Author Topic: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?  (Read 14623 times)

Kaplin261

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HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« on: December 11, 2015, 08:22:44 AM »
I see a lot of people on here talking about wanting to live in LCOL(low cost of living) areas when they hit financial independence. But does it really make a difference. Mustachians that live off of $25k are they going to notice much of a difference on their grocery bill, transportation costs,healthcare and other necessity items? The only real difference I see is the real estate.

If real estate is the main factor in cost of living and I can get a loan from a bank with a interest rate slightly higher than the appreciation rate of the home. Is it really that much more? If i'm retired and doing all house maintenance and repairs myself on a 1400 sqft home in a HCOL costing $500k and LCOL costing $250k is going to be about the same. Taxes and insurance are going to cost more.

Scenario A.) High Cost of Living: $500k home that requires 20% down($100K) annual interest that could of been earned $7,000 Taxes and Insurance on home $5000. 3.5% home loan minus 3% for home appreciation= $2,500. Total sum: $14,500

Scenario B.)Low Cost of Living: $250k home that requires 20% down($50K), annual interest that could of been earned $3,500. Taxes and Insurance on home $2500. 3.5% home loan minus 3% for home appreciation= $1,250. Total sum: $7,250

The above scenario is a very rough simulation of costs and i'm sure there are a lot more variables that go into this, so please chime in if you have something to add. Does it really only require an extra $100k net worth to live in a HCOL area vs LCOL?

KCM5

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2015, 08:47:51 AM »
That doesn't seem too far off. Although according to your numbers it more like $181,250 extra net worth ($181,250*.04=$7250). This is assuming that your okay with having a mortgage. That could be an increase of your stash of 25%, which is significant. And I'd argue that your taxes/insurance number is low for both (I pay $3500 for a low end $100k house in the midwest). But that's very dependent on location.

Thinkum

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2015, 08:54:46 AM »
I think it really depends on what precise locations you're talking about. I'll give you an example of HCOL vs LCOL in my move from Los Angeles area to the Dallas area. Back home, in the city I lived, condos that were really converted old apartments from the 60's & 70's are going for around $500K. Houses went for around $700K+. Moving further inland you can find homes for $500K-$400K. Here in Dallas, you can buy a nice home for around $250K. If you want to get fancy, then by all means, you can buy homes much more expensive. During the working years, Texas has no state income tax and the sales tax is 8.25%. CA has state income tax and my city had upped the sales tax to about 9.25%. Then gasoline is routinely about $.75-$1 cheaper in TX. The property taxes in TX are higher, but really, they are about the same as I would pay on that $500K house in CA. Then insurance is slightly higher in TX too. Other than that, most things are pretty even. So in this case, no $100K is not the only difference between these 2 areas.

mm1970

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2015, 09:22:25 AM »
I agree it depends on the specific area.

Coastal So Cal:
House $800k, taxes $9000
Income tax 9-10%
Sales tax 8.75%
Gas: a good $1 higher
But utilities are low

Rural PA:
House: $100,000, taxes $1000
Income tax 6%
Sales tax?? Don't remember
Gas cheaper
Utilities higher because: weather

Upstate NY:
House: $150,000, taxes $7000
I don't know much about the other taxes.

In this scenario, what my takeaway is...

I love Coastal So Cal, but that mortgage is going to take a long time to pay off.  Once the mortgage is paid off, then the monthly costs aren't too terribly different than upstate NY, because Prop taxes are similar.

However, I could sell my house in So Cal, buy a similar sized house for cash in Upstate NY, for a lot less ($150,000 max), and retire TODAY.  (We could both retire today in upstate NY.  Technically I could retire today in So Cal, but most people would refer to me as a SAHM if I did that.)

Mesmoiselle

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2015, 09:46:49 AM »
I don't know about a high cost of living area, but your concept of Low Cost of Living is off.

I have a 1800 square foot home in Louisville Kentucky that I purchased for 52.5K and 3.5% interest.I consider that a significant difference from the 1400 square foot home for 250k you're mentioning, even after I spent 10k on some repair work and a new air conditioner.

matchewed

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2015, 09:50:38 AM »
The true answer is that it depends. I think people often use it as an excuse as I hear people frequently tell me places like CT are so HCOL that they have it tough when their household income is $75k<

There are few locations in the US where COL is that impactful IMO.

