The 'Couv'

The 'Couv'

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

It's another re-run ;) Retire to the Coast

Yes sometimes I pull a rabbit out of a hat and sometimes I pull a re-run out. SW Washington's coast is still a great opportunity for retirees. There are not many coastal beach towns that are reasonably priced, but the Long Beach Peninsula area is. So with out further ado, here is an article from a few years back, that still rings true today.

Originally posted 2/6/2018 on Evergreen Coastal Living, by Rod Sager

Many people that move to the Southwest Washington Coast are retired. It makes sense, really as retired people do not rely as much on the availability of high paying jobs as do those still in the working years. The coast is not exactly a hotbed of high tech nor is it filled with factory jobs. The only real stumbling block is that the coast is a fair distance away from the larger cities along the Oregon-Washington Interstate 5 corridor. The Long Beach Peninsula enjoys very reasonable housing costs and that can be a big bonus for fixed income retirees.

However there does come a time when we get older and need to visit our doctors a little more often. It is here that living on the quasi-remote coast can be an issue. There are plenty of physicians operating a practice on the Long Beach Peninsula and on the northern Oregon Coast, but hospitals and specialists may require an inland run to Longview which is 60 miles away.

This is probably the primary concern for retiring to the coast. If the medical services are adequate for your needs the rest is easy. Who doesn't want to enjoy the spectacular Pacific Ocean coastline? The weather at the coast is also more mild with wintertime temps a solid 8-10° warmer overnight and summertime highs an easy 10-15° cooler than most of the Portland Metro Area. Although the temps tend to be better moderated the rainfall is not. The coast can take a lickin' from frequent winter storms and that can mean a lot of rain and wind. Long Beach receives on average 79 inches a rain a year and that is double what Portland and Vancouver get on average. It's not that it rains more often, but more that it just rains harder.

But the coast is not that much different in terms of weather patterns and a nice long period of relatively dry conditions which arrive in July and stick around through the middle of September most years.

Yes friends, retiring to the beach isn't for everyone, but it could be just the ticket for you so check it out!

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Gen X may hurt Retirement Communities

Before anyone born between 1965-1983 blows a gasket, this is not generational warfare, I promise. In the 1970s America went through a series socio-economic changes. Families were trending smaller with fewer children. There was a war (Vietnam, 1965-1975), the divorce rate rose, the economy was rough with high inflation rates, et al. This led to Gen X being a smaller generation relative to the previous generation, the Baby Boomers consisting of people born between 1946-1964. Roughly 77 million Baby Boomers against the following generation of roughly 65 million. 

Older Boomers are now thining in population as the oldest among them enter their late 70s. But as the Gen X crowd approach retirement in the coming decades, their numbers will be smaller than those of the Boomers. Thus there is a real possiblity the retirement communities aimed at older retirees may start seeing a bit of a surplus in inventory. This could lead to either better prices in those communities or perhaps a shift back to family neighborhoods to serve the roughly 80 million Millenials that are now having families. 

Socialiogists might have to evaulate whether Gen X will inhabit specific over 55 retirement communities at a simialr rate than did Boomers. This could lead to opportunites for Gen X to get a rare "deal" in real estate by moving into these retirement communities when they reach the appropriate age. The oldest Gen Xers are in fact over 55 years old right now! 

So retirees in the coming years may be in a good spot to grab deals in established retirement themed communities like the coveted Fairway Village, here in Vancouver, WA, but they may also find fewer opportunities in brand new developments aimed at the same crowd as builders seem to be hyper focused on those 80 million Millenials. It will be interesting to watch as it all unfolds; older Gen Xers should carefully plan for the next decade as they become to focus of retirement living.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Washington State Income Tax Proposal Needs to DIE

Those pesky legislators are back at it again with the latest round of "we need an income tax" making its way through the committees on the floor of the capitol. First before any of you scream about the reduced tax revenue due to COVID... STOP right there! Washington was one of only a handful of states that saw an INCREASE in revenues during the pandemic and only Idaho had a larger increase. The legislature has a FULLY funded budget ready to go. Yet some greedy state policymakers want to crush the very spirit of taxpayers with a capital gains tax. The bill is 

With the feds led by a full trifecta of big tax and spend politicians, Washington should be happy with their big fat surplus of revenue, and let the state's business recover from the COVID nightmare. Locals should be flooding the email boxes and mailboxes of every legislator from Democrat to republican and make it clear they vote for this, they find a new job!

This isn't the first time bloodsuckers in Olympia have tried some form of income tax scheme. Usually it is when the state is facing revenue losses or budget shortfalls. This is egregious what they are suggesting and they will no doubt try to make the case they are "sticking it to the rich." They are not, they are sticking it to all of us.

