The recent thread, "Need Help Being a Ski Bum" got me thinking about future options so I wanted to tap into all the knowledge on this board to help me frame out some ideas regarding living the dream of ski bumming in retirement. First a brief synopsis:
41 years old, married with two kids on Long Island, NY. The wife and kids ski as well. My wife loves to ski and is a good skier but not as fanatical as I am. The kids (7 and 9) are both really good for their age and not living near the mountains. They enjoy it but take it for granted. I will try as best I can to help them grow an appreciation for skiing and being near the mountains but it's just impossible to predict whether it's something they will keep with them as they get older. After all, we don't live in a mountain culture and they would rather be with their friends.
Wife and I both have six-figure jobs. She has a 401K and her social security (SS). I am in the Federal retirement system. I will have access to a pension (roughly 35% of my highest three years salary), a SS supplement, and a distribution from my 401K. This distribution can start as soon as I retire without penalty if using the IRS calculation. I will be eligible to retire at age 50 though I'm pretty sure I will not have enough in my 401K to go at that point. If and it's a big IF all goes well I would like to retire at age 53. My wife would like to retire around age 55. My retirement and whatever savings we have would bridge the gap until her 401K kicks in at 59 1/2.
We have a house on Long Island that we are scheduled to have paid off when I'm 55 (will try and pay it off by the time I'm 53) and hope will be worth between $650-700K at that point. Our taxes at that point will probably be around $20K/year. Nice, huh?
My dream which my wife knows about and is hypothetically supportive (I just made that up) is to keep myself in shape, hopefully avoid some health issues and be closer to the mountains and ski 50 days a year give or take. The ultimate dream for me would be to do this somehwhere out West. I don't have to live right at the mountain. Even an hour's drive would be acceptable to me.
There are some realities which cannot be ignored however...
We are life-long New Yorkers. For those who don't know, LI is primarily made up of people from the five boroughs (myself included)who want to live in suburbia. Even though you see plenty of pick-ups on LI, the frontier it ain't.
Reality #1: My wife is really cool and well-rounded but I can't take a girl from LI and bring her to a place where there is only a Wal Mart and a Target for shopping, etc., etc. Truth is I'm not sure I could do it either. Very few places are going to have the "at your fingertips" lifestyle that NY does but some place that does have some semblance of it at least nearby would be necessary.
Reality #2: My wife does not deal with the cold all that well. Yes she likes to ski and does fine when she's geared up and tapes on those toe warmer things but when she's not skiing she starts to get cold when the weather gets to about 60 degrees. I on the other hand cannot stand the heat and humidity. FL is out!
Reality #3: The kids come first. As I said, I will try and foster a love of the mountains in my kids and I will encourage them to consider other places to set down roots but there's a good chance they may establish themselves here and my wife would want to be close to them or at least be able to visit without too much of a hassle. So would I.
Taking all that under consideration I have considered some options and I would really appreciate other's input. Ideally, I would live in a State that doesn't tax the Federal pension or SS income. NY happens to be one.
The most likely and realistic option would be to maintain a residence in NY, have a small-condo in VT, do most of my skiing there and be close to JFK for annual trips out West.
Moving West there are some options I think can be crossed off due to the above-referenced factors.
Bozeman, MT/Jackson Hole, WY. Really sounds great for tax benefits and of course the skiing but even though I like to wear flannel shirts I don't think I'm rugged enough and I can't see my wife making it through those winters without wanting to kill me. Moreover, a flight from JFK to Bozeman consists of a layover in Seattle and is at least 10 hours round trip. No way my wife will go for that. Even moreover, Jackson Hole seems pretty expensive.
Idaho. Same as above.
Strong considerations are:
Summit County, CO. A bit milder for my wife and Denver is nearby. My main concern would be how well could we live in CO? Almost anywhere is going to have cheaper cost of living than we're used to but the idea is to maximize retirement as much as possible. CO does give a partial exemption to SS income.
Park City or Ogden, UT. Realize Park City is expensive but it may satisfy both my wife and I. Same financial concerns as CO.
A new place I am just beginning to research would be somewhere in Nevada in the Sierras by Tahoe. The no income tax in Nevada would make the retirement dollars go a long way but where exactly? Would Reno give you some type of City life AND be close enough to the mtns?
Another quick thought is I am planning the family's first Western ski trip maybe for next year or the year after. My first priority would be having my wife and the kids really enjoy the skiing and the resort and the overall vacation in general. My second would be to open my wife's eyes to the possibility of moving out there one day. I've been to A-Basin and Loveland and Alta/Snowbird (stayed in Sandy). I need something a little more resorty I think for their first trip.
Well that's it. Hope I didn't bore you too much.
Edited by hespeler - 12/2/15 at 7:29am