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Posted: 12/27/2012 4:24:04 PM EDT
Hey all

With the current screeching, wailing, and gnashing of teeth in RI and other New England states, I'm thinking it's time to kick my plan to relocate to a free state into overdrive. I'm 38 and had been considering the move as retirement age came into view, but I've really had it with New England politics, taxes, and gun laws. 7% income tax, 7% sales tax, $4,000 in property taxes on a $250,000 home and then another $1,100 on a leased car, "shall issue" carry permits that require you to sue the Chief of Police to get an application form because they refuse to follow the law, AWB threats left and right, no NFA ever. And that $250,000 for a house gets you 1,850 sq ft on a 5,000 sq ft lot

I'm working up a plan with my SO to make this a 2 or 3 year thing at the very most. Some financial things to take care of and business concerns that make it hard to move at the drop of a hat, or I'd already be renting a UHaul. Really, I'd be out of here yesterday given half a chance. With that in mind, I'd like to start doing some in-depth research and have a few questions that I hope some of you would be kind enough to help with:

1) Taxes - 6.9% top rate on income, no sales tax, property taxes on real estate (including vehicles) is what I've found. Is that correct?

2) Is the income tax a "piggyback" tax that basically flows through from your Modified Adjusted Gross Income on Fed form 1040? I ask this as RI's used to be, but last year they stopped allowing any of the itemized deductions from Fed 1040 and increased the personal exemption by a tiny amount. As a homeowner that one really hurt.

3) No sales tax on anything? Really? Coming from the U.K. 13 years ago with a 17.5% VAT, and then to RI with 7% sales tax, that seems awesome!

4) I know that this one will be the proverbial "How long is a piece of string", but how onerous are the property taxes? I'm assuming they vary by area / municipality as they do here?

5) It won't just be a question of relocating my family, I will also have to relocate several businesses that rely on data center availability. I've only been able to locate a couple, and they are both close to Billings. That concerns me a bit. Is technology not a big industry in MT? Lack of data center availability and high speed net access would severely curtail my plans. PLEASE don't take any of this the wrong way, I don't mean to suggest that you all live in the dark ages and access Arfcom over AOL dialup! When your livelihood depends on that infrastructure though, you need to be certain what you're getting into.

6) It's hard to look into real estate when you have no idea what the good / bad / indifferent areas are. Any general areas to avoid due to (e.g.) punitive property taxes, crime, Arfcom mods living nearby? There will be a 9 year old coming too, so if there are any areas renowned for having good / bad school systems then that would be good to know too.

I think that's it for now, and again, thank-you to anyone who takes the time to read this and respond to any / all of my questions.
Link Posted: 12/27/2012 4:52:13 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Speedie:
Hey all

With the current screeching, wailing, and gnashing of teeth in RI and other New England states, I'm thinking it's time to kick my plan to relocate to a free state into overdrive. I'm 38 and had been considering the move as retirement age came into view, but I've really had it with New England politics, taxes, and gun laws. 7% income tax, 7% sales tax, $4,000 in property taxes on a $250,000 home and then another $1,100 on a leased car, "shall issue" carry permits that require you to sue the Chief of Police to get an application form because they refuse to follow the law, AWB threats left and right, no NFA ever. And that $250,000 for a house gets you 1,850 sq ft on a 5,000 sq ft lot

I'm working up a plan with my SO to make this a 2 or 3 year thing at the very most. Some financial things to take care of and business concerns that make it hard to move at the drop of a hat, or I'd already be renting a UHaul. Really, I'd be out of here yesterday given half a chance. With that in mind, I'd like to start doing some in-depth research and have a few questions that I hope some of you would be kind enough to help with:

1) Taxes - 6.9% top rate on income, no sales tax, property taxes on real estate (including vehicles) is what I've found. Is that correct? Correct for Montana for income over $15K.

2) Is the income tax a "piggyback" tax that basically flows through from your Modified Adjusted Gross Income on Fed form 1040? I ask this as RI's used to be, but last year they stopped allowing any of the itemized deductions from Fed 1040 and increased the personal exemption by a tiny amount. As a homeowner that one really hurt. You can itemize the fed tax on MT tax forms.

3) No sales tax on anything? Really? Coming from the U.K. 13 years ago with a 17.5% VAT, and then to RI with 7% sales tax, that seems awesome! No retail sales tax on MT, but there is a Business Equipment Tax

4) I know that this one will be the proverbial "How long is a piece of string", but how onerous are the property taxes? I'm assuming they vary by area / municipality as they do here? My house is 2400 sqft on a half acre and my prop tax is $1800 year.

5) It won't just be a question of relocating my family, I will also have to relocate several businesses that rely on data center availability. I've only been able to locate a couple, and they are both close to Billings. That concerns me a bit. Is technology not a big industry in MT? Lack of data center availability and high speed net access would severely curtail my plans. PLEASE don't take any of this the wrong way, I don't mean to suggest that you all live in the dark ages and access Arfcom over AOL dialup! When your livelihood depends on that infrastructure though, you need to be certain what you're getting into. I'm sure we do, what capabilities are you looking for?

