The 'Couv'

The 'Couv'

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Healthcare int he spotlight, with COVID-19 about

Retirees considering a move to the Evergreen State can rest assured that the health care system is in great shape. US News and World Report ranked all fifty US states for overall healthcare and Washington State was #4 and is the only no-income tax state in the top 10 and the best overall tax state among the leaders in healthcare.

Retirees tend to have concerns on healthcare and Washington State remains the best northern state int he nation for retirees and one of the best overall edging out many sun-belt locales for overall retirement living.

Washington has been hit hard by the Corona Virus but our system is handling the case load, and working through this trying time as well as can be expected for such a significant health event.

Since this site is focused on retirees, it should be noted that retirees are much more at risk to have a serious health issue from COVID 19 than younger people. Follow the direction of your local health officials and be mindful that this disease can and will kill older people and people with underlying health issues.

Be healthy, be strong, and retire to Washington State.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Eastern Washington versus Western Washington

Washington State is commonly divided into east and west with the mighty Cascade range the defacto line of separation. The state is divided a bit politically as well as climatically along this geographic 'border'. Things do tend to be a bit more conservative on the right side of the Cascades and lean a bit more liberal on the left side.

The climate is a bit differing factor. Where the east side enjoys more sunshine and significantly less rainfall, it also has a much more severe extreme in both the winter and summer months. It get genuinely cold on the east side in the winter. Not quite as bad as say North Dakota, but close you know, like South Dakota ;) Sub zero temps are no stranger to cities like Ellensburg, Pullman, and the inland capital, Spokane. There will also be substantially more snowfall on the eastern side at lower elevations all the way down to sea level. (well 400 feet at least). The eastern two thirds of Washington State is a trade off for hot weather int he summer and cold weather in the winter versus a much more mild range on the west side. The west side will bring rain and some rain, and then after that a bit more rain. But wintertime temps are not likely to stay below freezing for more a than few days at a time and it is very rare to see temps in the single digits and rarer still for sub-zero. Snowfall below 1500 feet tends to be infrequent and short lived, usually. Summers are gloriously mild with dry warm weather that rarely gets hot.

8 out of the 10 largest Washington cities are on the west side. Spokane the lone "big city" east of the cascades is however the 2nd largest city in the state (for now, Vancouver, WA is likely to eclipse it soon). Spokane Valley ranks 10th. Urban dwellers will be a bit disappointed in the eastern 2/3 of the state.

Washington offers a little bit of everything and the whole state remains free of income tax which is the bane of retirees across the land.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

With New Taxes, Is Paying Cash Better?

Since the federal government passed the most recent tax package in 2017 some retirees may no longer benefit from carrying mortgage debt. Retirees often have very little to itemize other than a mortgage and the new standard deduction is a whopping $24,000 for a married couple. With interest rates near all time lows it takes a pretty big mortgage to produce interest payments over $24,000 in a year.

Paying cash for a property could lead to a better and stronger position later on. A reverse mortgage could be used later in life should cash flow in the future be impeded by natural inflation or an unforeseen financial event.

Paying cash could also open the door to places like condominiums or manufactured homes in senior parks. With no mortgage payments the HOA or park fees are likely to be easily covered with the retirees fixed income payments.

Mortgages can free up capital that may be invested elsewhere at a higher rate of return, but retirees should be mindful that risky investments are unwise in the latter third of life.

Mortgage free living allows the retiree to spend less of the fixed income each month which can help preserve assets in 401k or IRA accounts. For fixed pensions it allows for more monthly spending or to build up a solid savings account. As mentioned earlier, a free and clear house also allows the retiree to utilize a reverse mortgage to increase income later in life should the resources in the 401k or IRA run low or if the pension begins to lose ground against inflationary conditions.

As always when I write about investments and taxes I encourage people to consult with licensed professionals in the investment industry and a professional tax accountant before making decisions based on information in articles lie these. Everyone has different and often unique financial needs and conditions that ought to analyzed by an appropriate professional.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Happy Holidays 2019

May your holidays be filled with joy. Take note I have added a communities page here. I'm taking a bit of time off so here is a post from the past that remains relevant today. This post was written in June so pay no mind to the reference of sunny and warm weather ;)

This was originally posted here, by Rod Sager, June 4th, 2014

Real estate tends to perk up this time of year. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the temperature is warm. It is easy to get sucked into the greatest summer weather on this planet. But what about winter? Many retirees would love to have a little winter but hate the idea of shoveling snow. Here in Washington State we have options for your winter wonderland. There are places in the Evergreen State like Mount Baker, that have snow so heavy it rivals anywhere in the world. Fortunately those are places people visit rather than live. East of the Cascade Mountains delivers sunnier weather that is warmer in the summer and colder in the winter than this side here in the west. There are many areas that offer an in-between winter experience.

Here in America's Vancouver we have a very mild winter. It gets chilly but rarely gets truly cold. Heavy snow is a twice a decade event and light snow is sporadic every year throughout the winter from late November to early March. Not much shoveling here. As you move up in elevation so your shovel moves up in usage. Those gorgeous view homes up above 1000 feet will see on average double the snowfall down in the city. Move up another 1000 and it's triple.

