https://www.willowfinch.com/ seems to be the start-up that this article founded (or is the story of how she got there)
It seems to be a fairly sensible idea - cost-of-living is not just how much a house in Rural "Southern State" costs but varies based on house price + Other State laws and Taxes + mostly healthcare stuff non_US folks dont understand + othr variables based on your stage of life (young and single vs young family etc.)
So her startup helps people find best part of the country to live in based on all those variables.
Which sounds awesome, if only most people did not base their location on a job.
Which after COVID means this is a really good time to start that start up.
However, I have my doubts that many retirees are interested in evaluating retirement destinations solely on cost of living requirements. Nearly everyone wants to retire to some place they enjoy which is close to their friends and family. Moving across the country to save a few hundred dollars per month isn’t helpful if you spend thousands of dollars more every year on plane tickets to travel back to see friends and family.
Presumably, as she mentioned ACA, you're getting the same level of service, so how can it vary by state? I thought ACA was federal level?
And up until ACA, all health "insurance" was administered state by state, with various additional state laws and compliance with state insurance regulators, so instead of dismantling all that, it was mostly left alone as long as it complied with the ACA minimums.
Healthcare providers charge very different amounts in very different places, due to reasons such as doctors wanting more money for having to live in less desirable areas, so it makes sense that it would cost more or less in different places.
Also, the "risk pool" is restricted to each state due to aforementioned system of regulating insurance state by state, so states with smaller populations have less lives to spread the healthcare costs around. This means that healthcare costs in smaller states could be lower, if everyone is healthier, but more likely is something like the case of Iowa where a single anemic patient caused an insurer to back out of the state since their healthcare costs were so high it was not profitable to operate in the state (until the Iowa government, i.e. rest of Iowa taxpayers, stepped in to help.)
Some of this is also due to political compromises during ACA passage that continued to allow employers to silo their employees' into their own risk pools via employer sponsored health insurance, and a lot of these are the healthier lives that would help shoulder the healthcare costs of the "general public".
Even the cost of buildings and supplies varies with location.
Doctors were just an example.
2. Economic variables can vary significantly between regions
3. There are artificial barriers that significantly distort the market for health care - the most egregious being prohibitions on insurance across state lines that create artificial silos. The overhead of insurance companies and people using insurance for all health care instead of just providing coverage for catastrophic needs inflicts bloat and overhead on even the most mundane of transactions. I've switched to a high deductible plan with a health savings account that lets me pay for my health care tax free so I negotiate with cash for the vast majority of my health care needs and let me tell you - the difference vs. going through insurance is eye opening. On top of that I no longer have to look for providers who are in network - I can pick whoever I want for whatever reason I want. Yup, it takes a bit more effort - but it's my freaking health. There are few things more important or worth dedicating effort to.
ACA introduced rules that effectively make health insurance premiums a tax, where the young and healthy pay for the old and sick (like taxpayer funded healthcare). It did so in a few ways:
1) force MCOs to provide insurance to everyone, by removing pre existing conditions as a criteria for pricing insurance (effectively causing healthy people to subsidize sick people)
2) force everyone to buy insurance (although this got neutered, both by removing individual penalty and allowing employer sponsored plans to continue to exist)
3) pricing is only based on age, location, smoking status
4) pricing is such that highest premium can only be 3x the premium of ages 21 to 24, effectively causing young people to subsidize old people
5) out of pocket maximums for in network providers - this leaves in the true insurance part of the business in that you will not have to pay over a certain amount in a calendar year.
>I'm not sure why there is so much state-to-state variance, but afaik the aca wouldn't prevent that.
Because insurance regulation is still at the state level, and MCOs were allowed to use location as a factor in calculating premiums, so different places in the US have different healthcare costs due to factors such as wages, land costs, liability costs. Although this mostly exists on the state level, I do not think it gets more granular than that.
I would say family/friends even takes priority, as many people give up economic/political benefits of moving elsewhere to stay closer to their network.
("This map of the 2018 2nd Cheapest Silver ACA plans shows the variance against the cost for 2 people, aged 59, with King County, Washington as the base. The olive green color is zero-ish variance. The darker the green, the cheaper the health insurance is in that county. The darker the red, the more expensive that county is compared to King County, Washington.")
One anecdotal experience in this area for me is that my employer recently switched health insurance companies on us. On paper, the new plan is equivalent to the old plan, but appreciably less expensive. In reality, I would gladly pay even more than the old plan cost, just to go back to it. And probably save money (certainly be able to hold onto my hair color a bit longer) in the process.