Yankuba

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2015, 09:52:00 AM »
I don't know about a high cost of living area, but your concept of Low Cost of Living is off.

I have a 1800 square foot home in Louisville Kentucky that I purchased for 52.5K and 3.5% interest.I consider that a significant difference from the 1400 square foot home for 250k you're mentioning, even after I spent 10k on some repair work and a new air conditioner.

Agreed - your LCOL is too high and your HCOL is way too low.

andy85

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2015, 10:02:09 AM »
I don't know about a high cost of living area, but your concept of Low Cost of Living is off.

I have a 1800 square foot home in Louisville Kentucky that I purchased for 52.5K and 3.5% interest.I consider that a significant difference from the 1400 square foot home for 250k you're mentioning, even after I spent 10k on some repair work and a new air conditioner.
Sup Louisville bro! (or sis)

But yea, 150k around here will get you a very nice "middle class" home. And a lot cheaper if you look hard enough.
I got a 950ish sqft home for 92k.

Bearded Man

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2015, 10:05:11 AM »
lol, appreciation. Your argument is flawed. A lcol with a house you can buy in cash for 50k allows many people to retire right now, with huge buffer. If those people stay in areas like sf where a house is 1mil, they will have to work longer.

By living in hcol area and retiring to lcol area, you are practicing geographic arbitrage. I could have retired after 3 years if I moved to Thailand. Now even I save 75% of my money working in Thailand as a teacher, I could retire there in a 5~6 years too, but I can't retire to sf. Hcol to lcol allows faster retirement and huge buffer.

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2015, 10:11:18 AM »
I don't think phrasing this as a binary question did justice to the nuance articulated below.

Obviously it matters; it's a question of how much it matters. LCOL and HCOL are just vague generalizations, so start by comparing specific markets (and be very specific) for useful results. Reality is a continuum from 0 to infinity and every spot falls somewhere along it.

If you can tolerate a small living space, and get it cheap by being willing to rehab it yourself, you might find location only matters a little. Also, the lower the desired spending level, the larger the housing component gets, and the more it affects the total savings required.

Generalizations can be helpful, but it's important that you go beyond them if an actual decision is involved. Look at all your options and account for as many factors as possible.

AZDude

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2015, 10:43:28 AM »
The difference between a mortgage in SoCal vs the rest of the southwest is like $1K to $2K more per month. It definitely makes a difference.

arebelspy

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2015, 10:45:17 AM »
Even not counting housing, yeah, I think you could easily shave 20% off your budget.  20% less stache amount = probably 10% less working time (not one-to-one due to compounding).

If there's nothing keeping them there, why not shave off a few working years?
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ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2015, 11:17:04 AM »
I don't know about a high cost of living area, but your concept of Low Cost of Living is off.

I have a 1800 square foot home in Louisville Kentucky that I purchased for 52.5K and 3.5% interest.I consider that a significant difference from the 1400 square foot home for 250k you're mentioning, even after I spent 10k on some repair work and a new air conditioner.

100% agree with this. I live in rural Ohio and my monthly expenses are about $1,300. Friends who live in downtown Cleveland and Pittsburgh laugh at that amount because they pay almost $1,000-1,300 just for rent.  And friends who live in San Francisco and New York laugh at all of us because their rent alone is more than double my living expenses.

I don't know where you're from, but plug in any state and go to the rural/LCOL areas, and you'll see a much more drastic price drop in real estate compared to what you're suggesting.

Kaplin261

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2015, 12:54:10 PM »
I don't know about a high cost of living area, but your concept of Low Cost of Living is off.

I have a 1800 square foot home in Louisville Kentucky that I purchased for 52.5K and 3.5% interest.I consider that a significant difference from the 1400 square foot home for 250k you're mentioning, even after I spent 10k on some repair work and a new air conditioner.

Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky
High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013   86.7%
Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013   26.9%
Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013   $139,700
Median household income, 2009-2013   $44,159

$149,900 Gets you
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/3224-Bon-Air-Ave-Louisville-KY-40220/73455761_zpid/

564% higher then averege property crime score
http://www.homefacts.com/crime/Kentucky/Jefferson-County/Louisville/40220.html

San Francisco County, California
High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013   86.3%
Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013   52.4%
Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013   $744,600
Median household income, 2009-2013   $75,604

$599,000 Gets you
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1243-Quesada-Ave-San-Francisco-CA-94124/15153857_zpid/

120% Higher then averege property crime score
http://www.homefacts.com/crime/California/San-Francisco-County/San-Francisco/94124.html

Kaplin261

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2015, 01:18:43 PM »
Seattle, Washington
High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013   93.2%
Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013   57.4%
Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013   $433,800
Median household income, 2009-2013   $65,277

$410,00 Gets you
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/13240-3rd-Ave-NW-Seattle-WA-98177/48695718_zpid/

170% Higher then averege property crime score
http://www.homefacts.com/crime/Washington/King-County/Seattle/98177.html

Richmond, VA
High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013   81.5%
Bachelor's degree or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013   34.8%
Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2009-2013   $196,400
Median household income, 2009-2013   $40,496

$249,950 Gets you
http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1311-W-Cary-St-Richmond-VA-23220/12544893_zpid/

49% Higher then averege property crime score(320% murder rate)
http://www.homefacts.com/crime/Virginia/Richmond-City-County/Richmond/23220.html

reader2580

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2015, 01:31:17 PM »
HCOL can be more than just the cost of a house or rent.  Food and just about everything can cost more in some HCOL areas.  Groceries are generally quite expensive in Hawaii or Alaska.

Kaplin261

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2015, 02:22:17 PM »
HCOL can be more than just the cost of a house or rent.  Food and just about everything can cost more in some HCOL areas.  Groceries are generally quite expensive in Hawaii or Alaska.

Walmart

Seattle, Washington
$2.57 GV Orig Soymilk, 64oz
$3.78 Sara Lee 100% Multi-Grain Bakery Bread, 20 oz
$6.87 Tyson: Iqf Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Tenderloins, 48 Oz

Total $13.22

Richmond, VA
$2.29 GV Orig Soymilk, 64oz
$3.18 Sara Lee 100% Multi-Grain Bakery Bread, 20 oz
$6.87 Tyson: Iqf Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Tenderloins, 48 Oz

Total $12.34

This is a 7% difference. If my grocery bill is $5000 a year, living in Seattle vs Richmond would cost me $350 more for groceries.

dandarc

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2015, 02:32:07 PM »
Damn dude.  Everywhere I have lived in my life is way above average for violent crime!  Amazing I haven't been mugged yet apparently.

Sailor Sam

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2015, 03:06:21 PM »
Last April I moved from Norfolk, VA, where I found prices pretty sane, to the nitoriously HCOL Seattle, WA. What I've noticed is that I have to hack more things in Seattle to remain at the same price point as Norfolk.

- I was intending to buy a house in Seattle. I had 70k for a downpayment, and was authorized for a 350k loan. I got priced out of the market immediately. Houses are crazy here, and the available stock is quite low. I'm still half-heatedly searching because lower price points do pop up, but not frequently.

- In Norfolk I went to a personal trainer for $35 per half hour, which included unlimited membership at a boutique gym. Every place I've checked in Seattle forces a full hour, and the lowest price I've found is $85. Membership not included. I've developed my own fitness routine instead, but I miss the camaraderie

- Food from grocery stores is more expensive in Seattle. In Norfolk I could walk into the fancy grocery store and find prices I agreed with. To keep my grocery costs comparable in Seattle I have to research venues, and pay sharp attention to discounts. If I'd been this careful in Norfolk, I would have experienced a rise in food prices.

- Gas is depressingly expensive in Seattle. The public transportation in Seattle is much better than Norfolk, but a pass costs around $100/month. I find that pretty hefty.

- Electricity is actually much cheaper in Seattle. Whoop!

- Formal entertainment is slightly more expensive in Seattle, generally because most venues don't have a military discount. It's ubiqutous in Norfolk.

ETA: To wrap up my point, I think HCOL requires more badassing, but you can find ways to keep your bottom line from rising too aggressively.

