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The USA New England states law expert (native to the area)

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The USA New England states law expert (native to the area) would be grand please!! I want to move to Maine for the beauty, seascape, and cheaper housing compared to surrounding other NE states. I am also considering NH for the lack of sales or income tax. I have some concerns, Maine ranks in the top ten for highest overall taxes while their NH neighbor ranks in the ten lowest. But trying to find a home in NH on par with those in Maine is really difficult as housing is so much more expensive in NH. However I see in NH that car insurance is not mandatory so if someone hits you, you cannot sue their insurer or something along those lines? And further registering or taxing a car in NH is expensive there (not sure what this is exactly but read about it online)? I am trying to justify Maine over NH and someone familiar with various laws/unusual fees that might make Maine a valid choice would be helpful.
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Hello. Thanks for contacting us.

The gist of the matter is that states need to raise revenue to provide public services. They do it in different ways.

New Hampshire relies heavily on real estate taxes. Those who live in more expensive areas (those in commuting distance to Metro Boston) end up paying a lot more -- either as homeowners or, sometimes, as renters, since rents include the cost of property tax.

In Maine, the burden is more spread out -- through an income tax. What that means is those who make more pay more.

Sales tax is an issue -- but as anyone who lives in Massachusetts will tell you, they have, for years, driven to NH to buy big ticket items without sales tax.

The best advice anyone can give on making a decision vis-a-vis state laws is to simply add up the variables in each case. I'd make a chart that includes:

1. My Income and Income Tax hit in each state
2. My Expected Property Tax in each state
3. Cost of Housing in Each State
4. How close I would be to the border of NH for shopping (anyone can buy without sales tax in NH).

Remember, though, that NH also imposes high levies on such things as restaurant meals. They figure they can tax visitors to raise revenue. Maine is fairer about this -- and I would also calculate how much eating out I'd do, and then figure the sales tax on restaurants (which is different than the sales tax on goods).

The last calcualtion is what type of services I would need. If there will be children in public schools, that's always a consideration. Many people in all kinds of places opt to pay more in taxes to have better educational services. Also, look at fees for things like trash collection. In some places, they are included in taxes, in others the homeowner pays. Its a hidden tax that people tend not to think about.

Also, if public transportation is of concern (for instance if someone in the household will need to get to Boston often and doesn't like traffic jams). Rail service to Boston is best in some of the most highly taxed parts of both states.

As for the auto insurance requirements -- it is not exactly that one need have insurance. But people have to demonstrate that they meet certain financial resource requirements should they get into an accident in which they are at fault. Essentially, instead of buying insurance, people can set aside money to meet the requirements (it might be called self-insurance). Since people from NH and Maine drive in each other's states, this is really not much of consideration. Smart drivers always buy uninsured motorist coverage -- because even in states where insurance is mandatory, some people drive after their policies lapse. While one can sue, people who let insurance lapse often are having financial troubles and have no assets (otherwise, they'd carry insurance!). So, the protections are the same in both states (although it may be worth checking if uninsured motorist coverage in NH is more expensive than in Maine -- as that would be another variable in determining the expected cost of living when making your comparison chart).

I wish you every happiness wherever you settle. I love New England, myself -- and envy those who can make a life in those climes!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

That was fab-u! You are such a clever fellow thanks a ton for taking the time to give me some info. May I bleed your brain a wee more please? I am from the midwest USA and moved to Europe about 10 years ago, I do not know NE but have always fantasized about it (my husband loves US history, we both love the seashore, I love antiques and old architecture and neither of us like hot climates = good match for Maine?). We am returning shortly from Ireland and like Maine as it is similar to Ireland in many ways from the photos. I also love big old homes and can afford this in Maine near some viable towns for employment but not so much in NH. We don't have kids and won't have them. And we don't need to commute to Boston and would work locally in Maine or I may open my own antique/fine art business while my husband is in the medical field. What is that weird car tax registration thing I read about online? Is that unique to NH? That is a great idea about driving over the border for cheaper rates, we do that now by driving to Northern Ireland on the weekends (1.5 hr drive each way) to do shopping. Would you say based on all this, Maine is an equally good choice? Are there any perks to Maine I am unaware of?

Wow. I am flattered! But really, there is no way to make the assessment without making a chart -- and you are best positioned to compare the costs of each lifestyle.

As for the car issue -- in many states (for instance, Virginia), there is a personal property tax or fee charged for car ownership. In places where there is a lower income tax, there is a tendency to raise money by other things. So instead of paying a flat fee for a car registration, one pays a personal property levy on the car's value.

If one has an old junker, then the fee is lower than for a new Ferrari. Its that simple. Think of it like the real property tax one pays on a house. The more valuable the thing, the more one pays. In fact, in NH, there's a local car registration tax, in addition to the state tax (just like it is for real estate taxes).

Hope this clarifies!
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Believe or not I have already done a chart of the NE states (how anal am I?), now I need to reduce it to just Maine vs NH and add in what you mentioned. Thanks a bunch, charts are super.

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