"Kentucky is the worst state in the nation to retire in."
That's what I recently heard on WKCT radio early one morning, according to a new WalletHub report. Kentucky was rated 50th out of all the 50 states – the very worst.
"That's rubbish," I said to myself. I'd just arrived in Bowling Green two months before, after extensive research into where I wanted to relocate when I fled Massachusetts. I phoned in to the radio station and disputed that report's ridiculous conclusion.
I didn't move here to retire, though I'm not far from it. I moved to escape the extremely high-cost and politically oppressive commonwealth I've long battled against. As executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation – the largest, longest-established taxpayers' rights group in Massachusetts – after two-plus decades I couldn't tolerate it much longer.
A bolt of inspiration struck out of nowhere late one evening last March: "I don't need to put up with this, there are options."
My research was launched at that moment. My criteria were simple. I wanted to find a lower cost-of-living state, with a more temperate climate, with less government control and demands over my life. After weeks of deep research – what I've done best for Bay State taxpayers for decades – the result surprised me. The place I wanted to be was Kentucky, specifically Bowling Green.
My decision surprised friends, colleagues and family even more so. No, I didn't know anyone there; no, I'd never been there, had never given Kentucky a passing thought. Though I had a good idea, still I had to pull out a map to find where Kentucky is specifically located among the states. When a colleague saw my reams of research, he commented, "I'll bet you know more about Kentucky now than most of its residents."
I made three trips to Bowling Green last summer before I found my new home, closed on the sale in August. Back home in Marblehead, I plunged into clearing out and packing up, sold my house and abandoned Massachusetts in mid-November, arrived at my new home 1,100 miles and a few days later.
Eight inches of average winter snowfall here sure beats the annual four feet (a record 10 feet in 2015) back there. Before moving, I sold my Chevy Blazer with its snowplow and my snow blower – brought along a shovel for emergencies and still haven't unpacked it.
I've never met so many warm, gracious, friendly and helpful people as every single soul I've met here so far. Even public employees are friendly and helpful, unlike the typical arrogance and disinterest doled out back there. Instead of standing in long lines for literally hours to register a car or renew a driver's license at a distant state Registry of Motor Vehicles office, it took 20 minutes here to change over my vehicle registration, another 20 for my driver’s license. And it cost less.
The profit from the sale of my house (mostly market appreciation) more than paid for my similar home in Kentucky. The $6,000 I paid in annual property taxes up there was reduced by 80 percent here. Nobody here wants to ban firearms or demands permission to own them. Plastic bags and straws are not outlawed. The state legislature doesn’t spend 12 months a year grinding out crazy new laws and raising taxes to pay for them to justify over-paid, alleged full-time legislators, as it does in Massachusetts.
When radio host Chad Young seemed incredulous of my comment about “less government” in Kentucky, I replied: “Everything is relative, and if you were familiar with Massachusetts you’d surely appreciate my perspective. All my friends up there do, and are envious.”
Every morning upon awakening, I get a thrill when I realize I’m here in Kentucky – that I actually pulled it off, escaped the generally endured but needless hardships. I call it “Lucky in Kentucky.”