Love the Duluth Trading Company.
Drought, lot of water where there is snow. But look at water management. California’s biggest problem is not building more reservoirs. Only one reservoir in progress, the Sites reservoir and its budget was cut by the governor during Covid when it has already been downsized and delayed. Even with record snow cap California doesn’t have enough water because it refuses to capture the snow melt.
I think the best answer is your own well. Water is better and you own it so you don’t have to pay the city for your water.
Fires, there may be less fire risk in Minnesota but the smoke from fires burning cities down in California, Washington and Oregon is toxic and goes everywhere. It’s not just wood smoke, it’s rubber, plastic metal, chemicals, silicon…and unfortunately as we’ve seen this year, the smoke has gone as far as the east coast and even now is going across Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and up into Canada.
A smaller house is easier to keep the air clean with purifiers and check the HVAC system to see if it is drawing air from outside the house or recirculating it from inside the house.
Earthquakes, I don’t know about Minnesota but check to see where the earthquake zones are and see what the soil is like. Almost all of the bay area in California is liquefaction soil which means when an earthquake hits the soil reacts like water. Consider a house on the flat low land as opposed to something on a sloped hillside. Check with your insurance agent to see what they know about earthquakes and the risk where you are buying.
I just moved to Idaho for many of the same reasons. I’ve lived in the bay area since 1972, I am 55 and this is the last big move of my life as well. California is too unstable a future for retirement planning. Idaho is 20% lower cost of living across the board without any one thing making it jump off the map on national surveys for great places to retire ( IE no property tax, no state tax etc).
Sales tax is 6%, state tax caps at 6%, primary homeowners tax exemption is 100k, utilities are less, water is well managed, land is well managed, the smaller governments throughout the state are accessible, friendly and helpful, it’s a true four season state (although now we have a smoke season too). Idaho runs itself well and doesn’t want to change that. For my retirement that’s a future I can plan for.
So for cost of living I suggest looking at the big picture more than worrying about one thing, and seeing how stable the future of the most standard needs look. When times get tough it’s the simple things we need the most. What are your options for heating? Gas, electric, wood burning stove? Before you buy you can ask what the utility bills are. I find houses in the north can be well built for better insulation with thicker walls so check the structure too.
Outdoors, well Idaho is about as gorgeous, breathtaking, accessible and affordable for the outdoors as anyone could ask for. I am a composer and want to spend my later years writing more music where the past 15 years in California have been too much of a rat race for me to have the musical life I’d like to have. I’ve had a cabin in the mountains for the past ten years traveling there and back from California in my motor home spring, summer, and fall. I love the stars, the forests, the mountains, the valleys, the lakes, the fishing, the hiking, the rich culture of its rustic old west history. Idaho has it all and anything more you could think of when it comes to the outdoors. It refreshes and deeply invigorates my creative spirit.
I’ve never been to Minnesota but was born in Milwaukee and know how beautiful the north can be, Duluth is on the water so I imagine there’s lots to take in and enjoy there. I love to travel in my motor home and still want to visit as many states as I can that I haven’t yet seen so Minnesota is still on my bucket list. I’ll come by Duluth some summer day to pick you up and have you show me the sights.
Caregivers, good ones are hard to find. If the winter is difficult it can make it difficult for them to get there at times. As your needs for assistance grow the caregiver’s job will become more intimate and difficult. If you can find someone now who you like, talk to them about how much more they are willing to do as your needs grow. It’s very difficult with agencies who repeatedly put a different caregiver in a home where the care is intimate but always being administered by someone new.
Private caregivers are hard to find but if you can find someone who can take care of you long term and you treat them well it will be a relationship you will both grow to appreciate relying on.
I have a lot of experience having taken care of my mother for the past seven years in her own home across the street from me, and working with good and bad caregivers and fiduciaries. California is particularly difficult in that way too. I have learned much and made it a point to make sure I set myself up where I want to be for the rest of my life so I don’t have to rely on others to do it for me later. It’s not easy and I’m still working on my move but very happy with what I am working on and looking forward to good years ahead of me.
But don’t forget about the doctor too. Private practice doctors cost a little more but spend more time with appointments, can see you more quickly, and may be able to provide more service at their office that can help keep you out of the hospital. Most doctors in California are so busy they can’t see patients within a day or two and then send them to the emergency room instead. They best way I found to look for a good doctor is call some of the independent and assisted living facilities in your area and ask them if they have referrals for private practice doctors or doctors who see residents at their facility. More rural areas tend to have clinics that can be good but may have a physicians assistant who sees you right away while seeing the doctor may take an appointment much further out.
I hope you find what you are looking for and get well settled in the way you want to be.