Chasing Bases for Retirement

Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
This was going to be my point. My wife and I talk about retiring to a little island in the caribbean but, the point of issue is that as you get older, you need to see more doctors and just plain need more medical care. Smaller towns just can't provide that. You need to be in distance of a ambulance ride to decent medical care.
Which also begs the question, once you’re retired (assuming we’re talking about the traditional age 65), how many years of chasing will you have left in you? Hopefully another 10, but once you hit 70 those long drives and late hours may not be practical or safe. Could be time to revert to chase tours.
 
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Jul 1, 2014
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With living in the upper pennisula of Michigan I was always very jealous of those that lived in the plains. They could frequently chase even after a day of work in some cases, which was something I could rarely do because of a lack of storms. I finally made the big change and moved to Topeka, KS late last year. Ive already got a couple of chase days in and couldn't be happier. After 35 years of chasing I finally feel like this is where I belong. Contrary to some others, I chase more now and my passion for it has increased over the years.
 

Mark Blue

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Feb 19, 2007
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Colorado
Ha. I retired and moved to southeast CO in 2007. My zip code is Holly, but I live on 2½ acres surrounded by alfalfa fields on a dirt road out in the county. My nearest neighbor is 1000 feet away. The second-nearest is a mile away. I can wake up in my own bed at, say, 7AM and chase anything from around Childress TX to Valentine NE to Emporia KS the same day. Not to brag, but it's pretty sweet. I encourage any other chaser to move to this county (Prowers) who is able. Houses are cheap here, the lifestyle is as laid-back as you could imagine, and the people are friendly.
Hey Bob, had you moved to Holly prior to 03/28/07? We drove through there in 2008 and there was quite a bit of evidence of bark being stripped from the trees. Here’s the SPC reports for that evening, or should I say night: Storm Prediction Center 20070328's Storm Reports. I was just wondering if you were able to witness that bad boy?
 

JL Gacke

Enthusiast
Dec 9, 2015
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Loveland, CO
(referring only to my situation as we obviously all have to do what's comfortable individually).

I'm going through something similar as I turn 65 in 4 months. Planning on moving off the now crowded front range of N-CO and buy something v-inexpensive in eastern CO. I already spend so much time out there year-round anyway. My son still lives here so another state is out.
Build a storm shelter and ride/chase into the sunset. Living somewhere within 30 miles or so of a larger town is fine as I tend to live my life more today than tomorrow.

Figure I'll have to switch to a storm chasing bicycle at some point once I can't drive – I'm not giving up without a fight! (hail guards for sure!) :+)
At least I'd be in good position on my front porch for some of those wonderful gangs of Colorado landspouts.
(Might have to look you up Bob and check out Prowers Co)

Side note: Ran across David Hoadley chasing in Nebraska last season – very cool!
 
Dec 8, 2003
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Southeast CO
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Hey Bob, had you moved to Holly prior to 03/28/07? We drove through there in 2008 and there was quite a bit of evidence of bark being stripped from the trees. Here’s the SPC reports for that evening, or should I say night: Storm Prediction Center 20070328's Storm Reports. I was just wondering if you were able to witness that bad boy?
I did not move here until December 2007, but in March 2007 I had already been planning to move here. I was not chasing in 2007 because of a need to preserve my finances at that time, though I was nowcasting for several people who were chasing in the TX PH that day. That was the same day as the Tulia TX tornado. I saw the couplet near Holly and thought "uh oh".

I am now on the board of the Holly Historical Society. We have a display about the tornado in our museum, and on the 10-year anniversary we held an event to commemorate it at the town's movie theater, hosted by Tom Magnuson, the WCM in Pueblo (since retired). We have nearly all the TV station news clips from afterward, as well as a book that we sell with copies of virtually all the newspaper articles from around the state.

JL... that's good to hear. I haven't seen David in a few years and was wondering if he's still getting out.
 
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Jan 16, 2009
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Kansas City
Must be nice to have that kind of money. I'm still working on house #1 (that is, coming up with money for a down payment).
The key for me is multi-family structures. I live in one unit and the other three pay my mortgage (house hack). It is not a have money thing as the 4-plex price is the same as a home usually. I would suggest you think about this route as it is free living and as the property’s value raises you can refi for free cash or for less to lower payment.

I strongly recommend not purchasing a retirement home base for chasing. After an exhausting chase, it’s no fun or safe having to drive back home to your base, often on flooded roads at night. Day 2 often begins near the end of your Day 1 chase. Not many people want to live in the desolate Great Plains and it’s expensive to own two homes. It’s best to pony up the cash for a nearby motel.
I drive home from a lot of chases as it is this is more to limit driving from Eastern CO after a chase back to NM. Hotels would still be needed on multi-day chases most likely but trying to limit. The homes do not cost anything if you do the multifamily way. It would be combining real estate investing with storm chasing and also provides and income stream in retirement. This would be because the refi would be for lower payments thus more income coming in.
 
With your homes in Kansas City and New Mexico, it strikes me that you are already within a day's drive of the majority of places you would probably want to chase. Though you do have to be in the right house for the particular setup, of course. But I do have to say I like the idea of starting out in NM, following the weather system northeast over 2 or 3 days, then having a home in Kansas City. Sounds to me like you have a pretty good setup already.

