THE_KRIEG, on 04 March 2013 - 11:43 PM, said:
Seattle is literally my all-time favorite city. It's just too damn far from home.
Thanks for all the info, Tampa sounds amazing and is definitely in my top 5. Gonna make a trip down I75 that will include the St Pete/Tampa area as well as the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area. Although I'm hearing mixed reviews about Tal I'm still gonna check it out on the way back up.
One question regarding what you've said here, though. I can't imagine life without income tax, so what's the catch? Property, sales, estate, etc? Which taxes hit your wallet the most?
None, the taxes aren't outrageous anywhere. The tourism windfall takes care of so much, additional taxes like that just haven't been necessary for a very long time. Public education is typically paid for by people's taxes in all states, and it eats up a lot of annual revenue everywhere, but Florida's lottery has been taking care of that for 25 years now. The tax burden down there is considerably better than anywhere I've ever lived or heard about.
Lots of locales need the additional revenue with outrageous tax rates, especially local sales taxes that make otherwise small state sales tax rates balloon. That's particularly true of red states. Their politicians would have you believe they have low tax rates and run for office on those platforms; but what they actually do is have low taxes that are the most publicly scrutinized, and shaft you at the local level.
I'll give you an example. I recently read an article talking about states with the lowest state sales tax rates, and Alabama made the list with a 4% tax rate. That's what gets publicized. But sales tax is actually 10-11% all over the state with local surtax added depending on where you live, not 4%. That's the highest sales tax rate I've ever heard of.
Georgia also has a 4% state sales tax rate, and it only goes up to 7-8% with the local surtax. Where I live sales tax is 7% and has been for at least a decade.
Florida starts out with a 6% state sales tax rate, and it climbs to 7.5% with the local surtax.
So, while the article is technically correct in saying that Alabama has one of the lowest state sales tax rates; they're actually one of the highest in the country for actual tax rate that you pay on everything you buy. You also have to pay taxes on groceries in Alabama; while Georgia caps the tax on groceries at 3% and Florida doesn't tax groceries at all.
If you just fall for the carefully worded publicity BS, you could make some poor decisions and assumptions about places; but I've lived in all 3 states discussed here, and was curious to know just how close the cost of living was in all 3 places after hearing countless idiots who haven't lived in any of the 3 comment that moving to Florida from Georgia or Alabama would cost someone a fortune.
I checked real estate rates, every type of tax/millage rate, gas prices, food prices, insurance rates, essentially every facet of spending imagineable, because that statement/rumor had never been my experience. In short, the opinion or rumor about cost of living is exaggerated at best, and just plain ol' uneducated, poorly informed nonsense at worst.
Even the magazines like Fortune and Forbes who do cost-of-living studies often don't go in-depth enough and leave out some very vital factors like the ones I discussed above. They fail to take into account all those lower tax thresholds, but they mean a whole lot of very real money to an average family over a year. Consider this...
If I buy a $2000 TV in Alabama, it'll cost me $2200 after sales tax. That same TV will only cost me $2140 in Georgia or Florida... that's $60 on a single item. If I buy $200 worth of groceries for my family every week, they'll cost me $220/week in Alabama; but only $206 in Georgia and the same $200 in Florida. If you saved $20/week just in grocery tax money over a year by being in Florida rather than Alabama, you'd save over $1000 every year... that's just in grocery savings.
If I buy a $30,000 car in Alabama, it'll cost me $33,000 dollars. The same $30,000 car in Florida will only cost me $32,250... a savings of another $750 just from sales tax.
You can see where I'm going with this; the bigger ticket items make it that much more glaring... now think about a house.
Florida doesn't have to rely on all of its revenue coming from its own residents; it gets a huge chunk of its overall revenue from its visitors. Hence, lower taxes for its residents.
Edited by GatorUnvrsty, 05 March 2013 - 12:46 AM.