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The chicken needs to cross the road canyon as the grain is always sweeter on the other side.

Chicken crossing a canyon
See you on the other side sucker!

Say what? The last time I saw an actual chicken trying to cross the grand canyon for grain, was…. well, never. Yet, many of us live our lives constantly seeking out something unattainable or making rash decisions believing it will finally make life great. Spoiler alert, it’s likely not going too.

I lack nothing. #cheesyexistence

I can you hear you now. “I get it, I get it, the grass isn’t always greener…what about those manatees though? When are we going swimming?”

Not so fast, there’s no swimming with manatees today. I’ll start by defining what a “manatee moment” is and how it came to pass. You see, it all started with a simple phone call.

Ring ring.

Mom: “Your Dad and I are moving to Florida.”

Me: Silence.

Mom: “Oh honey, it’s going to be wonderful. The weather is just AMAZING!

Me: Silence. (Thinking: O.M.G.)

Mom: We can get a huge house for half the price we’re paying now.

Me: Silence.

Mom: “I’m going to swim with the manatees!

Me: “You’re going to do what?”

Mom: “Oh honey, it’s going to be soooo great, you’ll see.”

Expectations vs Reality – Swimming with the Manatees

What my mom thought she’d be getting vs what really happens. #manateefail.

Expectations
Reality

And thus, the “manatee moment” was first defined.

Manatee Moment” – A moment of blissful idyllic thinking about an activity, purchase, vacation or other action you want to take that ends up nothing like you thought, perhaps even layered with deep regret or disgust.

We’ve all been there

It always sounds like a good idea when you see that shiny new widget advertised on TV, or get invited out on a Friday night to hang out with your friends. Before you know it, you want nothing more than to jump in your favorite pj’s and end up re-watching a movie you’ve seen 10 times (you know, the edited version with commercials) when you could have popped in a Blu-Ray. Your friends will understand. And that shiny widget you ordered from QVC last week? It’s already been forgotten and gathering dust in the back of your closet (unopened and unloved). In the words of every gen-x’r, reality bites.

Best of Intentions

It’s late, you’ve accomplished nothing all day (other than wistfully dreaming about getting in shape and finally finishing that home improvement project you’ve been meaning to get to). The TV flickers and flashes, knowing exactly what you want. Suddenly, Shaun T (sorry ladies & gents, he’s taken) takes over your TV. Sweat glistens off his muscles as his hard-bodied staff hops around getting fit. You instantly rip out your credit card and immediately sign-up for Insanity. You know you’ll be in shape in no time. Insanity too much? How about the Bowflex? Thighmaster? 8-Minute Ab video? Ab roller? Shake Weight? or Flex Belt Ab Muscle Toner? Admit it, you wanted (or had) at least one of those. (#ads)

Check out Shaun T’s banging bod

The day arrives when your shiny new package comes in the mail. You eagerly unwrap the slick packaging and dream of the banging body that’s ahead. You pop it in, just to “check it out.” After all, you’re not in your workout clothes and you’ve got brunch plans in an hour. The video plays. It seems…intense. “Oh well,” you think, “I’ll deal with this after lunch.”

Lunch comes & goes.

You’re busy this week, no worries, you want to start on a Monday anyway.

Monday comes and go.

Then a week, then a month.

Insanity stays on the shelf. Somewhere Shaun T is grinning at his bank account and wondering if you ever tried the workout even once.

“If only I had a Peloton, I’d exercise everyday and finally lose those last 10 lbs.”

I know what you’re thinking. “That’s never going to happen to me, I’m motivated.” Ok, great. Let’s go further and get a bigger house so you can create a home gym of your own. Maybe you can clean out your garage instead and set it up there. Your car doesn’t like it inside that stuffy ole garage anyway.

Here’s a bad ass bike that is MUCH cheaper than a Peleton (#ad).

Exactly how much does the average home gym cost?

EquipmentTypical Cost
Treadmill$1,000
Stair master$2,000
Dumbbell set$250
Yoga Mat$25
Workout videosFree to $100
Resitance Bands$25
Kettlebell Set$150
Row Machine$500
Typical Cost of Home Gym Equipment

Now that your personal gym is set up with top of the line equipment. How often are you actually going to use it?

I spend time on my workout wheel everyday.

Not excited about creating your own home gym? How about being lured into the sweet sound of joining the local gym? Good luck ever cancelling your membership. The owner, (we’ll call him Glen), is going to require to be onsite when you give you notice, and then never show up to work.

GymAverage Monthly Cost
Commercial Gym$30-70
Crossfit$125-$180
Orange Theory$159
Pilates$60-$150
Average Gym Memberships

Ignoring inflation and rising membership costs, (and assuming worst case scenario in the monthly cost), just how much are we paying for our dreams of getting a hard body. Only $4,950 for a home gym, not too shabby. How about Crossfit? That’ll set you back $21,600 over 10 years, ouch.

Still thinking that gym membership you never use is a good deal?

Expensive equipment or not, they all make good clothes racks.

Exercise equipment clothes rack
Not” my Mom’s actual house.

Score 1 for the manatees.

Getting that promotion

Imagine this…you finally get the call from an executive level recruiter. You’ve been recommended for a killer job. More money, a fancy title. It’s a tap on the shoulder from the highest level, they think you have talent. But is it all you think it is?

“Just got a promotion, can’t wait for the lazy days.”