What will change is the network of healthcare providers that are in network for you. This is how I think price discrimination will work in healthcare in the US going forward.
A more expensive silver health insurance will have more doctors in network since it will reimburse at a higher price (from your or your employer’s higher premiums). A less expensive silver health insurance will have fewer doctors in network, since fewer doctors will accept that price. Or it will have overworked doctors, or you will have to see nurse practitioners or physician’s assistance instead of MDs.
If you find your employer’s in network doctors worse, then it is basically a stealth pay cut from one perspective.
I find it bizarre how many people just trust that insurance companies will actually honor their contracts. In my experience, they likely won't. This is just my anecdote.
And in general, anything the insurance company might not want to pay for required a “prior authorization”, which usually happens if the insurance company’s doctors think there is another option for treatment or the proposed option does not have sufficient evidence.
I imagine there is similar processes in taxpayer funded healthcare systems too to properly allocate resources. Although, I am sure there are many cases of problems caused by insurance companies in the US, due to the bureaucracy.
>I imagine there is similar processes in taxpayer funded healthcare systems too to properly allocate resources.
What the doctor orders is what you get. You can typically choose your doctor, as well as get a second opinion. The doctors are generally paid the same.
I would be surprised if any country gave doctors blank checks for everything since no one has unlimited resources. There most likely is a system for figuring out where waste is happening and avoiding it.
It struck me that energy costs (which involves location etc) weren't included, but perhaps that's in the final service?
And were there any "Blue Dots" in the sea of red around where she lives?
I can't figure out what her aim is with this. Is the proposition that she'll have an easier time making friends in a city that's 60% Democrat as opposed to 40%? Same thing with the dry county issue. Is an extra five minutes in the car to the next county over even noticeable?
So many more significant things are ignored. Does she like the weather in these places? Do she or her husband have significant allergies to the sources of pollen native to the properties?
Seems she has allergies to the Republican neighbors native to the properties.
It might be if the next county over has noticeably better roads because of the extra taxes due to alcohol sales.
In rural areas that distinction actually matters.
> Same thing with the dry county issue. Is an extra five minutes in the car to the next county over even noticeable?
When your county is wet, you don't need a car to get to the nearest pub or can hail an Uber for cheap to get home.
In the end I realized it was an ad for her startup (willowfinch) which apparently does the same thing -- screen for where-to-live.
Btw, I didn’t write the piece - I just built the blogging platform on which this is hosted.
Her partner's obsession with sales tax made no sense either, considering there are far bigger costs to consider for one's retirement budget.
> Who cares if there are income taxes? When it came to monthly expenses, the savings would be thousands less paid in health insurance.
I'd suggest that if someone is more than a couple of queer, atheist, racial minority, vegetarian, cyclist, artist, nerdy, career-oriented female, etc then they may find it even more challenging to fit in.
It's worth looking carefully at any community before moving in, but it's worth looking especially carefully before moving to a deep red area in a red state.
(Or vice-versa if you're a religious conservative -- you might find a dark blue community in a blue state a poor fit.)
That's the personal angle of course, but also I'd generally prefer to live somewhere where the neighbors aren't out to get other marginalised groups, either...
US political party identification is a decent though not perfect proxy for how your neighbors are likely to feel about a whole range of issues, and _people_.
Not nearly as much as you have been told it is. But that’s a really nice way to generalize conservatives as racists. The truth is as a local who has lived in both areas, I’ve met just as many left wing racists as right, just in different ways.
I find more diversity of thought among anti-establishment left because what’s important to them/us is addressed by such a variety of movements rather than mainstream politics.
In this sense establishment Democrats are a proxy for the anti-establishment left, many of whom can’t even vote.
And even though a bunch do not affect me, my kids might benefit from them someday. Was a no brainer for me to look at how my neighbors would be voting when choosing where to live.
Seeing those raving lunatics roving over the capitol grounds gives me pause though.
I know most people aren’t like that, but it’s hard to not be worried.
I know, the Kavanaugh protesters were totally unreasonable.
On the one hand you have folks that want to ban rights of LGBTQ folks, end ability to get an abortion safely, for example.
On the other there’s those that want to remove powers of the police, allow homeless drug addicts to take over neighborhoods, and more authoritarian style lockdown policies in public health.
There’s people that really don’t like some of that and will go where their lives feel less restricted.
But there is no place to go. The global status quo has me trapped here as a prisoner. There will no escape, no relief, and no freedom. I am and shall always be a slave of some State; I can only pick my poison.
