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Read: Why so many folks are retiring to Pennsylvania

Note: The entire premise of the SeniorArk site is about how to retire, perhaps with very little, and happily make ends meet. This article is an example of how to do that with housing.  Please check out the rest of the site for many more valuable ideas, and a lot of fun.

 

We will expand this section from time-to-time. You may have some ideas.  If you do, please email at seniorark@aol.com.  Email if you have questions as well. We are pleased to hear from you, and will respond.

Retirement Housing ---

   or Anybody's Housing---

on Less than a Shoestring

$49,500

"NOT WHAT I HAD PLANNED ON, BUT MUCH MORE THAN ENOUGH"

 by: "Still Grateful" , a SeniorArk volunteer.

Updated: Monday December 08, 2014

seniorark@aol.com

Email the author. He loves to talk about this great little town: seniorark@aol.com

You may also like to read:  All About Pennsylvania Taxes for Retirees, and others.

You may also be interested in: Why Folks are Retiring to Pennsylvania, Taxes, By State, ,

         Pennsylvania Towns 6,000+ population , Return to:  Housing Tips,   or   Housing Links 

 

        

The earlier details are not important. Suffice it to say, as I entered retirement there was very little money left. There was a little equity in the house, but a mortgage had been taken out that I could no longer afford.  Where would we live? As that Saturday Night Live character used to say, "In a van---down by the river?" Those are the thoughts that pass through one's mind when other hopes and plans are  radically altered through circumstance. (Read more about those circumstances at editor) editor.)                      

                                                                                                    must be viewed in

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    Triple animation produced by SeniorArk

But the purpose of this section is to show you that there is hope for you and your family if you must drastically "buy down".

We could not afford anything in our immediate area, so we started a search online at Realtor.com. Dismal. We actually wanted to buy something for no more than $60,000 in 2004. Now depending on where you live, that is probably a joke. One of my former residences, a comfortable 2600 sq ft colonial, was recently on the market for over $700,000, so I do understand if you laugh.

Most of the areas we looked at online had NO houses for $60,000. Not even apartments. Hardly a decent lot. We had to move our search from the eastern U.S., to west of the Appalachians and east of the Rockies, into what folks call the Midwest. Now we began to see things for $60,000, Most were very sad, but things were about to improve.

As we searched smaller towns, you know, 15,000 to 40,000 population, there seemed to be some housing that could  be livable for our price. In fact a few, very few, towns with houses in that price range, seemed downright nice. After quite a search, we looked at a small town in Western Pennsylvania, 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, called New Castle (some videos will require the free Adobe Flash program).  Or see the New Castle photos.

New Castle has had a more stellar past, but is just beginning to go through a small-town renaissance. Brand new state-of-the-art high school, new parks, classic street lights with huge hanging planters everywhere.  The factories, for the most part, have gone years ago. But there are now smaller companies sprouting up. And a new industrial park or two. And some new shopping centers. Because New Castle is only 40 miles by divided highway from the world-class Pittsburgh airport, folks who do a lot of flying for business are buying here. Pittsburghers are discovering the area, and deciding that the prices, quality of life, and low crime rate, justify the commute. 

Through its ups and downs, New Castle has maintained with pride, a lot of quality housing. And some not so quality housing. We bought somewhere in the middle. Here is our house, and very happy home. This is pretty much how we found it. We have made changes for the better in the last two years.

click to enlarge

I recently did a search for very similar houses to the one pictured above----------MINE!         I found one in Northwest Washington DC for $725,000, Bethesda, MD for $786,000 - one of my former towns, Newark, NJ for $599,000, Boston for $655,000,  Atlanta for $325,000, Denver Area about $175,000,  Portland, OR for $300,000, Menlo Park, CA hard to pin down, but about $900,000 for a 1500 sq ft home, Pittsburgh, PA for $174,000. And I prefer my house to most of them.

