Run Away From All Those Taxes!

We’re frequently asked, “Why haven’t you moved your residency to a state with no income tax, like South Dakota, Alaska, Nevada, Florida, or Texas?” The simple answer is, “We are North Carolinians!” We are willing to pay to enjoy North Carolina’s fabulous scenery, people, services, universities and community colleges, and interesting geography from mountains to seashore.

The rest of the story is, income tax should be only a small part of why someone might choose to change their residency. There are seemingly countless taxes to consider, and what affects me might be irrelevant to you and your economics. It can be complicated.

Zero or low sales tax sounds pretty great. We aren’t spendy, though. And the break on sales tax only accrues to you when you are buying in your wonderful state of, for example, Oregon, Alaska, Delaware, or New Hampshire. Mobile lifestyle folks like us would likely not benefit often enough to warrant moving to a state for their low or no sales tax.

State excise taxes impact mobile folks similarly to sales taxes. You are impacted only when you are locally purchasing the burdened service or goods, like gasoline, candy, beer, wine, liquor, or cigarettes.

Other tax considerations include property, estate and inheritance, and corporate income taxes. You can go through the items for the short list of states you might be considering. Using your income and habits you can work out the probable taxes you would face. It’s not rocket science to determine which states would be good or poor choices for you.

Fortunately, there are pamphlets available with most of the relevant tables you would need for comparing states. I was browsing the internet this evening and came upon one you can download. It provides a choice of PDF or Excel, you can go to this link to select. I thought you might enjoy looking at it. It has 40 tables regarding US states taxes. I enjoyed leafing through the PDF booklet, and you might also.

An employee once scoffed at all the local taxes I was paying to live near my job. He ran away from the taxes by living in the sticks. My taxes paid for the local roads he used, supported the public services we relied upon, and helped make our community what it was. We chose to live in the town not only for employment but because we liked that town. We were willing to pay to live there.

We aren’t very likely to run away from our home state to try to find a better deal on some category of taxes. Our taxes are low because our income, owned property, and spending are low. The pamphlet does not seem to address vehicle registration and inspection costs, nor does it include the very fluid and confusing costs for health care insurance and vehicle insurance. It’s complicated, isn’t it?

We might find another state with taxes lower overall for our particular set of circumstances. But we aren’t interested in running from our taxes. We are North Carolinians, proud of it, and willing to pay for it.

Late edit — I found this cool table after I had saved the above post. Instead of only having it in the comments, I thought it would be more helpful to show it here too.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™
visit our website
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

Expenses, Taxes, Work, Worries

We haven’t had enough to worry about for a few years. Our property taxes are for two depreciating assets, so they go down each year. We are lucky to avoid unusual expenses overall. We’ve stayed on budget, year to year. No worries, no problems so far.

Two weeks ago we mentioned we were in the hunt for a place. Since before Thanksgiving, we’ve visited a pretty spot in Ashe County, high up in the northwest corner of NC. Week after week, we found ourselves hiking on it and sometimes sitting against a tree, listening and watching. The afternoon sun shines through the leafless branches and warms us a little. All is quiet but the trees talking to the wind.

The NW county of NC

The NW county of NC

Finally this week we bought that very pretty wooded acreage. It has road frontage along part of two sides. No buildings, no development, just a nice large wooded parcel. We learned at closing it has been part of their family farm for over 150 years. We’ve met two members of the family, both really nice guys. We apparently are the second family of outsiders to be allowed in the cove.

ShadyCove5-002

A value of full timing, we’ve always thought, is the freedom to search the continent for the best place to live. We’ve enjoyed exploring almost all of North America and have often asked each other, “Could this be the place?” Many places could, and we’ve met many of you in these places. A few come to mind immediately like Durango, Bozeman, Madison, Port Angeles, Bend.

Two things no other state has are the Appalachian Mountains and our families. Each time we return to NC we always feel at home. We love the beaches, pulled pork barbecue, the Great Smokey Mountains and our state’s history. North Carolina is where we’re from. We like being close to family. The NC mountains tick all the boxes for us.

A friend showed us around Ashe County last September and introduced us to a great group of local folks at a diner he frequents. One thing led to another and we found ourselves working with a wonderful realtor, Scott Cronk at Real Living Carolina Property. He was consistently helpful, patient, and responsive, never pushy.

