Thanks for the replies, partlyscot, you're answers were exactly what I was looking for, straight up, honest assessments about your locations.
This is a very tough decision, my landlady champions Virginia heavily. And for what it's worth, New England transplants LOVE Virginia. We're just "northern" enough in policy and law, yet also "southern" enough for milder winters, and of course, lower cost of living. As I've stated, Tennessee has even lower taxes, however state policy gets a little "red".
I think my landlady also wants me to stay as I pay my rent on time, and I keep her property in good repair without bugging her constantly.
In all honestly, sometimes my logic cries out just to stay put and see America by vacations alone. I have a good job, and a job that in all fairness isn't "man in skirt" friendly, but at least leaves me alone for the most part at my current position. There is just little chance of advancement. My income to cost of living ratio is VERY favorable and above average for a high school graduate with no college education like myself.
The most basic essentials for "modern" life, housing, heat, water and sewer. As it is, all of this combined would run around $550 per month total in the summer and maybe closer to $950 in the coldest months. This price does not include things like cable, internet, phones, etc, rather just the basic utilities and rent. Even in the winter, my take home pay is over twice that.
Taxes are reasonable I suppose. If you make $10 per hour, you can expect to bring home about $300 per week after taxes and health insurance. If you make $20, it's about $600 per week respectively, take home.
Our hospitals are fair. We don't have facilities that draw in patients the world over, but they serve our community well enough and can handle many common ailments, if not locally, then at least regionally (Bristol/Kingsport/Johnson City area)
The most progressive places in the U.S. are also quite intimidating for an old hillbilly boy like myself. I know I talk a cool talk on these boards, but deep down, lets me honest, these hills are all I know. To me, Roanoke is a BIG city coming in at just under 100,000 residents. Hell, that's a small town compared to many areas I've looked at.
I worry about being a fish out of water, being hustled, loosing it all.
There may be another opportunity to transfer to Chattanooga. A rather recent prospect I've talked to my supervisor about, currently I'm placing it at a 20% probability of happening, but still generally favorable. They need help bad down there, and I'm looking to "start over" somewhere away from corporate, but both sides have deal breakers and it's a tough negotiation.
Chattanooga is also deeper south, and not exactly the direction I was aiming. That being said, it's a larger city. But are they progressive? In my internet searches I've found it's a crap shoot. If I go that route my job is secure, as I'd be working for the same company and they already know about how I am, so that's not an issue. Issues I may run into are housing and general harassment. As it is, I have a very supportive and understanding landlady who takes zero issue with what I do, but it did take a few failures to find her.
Time would be of the essence if I take this transfer and I don't have forever to fiddle fart around with bigoted landlords. I don't want to get signed into a place and then he catch me with a dress on and find myself evicted.
I just don't know how the Chattanooga community feels about gender benders like myself. Visiting is one thing, but settling down? That tends to draw out the drama....
I may need to make a few weekend trips down that way in some flamboyant outfits just to take the pulse of the situation.
Rent's seem to be slightly higher in the Chatt area over what I'm accustomed to. I'd say utilities are about the same, and of course, in Tennessee there is no income tax so that helps.
I've already made one of my conditions of transfer being a healthy and satisfactory raise to account for the higher cost of living.
But all this aside, lest we forget, my situation is not bad here. I have tolerant neighbors, a good landlady, a job that is fair enough under the circumstances, and have pretty well canvased the entire region in some pretty wild skirts and dresses and always came home with all my body parts and no bruises.
Gheesh... if I were 20 years old, I'd bounce in a heart beat... but I find as I get older, I try to make my decisions a little more "calculated".... I'll think
something to death!
Sure would like to hear from smoothlegs
on this one... as Chatt is his hometown, and I'm giving this some serious consideration!