It’s the beginning of August and this is the first post I’ve made all year. Life has been full, rich, busy, and unpredictable with one drastic change over the past nine months. M did not get transferred to Mississippi as we were expecting – instead, it looks like he will retire from the Navy after 20+ years of service. We still aren’t sure when, but if it happens, it will be sometime between now and May of 2014.
With that comes the question of where we want to call home and we’ve narrowed it down to two cities; Austin, Texas and Charleston, South Carolina. Both have huge potential, Austin has jobs, housing prices are still low enough that M’s retirement check could cover the monthly mortgage on a house comparable to what we currently own, there is no state income tax, and the arts and music scene is top notch. It’s definitely a lively town with big city appeal. Plus, it’s within driving distance to my family in Florida. It’s about a 15 hour drive, but still much shorter than the distance between San Diego and Jacksonville. There are some draw-backs, however. In my discussions with others also looking at retirement, many of the folks I have spoken with are planning to retire in Austin, I’ve read articles already that say the population has tripled in the past five years and with so many others looking to call it home, I don’t see how the infrastructure will be able to keep up. I’ve already heard that traffic getting around is painful, I suspect that if there is a population boom in the next few years, commuting anywhere will be horrible. Also, there is no ocean in Austin, the closest ocean they have is the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s 3 plus hours away. I know that it sounds miniscule to some, but I’ve never lived more than 45 minutes away from an ocean and even though there are lakes a plenty in Austin, it’s just not the same.
Then, there’s Charleston. M and I spent a few days in Charleston a few years ago and fell in love with it. The housing market is cheaper there, we can get the same sized house with land for less than what we are paying now, it’s right on the coast so it’s in the Eastern Time Zone and on the Atlantic Ocean, something I’ve already established as being important to me. The best part of all – it’s less than four hours away from my Jacksonville family, so going home for the holidays should never again be a problem. There are drawbacks to Charleston though; there are hurricanes, that’s something I haven’t had to deal with in a long, long time, and even when I did we rarely saw direct hits. There is a state income tax, but it seems to be a small tax, especially compared to California. Also, I don’t think it’s as exciting as Austin when it comes to nightlife, but if we are being honest, I’m probably going to be spending more nights in than out anyway.
Finally, there is a slight chance that if I can hold on long enough, I can transfer with my employer to a new job in Charleston. As I said, it’s a slim chance, but it’s all I have right now. I’d have to hold off until the Fall of 2014 though and if M has to retire in the next few months, I may not have the privilege of waiting. Hopefully we will find out more about his medical issues and how they affect his retirement options on Thursday. As sad as I am that his military career is coming to an end, I do look forward to the day when I no longer have to wonder what my life will look like in 3, 5, 10 years. The picture is starting to come into focus and it’s finally up to us what the end result will be.
Have you ever been to Charleston or Austin? What did you think of it?