Scott knows the area well and offered helpful insights on land he showed us. Several places ended up on our short list, and any would have been great. Scott said of this one, it is all usable, something definitely not true for any of the others. We enjoy working with him and would gladly recommend Scott to anyone interested in buying in this area.

Often we will post our thoughts about looking at house designs. We long perused the designs in the newspaper and in books, pointing out how we’d change this or remove that. It’s fun to dream about how our house could be, if ever we built another.

Almost four years ago we posted about picking the perfect house, but not knowing where to put it. Very sadly, we learned yesterday we won’t be ordering an iHouse — they’ve pulled it from the market. There are other great modular designs including Marmol-Radziner, BLU, Method and Green Pod. We weren’t ready yet anyhow, but we’ll miss the iHouse.

Shady Cove drive2

We aren’t looking to build yet. But we we have found the place we want someday to do it. We’ll determine where we would build a house. We hope to figure out an attractive and serviceable driveway and parking area this year. We’d love to pull our Airstream in and enjoy for a week sometimes the quiet solitude of the NC mountains on our own little piece of paradise.

We paid this year’s taxes at the closing already, the most property tax we’ve paid in over six years. Our annual taxes won’t be reducing anymore. We’ll have work to do every time we visit. Hopefully we haven’t added any worries to our bag, although our heads are spinning with all the possibilities for using this beautiful land.

Full timing appeals to us now as much as it did when we started over six years ago. The rumors are false. We have no plans to stop living on the road. Our plan originally was to full time RV for between three and twenty years. We’re still on that plan, seven years later. We love what we’re doing. So little time, so much still to see!

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™
visit our website
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

Red Kidney Beans and Junk Phone Calls

How many hits did I get when I looked up robocall?  Over 20 million! (And incidentally, it took .55 seconds to get the results)  Did you know you can buy a robo call plan to call all your frenemies or potential customers or whomever for as little as two cents a call?  This could cost me over a dollar if I called all my friends daily for four days in a row.  Just kidding, it would be over two dollars.

The robocall companies apparently are doing just a little more than calling their ten best friends.  One article (WSJ, FTC: Judge Orders Halt To Robocalls Selling Deceptive Warranties, May 15, 2009) reported on a little telemarketing company making 1.8 million dials per day and that he had done more than $40 million worth of dialing for extended warranty companies, including one billion dials on behalf of his largest client.

We still get junk phone calls. Can you believe they know where to call us?!!! Often we detect it is a robo call.  This despite how smooth they are and darned quick on their “feet”.  You can just barely make out the very slightly mechanized pace or lack of real inflection.  It’s just too even to be human, so sometimes we’re onto them. (Great, now they’ll fix that and we won’t know anymore!)

They’re selling dental insurance, Medicare Gap, extended warranty for our 2006 truck, gutters, satellite TV receivers, you name it.

We’ve started asking the robo caller questions like “Do you have red kidney beans?”, or “What’s the market doing today?”. You can almost hear the gears whirring and clanking as they process the unexpected responses.  They double back, ask their question again as if they had not heard our irreverent query. Okay, we’ll try it again. They hang up. Need new algorithms.

It’s a lot more fun than acting angry or just hanging up.  Besides, as my mom chided me, everyone has to work for a living and those guys are just doing their job. And won’t this provide programmers even more work as they develop and implement algorithms to address these smart alecks?

There are probably more constructive solutions you may consider.  Two include getting and keeping track of details from the caller, if possible; and contacting the Do Not Call Registry.  The former is a nice article written by a former telemarketing person who has been on both sides now.  The latter is a good thing to check, although it seems just a little fruitless at this point.  Why fruitless?

The telemarketers are sort of like the bad guys who aren’t supposed to have guns.  You know what I mean.  In the USA convicted felons are prohibited by law from owning or carrying guns.  Let’s see, this proscription resulted from them breaking a law, right?  And they’re going to pay attention to this added bother?  Don’t think so — I remember the first time, decades ago, I saw the bumper sticker, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

Okay, this does apply to some telemarketers – not all by any means, but some who operate outside the law.  If they do things the law doesn’t allow, they might profit wildly unless and until they are “caught.”  How does $40 million of calls sound, against a calculated risk of being caught, prosecuted, sentenced, and going back at it with new smarts?

