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October 23, 2012


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What about life standards? A cheap city means nothing unless it satisfies important needs of one. This can be anything from richness of cultural activities to a certain climate, crime rate, dominant philosophy of ifs tenants, its natural beauties etc.

Of course, if two cities are alike, the choice can be financial.

Mert --

That is true. Personal preference plays a big role in whether a person will "like" a particular city or not.

For us, we enjoy the "simpler things in life" like family time, walks, getting together with friends, watching the kids play sports and the like. We don't need many things others might consider necessities.

Can definitely attest to Boston metro being much more expensive than the cheapie areas on the list. Housing is the major expense that is WAY higher than the cheapie areas. To us, it was more about being near family and friends and living in an area we enjoyed much more than where we were living. Since we follow many of the tenets of this site though, in five years or so, it won't matter since we plan to pay off our mortgage by then. :) Once that is paid off, our expenses won't be too much different than if we hadn't moved.

In many cities near the bottom of this list - Providence, Portland, NY, SF, Boston, Philadelphia - it's possible (and IMO preferable) to live without a car. That's worth thousands per year, and levels the rankings quite a bit.

This article ignored the folks who cash in by working in high salary regions yet easily commute to a home in an adjacent lower cost of living area. For instance, working in DC and living in Baltimore skews the salary after cost-of-living adjustment toward the top of the chart.

I had a friend encourage me to move to LA post college in 2008. I visited and realized after a week, I only met/saw 2 of the 4 room mates only once. I asked why they were always gone and was told they all worked around the clock. It was surprising to me that it took 5 people each paying $900 a month to live in that house, one person lived in the garage. Granted they lived in Manhattan Beach, it still seemed very disproportional since they had zero privacy.

I quickly realized that living in Alabama, I could work half the time and have twice as much. Four years later, my mortgage is $500 a month and I live alone with 2 spare rooms and a garage for my car!

That's a great sprinklers story. :) I'm pretty cheap and didn't put in sprinklers at our first home. We rarely need them anyway.
I believe it's all about how much you keep too.

The company whose mutual fund database and software that I have used since 1993 held their annual conference in Houston in 1998 and I was one of the presenters. That city also has more users of the database than any other which probably has a lot to do with the oil wealth. My wife and I met many of the locals and found them to be very friendly and hospitable. The city also has some wonderful housing developments.

On the negative side I feel that the city is really lacking in natural beauty because of its location, geography, and all of the oil related facilities, and for that reason it's a city in which I would never choose to live. The laws on gun ownership are also very lax and we were told how easy it is to obtain a permit to carry a handgun. I was also surprised to see liquor stores with drive-up windows. However we all have to earn a living doing what we do best and that often dictates the area where you have no choice but to live and work.

In 1958 I was living in Denver and wanted to work for one of the large aerospace companies so I sent out three resumes. I quickly received three comparable job offers for positions in Los Angeles,CA, Seattle,WA, and Sunnyvale,CA and after examining the enclosed brochures and pictures describing each area it was an easy choice to move to Silicon Valley. Having lived there now for 54 years we have counted our blessings many times. It's no wonder that in its fruit growing days Silicon Valley was called the Valley of Hearts Delight and pictures taken in those days from the surrounding hills in Springtime show a lush green valley with orchards covered in pink and white blossoms.

Silicon Valley is great for those in tech. But for many outside the tech. field, their wages don't make up for the higher cost of living.

I grew up just north of Houston (and now live in eastern Washington state.)
I would agree with Old Limey that Houston doesn't have much natural beauty as a city. In fact I would have to do an internet search to name any sort of nature area or park in the Houston area. I can't think of any on my own unless you want to drive about 75 miles north to Huntsville State Park. I'm much more impressed with the city parks available in my current much smaller city. Houston is also HOT! 6 months out of the year - in truth the whole south is hot. Two summers ago right before my family moved, we had 30+ straight days of 100+ degree weather. I personally would rather not faint from heat stroke just by stepping out my front door to check the mail. My in laws say that at least they can still go walk around an air conditioned store when it's super hot outside versus being snowed in up north, but that's not a worth while trade off for me.

There are so many factors that go into deciding where to live and if you and your family will be happy there. I like reading lists like in the article because it makes me want to look up those other cities to see if our family would match up well with its offerings.

I am in the Houston area, and the one thing that deters me from moving to San Jose is of course cost of living. Guess if I ever win lotto I can retire in San Jose.

We have been in Silicon Valley since 1960. We left England in 1956, had 2 years in Toronto, Canada, and 2 years in Denver, Colorado. These days hi-tech professionals from India seem to be the largest group of new arrivals. This group care a lot about their children's education and one particular school district that has very high test scores has grown a lot recently as it attracts many of them. Being in a good school district can add a lot of value to your home, anywhere between $100K and $200K.

We bought a new 4br, 2ba home on an 8,000sf lot in 1963 for $27K and sold it in 1977 for $90K. We then moved a mile away into a 4br, 3ba home on a 10,000sf lot built in 1972, in a development of custom homes for $107K. The home next to us sold this month for $1.25M. Homes in the more prestigious neighborhoods start at $2M and go up to $5M and higher.

There are extremely high salaries to be made in the many hi-tech companies but normal jobs that don't require one or more degrees, for the most part, pay the same as most other parts of the USA. Exceptions would be highly skilled workers, people in law enforcement, fire protection, healthcare, education, and the law.

One of our best bargains is in fruits and vegetables because they are grown in rural areas outside the valley and don't need to be shipped very far at all.

There are several things that kept us here after retiring, they were:-
1) The year round climate is great - low humidity - very few bugs - you can live comfortably without A/C.
2) The valley is ringed by 2,500ft mountain ranges, most of which are now openspace preserves available for hiking, mountain biking, horse riding etc. There is a Bay Area Ridge Trail that circumvents the Bay Area, 335 miles of the trail is complete and ultimately it will extend to 550 miles.
3) Availability of excellent healthcare thanks to the influence of Stanford University.
4) San Francisco Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other make for cool nights even on the hottest days.

I found the Kenny Rogers story a bit ironic- it's like he is living the Country song that is being sung.


Old Limey's assessment of Silicon Valley is spot on.

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