Your job today can be stressful with late nights and crazy presentations. Yet, there are no direct reports and the freedom to manage your projects as you see fit.

Is managing a 250 person organization for an extra 15% worth the stress? Will whining direct reports, plots to take your job and knowing you will be the fall guy be worth the extra stress?

The manatees think so.

These manatees are starting to worry me.

Heck, why not. Take the job. It can’t be any worse than what you’re doing now.

Starting over in a new city

You’ve tried the new job, the fancy gym, but it’s not enough. How about packing up and shipping off to grand new adventures half-way across the country? Saving money, upgrading your house, and new restaurants! Sweet!

“I’m moving to a state with no income tax! Wahoo!”

Let’s look at a comparison of how much it costs in various States across the USA. Income tax is but one consideration in a laundry list of figuring out how much it’s going to cost in another place. In Oregon, we’ll pay zero sales tax, but income tax comes in at a whopping 9.9%. Ouch. Maybe saving on sales tax isn’t that great, especially when the cost of health care is high.

Cost of Living Comparison (2019)

StateState Income Tax (2019)Sales Tax (2019)Property taxesUtility annual avg.Grocery TaxAnnual health care (2 people)
Utah5.00%6.94%0.60%$4,202Reduced$10,152
Nevada0.00%8.14%0.84%$4,523Exempt$10,680
Arizona2.59 – 4.54%8.37%0.72%$5,297Exempt$10,872
New Mexico4.90%7.82%0.55%$4,705Exempt$11,856
Idaho9.80%6.03%0.69%$4,125Taxable$9,960
Florida0.0%6.0%0.98%$5,3896.0%$12,360
Washington0.00%9.17%0.92%$4,430Exempt$13,104
Montana6.90%0.00%0.83%$4,3080%$13,320
Minnesota5.35% to 9.85%7.43%1.05%$4,854Exempt$11,448
Colorado8.50%7.63%0.60%$4,851Exempt$11,640
Kansas3.1% to 5.7%8.67%1.29%$5,065Taxable$10,848
South Dakota0.00%6.40%1.28%$4,591Taxable$12,912
Iowa0.36 to 8.98%6.82%1.29%$5,238Exempt$11,016
Wyoming0.00%5.36%0.58%$4,715Exempt$15,888
California1.0% to 13.3%8.56%0.74%$5,254Exempt$12,600
Nebraska2.46 to 6.84%6.85%1.76%$4,793Exempt$11,592
Massachusetts5.10%6.25%1.04%$5,630Exempt$13,296
Oregon5.0% – 9.9%0.00%0.87%$4,5760%$11,160
Alaska0.00%0.00%1.04%$6,3360%$18,720
Average Costs

Manatees in Florida

That faithful day when my mom called to inform me she was indeed moving to FL, (after I calmed down), I got her to agree to go visit the grand state of Florida (before buying a house sight unseen – and this was before the Covid craze made that popular).

What do you know, Florida wasn’t the glamorous place the brochures made it out to be.

Everything is better in Florida.

My Mom learned that things are not as blissful as they seem in the sunshine state. The median cost of housing in Arizona was $239,400 while Florida was $245,400. Not quite the half-off she was thinking.

I wasn’t done yet, I needed to convince her it wasn’t just housing that was an issue, as we all know that housing is just one component of expenses. Let’s look at a deeper comparison between AZ & FL. We’ll make a few assumptions and utilize the cost comparison chart found further above. First, we’ll assume a $300,000 house to pay income tax on. Next we’ll assume purchasing $20,000 of items throughout the year are subject to sales tax. Lastly, we’ll assume $50,000 of income subject to the state income tax.

Cost Comparison between AZ & FL

StateAZFL
Property Tax$2,160$2,940
Sales Tax$1,674$1,200
Income Tax$1,670$0.00
Utilities$5,297$5,389
Healthcare$10,872$12,360
Total$21,673$21,889
Cost of Living Comparison – AZ vs FL

If my Mom was able to find a comparable house in AZ to FL, her fixed costs would be about even. We know the median houses in FL are about 3% higher, and that doesn’t include the outrageous insurance costs the lovely state of FL has to pay due to all the hurricanes, so it’s unlikely she would truly “break even.” She’s also going to be faced with a 6% grocery tax that she doesn’t pay today. Ouch. And don’t get me started on the closing costs & costs to rent a moving truck.

The weather she was so keen on? Alternating between humidity, hurricanes thunderstorms, I guess sunny and 70 only happens certain times of the year.

If the extra expenses and highly variable weather aren’t enough, the crime stats were nothing to write home about. Miami outranks Phoenix in both violent and property crime. Guess we’ll need to upgrade that security system.

Source: Bestplaces.net/compare-cities

And those manatees? They may not be around much longer if Covid has it’s way.

Manatee population threatened

“I hope everybody could get rich and famous and will have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know that its not the answer.”

Jim Carrey

“Scored super cheap tickets to Cancun, beach time here I come.”

Regardless of how we choose to spend money, it pays to weigh the cost / benefits of each decision we make. And yes, that includes stopping to think: Is this a manatee moment?

The information contained on this website is for entertainment purposes only and references only opinions of the author. Nothing contained within should be considered professional, financial, legal, tax, psychological, health, safety or investment advice. Seek advice from a duly licensed and/or registered professional that can help with your specific situation.