About the house and town: Craftsman style, on the inside and out, between 1500 and 1600 sq ft.  Taxes:$1500 (Before homestead exemption and Senior state tax reduction. After reductions--$about $980)   3 bedrooms,     1 1/2 baths, 27 x 13 living room, 13 x 14 dining room, 12 x 12 den or breakfast room. modern kitchen, floored  attic, full basement, 27 x 12 front porch, single garage,   40 x 180 lot.    Purchase price $49,500. What in the world can a town with $49,500  houses look like? See a page of pictures for yourself Is it Ft Lauderdale, FL, Westchester, NY, Palm Springs, CA, or the Fox Chapel section of Pittsburgh? No, but it ain't bad for the bucks.

And there are others now on the market similar to it, and for a similar price today. In fact, a "livable" house can be had in the New Castle area for $10,000 (Has a roof and a furnace). And they can go for over $1,000,000. To see a few sample properties in zip code 16105, click here. New Castle also includes zip codes 16101, 16102, and nearby New Wilmington is 16142.

We are just blocks to our hospital, a huge deli-type Giant Eagle grocery store, Sears, Super Wal-Mart, Staples, Lowes, Kmart and more. 20 minutes to an enclosed mall, and 30 minutes to one of the largest outlet centers in the country. We have nearby access to one of the best hospital systems in the world, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (Ranked #12 of America's 4,861 hospitals on July 17, 2009). We are 6 and 20 miles from two of the highest ranked small colleges in America. (Westminster and Grove City)  Sporting and cultural events are available to the public at both schools. Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony perform in New Castle. There is a professional quality playhouse. The homes in our area are generally well-maintained, as well as the lawns. The people are welcoming and super friendly. The climate is spectacular in the summer-spring-autumn, and becoming more temperate in the winter. If it snows, the roads are quickly cleared. There is easy access to other areas on interstates 79 and 80, each just a few minutes away, and State Route 60 which is about to become an interstate. It is 5 minutes away. The crime rate is very low in the whole county (Lawrence). New Castle is surrounded by idyllic rolling farmland, largely occupied by the Amish. We employ Amish to work at our home on occasion, at a great price for quality hard work.  Perhaps best of all, we have a mayor who reads your email, and actually calls you to see what he can do to help you. Seniors ride most routes on our bus system free, non rush hour. Round-trip bus fares to Pittsburgh are only $6--for everyone, from a brand new (May 2007) $2.5 million park-and-ride lot in downtown New Castle.

Tonight, July 11, 2008, my wife and I, along with our granddaughter who now lives with us, went to our first free New Castle concert at the Riverwalk Amphitheater along East Washington Street and the Neshannock Creek. Several hundred spectators enjoyed the music of a local band, while a hundred or so more dined and drank at a new outdoor bistro adjacent to the park, and also on the water. At 9:30 there will be fireworks. This was a wonderful experience. There are several free concerts during the summer, and we may well return.

To sum up: Would New Castle have been my first choice if I had retained the assets I had saved? No. Was I embarrassed to buy down. Yes. Am I happy? Yes, very. And you can be too! We just need to accept the reality of our situation, no matter what that is, and know that there are still wonderful options for us out there. Only then can we move on and be "still grateful", and very happy. We think we have found a gem of a town here, and suspect there are others just like it. Happy hunting. Email me if you need help. And let me know what YOU have found out there. We will post your findings at :

Reader submissions for inexpensive areas to retire.

Several Readers have asked me to recommend someone in New Castle who can send them more information on housing and the town. I will suggest two Realtors without hesitation: (1) Caren Foy, a delightful, and very professional agent. (2) Jesse Horton, a straight arrow who will do whatever it takes to get you into a home at any price. Email and ask one of them to send you a "Homes" booklet. We have had experience with both of these Realtors, and highly commend them.

We will expand this section from time-to-time. You may have some ideas.  If you do, please email at seniorark@aol.com.  Email if you have questions as well. We are pleased to hear from you, and will respond.

All About Pennsylvania Taxes for Retirees, and others.

You may also be interested in: Why Folks are Retiring to Pennsylvania, Taxes, By State, ,

 Pennsylvania Towns 6,000+ population ,      Also see:   Housing Tips,   or   Housing Links   

 

Note: The entire premise of the SeniorArk site is about how to retire, perhaps with very little, and happily make ends meet. This article is an example of how to do that with housing.  Please check out the rest of the site for many more valuable ideas, and a lot of fun.

 

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www.SeniorARK.com                                        email: SeniorARK@aol.com