Sounds like we might switch to ham radio for all our calls.  I never get a call on the radio offering dental insurance, Medicare Gap, extended warranty for our 2006 truck, gutters, or satellite TV receivers. And if the phone call is from a telemarketer, I might spin it out a bit, take some of their precious time too. It slows them down (they might not get down the list to your number then) and I might find some reportable information to report to the regulators.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™
visit our website
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

Staying on the Warm Side of the Door

We’re in Kannapolis NC, home of the fabled textile giant, Cannon Mills. This morning we awoke to 11 degrees Fahrenheit!  We aren’t here for the weather, right? Very cold, dry days are great for some things, but we’re not here for those.

We have a fun backpacking book entitled Pleasure Packing.  The author, Robert Wood, strongly makes the case to daydream your way through the difficult segments of a hike by thinking of your favorite places. We’re trying just that, thinking of warmer times past and future.

I started this morning to complete posting about our nice warm sunny trip to the NC Outer Banks this past fall.  We traveled south on the Outer Banks to Ocracoke, had a neat visit, and no one has heard further about the the trip.

This cold morning seemed so appropriate to think and write of warm places I’d rather be.  Until our mail arrived.  Then I wanted to talk about the cool package from perhaps colder places than NC. I’ll get back to the warm, sunny coastline of NC another post.

We received an envelope this morning from the QSL Card Processing of American Radio Relay League.  QSL cards are the written confirmation of a radio conversation between two amateur radio operators, or hams.  We receive cards infrequently, maybe once a year, and we receive between three and five QSL cards.

QSL cards don’t describe text of the conversation, only the date, time, what radio band we used, and how well we could hear each other.  The cards are often colorful and usually from across one of the oceans although sometimes from USA or Canada.

The Bulgarian card is a special card dedicated in honor of Bulgarian Saint Kozma Zografski. It is probably the prettiest QSL card we’ve received. It also was the most enigmatic, and prompted me to try, unsuccessfully, to learn a bit about Saint Kozma Zografski.

Image

The special call sign LZ1323SKZ, by the Blagovestnik Radio Club in Voinyagovo, Bulgaria, (near Sofia, 43 degrees Fahrenheit today) is part of a program their club does for “All Bulgarian Saints” award and for another award as well. Here’s the map showing their location:

lz1323skz

The three cards this morning are from last March 2013 and are from some talking I (Jim) did from a county park in southwest Miami from our trailer.  The two Ukraine ones are from Alexey and Yarik, individuals I spoke with at their respective home stations.

Image

The icy-looking card is from UW7LL in Kharkiv Ukraine (7 degrees today).  You can see where his station is in this picture, below:

Image

The other Ukrainian card is from UR5GDX in Nova Kakhovka (14 degrees F)  along the  Dnieper River in southern Ukraine.

Image

Nova Kakhovka was built to house workers for the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant in the 1950s.  Nova Kakovka seems most similar in intent to Boulder City Nevada.  Both cities were intended to be model cities built to house workers in clean, attractive, safe communities.  Nova Kakhovka became known as The Pearl of Lower Dnieper and The Monument of Architecture.

Image

Full time RVing has vastly improved our knowledge of North American geography.  Amateur radio has done the same for my knowledge of places across the globe, if their amateur radio operators talk to me.  (e.g., none so far from China, Kazakhstan, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Iraq, or Egypt, among many I have not reached)  I would automatically have figured Bulgaria and Ukraine were much colder than we (in North Carolina).  Maybe it’s the “any given day” rule.  I’ll just have to check back in with these guys, see how’s the wx!

People often ask us about our Airstream trailer, “Do they still make those?”   Similarly we get the question about amateur radio, “Do people still use those?”  Two good yes answers are these: There are more licensed amateur radio operators in the USA than ever in its history; and I have spoken to amateur radio operators in every European country, several Russian countries, Israel, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, a couple in Central America, and several South American ones.

And I am a casual radio operator, often just getting on the radio a few times a month.  Yes, amateur radio is still both effective and fun.  For more info see this link about ARRL, the Amateur Radio Relay League.

As soon as we get back to “our house” I will dig out my QSL cards and mail one to each of these guys.  Hopefully it won’t take ten months for them to receive.  Ham radio, at the speed of light, is much faster than the mail, eh?

See you down the road!

Jim N5RTG and Debbie N4RTG
dreamstreamr odyssey™

find our current location
visit our website
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamrs

75′ Tall Waterfall in Florida? Come On!

We are in perhaps the nicest small state park we’ve visited anywhere, Falling Waters State Park near Chipley FL. Not always a good thing, our site is broadside to the south so has nice sun exposure all day. Perfect when the high temperature range is 60 degrees.