6) It's hard to look into real estate when you have no idea what the good / bad / indifferent areas are. Any general areas to avoid due to (e.g.) punitive property taxes, crime, Arfcom mods living nearby? There will be a 9 year old coming too, so if there are any areas renowned for having good / bad school systems then that would be good to know too. Crime is pretty low overall, especially coming from the east coast. As you get closer, I reccomend visiting with the Wife to the areas you want to investigate, I've seen many move out west, but if momma ain't happy with the area, you ain't going to be happy either.
I think that's it for now, and again, thank-you to anyone who takes the time to read this and respond to any / all of my questions.


I'll pm you my # if you have any other questions, or answer as I can here.

Link Posted: 12/27/2012 5:13:05 PM EDT
You're a good man, thank-you.

As far as data center capabilities, I would be looking to colocate a number of web servers - potentially up to a full rack. I'd need a center with connections to redundant providers, redundant power circuits / power backup via UPS and generator, and good physical security. The servers are currently in Boston with multiple connections to Tier 1 (yes, really!) providers, full power redundancy, and biometric physical access with guards, cameras, and security escorts required 24/7. For personal internet, most of my work is from home and I would need good reliable high speed. I've been spoiled by Fios 50/25Mbps service and, although I understand that's unlikely to happen given the desire for a more remote living space, the nature of my business means I couldn't step back toooo far.

The business equipment tax might be a big ouch as the first year would see me brining in anything up to $30k worth of servers and routers / switches. I'll dig deeper on that one, thank-you for the link.

"Momma" was born and raised in northern Maine btw, and is an avid horse rider as is the little one. She misses open spaces and small town America. I've only experienced it a few times while on vacation in places like northern NH and parts of VT and AZ, but it's everything I imagined the U.S. would be when I moved over here. RI is most definitely not. Give momma a nice house on 20-30 acres with a barn/stable and paddock and I'd never hear a bad word again.

Link Posted: 12/27/2012 5:51:34 PM EDT
I know you said MT, but I noticed 2 of your criteria are made to order for my hometown, Powell, WY.

The town installed a fiber optic system they say is as fast as anywhere in the Rockies. Here's a link and I'm sure there's a lot more about it on

the web somewhere. With regards to your wife's horse addiction, you can't get a much more horsey area than here. We have Northwest College

that has a premiere equestrian program and all that goes with it.

We do have the 4, sometimes 5% sales tax, but no income tax. Groceries are exempt. I consider the property taxes reasonable.

I don't normally encourage people to come here, but your high tech business is one that would help the community.

http://www.muninetworks.org/content/short-history-powellink-muni-fiber-wyoming
Link Posted: 12/28/2012 4:04:18 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Staggunner:
I know you said MT, but I noticed 2 of your criteria are made to order for my hometown, Powell, WY.

The town installed a fiber optic system they say is as fast as anywhere in the Rockies. Here's a link and I'm sure there's a lot more about it on

the web somewhere. With regards to your wife's horse addiction, you can't get a much more horsey area than here. We have Northwest College

that has a premiere equestrian program and all that goes with it.

We do have the 4, sometimes 5% sales tax, but no income tax. Groceries are exempt. I consider the property taxes reasonable.

I don't normally encourage people to come here, but your high tech business is one that would help the community.

http://www.muninetworks.org/content/short-history-powellink-muni-fiber-wyoming


Thank-you for that. I'm not 100% committed to MT and would certainly consider WY if the tech infrastructure is better. I confess it isn't a state that I know much about, but this is part of the process - researching which free state offers the best compromise between amenities that I need for business vs my desire to not have my neighbor's house 10' from my family room window

I'll follow through on that link and do some more research into the state as a whole. Thank-you again.
Link Posted: 12/28/2012 6:41:31 AM EDT
If you are going to expect those speeds from your home feed you are going to have to live very close to town, or in it. I know there were some web hosting companies in Great Falls and Kallispell, so there must be some infrastructure there too. We gave up a lot in our move here from CT, and my fibre connected house was one of them. We don't miss the neighbors at all.. :D
Link Posted: 12/28/2012 7:24:32 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Cornsweat:
If you are going to expect those speeds from your home feed you are going to have to live very close to town, or in it. I know there were some web hosting companies in Great Falls and Kallispell, so there must be some infrastructure there too. We gave up a lot in our move here from CT, and my fibre connected house was one of them. We don't miss the neighbors at all.. :D


I think I mentioned in the OP that I know my desire to be a little more isolated means 50/25 isn't happening. Honestly I could make do with much lower than that. The data center piece of it is the most critical as my customers expect high speed and redundancy, however those should be standard features in any decent data center.

How are you liking MT? Big culture shock? Which area if you don't mind my asking?