HCOL can be more than just the cost of a house or rent.  Food and just about everything can cost more in some HCOL areas.  Groceries are generally quite expensive in Hawaii or Alaska.

Walmart
Seattle, Washington

Hey Kaplin261, where did you find the quote? I think you've been mislead, there are no Wal-Mart's in Seattle. Though there is one in Bellevue and Lynwood, which are at similar price points as Seattle. Maybe you interpolated across?
« Last Edit: December 11, 2015, 03:12:36 PM by Sailor Sam »

JLee

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2015, 03:09:58 PM »
I see a lot of people on here talking about wanting to live in LCOL(low cost of living) areas when they hit financial independence. But does it really make a difference. Mustachians that live off of $25k are they going to notice much of a difference on their grocery bill, transportation costs,healthcare and other necessity items? The only real difference I see is the real estate.

If real estate is the main factor in cost of living and I can get a loan from a bank with a interest rate slightly higher than the appreciation rate of the home. Is it really that much more? If i'm retired and doing all house maintenance and repairs myself on a 1400 sqft home in a HCOL costing $500k and LCOL costing $250k is going to be about the same. Taxes and insurance are going to cost more.

Scenario A.) High Cost of Living: $500k home that requires 20% down($100K) annual interest that could of been earned $7,000 Taxes and Insurance on home $5000. 3.5% home loan minus 3% for home appreciation= $2,500. Total sum: $14,500

Scenario B.)Low Cost of Living: $250k home that requires 20% down($50K), annual interest that could of been earned $3,500. Taxes and Insurance on home $2500. 3.5% home loan minus 3% for home appreciation= $1,250. Total sum: $7,250

The above scenario is a very rough simulation of costs and i'm sure there are a lot more variables that go into this, so please chime in if you have something to add. Does it really only require an extra $100k net worth to live in a HCOL area vs LCOL?

Taxes and insurance are probably going to be a lot higher than $2500.  My house in Phoenix has property tax less than 10% of what I have seen in NJ, and my house is also much newer. A 100yo house here in NJ will cost you about $10k a year in property tax alone. My house in AZ is $748/yr.

cawiau

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2015, 03:27:57 PM »

I see a lot of people on here talking about wanting to live in LCOL(low cost of living) areas when they hit financial independence. But does it really make a difference. Mustachians that live off of $25k are they going to notice much of a difference on their grocery bill, transportation costs,healthcare and other necessity items? The only real difference I see is the real estate.

If real estate is the main factor in cost of living and I can get a loan from a bank with a interest rate slightly higher than the appreciation rate of the home. Is it really that much more? If i'm retired and doing all house maintenance and repairs myself on a 1400 sqft home in a HCOL costing $500k and LCOL costing $250k is going to be about the same. Taxes and insurance are going to cost more.

Scenario A.) High Cost of Living: $500k home that requires 20% down($100K) annual interest that could of been earned $7,000 Taxes and Insurance on home $5000. 3.5% home loan minus 3% for home appreciation= $2,500. Total sum: $14,500

Scenario B.)Low Cost of Living: $250k home that requires 20% down($50K), annual interest that could of been earned $3,500. Taxes and Insurance on home $2500. 3.5% home loan minus 3% for home appreciation= $1,250. Total sum: $7,250

The above scenario is a very rough simulation of costs and i'm sure there are a lot more variables that go into this, so please chime in if you have something to add. Does it really only require an extra $100k net worth to live in a HCOL area vs LCOL?

Taxes and insurance are probably going to be a lot higher than $2500.  My house in Phoenix has property tax less than 10% of what I have seen in NJ, and my house is also much newer. A 100yo house here in NJ will cost you about $10k a year in property tax alone. My house in AZ is $748/yr.

My parents home in north NJ : 4 bedrooms/ 2 baths cape. Valued at 339k.

They paid almost 13k in property taxes last year... Yes that is 1k/month in just property taxes.




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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2015, 03:31:33 PM »
I see a lot of people on here talking about wanting to live in LCOL(low cost of living) areas when they hit financial independence. But does it really make a difference. Mustachians that live off of $25k are they going to notice much of a difference on their grocery bill, transportation costs,healthcare and other necessity items? The only real difference I see is the real estate.