Yesterday we left Ocean Springs and Davis Bayou Campground. Sad to leave, it was great visiting and dining with Jim’s cousins and exploring Biloxi and Ocean Springs. We’ve said it before — a few days is not long enough for most places. But we committed to getting down the road, so here we go again.

25 campsites, nice quiet place, away from I-10

25 campsites, nice quiet place, away from I-10

We have good internet here, so Jim took some time last night and today to update our website, dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees. Other than update a few dates a year ago, he hadn’t taken much time with the website’s many pages.

Today he added information about our Salem Vent, catalytic heater, tailgate assist, 2013 travel map, and many other small changes. You probably know the feeling, you just get in the groove and plow through. Great to catch so much of it up. Check it out!

Falling Waters has nice walking trails through the same kind of sandy pine forest Jim spent a lot of time in as a Boy Scout hiker and camper. Some of the trails are boardwalk, some are still on sandy road bed. We prefer the natural surface but realize the boardwalk will preserve the park’s features from human wear and tear.

Wish it was warm enough today

Wish it was warm enough today

The two-acre swimming pond is near the camping sites and a day-use parking area. Jim would have loved to take a dip, but the water is probably twenty degrees too cool and the air and breeze just don’t make swimming an appealing activity yet. We’ll wait a couple more months.

One of many lg sinkholes

One of many large sinkholes

The walking trail (this part definitely on boardwalk) carried us alongside a series of large sinkholes in the woods. We couldn’t see the bottom of most of them, and just imagined bottomless. Nature is pretty wild sometimes.

The waterfall is half above ground, half into sinkhole

The waterfall is half above ground, half into sinkhole

We wondered how flat old Florida was going to have a 75′ tall waterfall. They sure do! The waterfall is fed from the 2-acre pond and, with rainfall, apparently gets even more water. It’s different from any waterfall we’ve seen, half into the sinkhole and half above the ground.

Good flow just disappears underground

Good flow just disappears underground

This sinkhole we could see the bottom of, but couldn’t tell where the water goes. They should talk to Arizona, get some help recovering and selling this water.

Hike Picnic Nap

Hike – Picnic – Nap

We carried our picnic lunch for the hike and finished at a nice sun-bathed table. The sun was running away from us so we found a sunny spot on soft, dry ground and soaked up some warm rays after lunch.

The showers are hot and roomy. They have dry floor space in the shower compartment for undressing and dressing, something too often missing in campgrounds. The campsites are nicely arranged, not packed too close to each other. The longleaf and loblolly pines provide ample ground cover to keep the sand down when you’re walking. The campground is quiet, and very dark at night.

We really like it here. Falling Waters State Park is one of those gems we’ve accidentally driven by for years, hurrying down the road. We’re glad we stopped this time, and would gladly stay a few more days.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™


visit our website
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

Davis Bayou Campground at Ocean Springs MS

A fellow Airstreamer recommended, when we told him we wanted to stop in Ocean Springs Mississippi, three things: stay at Davis Bayou campground, get donuts and coffee at Tato Nuts, and eat at a seafood restaurant in Biloxi.

We did pretty darned well. Davis Bayou Campground in Gulf Islands National Seashore is our kind of campground — first come, first served on all camping spaces and they had nine available when we rolled in. Electric and water at each campsite, a dump station, and nice hot showers centrally located.

And yes, it really was raining Monday

Monday was all rainy all day. Okay, we had errands to do anyway. We walked in downtown Ocean Springs in the rain, grabbed a cup of coffee and pastry at French Kiss, then washed, dried, and folded two loads of laundry for $3.75 total and in under 60 minutes (our new record on both accounts) and came back to our home and were warm and dry again ourselves.

Tuesday showed up beautiful and warmer. It was a perfect day for trying out Tato Nuts’ potato flour donuts. We were not disappointed. What a neat place! Open since 1960, survived Katrina, still delivering home-style friendliness, good coffee and great donuts. Thanks, George, for the recommendation. Our kind of place.

photo 2

Thus armed with sugar, fat, and coffee, we went to nearby Walter Anderson Museum and Community Center. Jim’s mom and sister both told us this is a must-see in southern Mississippi. Jim liked it because no matter how nice a museum is, if it is too large we just wear ourselves out combing slowly through everything and often don’t finish all day. We took our sweet time, watched the interesting video and walked all the exhibit space and very carefully toured the murals in the Community Center. This museum tells an amazing story about Walter Anderson’s life and work, and presents the art beautifully. We are touched by this visit.

