your own rental investment? Please check out darlenereeves-kline.com.

 

 

 

 

Easing Retirement Concerns

Retirement brings with it dramatic life changes. Those approaching this milestone have concerns.

Real estate is about more than just location, location, location! It’s about investing in a life of security and comfort, and it’s even about having something solid to leave as a legacy. Many people choose to relocate (or stay put!) in Tennessee because land is affordable and the cost of living/standard of living ratio is among the very best in this country.

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from retiretennessee.org

Retirement brings with it dramatic life changes. Those approaching this milestone have concerns, about finding stability, financial safety and finding a life of fulfillment after a lifetime of focusing on a career. CBS Money Watch addressed a few of those concerns in this article.

We took a few points and tailored them to fit those recent or pending retirees who might be looking to move to Northeast Tennessee.

Concern: running out of money.

“Between saving enough, being able to spend efficiently, affording your desired lifestyle and the possibility of outliving your money, running out of funds is likely your top retirement concern.”

You can outrun your budget no matter where you live, but if you stick to your limits, this upper right corner of Tennessee is a great place to stretch the value of your dollars. Hiking, swimming, sight-seeing…all this greatly increases quality of life and costs almost nothing. Home costs and energy bills are very low in comparison to other states, in part due to milder weather and in part due to lower prices.

Concern: feeling empty.

“Consider taking up some hobbies more seriously, joining a local group, spending more time with friends and family or planning a trip to kick off your retirement.”

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friendsofthesmokies.org

Thriving arts communities in Morristown and Rogersville, golf clubs, Friends of the Smokies, volunteer opportunities…our area is built on community. Leaving your career can make you feel unmoored, but the solution is to find a new tribe, a new purpose and like-minded group of people to help anchor you in this new stage of life.

Concern:  healthcare.

“Just one reason it’s important to maintain an emergency fund into retirement.”

Moving to a rural area doesn’t mean sacrificing the quality of your care. Overall lower living costs in Tennessee are a boon to those needing to pad their emergency fund, or pay for prescriptions and other ongoing medical treatments. Also, the medical community in Hamblen, Jefferson, Grainger and surrounding counties includes a wide variety of professionals, ranging from medical doctors and nurses to chiropractors and osteopaths. This means a wide range of care is available to you, close to home.

Concern: falling home values.

“If you planned your retirement timing and total savings taking in the factor of home appreciation, it’s a good idea to allow that to be a bump up in lifestyle but not the money you need to live.”

If you plan to sell your home in a state with higher home prices, you might be pleasantly surprised at how much house your money will buy in Tennessee. With what you have left over, you’ll be able to pad out your emergency fund or pay for a trip to Dollywood when your grandchildren come to visit!

If you’re interested in listings available in Northeast Tennessee, please visit my website at darlenenereeves-kline.com.

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Considering Retirement? Consider East Tennessee!

Tennessee transplants are often pleasantly surprised at how much further their dollars stretch here.

Lovely fall leaves, inspiring spring flowers, sunny summer days and just enough snow to make winter deserve the name…East Tennessee wears all four seasons beautifully. Add to this soaring mountains, rolling valleys, woods, creeks, and lakes, and this is the ideal environment to enjoy retirement.

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But there are practical reasons to retire to East Tennessee, too. Here’s what Marketwatch.com had to say:

“Tennessee recently earned the number-one spot among top retirement states in a Bankrate.com study, which ranked states by such data as climate, tax rates, cost of living and access to health care.”

Tennessee transplants are often pleasantly surprised at how much further their dollars stretch here. Daily necessities like food and utilities are several points below the national average. Housing costs fall in at 23.7 points below the national average! All together, cost of living in the Volunteer state ranks at 9.7% below the national average.  Click here to start comparing the numbers: retiretennessee.org.

It’s one thing to discuss lower cost, but what about quality of life? Anybody can downgrade to eating Ramen noodles for every meal and save money, or stay in day after day to avoid spending on recreation and entertainment. In Tennessee, you don’t have to. The quality of life vs. cost of living ratio is very favorable here. Temperate weather means you can enjoy golf most of the year, hike the Smoky Mountains, fish and boat on the myriad of lakes and rivers…do all the things that make retirement so rewarding, without draining your resources.

More than just an affordable place to live in terms of what things cost, Tennessee is listed on Kiplinger.com as a tax-friendly state for retirees:

“There’s no state income tax, so salaries, wages, Social Security benefits, IRA distributions and pension income are not taxed.”

Click here to compare for yourself: Kiplinger.com.

But what about healthcare?

Moving to the rural lifestyle is peaceful, but worry over adequate healthcare and emergency services can ruin the ambience. Worry not. There are award-winning hospitals in Knoxville and the Tri-Cities, and excellent medical facilities in Morristown, Jefferson City, Rogersville…in fact, in most areas of East Tennessee, you’re never more than a quick drive to medical care.

Even rural areas, such as Grainger County, have efficient and skilled emergency medical services, with ambulances at your door within minutes, when you need them. For life-threatening situations where every second counts, the University of Tennessee LifeStar emergency helicopter serves a 150-mile radius around its Knoxville, Tennessee headquarters. Even areas as remote as Hancock County, a rural northeast corner of the state, are serviced by its cutting-edge, life-saving technology.

For more information about LifeStar, click here: utmedicalcenter.org.

Routine health maintenance is easily accessible, too. With Lincoln Memorial University’s program in Osteopathy (in Harrogate, Tennessee) and the University of Tennessee’s medical programs, our rural and urban areas alike have an abundance of well-trained physicians. There is also a medical college and Veteran’s Hospital in Johnson City.

Add to this a growing list of chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists and other holistic healthcare providers, who are also attracted by the beautiful surroundings and low cost of living, and you’ll find that your options for well-rounded healthcare maintenance are quite diverse!

For a sampling of holistic healthcare professionals in Knoxville, click here: Holistic-alternative-practitioners.com.

For a list of best hospitals in East Tennessee, click here: Health.usnews.com.