If real estate is the main factor in cost of living and I can get a loan from a bank with a interest rate slightly higher than the appreciation rate of the home. Is it really that much more? If i'm retired and doing all house maintenance and repairs myself on a 1400 sqft home in a HCOL costing $500k and LCOL costing $250k is going to be about the same. Taxes and insurance are going to cost more.

Scenario A.) High Cost of Living: $500k home that requires 20% down($100K) annual interest that could of been earned $7,000 Taxes and Insurance on home $5000. 3.5% home loan minus 3% for home appreciation= $2,500. Total sum: $14,500

Scenario B.)Low Cost of Living: $250k home that requires 20% down($50K), annual interest that could of been earned $3,500. Taxes and Insurance on home $2500. 3.5% home loan minus 3% for home appreciation= $1,250. Total sum: $7,250

The above scenario is a very rough simulation of costs and i'm sure there are a lot more variables that go into this, so please chime in if you have something to add. Does it really only require an extra $100k net worth to live in a HCOL area vs LCOL?

Taxes and insurance are probably going to be a lot higher than $2500.  My house in Phoenix has property tax less than 10% of what I have seen in NJ, and my house is also much newer. A 100yo house here in NJ will cost you about $10k a year in property tax alone. My house in AZ is $748/yr.


 Costs us just under $1800 a year for taxes and insurance on house and 25 acres.

honeybbq

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2015, 03:34:14 PM »
Yeah property taxes are the huge thing in my mind. I had a house in Texas, on a golf course with a pool... Taxes were $1500/yr.
Half the size lot in Seattle is $12000/year.

Can't retire on 28k a year (at least *I* can't) if 12k a year is going to property taxes.

SailorGirl

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2015, 04:29:31 PM »
Last April I moved from Norfolk, VA, where I found prices pretty sane, to the nitoriously HCOL Seattle, WA. What I've noticed is that I have to hack more things in Seattle to remain at the same price point as Norfolk.

- I was intending to buy a house in Seattle. I had 70k for a downpayment, and was authorized for a 350k loan. I got priced out of the market immediately. Houses are crazy here, and the available stock is quite low. I'm still half-heatedly searching because lower price points do pop up, but not frequently.

- In Norfolk I went to a personal trainer for $35 per half hour, which included unlimited membership at a boutique gym. Every place I've checked in Seattle forces a full hour, and the lowest price I've found is $85. Membership not included. I've developed my own fitness routine instead, but I miss the camaraderie

- Food from grocery stores is more expensive in Seattle. In Norfolk I could walk into the fancy grocery store and find prices I agreed with. To keep my grocery costs comparable in Seattle I have to research venues, and pay sharp attention to discounts. If I'd been this careful in Norfolk, I would have experienced a rise in food prices.

- Gas is depressingly expensive in Seattle. The public transportation in Seattle is much better than Norfolk, but a pass costs around $100/month. I find that pretty hefty.

- Electricity is actually much cheaper in Seattle. Whoop!

- Formal entertainment is slightly more expensive in Seattle, generally because most venues don't have a military discount. It's ubiqutous in Norfolk.

ETA: To wrap up my point, I think HCOL requires more badassing, but you can find ways to keep your bottom line from rising too aggressively.


Move to the island!  https://www.redfin.com/WA/Bainbridge-Island/12059-N-Madison-Ave-NE-98110/home/101876018

Sailor Sam

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2015, 04:46:41 PM »
Move to the island!  https://www.redfin.com/WA/Bainbridge-Island/12059-N-Madison-Ave-NE-98110/home/101876018

Oh man, that house is really cute. I'm lusing after homeownership the way some people. But holy fucksocks the commute! It would kill me.

reader2580

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Re: HCOL vs LCOL does it really matter?
« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2015, 11:13:19 PM »
Hey Kaplin261, where did you find the quote? I think you've been mislead, there are no Wal-Mart's in Seattle. Though there is one in Bellevue and Lynwood, which are at similar price points as Seattle. Maybe you interpolated across?

I bet he meant the Seattle metro area.  There are no Walmart stores actually in the city limits of Minneapolis, MN either, but several within a few miles of the city limits and quite a few Walmart stores in the Minneapolis metro area.