Illinois exodus: When living here no longer makes financial sense

At least California has beaches, mountains, and awesome weather. Illinois has all the taxation, economic dysfunction, and general corruption of California with no beaches (I guess some might make a case for Lake Michigan), no mountains, and all too often miserable weather. I’d have checked out long ago.

(From The Chicago Tribune)

As part of a series on the accelerating exodus from Illinois, we’re tracking down expatriates (and potential expats) and telling their stories. From millennials to retirees, their narratives follow the same thread: Illinois is losing its promise as a land of opportunity. Government debt and dysfunction contribute to a weak housing market and a stagnant jobs climate. State and local governments face enormous pension and other obligations. Taxes have risen sharply; many Illinois politicians say they must rise more…

Donald Felz, a lifelong Illinoisan who retired from a utility company in 2016, says a sinking home value and taxes drove him and his wife, Debi, out of Illinois. The Woodstock home they built in 2006 for $390,000, into which they put another $35,000, was losing value. This was to be the house where the Felzes would host grandchildren and putz in the yard. Instead, rather than put their retirement finances in further peril, they sold it in 2016 for $310,000. The property tax bill had climbed from $7,658 in 2007 to $8,340 in 2015. That’s not a huge rate of increase. But had their housing value remained at the purchase price, the taxes would have been nearly $12,500. A falling Illinois home value kept a high Illinois tax bill from rising higher.

The frustration, Felz said from his current home in Windsor, Colo., was more than taxes. It was how those dollars were spent: “If I could have seen some incremental improvement that followed the increases, then OK. I get it. I see it. But the roads were not getting fixed. The schools were still struggling. I couldn’t figure it out. The money was going somewhere.”

You know where it’s going? A good portion is going to government employee pensions. And it’s only going to get worse.