Just say no to government greed. The bill is Senate Bill 5096... BOOOOO.... HISSSS!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Retire to a High Rise?

originally posted March 26th, 2019

Many retirees are looking for living arrangements that don't require a bunch of yard work or travel to get to activities. Downtown urban condo living could fit the bill quite nicely for some. In SW Washington, Vancouver has a nice opportunity to own a high-rise condo unit with views of the Columbia River, Esther Short Park, and as many as five Majestic Cascade Volcanoes.

A short ride down the elevator to the street offers up everything your need in a few blocks. restaurants, post office, stores of all kinds, the park, waterfront, government agencies, banks, insurance, you name it and you can walk there.

This style is not for everyone, but it could be for quite a few retirees. 2 bedroom units range from $300,000 to well over a million dollars depending on the view and of course the interior decor and quality. Vancouver's downtown and waterfront area is rapidly becoming the hot spot for urban living in the Portland-Vancouver metro area.

You can visit Urban Living in the 'Couv' for updates on condos for sale and project status for new and upcoming high-rise projects.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Happy Holidays!

Well Christmas is just three days away! Perhaps the best present in 2020 is a plan to move to Washington State in 2021. In particular SW Washington which offers everything from the beach to the mountains. There is a broad range of housing costs across the region with rural counties offering median home prices below the national average and urban areas costing well above the national average. SW Washington truly has something for everyone. Well no desert life, but central Washington has all the desert you could ever want :)

Although some say Olympia is part of SW Washington it has really become an extension of the greater Seattle-Tacoma Metro area. The counties that comprise the area are Pacific, Lewis, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Clark, and Skamania counties. 

This portion of Washington State offers a wide variety of topography and demographic variance. Everything from the urban jungle to the backwoods to the beach. Below is an outline of the counties and some facts about each.

Clark County

  • Median home price $414,000
  • Median income $67,300
  • Median age 37
  • Population 500,000
  • Population Density 750/square mile
  • Largest city, Vancouver 200,000 (340,000)
  • Seat of government, Vancouver
  • Highest point, Sturgeon Rock 4,080 ft (Silver Star 4,364 ft)
  • Lowest point, Columbia River @25 ft
  • 2nd city, Camas 23,000
  • 3rd city, Battle Ground, 20,000
  • 4th city, Washougal, 15,000
  • 5th city, Ridgefield, 8,000
  • 6th city, La Center 4,000
  • 7th city (township), Yacolt, 1,800
  • Notable #1 Oldest county in Washington
  • Notable #2 Bounded on south and west by Columbia River
  • Notable #3 Third largest seaport in Washington
  • Notable #4 Second most densely populated county in Washington
Cowlitz County

  • Median home price $321,000
  • Median income $55,000
  • Median age 40
  • Population 112,000
  • Population Density 91/square mile
  • Largest City, Longview 40,000
  • Seat of government, Kelso
  • Highest point, Goat Mountain 4,965 ft
  • Lowest point, Columbia River @25 ft
  • 2nd city, Kelso 13,000
  • 3rd city, Woodland, 5,700
  • 4th city, Kalama, 3,000
  • 5th city, Castle Rock, 2,400
  • Notable #1 4th largest seaport in Washington
  • Notable #2 Contains a portion of the St Helens NVM

Skamania County

  • Median home price $376,000
  • Median income $61,540
  • Median age 44
  • Population 12,500
  • Population Density 7/square mile
  • Largest City, Stevenson 1,750
  • Seat of government, Stevenson
  • Highest point, West Slope Mt. Adams , 8,920 ft (Mt Adams 12,245 ft)
  • Lowest point, Columbia River @25 ft
  • 2nd city, North Bonneville 1,000
  • Notable #1 Beacon Rock 2nd largest rock monolith in the world
  • Notable #2 Mount St. Helens 8,366 ft
  • Notable #3 Bonneville Dam
Lewis County

  • Median home price $296,000
  • Median income $53,358
  • Median age 42
  • Population 82,000
  • Population Density 33/square mile
  • Largest City, Centralia 18,000
  • Seat of government, Chehalis
  • Highest point, Big Horn, 8,000 ft 
  • Lowest point, Cowlitz River @55 ft
  • 2nd city, Chehalis 7,700
  • 3rd city, Napavine 2,000
  • 4th city, Winlock 1,500 
  • 5th city, Morton 1,200
  • 6th city, Mossy Rock 900
  • 7th city, Toledo 770
  • 8th city, Vader 670
  • Notable #1 Midway between Portland, OR and Seattle, WA
  • Notable #2 Portions of Rainer National Park
Wahkiakum County

