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November 12, 2010


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Having moved from my hometown NYC to Austin, TX going on two years now I would have to agree with your friend. Matter of fact the local economy of those Texas cities have grown especially in Austin.

Well Buffalo and Rochester are the 2 that I've lived in. You get used to the snow :)

I've lived in Houston and Austin, and have family in Birmingham. Birmingham supposedly did pretty decent in the recession, but when I visited last year I saw so much evidence of the housing bubble crisis: tons of homes for sale. In fact in the neighborhood my relatives lived in, it seemed almost half of homes were up for sale. It was kind of sad.

I'm moving back home to Houston next year to settle down and go back to school. I'm very excited about the move since I will have spent three years away (and in one of the most expensive cities). Although I don't plan to look for a full time job, I have been told things are going pretty great there and one could be found easily if I changed my mind. Houston is a very affordable city to live in... I remember I had a $1000 budget including rent when I lived there before, and I lived near downtown!

Austin was a great city, but just too crowded for my tastes considering how small it is and how many people are packed in. I love visiting it though, and I would probably live there again despite my feelings- the good parts outweigh the bad.

I've lived in Pittsburgh, and yes the costs are cheap for housing, but they simply don't have jobs - and if you find one, most of them max out in the $60K range. I moved south and while the city I live in has high costs for housing, I bought before the bubble. But the salaries are a lot higher here.

I live in Houston, and it seems as if things are going well! I don't see (locally) the economic problems we see on the news (nationally).

My husband and I made the recent decision to move from a high cost city (suburb of Washington DC) to Utah... I'n the end we will be able to get more space for our dollar (in terms of housing costs), and I am sure a lot of our bills will be less, but the pay is also significantly less, however, there are lots of jobs there which is great! I am looking forward to the move and think, in the end, it will be a finantially savy move.

I live in Louisville and can vouch it's a very affordable city. We've seen some impact due to the economy, especially in jobs, but are also seeing things turn around. The housing market is fairly stable and you can get a LOT of house for relatively little money. And it's a great town for getting a bit of southern hospitality.

I used to live in Pittsburgh. Nice in some ways, a bit limited in other ways. It's also a place that has a lot of lesser-known "hidden" pluses, like free concerts in the major parks and the free Frick Gallery.

Houston has largely ignored the national slump. It was more of a pause than a downturn here. Housing prices in my neighborhood keep going up, albeit slowly. In general, hiring got put on hold, but there weren't lots of layoffs. Foreclosures weren't a big issue. Of course, those are generalizations, and some businesses got hit harder.

I have lived in several. We live in Oklahoma now, and I have always thought it would be easy to live cheaply here IF I had too. Plop a mobile home down on Indian Nation land (cheaper taxes), and you are set. Oklahoma's economy (and Texas to a certain extent) follow the gas and oil market more so then the general economy.

I think it is harder to live cheap up north just because you can not be poorly-housed, like you can in the south.

I live in Cheektowaga, a small town right outside buffalo and buffalo has its problems. For example, the crime rate is extremely high and the people are depressed. Most think nothing will ever change and very few people are willing to work for it. There are not a ton of job but there are jobs for those who look but many people here are lazy. It has 3 universities, a med and dental school, a VA hospital and other great amenities. It has so much potential IF people would make it so.

I'm obviously biased. Wouldn't want to live anywhere else. As they say: God's Country.

Houston is ridiculously affordable. I would move back there (or to another Texas city, like Austin) in a heartbeat.

I don't know about the rest of Texas, but Houston actually sat out much the 1980s recession as well. (I'm a urban demographer/sociologist, so this stuff is my bread and butter). Would be no surprise that they are sitting out this one as well, or at least are much less hard hit.

@TJ. I don't think the ability to live poorly housed in Texas has to do with it. In Houston I lived in a lovely 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom townhome complete with balconies and a community fitness center and pool for $1200/month. That simply does not exist in the northeast.

I have lived in San Antonio, too, and liked it much better than Oklahoma.

I guess my point is if you HAVE to live on very little, it is easier to do in the south. You can live in cheaply built home and not freeze to death. We live in a very nice home by Oklahoma standards, too. For $290K in 2009, we built a 3200 sq. ft custom home, 3 car garage, all stone exterior, 2 acres fully fenced, and landscaped, all within 20 minutes of Tulsa.

If I was trying to (or had to) make my money go as far as possible, you can live cheap here. I agree with FMF, cost of living is a huge factor. I don't particularly like living here, but we are saving a lot money so we can move down the road.

I live in Houston and the only part of the recession that I've felt is a 2 year salary freeze followed by a $500 pay cut since they raised our health insurance premiums. Overall, we've been really lucky!

I lived in Pittsburgh for about six years and although I enjoyed my time there I was really READY to move by the time another offer came about. There's something jsut a little depressing about the city.

It is an incredibly cheap city though. I had a huge 3-bedroom with really nice Mt. Washington views for only $650 a month). I moved to Cambridge, MA and was immediately paying almost double that for a tiny 1-bedroom.

I have been thinking of moving out of the liberal (high taxes) north (Wisconsin) to somewhere south and Kentucky has been a place on the map that strikes my interest so it is nice to see Louisville on the list.

I had heard that Buffalo, N.Y. was one of the poorest cities in the USA. No desire to move to somewhere with the same cold winters.

Out of that list I've only been to Austin myself. Nice place. But it got awful hot in the summer.

