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August 10, 2006


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It was nice to see that Indianapolis, IN has a cost-of-living index of 82.8%. Housing is the largest driver of this index, being at 59.8%. I can say, compared to the prices I see elsewhere, the housing market prices in Indianapolis has always seemed excellent.

The eight great places to live sound pretty cool, but I know that my friends and I would have to leave a certain 'comfort zone'. For example, my Jewish friends could never imagine themselves in Fayetteville. But change is change, right?

Chicago is a great place to live because it has many of the features of new york city with a MUCH lower cost of living. I'm paying the same for my 2-bedroom apartment here as my friends in austin are for a very comparable place.

We sometimes toy with the thought of moving out of Silicon Valley, but our criteria are hard to meet:

1. It must have a large Chinese community. DW is Chinese and likes to have a selection of Chinese markets to buy groceries and such.

2. Good weather. Anything beyond a small amount of snow is not allowed, nor is humidity. We native Californians get spoiled by such things.

3. Lots of nearby hiking and outdoor nature adventuring, available year-round.

4. I need to be able to find a job in my rather esoteric field. Taking a massive pay hit while changing careers would ruin the whole point of moving...

So, even though we toy with the thought of moving, very few places make it past the above "filters".

Given that many of us in expensive areas are in similar situations, an interesting article would be "how to do well and save money without leaving The Big City"...

In our case, it would include:

1. Low-ball your car expenses. Just because everyone else drives a BMer or Lexus doesn't mean you have to.

2. Enjoy what you're paying for - day hiking, the beach, and weekend backpacking trips to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe are cheap and fun. Use them.

3. (Not for us, as we bought years ago, but decent advice for young people) Here, rents are much lower proportionately than purchasing. A 2 bedroom apartment in our city would rent for about $1000, while a similarly sized condo would cost $400K or more. A house could be rented for $2K/month, while it would cost $700K or more. Renting is probably a better option than buying at this point...

4. Other LBYM advice works just as well across the street from Google HQ as it does in Cheapville, ND: don't have silly debt, avoid Starbucks, monitor and prune ongoing expenses - however small - and you'll do well.

Here's another vote for Minneapolis. We live in the Minneapolis area and it is a great place to live. We actually moved to one of the outer ring suburbs here and commute into the city for work -and it is a great deal. In one of the suburbs we got a 4 bedroom 4 bath house for probably 100 grand less than we could have in the city. Plus we're close enough to Minneapolis that we can drive there within 25 minutes or so.

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