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Harrisonburg, Virginia

Harrisonburg (population 54,000) sits in north central Virginia's beautiful Shenandoah Valley, about two hours southwest of Washington, D.C. It started out in the late-1700s and today is home to James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University. It has also won national recognition as a great place to live.

The walkable 40-block downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is dotted with museums, art galleries, bookstores, street paintings and restaurants offering international menus. It has also been designated as Virginia's First Culinary District. The annual Taste of Downtown celebrates this fact with gusto.

The arts community is alive and well, with the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts and other venues offering regular performances, including the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival and the Sing Me High Music Festival. Several art cooperatives and an art community center add to the artistic vibe.

Outside of town, the Valley offers plenty of opportunities to hike, fish, birdwatch and camp. Five wineries are also close at hand.

Cost of Living

Harrisonburg is a reasonably priced small city with an overall cost of living 10% less than the national average.

The town is 47% less expensive than Marathon, Florida, 31% less expensive than Bozeman, Montana and 27% less expensive than Flagstaff, Arizona.

The median household income is $42,800.

Real Estate

The median home price in Harrisonburg is $228,388. This is a 3% increase over the previous year. For comparison, the national median home price is currently $270,400.

Estimates are that Harrisonburg real estate values will decline 2% over the next year.

The median rental price is $1,150 per month.

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Growth and Drawbacks

Harrisonburg has grown by 11% in the last decade. The poverty rate is above the national average (but the crime rate is below the national average).

Taxes

The combined sales tax rate for Harrisonburg is 5.3%. This is the total of state, county and city sales tax rates.

Virginia imposes a 4.15% sales tax on vehicle purchases.

When it comes to retirement income taxes, Virginia taxpayers age 65 and better can claim a deduction of up to $12,000 if they have a modified AGI of less than $62,000 (single) or less than $87,000 (married). Social Security is not taxed.

The property tax rate is approximately $858 per $100,000 in assessed value. The annual taxes on a $228,388 home are approximately $1,950.

Desire a Nicer Home Without a Mortgage Payment?

If so, consider a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for Purchase. This is a reverse mortgage that lets people age 62+ purchase a new home by using a reverse mortgage.

How does it work? Buyers must put down approximately 45% to 62% of the new home's purchase price, depending on the buyer's age and other factors. This money usually comes from the buyer selling his current home. The rest of the purchase funds come from the HECM loan.

For example, a person sells his home and nets $250,000 from the sale. With a HECM for Purchase Loan he can then buy a new $450,000 home by putting down $225,000 (50%), keeping $25,000 cash in his pocket and financing the remaining $225,000 home price with the reverse mortgage loan. Best yet, the buyer will have no monthly mortgage payments.

Talk to a reputable reverse mortgage lender for more information.

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