These words will ring true, for some, in every corner of the world. But by all means, continue to ignore, marginalize, and exploit us. That surely will end well.
Recent rulings in Canada over speech are pretty nuts too given their history. Worse than the batshit crazy stuff going on in Britain today :p
The idea is a lot less about politics, and more about being comfortable in the area you live in.
If at all, her maps don't take that into account, as this is also on a state level, so a "blue" region in a state that has harmful legislation is still a dangerous place to live in.
Given that system, this is a very democratic and rational move.
How do people even live with health insurance that costs $2000 per month?
There are quite a bit of subsidies available though if you're in the bottom ~5 income deciles:
I think you get screwed roughly in the 6th to 8th income decile range, where you are not rich enough to be able to weather a calamity, but you are also earning too much to get assistance. A lot of people fall back down to the bottom deciles trying to move up to the top deciles if/when something goes wrong, but life is pretty nice for those that do make it.
Granted we are pretty frugal, but health insurance is insane.
I assume social security will just be a nice bonus if I get it in the 2050s.
There are no plans to discontinue this practice. Many people believe SS will not be meaningfully available to them at retirement decades from now, which is understandable skepticism, but is not a reflection on how retirement is intended to work in the US.
If I took all my expenses over my adult life of 15 years and calculated the price change between 15 years ago and when I purchased them, the total increase in prices eclipses the official nationwide statistics.
So I assume healthcare costs will continue at above official inflation (especially as the proportion of young to old people decreases, which means less supply of labor in the face of increasing demand). And similar movements in the land and other labor I would be interested in.
Also, social security retirement age was 65, and it was updated to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. It would be prudent to expect more increases in future years. I can easily see 70 being the new age at which you get “full” social security benefits.
> but is not a reflection on how retirement is intended to work in the US.
It does not matter what the intentions are. At the end of the day, it is productivity from the younger groups that allows for the benefits to be realized by older groups. As the younger group gets fewer and fewer, and the older group gets bigger and bigger, the supply of productivity from the younger groups decreases and the demand for it increases.
The only way that works out is if fewer people actually get to realize those benefits, which means you want to be able to pay for it (with cash and/or political power).
Again, I totally understand the skepticism about the long-term viability of social security. I also foresee retirement age adjustments up (they make some sense since people are living and working longer) and I also think that the income limitation on Social Security and Medicare tax will be increased in our lifetimes without offering proportional additional benefits to those paying to deal with the insufficient size in the working populations.
However, the original misconception that started this thread was that a million in cash is required to retire in the US, and it’s simply not, and it’s not the intention of US policy to make that situation come about. It may inadvertently happen due to economic stress, but the same can be said about any western country’s expensive public welfare programs.
But considering taxes can change from year to year, all this work and research has to be redone every few years, right ?
Looks like the two graphics are in the wrong order. The "magical insurance" graphic is the one prior to the alcohol map.
I would love to see this for the top ~40 or so countries of the world. As indicated in the comments, I think it would be very different and offer an interesting look at cost / benefits of various governments as they relate to someone’s livelihood.
The Social Security calculations clearly indicate that's the consideration, but Medicare kicks in at 65. What does the ACA matter at that point?
I'd have understood if there was mention of Medicare gap coverage options instead, but ACA costs really don't make sense to me in this context.
"The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley"
I'd go for friends, family, and a place where you'd be happy. Taxes and other factors vary across time, why not be somewhere nice instead of always worrying the optimum spot won't be next year?
As a comparison, here in Germany it's one federal level of sales tax (19% and 7% for food and a couple other exempted items), one federal level of healthcare costs (7.3% of gross wage, plus .5-2% of surcharge depending on insurance company), and legal drinking/smoking age is federal 16 (beer/wine)/18 (tobacco, other alcohols), and you can buy alcohol and tobacco products everywhere.
This is one reason why applying sales tax to online purchases is such a pain, and helps favor the incumbents like Amazon.
The United States is a big place. We have a similar landmass to all of Europe. The GDP of the state of California is almost as big as the GDP of Germany.
It makes more sense when you think of the United States as, literally, a collection of states that have significant leeway in how they operate their affairs. Even individual counties can vary widely in their culture and governance practices.
Dry counties are rare and usually associated with a highly religious population that chooses to live somewhere without alcohol sales. Generally these locations are not far from counties that allow liquor sales so purchasing alcohol is a matter of driving a short distance. However, most of the people who live there deliberately choose the location because they have no interest in alcohol so it’s not really an issue for them.
Due to its history and immigration, the US is much larger in population and size and more geologically, philosophically, and demographically more diverse than most countries. One size does not fit all if one is seeking a stable long lasting democracy.
