Identifying magic items

With the magial engineering proficiency it's gives a character who takes a chance to identify an item off hand. It seems you can skip the "proficiency tax" by using magic research which is good. However you can't research an item to identify until you're 5th level. So without feeling required to take magical engineering for your class using up a proficiency slot on one you may not want or having toto hire an npc mage of at least 5th level to investigate it for you costing 1,000 gp for each item and there's a chance for failure. 


What do others here do? Without the player feeling forced to take magical engineering what alternatives  do you use?What if mages in my game are rare and tracking one down to do such a task is next to impossible how do you handle identification of magic items? Do you allows a mage of any level to do research? How do you handle the cost if you don't run a treasure heavy game? Substitute certain monster parts for the gp cost? 

How does your group handle magic item identification?

The difficulty of identifying magic items is entirely deliberate (as stated here).

That said, just because you don't have a proficiency doesn't mean you can't identify magic items. You can work out whether a sword is magical by swinging it a few times; You can guess the effects of a potion by taking a tiny sip; You can see wht a ring does by putting it on, twisting it on your finger, reading out loud any words written on the band, making wishes and seeing if anything happens, and so on.

*Exact* identification is hard, and you're unlikely to discover particularly esotetic magic properties this way, but the more obvious magical properties are often surprisingly easy to guess.