Now as to your question, my inclination, assuming you intend to keep these two homes and want another one as a base for chasing, would be stick a pin about in the middle between them and then search Zillow or Realtor.com. That would put you somewhere in NW Oklahoma or SW Kansas, which as others have pointed out, is an ideal chase location (think Dodge City and Rozel). As an owner of 2 homes, I tend to agree with Dan that owning multiple homes is more complicated than most people think - and ours are just 3 hours apart (in CO and NM). But if you already own homes in Kansas City and New Mexico, then you know what is involved.

As to taxes in CO - what an earlier poster said about them being high may be true if you are in the big cities, but in smaller towns property taxes are modest. And Colorado's flat-rate income tax is one of the lowest in the country, and as a retiree, depending on your age, you pay no income tax at all on the first 20-24K of your income, depending on your age. So CO is actually a rather low-tax state as long as you are not paying Denver or Colorado Springs taxes. And given what it costs now to buy property there, taxes are probably the least of your worries.
 

Terry Hale

Enthusiast
May 15, 2019
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Oklahoma City
I grew up in Waynoka, Ok. The town itself would suck to live full time imho, but it is in NW OK and has a decent amount of transients due to the Little Sahara State Park. You could always look to rent the place out to “duners” when you are not looking to stay there as a base of operations.

If you want somewhere that has a little more civilization you could also look at Woodward, OK. It is right where US-412 and US-281 intersect.
 

Todd Lemery

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Jun 2, 2014
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Menominee, MI
I’m looking at a couple more cities and wanted to know if anyone had an opinion on either of the cities. I’d love to hear it. The cities are Sherman, Texas and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
 
Jun 16, 2015
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Oklahoma City, OK
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I’m looking at a couple more cities and wanted to know if anyone had an opinion on either of the cities. I’d love to hear it. The cities are Sherman, Texas and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
I don't know much about Sherman, other than I've driven through it and think it's a decent location. It's not far from Dallas, but it's far enough away to be in a more rural area. It's a decent location, as you're not far from I-35.

My only thing is that I feel Sherman is a bit farther east than what would be ideal. There's no interstate/freeway to quickly get west, even though you can use US-82 to get toward Wichita Falls. It also feels a little bit to the south, but the plus side would be a warmer winter (if it's a year-round place) and being fairly close to Dallas-Fort Worth.

Broken Arrow also feels like it's a bit far on the east side, but then again, it's near a good set of interstates and main routes, so you can easily get to I-35 and Oklahoma City.

In my own opinion, I feel as if the ideal spot would be near or west of I-35, but that's personal preference.
 
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Todd Lemery

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Jun 2, 2014
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Menominee, MI
Thanks for the input guys. This house will eventually be a full time house. I understand that the locations are probably a bit East to be ideal chase locations, but will be a huge upgrade from the upper peninsula of Michigan. My wife likes areas with lots of trees and has a higher income than me so I’m feeling pretty lucky that we are looking in the areas that we are. She originally was getting a little fixated on the Carolinas so I dodged one there!
 
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Sep 7, 2013
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Strasburg, CO
FWIW - Normal winters in CO, on the plains at least, typically consist of 2-3 snowstorms a year. I've mowed my lawn in February. This last year was a bitch, but it happens. I keep having to tell my parents, Denver, and where we live east of Denver, isn't the place that gets 3ft of snow and is on the news, thats the mountains.
 
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Mar 8, 2009
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Meadville PA
I almost bought a house in St. John Kansas about 20 years ago. The prices were unbelievable low at the time AND the town was willing to give it to me for $1....provided I kept the grass cut etc. Darn near did it but for the life of me, I could not find a kid willing to mow regularly nor even a lawn care company is such a small town. I looked at this 2 bedroom brick home, with garage and a fenced yard....for $22,000! Still kicking myself over not moving on that one.
 

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Jun 16, 2015
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Oklahoma City, OK
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Given what we've discussed, if you want the best of both worlds, meaning being on the Plains, but also being near the woods/forest and populated areas, it's hard to argue against the I-35/I-44 corridors from North Texas into Oklahoma/Kansas.

Even though eastern Colorado may not get a lot of snow, I would still argue that the winters are harsh. Cold weather is commonplace from October through April. Sure, there is fluctuation, but even when it's not snowing, with a stiff wind, bitterly cold wind chills will be frequent during the winter months. Blowing/drifting snow and near-zero visibility, even when it's not snowing. Snow cannot be ruled out in May, even...

I lived in New England for 27 years and I can speak to the winters being draining after a while. It's not just about being bitterly cold or snowing all the time, but having the potential for snow for more than half of the year and how things do not green up until April, at the earliest.

I like Oklahoma City for a lot of reasons. It's very centrally located and the climate is reasonable. You get a few cold/snowy days in the winter, but that's about it. I always thought New England was pretty, but the winters got to me quick and this is coming from someone who used to love winter storms!
 
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Aug 9, 2008
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Pueblo, CO
Interesting to see talk about my home city in this thread... Pueblo is somewhat centrally located (a little west/southwest of 'ideal', granted), the cost of living is fairly low (especially compared to the rest of the I-25 corridor), is certainly close to the outdoor activities for which Colorado is famous (without all the traffic of Colorado Springs/Denver), and offers almost all forms of potentially extreme weather within a fifty-mile radius. If it's snowing in May, there's a great chance that you won't be around to experience it - you'll be well east or southeast in the active warm sector. Average temps in the winter are near freezing with average daily maxima in the mid-upper 40s, and average seasonal snowfall is around thirty inches in the city. Big hail is a nuisance when it jacks up your roof, and/or any vehicles you wish to keep free from dents; such occurrences are uncommon but represent the highest-probability damaging weather event in this area.

I don't think I'd retire anywhere else, though I'm biased.