Link Posted: 12/28/2012 8:13:41 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/28/2012 8:22:55 AM EDT by Cornsweat]
Speedie, I am from here originally. So really I was just moving back. My wife is from CT, which is why I lived there for a number of years (Windsor Locks, where the Hartford/Springfield airport is). I have spent many days inside of colo data centers, and have probably been in the one you are using now. My wife and I live very remote now, up in the mountains between Helena and Great Falls. I currently use 3G for my connection, and I do mostly remote work with that. It works ok, but it is limiting. The 4G upgrade should be here pretty soon, and that will help a lot. However, if you need a good connection, you are going to have to live in town, or at least very close to it. The good data rate connections don't go much farther than that as there is not enough population and they are far apart.

For my wife, yes it was a bit of a culture shock. This is not the go-go world of New England, and it took her a bit to slow down and enjoy life more. The biggest things that she misses is the trees in the fall, good produce selection, and a few of her friends. Now you could not pry her out of here if you had a horde. At first she wondered why we all wave at each other, and stop in the middle of the road to chat. Now she gets miffed and calls those who don't wave "foreigners". :D She still does get some comments on her speech though. We still laugh about her first "Cattle Guard" crossing as it scared the dickens out of her.

I believe that you could do well getting a colo in Denver or nearby, and then living in WY, only going to the colo when needed. FWIW, I have never done any dc work inside of Montana, they just don't have what I work on here (petabyte database servers).
Link Posted: 12/28/2012 8:52:35 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Cornsweat:
Speedie, I am from here originally. So really I was just moving back. My wife is from CT, which is why I lived there for a number of years (Windsor Locks, where the Hartford/Springfield airport is). I have spent many days inside of colo data centers, and have probably been in the one you are using now. My wife and I live very remote now, up in the mountains between Helena and Great Falls. I currently use 3G for my connection, and I do mostly remote work with that. It works ok, but it is limiting. The 4G upgrade should be here pretty soon, and that will help a lot. However, if you need a good connection, you are going to have to live in town, or at least very close to it. The good data rate connections don't go much farther than that as there is not enough population and they are far apart.

For my wife, yes it was a bit of a culture shock. This is not the go-go world of New England, and it took her a bit to slow down and enjoy life more. The biggest things that she misses is the trees in the fall, good produce selection, and a few of her friends. Now you could not pry her out of here if you had a horde. At first she wondered why we all wave at each other, and stop in the middle of the road to chat. Now she gets miffed and calls those who don't wave "foreigners". :D She still does get some comments on her speech though. We still laugh about her first "Cattle Guard" crossing as it scared the dickens out of her.

I believe that you could do well getting a colo in Denver or nearby, and then living in WY, only going to the colo when needed. FWIW, I have never done any dc work inside of Montana, they just don't have what I work on here (petabyte database servers).


Interesting, thank-you. Currently everything is at the Markley Group data center at 1 Summer St in Boston. Great facility. I was doing some more searching earlier, and you're right, there are some really nice facilities in Denver. I'm 1 1/2 hours from home to the data center now, so it's certainly an option worth exploring. Apart from equipment installs, I doubt I've been there more than 2 or 3 times in 5+ years. Even then it was something like a failed drive in a RAID array, so the time/distance really wasn't an issue. Redundant everything is nice

If your wife is from CT and gets comments on her speech, I wonder what they'll make of my native English accent LOL! Literally and figuratively a foreigner I guess.

Btw slowing down sounds REALLY good.
Link Posted: 12/28/2012 9:16:30 AM EDT
My wife says that you dang well better be sure this is where you want to stay. A good part of Montana and certainly a good part of Wyoming will make the winters in New England seem like you moved in from Florida. I live right by the coldest recorded spot in CONUS, 70+ below zero in 1950's. We were down close to that in 1985/86. Lots of wind on top of the temperature too. This is one of the reasons that there are a lot of transient movers in Montana. Husband wants to move here, and after 2 winters the wife says "no freak'n way", and says move back home or I am gone. Happens a lot more than you might think. We have said it countless times here on the forum in posts such as yours too. It is not easy to get dressed to go outside and start your truck at -30 with the wind blowing, and then get the snow off. Roads here are not salted either, so they get snow packed. Heck, where we live they don't even plow. On the plus side your vehicle doesn't get eaten by the salt. I have come back from a trip to Dallas in mid-May, 90's in Dallas, and -18 when I got home.

Taxes overall are far less than what you are experiencing. Even though they may be different, in the end, it is far below what it is there. Our house taxes there, in the lowest county in CT, were staggering. That includes the vehicle taxes. Our taxes here are about 1/6th of what they were there. I don't know the business side, but I would bet they are also far lower.
Link Posted: 12/28/2012 11:34:41 AM EDT
There is also no public transportation here. Most of the Bigger towns are 100-200 miles apart, if your wife likes to shop she'll be SOL!

It's not as cold on the west side of the state, but the elevation and snow-pack can be overwhelming, and sometimes deadly, for those who are not prepared.

The main data fiber system between Seattle and the east coast runs along US 2, but tapping into it is extremely expensive and slow. There are several large internet based companies in Kalispell, but they spent several million getting infrastructure in place, and they don't like to share.
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