In 2014 I made my exodus from Connecticut. So many people who left Connecticut, or those who plan on leaving Connecticut, are doing so for the same reasons I departed. The cost of living is too high, the taxes are out of control, the legislature believes they have to not only insert themselves into any perceived wrong-doing but that they need to regulate business and industry in the interest of… fill in the blank, but make sure it sounds like a noble cause.
I have not read any essays or heard anyone actually give some rounded numbers of how much they saved by moving to another state. After review of my own financial and tax records, I can put some numbers to the claim of “lower cost of living.”
First, a little background. I was not some transient who arrived in state and stayed a while. Nor was I someone who just blew into Connecticut, found a decent job and stayed until the job was no more. I didn’t stay because I like cold winters, exorbitant utility bills and the highest gas prices I have ever encountered.
I grew up here. I have family and friends here. With the exception of military time, I lived my entire life in Connecticut — in East Hampton for 16 years. I had a career (not with the state) and retired from that career. Over my lifetime in Connecticut I owned more than one house.
The decision to leave, and the timing to do so, were not made lightly or without considerable deliberation. My reason for leaving had to do primarily with the cost of living. The climate also had some say in the move, but not as much cost of living brought about by astronomical state and local taxes and fees.
I continued to work after retirement so I could keep on saving for my daughter’s education. Once she entered college I realized I would not be able to continue to pay for her college and remain a resident of Connecticut at the same time – without going into serious debt. I had to leave and find a state with a lower cost of living so I wouldn’t go broke. Finding a state with a lower cost of living was not difficult.
In addition to the states that have no state income tax imposed on their residents, some states do not tax out-of-state pensions and still others exempt X amount of an out-of-state pension from taxation.
I ended up in Tennessee. Their only tax on income is a tax on dividends. No worries there. Connecticut taxes every penny of a pension. The move to Tennessee saved me about $2,300 yearly in income tax alone. There is no motor vehicle property tax in Tennessee. That saved me another $400 plus yearly. My house in Tennessee is nearly twice as large as my last house in Connecticut and I have ten times the property for about one third of the taxes. A tremendous savings there. Tennessee’s sales tax is much larger than Connecticut’s, but I have control over what I spend.
I’m sure some in the governor’s office and state legislature are thinking, “We lost $2,300? That’s nothing.” They’re right. That amount is a drop in the bucket, so to speak, for state income. But keep in mind; I’m no longer purchasing anything in the state so Connecticut loses sales tax income. I’m no longer buying fuel nor am I renewing my driver’s license or vehicle registration. Still, some in state government may think “So, what?”
Here’s “so what.” Multiply this by the 13,000 who have left Connecticut in the space of two years for states with a lower cost of living. Thirteen thousand people moving out of Connecticut over a short period of time will make a dent in state coffers. After reading about the most recent budget debacle, it looks like it already has an effect.
The governor’s and the legislature’s belief that Connecticut is still the wealthiest state in the U.S. apparently means they can tax and regulate at will and without consequence. Their tax, spend and regulate culture with the confidence that the money will always be there has led to a corrosive and crumbling financial infrastructure with no regard for the people who have to support it.
Unfortunately, their beliefs and actions have forced me and thousands of others to flee to more tax friendly states. Their continual fiscally irresponsible behavior dictated my move out of state. I wonder how many others who left Connecticut feel the same way.
Bruce G. Nease is a former Connecticut resident who moved to Russellville, Tenn.