Healthcare costs vary because labor, land, utility, legal, and other costs vary by location (especially legal as that is subject to many states' laws and judicial systems).
Health insurance premiums vary because the risk pools for the insurance that individuals can buy via healthcare.gov are separated for each state. There is the federal law, ACA, but on certain states have more rules that distribute the healthcare costs even more to young/healthy people. See this page for some examples:
And in general, the administration and regulation of insurance pricing is on a state level too, so there might simply be variance due to that.
The side most obvious to outsiders is where it seems to work badly - the bad sheriff who keeps being re-elected, quirks like dry counties. But it's admirable in a way, that people have some power to determine the local rules, together with the freedom to move away if they don't like it. If local democracy were extended further, there would be more variation, and more weirdness, but perhaps it would be a good thing overall.
(Note that a 'parish council' here is for a civil parish, that is the smallest type of administrative unit in the UK; it's not a church parish)
At that point, you will probably be relieved that those idiots aren't allowed do anything important.
I suppose in principle if local authorities were more important, you might get more competent people running for election onto them, but given the average quality of _national_ backbenchers, this seems optimistic.
I wish there was an empirical way of screening out moral puritan types with the aim of directly eliminating their influence, but I'm not sure that can be done without endangering democracy itself. A more difficult but much more ethical approach I think is to try and create new social norms that make aggressive conformity something to be ashamed rather than proud of, puritanism in any direction should be made into a sign of weakness rather than strength. We need a society that instinctively defends "witches" when the witch-hunters are in town.
That's impossible; political parties naturally emerge in democracies. Very few countries have the official recognition of parties that the US does (party registration, official primaries etc) but all democracies have political parties.
Non-partisan democracies do exist, some of them are even directly associated with the UK such as the Falkland Islands and the Isle of Man which are roughly the size of a British parish and a council respectively.
It’d be nice to see some CoL data on the international level too.
I'm skeptical on this point. I think that we're already around 10-20% remote work and might get to 25% remote work in the coming years . I don't think this is a tiny fraction. I'm expecting technology to further reduce the dependence on physical presence over time.
I think remote work has had a significant change (e.g. less commute time, less pollution, more family time) and could cause changes in politics too. Imagine flipping a couple senate seats in a low population density area to further a remote work friendly lawmaking (i.e. land use rules, healthcare, etc...).
Peoples eyes have been opened and the genie is out of the bottle. I fully expect remote work to transform America to the extent that the post WWII suburbanization will look like a statistical anomaly by comparison.
I would love to work remotely, but I'm not seeing any realistic probability of that for me in the near future.
Indeed I would argue the more we defer to national politics the worse (dramatically worse!) things get. Senators were set up to be elected by the state legislatures on purpose to encourage people to pay attention to their state legislatures. The House of Representatives were selected by popular vote.
Separation of duties/check and balances. The 17th amendment "fixed" that - and I'd say every since it's been downhill from there. Pure democracy's CAN NOT work - it's why we are (for now) a representative republic. There is no perfect system as long as humans are involved, but we were blessed with a pretty good one. I wish people would stop trying to tear it down - we know from history the alternatives are pretty gawd awful.
You're understating the complexity a bit here, I think. For instance, what's VAT on a loaf of bread, vs a bagel, vs a croissant? (I don't actually know for Germany, but in Ireland a loaf of bread is zero-rated, as is a bagel, but a croissant is reduced-rate, but for a period of around a year a few years back a bagel was also reduced-rate...)
The US gets its tax complexity from regionalism, and Europe gets it from baroque VAT rules. It's debatable which is worse :)
I agree that VAT rules are a bit nuts, but most of the insanity is shielded from most consumers.
That would be hilarious, especially if you're shopping with friends.
It would be ludicrous though to actually implement, rather like the US's sales-tax system.
I don't think counties can fully forbid sales of alcohol.
I think that's why we've been the big superpower for so long. We're fucking nuts. We'll invade your country for no reason and then try to make you pay for it.
Iraq and Afghanistan aren't paying us the trillions we've wasted these past decades.
In the US, one side lost, and was then venerated as heroes, which is particularly odd.
You could argue that one both ways very easily; on the one hand, there's still a monarch, and there are no puritans. On the other, the monarch has no power (though you could convincingly argue that that was part of a process that was ongoing anyway, and the civil war didn't necessarily change the pace that much).
It's the combination which is very odd. Plenty of countries have civil strife and have one side viewed as heroes. In the US both Robert E Lee and Abraham Lincoln are venerated.
