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.

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.

retire-tennessee
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.”

friends-of-smokies
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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Tiny House Vs. Fixer-Upper

While I applaud the reasons that most people have for getting a tiny house, I think there are other alternatives that are not quite so tiny.

There has been more and more discussion of the tiny house movement in recent years, among sites like blogs, Facebook and Pinterest. What is the tiny house movement?

The website TheTinyLife.com has this to say:

“Simply put, it is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize the space they live in. The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, whereas the typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet.”

The tiny house movement takes the concept of downsizing to the extreme. But why does it seem so appealing? The website explains:

“The most popular reasons include environmental concerns, financial concerns, and the desire for more time and freedom. For most Americans 1/3 to 1/2 of their income is dedicated to the roof over their heads; this translates to 15 years of working over your lifetime just to pay for it, and because of it 76% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.”

Click here to read more about it.

Basically, the appeal of a tiny house is that it costs less and takes less time to build and maintain. There is also a minimalist mentality that goes with the tiny house life. You can’t have too many things, because you don’t have the space to stuff it. For many people, it’s mentally and spiritually freeing to give up the majority of their stuff.

Plus, the tiny houses getting churned out nowadays are cute.

tiny-house
Courtesy of CountryLiving.com

While I applaud the reasons that most people have for getting a tiny house, I think there are other alternatives that are not quite so tiny. Living with other people and pets can make living in 100-400 square feet hard.

What About a Fixer-Upper?

One common feature of a tiny house is that it is built off-site and towed to your lot, which is a) convenient in some ways, but b) turns your house into what is essentially a trailer. What this means is that your tiny house exists in a gray area where it might actually depreciate in value as it ages, much like a house-trailer. (A house built on solid foundation, if properly maintained, appreciates in value over time.)

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Courtesy of thefarmersnest.com

An alternative to this problem is to buy a small fixer-upper property and, well, fix it up. By saving what you can of an older home you save money and keep a significant amount of materials out of the landfill (or from just rotting into the ground from neglect.) The property also gains a huge jump in equity (what we call sweat equity) by virtue of having been improved, so your cheap property is now worth a whole lot more.

As for financial concerns regarding maintaining and heating/cooling the home, there are a multitude of options on the market today for solar power, wind power, even water power. In our lovely, mountainous region there is plenty of fuel for wood heat. Insulation has come a long way, as have windows and efficient appliances. In fact, many of the things that make “tiny houses” so appealing can be (and frequently are!) adapted into a good old solid-foundation-ed house.

Your fixer-upper doesn’t have to be a huge house! It can still be small, and you can still make the move toward giving up an excess of material things and simplifying your life. One more thing: fixing up an existing house can sometimes give the surrounding neighborhood a real boost. You’d be surprised at the social impact you can have with the simple act of fixing the front porch and painting the house. Sometimes that’s all it takes to nudge your neighbors into doing the same for their houses.

To discuss tiny houses vs. fixer-uppers, or to view properties in our lovely East Tennessean area, please visit www.darlenereeves-kline.com.

 

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.

 

Welcome!

Once a week we’ll be posting about life in our beautiful corner of southern Appalachia!

Welcome to DarleneReevesKline.Wordpress.com, your new source for information about culture, lifestyle and, of course, real estate right here in East Tennessee. Once a week we’ll be posting about local businesses, festivals, and great things to do in our beautiful corner of southern Appalachia! We’ll also give you useful information about our state’s low taxes and low cost of living, which makes it the perfect place to start a family or enjoy retirement to the fullest.

Visit http://www.darlenereeves-kline.com/ for local listings.

Thanks for stopping by!

beach in jefferson city

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