  • Median home price $458,000
  • Median income $47,260
  • Median age 52
  • Population 4,600
  • Population Density 25/square mile
  • Largest City (township), Cathlamet 600
  • Seat of government, Cathlamet
  • Highest point, Huckleberry Ridge , 2,673 ft 
  • Lowest point, Columbia River @20 ft
  • Notable #1 Named for prominent Chinook Indian Chief
  • Notable #2 Smallest land area of any non island county in Washington
  • Notable #3 2nd lowest county population in Washington
Pacific County

  • Median home price $210,259
  • Median income $51,450
  • Median age 51
  • Population 23,000
  • Population Density 22/square mile
  • Largest City, Raymond 3,000
  • Seat of government, South Bend
  • Highest point, unnamed peak in Willapa Hills, 3,020 ft 
  • Lowest point, Pacific Ocean 0 ft
  • 2nd city, South Bend 1,700
  • 3rd city, Long Beach 1,500
  • 4th city, Ilwaco 1,000
  • Notable #1 Mouth of the Columbia River
  • Notable #2 Long Beach, drive on beach is actually a state highway

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

2021 Brings Potential Change

 Although Washington State appears to be on track for a continuance of recent policy, the national scene will likely change in 2021 with a new President and a much tighter Congress. Democrats barely hung on to the house and Republicans lost a couple Senate seats. This may lead to a gridlock scenario but should the Democrats manage to snag the Senate (It is possible with two Georgia run-offs in January), things could look a lot different. For middle to upper income retirees, Washington may look even better financially since Joe Biden has indicated an intention to reverse the 2017 tax plan. Living in a state with income tax and paying even more federal tax could lead some retirees to choke on their tax bill. Washington of course, has no state income tax.

Washington State continues to be the northern state best suited to upper middle income and higher income seniors as income tax punishes those with higher incomes. Those retirees with more modest incomes may not feel the pinch in 2021-22 as hard leading to more options for a clean getaway on their taxes. Nearby Idaho can look attractive for some, but Idaho's urban amenities are a touch lacking and the winters tend to be a bit chillier than ours.

For many, Washington State is getting too expensive. Our state is now ranked 4th in the nation for median home price with Seattle leading the way as the 3rd most expensive large city (500k residents city proper) in America, behind, San Francisco, CA and San Jose, CA.

But Washington has a great many areas whereby the housing costs are substantially lower than the statewide median. In fact, Vancouver, WA is the 4th largest city in the state and immediately adjacent to Portland, OR and the median home price is about $390k sitting under the statewide median of about $425k. Clark County, Washington for which Vancouver is the seat of government is at roughly the statewide median and offers the full range from high rise urban condos, to ranchettes and horse properties along with everything in between. 

2021 is just around the corner and hopefully it will be better than this crazy 2020 we are wrapping up.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Election 2020 is exactly one week away.

This year many states offered expedited mail in ballot options to help voters cope with COVID-19 concerns about voting in person. Although many experts say that voting in person is fine providing you follow the same guideline as you do elsewhere with social distancing and masks, the mail in option was rather popular this time round. 

Whether you vote by mail or in the 'booth" be sure to cast your vote from the top down. Don't forget about all those local election items, they are just as important as the top fed ticket. 

Meanwhile people looking for a spot to spend the 'golden years' Washington still offers a great deal to seniors and young retirees alike. We have excellent health care, low taxes for seniors, wonderful outdoors, and very mild weather for such a northerly locale.

Don't forget Washington is a no income tax state. I wrote about that last year in the following article:

Let's look at why an income tax is more of a killer than a sales tax especially for retirees. Retirees often do not have many tax deductions or exemptions. So a retired couple earning a taxable household income of 35,000 will pay about $3150 in Oregon State income tax. Contrast that with the a typical annual sales tax paid in Washington at $1200.

Sales tax is something you only pay when you buy a taxable item. In Washington food for example is not subject to sales tax. An income tax is levied before you receive your net check. You are going to pay it whether you buy things or not. Sales tax is almost always a lower expense than income tax with the notable exception of being poor. Those in Oregon who have a taxable income of $0 will not pay any income tax, obviously. But in Washington a person with a taxable income of $0 will still need to buy things and some of those things will be subject to sales tax.

Please take note I am using taxable income, because retirees are not subject to income taxes on a sizable portion of their Social Security, ROTH IRA's are tax free, and standard exemptions and deductions reduce taxable income. So someone earning $20,000 could in fact have a taxable income of $0.

So the rule of thumb is, if you are poor live, in Oregon, if you are middle or upper income, move to Washington. Well it isn't always quite that simple, but that simple solution is not to far from reality in actuality.