Hello and welcome. We are Jon & Corinne, originally from the UK, brought over on a two year work assignment for Motorola. We stayed much longer and in early 2019 became US citizens.
An off the cuff remark by Jon about an early retirement plan set the stage for some major accomplishments needed before 2023, the target year when he’ll be 62. It might not seem that 62 is early retirement but considering how many people just keep working today, it’s better than that! We are on our way to our Golden Years and we have Golden Retrievers to enjoy it with. What a Golden combination.
Retirement Income and Expenses
One of the early retirement plan discussions we had was what would our income look like, should we supplement it and what the expenses would be. We call it our retirement calculator and it’s all documented in a spreadsheet. We can update as necessary and certainly as milestones are met.
We are assuming, and hoping, that both our millennial children will have left home by then. Thats seems to be a harder struggle these days even for those with college degrees. The early retirement plan does not include them!
Real Estate Taxes and Income Taxes
Illinois is well known to have very high real estate taxes. It seemed to us a crazy thought to stay here and just keep paying out the money. We are already paying over $12,000 a year on a modest home on 2 acres. We know it’s only headed in the upward direction. So we explored states with lower real estate taxes.
We needed to find a location that had a four season climate. Neither of us like heat let alone humidity, we both enjoy the winter and snow, as do the dogs!
Another thought was state income tax. Having lived in Florida for nine months we knew some states do not pay state income taxes. This being another way to preserve retirement income, we explored the states. Of course we know nothing remains the same, what’s not taxed now can easily become taxed in 5 years time.
However we found that Wyoming had zero state income tax and low real estate taxes. The weather suited us perfectly. We also considered New Hampshire, and then Colorado and Michigan. Having visited these states we had some knowledge of living there but they did not check off all the boxes. Michigan came in a very close second and remains the backup.
7,600 Feet Up and Climbing – Laramie, Wyoming
All our location researching kept bringing us back to one place. Wild Horse Ranch of Laramie Wyoming. We had been researching this place since 2017. It’s a very big subdivision of approx. 40 acre parcels of land, over 370 of them. The ranch is set on the east side of Sheep Mountain at 10,000 feet high. The location is 7,600 feet up. Behind that, the rockies. It’s about 20 minutes to Laramie. By Car. But a world away from crazy.
Laramie is a historic town and has everything we need. Although not quite as near to everything as we are used to in a metro area, it has a hospital which as we get older seems to become more important. And it has open spaces, country land, something we wanted more of. The only thing it does not have is trees. So we’ll budget for some size-able implants once the house is built!
The owners of the ranch land still have about 20 parcels left to sell but as with all long term real estate, re-sales have already come to market. Many owners took advantage of the owners land financing, some paid cash. Plans often change and owners sell for many reasons but it’s hard to compete with easy land financing when you cannot offer the same. The result, you have to drop your price to attract cash buyers. (Us).
We sat and thought about this for over a year. Corinne was not sure about giving up work entirely and had sold real estate for 15 years. It was her longest job ever and she felt tied to it, not really sure if she could actually stop. Ultimately she did decide it would not be that hard to retire, even though the money can be good.
We wanted to buy a lot that had either federal or state land behind. We found a pretty flat lot that was south facing, all 36 acres of it. We made an offer of cash which was accepted and we closed August 2018, just over a year after our early retirement plan discussions started. We now own our new property, well the land part anyway. Our address will be some number Bronco Rd, Laramie, WY. And just look at the view!
I cannot wait to go walking with the dogs or taking them swimming, they are going to love it. We have already decided on getting Golden Retriever number four, We cannot do that where we live now, community rules are a maximum of three. Whether we get a puppy or an older dog will depend on timing and what’s available. It would be nice to get a rescue.
The community is gated with several entrances. There’s a huge reservoir, lots of walking trail and mountain hikes. Closeby there is ski-ing, snow mobiling, hunting, riding, fishing or just watching the birds and wildlife around the ranch including wild horses.
Family & Friends Reactions
Since announcing our early retirement plan and intent to move, the interest from friends, family, clients, staff and co-workers has been amazing. We should point out that our family is in England. We won’t have the added stress of leaving family behind, except for the kids and they can visit. Making friends is great fun in a new community and old friends can visit anytime.
We have connected with one of our neighbors, he’s building his house in 2019.
As we travel to England a lot, it’s nice to know there is a plane from Laramie to Denver twice a day and international flights across the pond. Not quite as easy as in Chicago but not too bad either. At a push we can drive to Denver in two hours.
Leaving Your Comfort Zone
My Mum has lived in her house now for the last 45 years. Now she is selling. We have lived in Illinois for 23 years, with a 9 month stint in Florida. We have lived in the current house since 2004. There’s no doubt you get comfortable in your own home and the longer you stay the easier it becomes.
You find the best place to grocery shop, your nearest bank branch, the pharmacy for your scripts. You try Doctors and Dentists and usually end up settling with one. If you have a chronic disease, your specialist is who you love, respect and trust. You know your local hospital. You have a vet for the pets. Moving away changes all that. Does your early retirement plan include a move out of area?
It takes strength to leave, we have done it many times, some people never do it. It takes effort to not only move house but to line up all your services once you arrive. Your early retirement plan should document everything you need to do and the importance of each. Number it if you like and check off each as you achieve it.
What’s Next in Our Early Retirement Plan
Corinne has started working on her part time income generator, right here with this early retirement blog. She wants to use her digital marketing skills to offer products and services.
Our next project is making early decisions about the house. While it’s a few years before it’s needed and before we move, we want to be sure we find the perfect house to build. We found gorgeous home plans online and look at them every weekend. It’s a matter of finding as near to perfect as possible.
As we make decisions we’ll be documenting them. As we research things for the house, like flooring, landscaping, hardscaping, construction materials, windmills, propane gas, we’ll share our findings with you.
Another thing we must do is get the current house ready to sell. That’s not a small project. After 15 years things start to break or need updating. We’ll be documenting that process as well. We should have it totally ready in time.
Our early retirement plan is 5 years long. We’ll be working at the same time, so it’s not too big of a challenge to be ready on time.