Still, we were out by lunch time so called Jim’s cousin and arranged a lunch date. She chose Biloxi Schooner in, of all places, Biloxi. It’s one of her favorite places, always good food and friendly people. Biloxi is just over the causeway from Ocean Springs, so we were there in minutes. Cathy was right — the shrimp and oyster po’boy and the seafood gumbo were terrific.

"One of the most photographed objects on the coast"

After lunch we toured Biloxi a little. Why is the light house one of the most photographed objects on the coast? Folks need to go to the Outer Banks and see distinctive lighthouses, okay? The Visitors Center has a nice theatre upstairs and was showing a 1/2 hour video about Hurricane Katrina. Such a heart-wrenching time, so scary for the people here and their families everywhere. Jim’s cousin, when we related how the video affected us essentially said, words and pictures can’t convey the horror. 90,000 square miles, 180 times more land area, was affected in 2005 by Katrina than by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

P1170180-001

We waited until early afternoon to take our walk in the park. Davis Bayou has a brochure for a self-guided tour. We followed the tour, walking through the woods on old forested dunes, across the marsh on board walk, to an 80 year old CCC camp area, and several attractive outlooks. This is a beautiful, peaceful area.

P1170177-001

Gulf Islands National Seashore has a nice visitors center. It was at the mid-point of our walk and a nice treat. The visitors center has very nice displays geared to all ages providing information about indigenous animals and their natural habitat and development of this park area.

It’s time to go, we need to head east for things we said we would do. Our stay at Davis Bayou is too short by a week, at least. We’re learning — it takes us three weeks to “get” an area. We don’t like to rush, we enjoy local recommendations, and we like exploring. Ocean Springs is a treat we’ll look forward to sampling again. And, if we’re lucky, we’ll get to eat with Jim’s cousins again — they are both great cooks! Thanks, y’all.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™


visit our website
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr

What’s dreamstreamrs’ Big News?

cradle

Each time one of our children calls and says, “We have BIG news!”, we’re thinking they’re going to tell us they are expecting. And, usually, their big news is “We got a new car”, or bicycle, or job and so on. Airstream friends recently told us they had exciting news — we were pretty sure they weren’t announcing having more children. Turned out they are excited because they are planning on becoming full timers. We’re excited for them, they started yesterday.

What did you think when we mentioned Big News two days ago on our blog? We spoofed two years ago about quitting full timing, and most of you saw right through that before you arrived at the punch line. So the big news now? Maybe a big house, much bigger than we had in Charlotte?

Thomas Hoatson Hse, Laurium MI

Thomas Hoatson Hse, Laurium MI

Some of the advantages we’ve enjoyed as full timers are inherent with not owning property other than the RV and truck, both depreciating assets. Our property taxes lower each year, as the value of the vehicles reduces. Too, we have no worries about properties we are absently in charge of — our property is with us, or rather we are in our only property.

Recently we visited Bob, an Airstream and ham radio friend in the NC mountains. While there, we noticed “for sale” signs on land parcels in his area. Bob drove us around a bit to show us the area, he helped us get oriented, and introduced us to some people who had ideas about places for sale. We started looking around.

We had a host of criteria for “our land”. The criteria changed as we learned about the area, the offerings, and our intentions. We are looking for a very pretty wooded parcel with road frontage and loads of quiet. No buildings, no development, just a nice large wooded lot. Maybe fantastic views?

Top of the World Highway, Chicken AK

Each time we return to NC we always feel “at home”. We love the beaches, the food, the Great Smokey Mountains. We like being close to family. Full timing appeals to us now as much as it did when we started over six years ago. A value of full timing, we’ve always thought, is to search the world over for the best place to live. The NC mountains tick all the boxes for us.

Can this be mine?

Almost four years ago we posted about picking the perfect house, but not knowing where to put it. Often we will post our thoughts about looking at house designs, something we’ve always done. We enjoy perusing home floor plans, picking them apart for what we would, and would not, want in “our house”. We aren’t looking to build yet, it simply seems like a good time to pick a nice place for our future.

We’re looking. It’s a fun thing to do, we’ve enjoyed tromping on some of the offerings and might try to make a deal when we find the right acreage.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey™


visit our website
©2007-2014 Dreamstreamr