You Don’t Need to Move To Panama to Retire Comfortably…

I just posted this map from the Census Bureau on my website.  Take a look at it, I dare you. (It’s really too big to post here for the effect I want to convey.)

What you’ll notice is there is a HUGE swath of the US where the median household income is BELOW $40k a year.  Remember, the median means 50% of the households have more than $40k and 50% of households have less.

Now, we can take exception to some of the Census Bureau income calculations, as I’ve done repeatedly.  But even if we grant an increase of 20% to the Census Bureau income data, that still means there are tons of places in the United States where the MEDIAN income is less than $50k a year.

Think about that. If the median income in a certain county is less than $50k what is the cost of housing in that county? Pretty doggone cheap!   Are all those people in that county living in mobile homes?  Of course not.

There will be stick-built, 3 bed, 2 bath homes in the county, even though the median income is low. Someone is building those houses, someone is buying them and someone is living in them.  Because the median income is pretty low those homes are going for a more affordable price.  Given that housing is the MOST expensive cost in retirement, if you can get a home in an affordable place doesn’t that inherently mean your retirement expenses are lower?  And if retirement expenses are lower, retirement is more affordable, no?

I would think so.

But, and I can already hear the elitists naysayers, “who wants to live in these places?” I hear that all the time when I do videos on topics like this.  These folks are usually upper-income urbanites in the coastal areas who read the New Yorker religiously. But THEY are the folks most worried about retirement because while they are making good money while working, when work stops, their income is gone yet the expenses  of their lifestyle remain.  And that scares the crap out of them.

They know their lifestyle is too expensive to maintain if they don’t work but they don’t want to live with the riff raff of the rest of us.  So, what do they do? What do they do???

Well, they work, and they work, and they work some more.  All to maintain the allure of living the life of the elite.

I’ve no problem with that mindset, actually. To each his own.  But for me, and the vast majority of Americans, there IS a place for our kind in every state in the union where you can retire without needing 6 figures to live on.

Just look at that map again.  There is a coastal county in Washington state where the median household income is less than $40k.  Is that county predominantly an American Indian reservation? I don’t know. But if I wanted to live in Washington state with its NO income tax AND live close to the ocean, well there you go.

Want to stay in New England but the hipsters in Boston are pricing you out?  There are plenty of places in Western MA that you can call home for a reasonable cost of living.

Of course, if you want to join me in the deep South we’ve got plenty of places for you.  The vast majority of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina have median incomes less than $40k.

If you think all those places are run-down with un-educated people, you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.  The beauty of Alabama is something to behold.  The North Alabama lakes and mountains and the incredible glory of Orange Beach all within a few hours drive.

The rolling hills and pines of Mississippi, the insane beauty of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, all yours for the taking without having to be a rich guy.

Maybe you don’t like SEC football, and don’t want to hear football 24/7. And really who could blame you?  I mean the “strongest” conference in football loses to Wyoming AND Georgia State? (It’s football time, folks and challenging the continued silliness that the SEC is SO far above the rest of the sport is a pastime of mine.)

But back to the matter at hand. You can still live in Eastern and North Central Oregon for a song. The lakes of Michigan calling your name?  It’s there for you!  Deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas? All at your fingertips.

The point of all this is you don’t need millions of retirement assets in order to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars of income to retire. You simply need to find an affordable place to live. And thankfully, because most Americans are just regular people, living regular lives, the number of places you can do just that in the Good Ole U.S.of A are legion.

So stop worrying and start enjoying everything that this beautiful land of ours offers.

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