Similar with healthcare where it's by and large provided by the state.
Obviously speaking from my experience which is limited to the bigger countries in europe
As for our healthcare - I'll keep our system, warts and all. Not saying it can't be improved but at least I know when I need care I will be able to get it in my (literal!) lifetime. And if I'm sufficiently motivated I can get the best care available. I'll take that over any least common denominator one-size-fits-all model any day. Maybe your politicians are just better at running government programs - ours aren't. They are stupid bad at it. All I have to do is look at how well the free government provided health care is for our military veterans and know I don't want our government anywhere near my healthcare, thank you very much.
I live in the Pacific Northwest and while winters are a little too cold and rainy, summers are typically perfect (ignoring the recent Heat Dome, which I hope will not become a regular part of summer). I've thought about moving back to the Bay Area (fortunately, my job allows me to afford it), but between the droughts and wildfires, I'm not sure it's the same place that I left. Maybe I'll just rent an AirBNB there for a month in the winter.
State or county averages are pretty useless in high-tax states such as in the NE: in NJ or NY, the range is ~0% to over 3% of assessed values, depending on the municipality. There is no national source for municipal level mill and equalization rates and the figures on Zillow & co are only point in time snippets (and often wrong) and will change through your purchase or if you remodel. And for the most part, this data resides only in PDFs, if it’s available at all. With the SALT deduction currently at $10k and likely going to be subject to wild swings over the next decades, property taxes can dwarf most other expenses such as health insurance or sales tax. At current mortgage rates, they could even be higher than your actual mortgage payments.
Another problem is state long term capital gains taxes. If you have investable assets or plan on building those, it makes a big difference whether you live in a state that has them or does not have them and how soon you’ll have them. Federal LTCG taxes are easier to navigate if you can time your income - sell assets in years without (much) earned income, for example. But the state level is more rigid.
For example, TN and WA may come ahead based on capital gains taxes (they don’t have any), while GA has nearly 6%.
That being said, an analysis like that could be useful for comparing states that resemble each other in terms of their tax profile. Or you exclude high prop tax and non-zero LT cap gains tax states from the beginning but then your state sample shrinks, leaving less room for the many subjective characteristics that cannot be quantified easily…
This will boost any pertinent local commercial activity (and, reciprocally, dumb down anything not pertinent), the zone will become even more attractive to this population category, and so on...
This population category will gain influence, and vote local laws in favor among its members, boosting the feedback loop.
In abstract, allowing people to move to places where the government and work more closely matches their personal values and skillsets seems like a good way to increase everyone's satisfaction. In practice I'm not sure.
The first (oldest) post on the blog index is still a Moogle tutorial/example post. I suggest to delete/unpublish it.
Maybe wait to start your marketing efforts until you actually have something ready to market, eh?
I feel personally attacked by this sentiment. As a fellow wonk, there is a lot more to getting a program out to the world than just the cleverness of connecting the dots. You don't have anything without the cleverness, but the dot connecting takes time. I look forward to good things. I liked the blog and I think the product would be neat to couple with zillow fantasies.
You typically get one chance to make a first impression. Indeed, along with the "Coming Soon" message you can offer to notify people when you do go operational - win win. I'd like that since the site looks like it could be very useful (and not just for myself!).
I just happen to be a fellow wonk who also has been in the position of bringing something that was a cool one-off idea to market, where just because I captured some cleverness and connected some dots, doesn't mean I'm the one to productize it.
Just to be clear, I did not make the post or am affiliated with the website. I too would like to explore their product.
My point was that I, a potential customer -- this really is directly relevant to my current life situation -- visited the site, found nothing there but an email harvester, so left without spending any money and with a poor impression of the company.
Driving people to your site before there's anything there is wasted effort. Save it for when you're actually ready to do something with that traffic.
Its not my site; the term 'I feel personally attacked by X' is a joke/ meme.
> Having access to this information at a state level in the past was a simple public records request. Having this level of detailed information at a national level, with a tool affordable enough so that an individual entity separate from a corporation could visualize the results - historic.
Only the GIS-style visualization part, which is probably the least important piece if you are cross tabulating with other county- and state-level data to find a county suitable to live in, e.g., for 2012:
IIRC, most states have been posting county level results on the web since the late 1990s, so it's mostly been an evening of crossing public websites even before convenient national aggregates were published.
When a blog post weighs over 4MB, yeah, I'd call that going a little bit overboard :)
Yeah, I'd say you might have gone a little bit overboard, for an "app" that just shows a text article.