Re: Where would you move to now that your home is worth 1 million or more

10/25/16 - posted by Rex Bell

Interesting question. I've given this lots of thought.

There are multiple factors that tie me to San Francisco. First and foremost are the memories of growing up in such a unique place. I just won't have that sense anywhere else. Next is the unique geography, beautiful scenery, moderate climate, clean air, and proximity to the ocean. Then there's the amenities, cultural richness, diversity, and liberal sophistication. There are very few places, if any, that can match what SF has in that regard (which is why the property is so valuable).

I recently retired and faced the very question posed here. Should I cash in and move to a place where my dollars could go a lot further? In making that decision, I came to realize that (1) there's no place else that has everything SF does and (2) if I relocated and didn't like it, I'd be stuck; it would be financially very hard, if not impossible, to return.

That said, here are some of the places I considered:

Portland or Seattle - Both are beautiful cities with many of the qualities of SF. Probably as close as you can get as far as other cities go.

Monterey or Pacific Grove - Smaller, with very similar weather and coastal environment. But just about at expensive.

Astoria, OR - Called "Little San Francisco". Located where the Columbia River flows out to the Pacific Ocean. The setting looks a bit like the Golden Gate, especially with the bridge that connects to Washington State.

Believe it or not, I also considered Pittsburgh, PA because of the hills, greenery, interesting location at the convergence of 3 rivers, lots of bridges, cultural amenities, and unique neighborhoods. There you can buy what would be a $2 million house in SF for about $250,000. But the weather is bad, the people are different, and it's just too far away. And with low property value, it would be too hard to return if I didn't like it.

So after considering those places, I decided on Lagunitas in West Marin County. Love it here. For less than the price of a house in the City, you get a larger house as well as a decent piece of land. The weather is great, and the ocean is fairly close. But best of all, I'm in SF's backyard, about 40 minutes from the city.

Instead of selling, I decided to keep my SF house, rent it out, and use the income to supplement my retirement. That way, I can generate decent cash flow and still have a piece of the city if I ever decide to return.

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