West of the Cascades you will find the legendary Pacific Northwest clouds and showers. East of the Cascades is California Dry.

East of those mighty Cascade mountains the mercury will plunge down below zero at times and they tend to stay cold from December through February. The good news over there is that those same mountains that block the warm moist air of the Pacific Ocean also block allot of the clouds. Precipitaion on the eastside is dry, dry, dry. So it does snow often but in small doses. Again places like Ellensburg and the Tri-Cities don't have a heavy snow shovel workout.

Spokane will give you a healthy dose of snow with nearly 4 feet falling annually and that rivals Minneapolis. Spokane is not quite as bitter cold as Minnesota and has a shorter winter. If you hate the shovel stay out of the far eastern part of the state.

In case you are looking around in Washington State I have all these little charts for you to consider regarding snowfall and temps. Data was collected from the Western Climate Data Center.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

New Waterfront Project For Seniors

The Springs Living is an Oregon based retirement community developer that specializes in the full range of senior living from fully independent, to assisted care and beyond. They have several locations in Oregon and Montana including many in the metro area. But now they have submitted a proposal to erect a 12 story high rise development on block 18 at the Vancouver Waterfront.

This project has all the advantages of retiring in Washington State and offers an urban location right on the the shore of the mighty Columbia River.

The proposal has been met with enthusiasm by the developer of the Waterfront and the city so it should have a fairly easy ride through the permitting process. Vancouver's amazing waterfront is a mixed use neighborhood that is quickly becoming a regional destination. The waterfront park features a centerpiece cable suspended pier. Restaurants, shops, and services are flocking to the area. I think it is safe to say this new project will be the premier urban senior living development in the greater Portland-Vancouver area.

Vancouver Washington is a great spot for retirees with close proximity to Portland, without that draconian Oregon income tax. For more information on Vancouver USAs rapidly rising urban core, visit Urban Living in the 'Couv' right here. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Are Over 55 Mobile Home Parks OK?

Mobile home parks that are registered as adult communities serving seniors and adults aged 55 and over tend to be well maintained and overall good quality neighborhoods. They are often facilities aimed at older people offering swimming, tennis, gated access, etc. In general the only downside is that you own the unit but pay rent for the land underneath it.

This is where things can get dicey for seniors. The government places a series of restrictions on these types of communities since they are being given an exemption to age discrimination laws in exchange for providing a needed community service for our seniors. These restrictions however do not always protect seniors from runaway costs. Recently several out of state investors have been buying up senior living mobile home communities and in several local cases the space rents quickly rose hundreds of dollars. The new owners simply pushed the rent to the maximum level they could. Retirees that had been paying say $500 per month space rent with modest year over year increases of $10-$15 in some parks saw that figure jump to $700 or more.

This is the problem with renting space. The new landlord is rarely as nice as the old landlord. seniors banking on a reasonable level of increase in space rent may be shocked should the owners of the park decide to sell out to greedy investors that are far away in another state like California or Texas.

Mobile homes can be a great way to own outright a detached home and live in a nice retirement community, but when a retiree decides to pursue this path, they should over budget for space rent or stash away extra cash in case the new landlord is of the greedy variety from out of state, and doesn't care about anything other than money, you know the type. Ebeneezer Scrooge... yeah, that guy.

Bear in mind that space rent is different than an HOA. In an HOA the owners of all the units jointly own the land and common areas. Although a poorly managed HOA could get into some trouble leading to cost overruns and increased expenses for all the homeowners, the HOA is in fact all the owners. Each unit owner has a vote in how the operation is run, expenses, upgrades, added fees. In a mobile home park, there is an investor owner that is a landlord like you would have in an apartment building. The landlord can raise the rates to whatever level he or she deems fit and the market will either pay or vacate.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Retire to the Waterfront

Gramor Development and The Springs Living announced plans for Block 18 on Vancouver's amazing waterfront recently and have followed up with architectural drawings and additional details.

This will be the first Senior Living project on the waterfront. The Springs Living is an Oregon based retirement community developer that creates communities with a full range of senior living and care facilities. They have several projects in the Portland Metro region and a couple in Montana. This will be their first Washington property.

This is slated to be a full service senior living facility offering a bit of everything from independent living, assisted care, memory care and more. The Vancouver Business Journal interviewed the CEO of The Springs Living and he noted that Waterfront is a good fit for this project. I agree with that sentiment. The Vancouver Waterfront is a destination neighborhood that beckons family to come visit and allows retirees a walk-able area to enjoy along the great river of the west.

It's a good looking building with an offset shape that follows the contour of the block. This project is in the early phase of local government review and would likely not break ground until mid-2020.

For retirees looking for an urban experience Vancouver Washington has a variety of secure mid-rise and high-rise projects in urban walk-able neighborhoods. This project is for those looking for a full service senior living experience.