2 big reasons Texas has done better in the recession: Texas did not have the real estate boom like other areas. Without a boom theres no bust. From 2000 to 2006 Dallas prices rose at a rate of around 3.5-4% a year. By comparison Vegas homes more than doubled in that 6 years and rose 13% a year and in Miami they rose 18% a year. Also Texas has stronger regulations on bank loans for refinancing and they do not allow people to cash out refinance as much as most states. I believe they require you to have at least 80% equity after cash out so that kept people in TX from using their homes as ATMs. Then when values went down people still have a cushion cause they hadn't taken the equity out.

I've wanted to live in Nashville, TN for a long, long time. It's currently a goal of mine, once I finish up getting this second degree. Housing is so affordable there, and the jobs pay decently.

BIG A/C bills in the south, the heat and sometimes humidity can get oppressive! And sometimes it neveer ends, with deregulation of electricity in / about 2000, electric (read A/C) costs are EXPENSIVE. The north/north east is COLD. If you have to heat with oil or electric the cost again is VERY high and summer can seem very short. The climate "in the middle" of on the left cost makes living easier and heat/cooling costs are very low compared but, (all) taxes, housing costs,transportation (in the east TOLLS seem everywhere to drive) etc., have to be considered...

I agree with Jim about the real estate factor in Texas. Things never really got out of hand here.

And some of the local economies had some structural advantages, like Houston's energy-based economy and Austin's well diversified economy (state govt, University of Texas, high tech, tourism, entertainment).

When I wanted to make my final career move I was 26 years old, married with 2 children and a junior engineer living in Denver Co, and working for a small aviation company. I knew I needed to get a Master's degree if I was to advance in my field and I knew that large aviation companies would facilitate that for me and pay all or most of the cost. The year was 1960. I mailed off three resumes, 1) to Boeing in Seattle WA, 2) to Lockheed Aviation in Burbank, a suburb of L.A, and 3) to Lockheed Missiles & Space in the Santa Clara Valley near San Francisco.

Within a few days I received phone calls with comparable job offers from each company.
I knew that Seattle was a nice city but that it rains a lot there.
I knew that Burbank was the butt of many jokes and in the middle of smoggy, sprawling, Los Angeles.
I knew nothing about the Santa Clara Valley but they had sent me a nice brochure that showed a fruit growing valley full of beautiful orchards and called locally, "The Valley of Heart's Delight".

The choice was obvious so we loaded our kids into our '55 Chevy and drove over the Rockies and the Sierras hitting the coast at a small town called Carmel. We were overcome with its beauty but little did we know that it was one of the most scenic spots in the whole state. We then drove by fields and fields of artichokes, lettuce, brussell sprouts, cauliflowers, broccoli etc. into the Santa Clara Valley where it changed to orchards of prunes, plums, cherries & apricots etc. My salary was $173/week and we soon found a brand new duplex to rent for $125/month and our new life began.

Things changed a lot over the next 50 years, the orchards and canneries disappeared, being replaced by industrial parks and housing subdivisions, and the population increased dramatically. Now it is one of the least affordable places to live in the USA in terms of real estate but that doesn't affect us. We bought a new home in 1963 for $26,950, sold it in 1977 for $89,950, bought a bigger home in the nicest part of our city for $107,500. Since then it has gone up by a factor of 10 and was paid off 18 years ago when we retired.

The bottom line - where we lived was very affordable when we arrived - it transformed itself into Silicon Valley and is now very expensive but the quality of life is about as good as it gets in terms of climate and living conditions. We have no need for A/C, are close to two international airports and surrounded by many beautiful state, county, and regional parks, especially the ones near the coast in the Santa Cruz Mountains that are home to the Giant Redwoods where I love to hike every week with a group of seniors.

"I mailed off three resumes, ...Within a few days I received phone calls with comparable job offers from each company."

How times have changed.

Surprised Detroit didn't make the list. You can buy a house there for next to nothing!

I have visited 5 out of the 10 cities in the list. One was unbelievably ugly, three were unbelievably humid, and the fifth was very rundown and walking the streets made me feel very uneasy.
Shouldn't a city where you want to put down roots, raise a family, enjoy a happy life and retirement, take advantage of many nearby recreational amenities, have more going for it than just being "Affordable". I have been to lots of places in 3rd. world countries that were very affordable and are interesting to visit, but as for living in any of them - forget it!

After all, you only go around once, so surely the love of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for you and your family means a lot more than just affordability. The quality of one's life matters a lot in my humble opinion. How about such things as the crime rate, the air quality, the cleanliness, the natural beauty, and the climate - don't they matter?

Nashville is a great place! I lived there for 4 years and I would move back in a heartbeat if a good opportunity presented its self. Housing and food are very inexpensive. And there are a lot activities for entertainment. Nashville offers a lot in terms of music, all genres not just country. There's great shopping and 3 interstates run through the middle of Nashville so you can travel pretty easily to Memphis, Atlanta, and beyond. Also, if you have family in the South, Midwest, or East Coast they are a short, relatively inexpensive plane ride away.

One city which isn't on the list which is very affordable and has a good quality of life is Baltimore. It is within commuting distance of the metro DC area so you can take advantage of that job market. However, it is much less expensive than DC. Plus if you don't want to commute to DC, the job market in Baltimore is quite good, too.

Haven't lived in Buffalo or Rochester, but I have lived in the Finger Lakes region which is nearby. Winters are definitely not for those who don't like cold and snow. Lots of cloudy, depressing days. It certainly isn't for everyone which is why they are so affordable!

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