Author Topic: ISO a LCOL smaller city  (Read 3841 times)

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
ISO a LCOL smaller city
« on: December 30, 2017, 07:11:12 PM »
Every year same question: are we where we need to be? Where should we live?
This year the equation has changed, as the sole breadwinner has recently switched to 100% telecommuting, so we are no longer limited by a job - just need high speed internet access.

We own our home, worth about $250,000, and would like to stay in that same price range or cheaper.
We have three kids, so school districts are important, as is living in a nice, safe neighborhood with kids running around.

We currently have a 4br/3ba on 1/3 acre in the suburbs of a medium-sized southern city.

Where else can we find a large-ish house (2500 sf) for $250,000? In a good school district?

We're not interested in big city life, but do appreciate liberal-leaning, educated populace, and diversity.

Since we're just a few years from FIRE, we don't really even need to be in a booming economy or a high growth area. Walkable would be awesome since right now we have to drive 2-4 miles for everything.

I know this is broad, but I'd love to have new places to Google and add to our must-visit list.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2017, 07:13:55 PM by Carrie »

Noodle

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 896
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2017, 09:08:17 PM »
A college town in a red state sounds like it might be a good match for you. Columbia, Missouri, is the one I am most familiar with, but there are many more. It is more expensive than the surrounding communities, but very affordable by big city standards. The populace tends to be more educated and liberal, and the schools are solid because the professors and staff at the university insist on it. You do have to be OK with the fact that state government will tend to be more conservative (although perhaps less so in the Upper Midwest, say) and that because fewer taxes are collected, state services are often not so great. If you pick somewhere that is home to the state university medical school, you can often get really good health care to boot.

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2017, 09:24:15 PM »
We're in Mississippi so we know all about being in a red state!  I do appreciate lower property taxes.
I figured we may want to look in a college town. And I was kind of wondering if we need to find a purple state, or if we should stay here and help our state become purple. :)

tralfamadorian

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 623
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 09:06:47 AM »
A broad suggestion but maybe take a look at NC college towns. Cost of living is rising but your budget is still achievable in many places. The state in general is red with blue college towns but starting to get a purplish hue overall.   
Best credit card bonuses right now:
AmEx Delta Platinum 70k through 5/16/18 
AmEx Delta Gold 50k through 5/16/18

maizeman

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2128
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2017, 09:27:07 AM »
I agree with the midwestern/southern college town idea, but I would worry about Columbia, Missouri at this particular point in time. One great thing about college towns is that, since the economy depends mostly on the school, they are buffered against economic recessions. But it also means, when things go wrong with the school, the whole town suffers. Mizzou's enrollment of new freshmen has fallen 33% in the last two years (since the whole Melissa Click fiasco). From folks I know there, I hear they are having to shutter dormitories and aren't allowed to rehire essential positions, which I would guess is going to filter out into the local economy and effect quality of life.

FiftyIsTheNewTwenty

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 170
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2017, 08:15:11 PM »
A big problem with university towns is that while the college itself may provide a lot of good jobs, it often has a corrosive effect on other jobs in the area.  A lot of businesses count on hiring, for a lot less pay than usual, people stuck in the area because of their spouse's job or studies, recent grads without the resources to move on, and of course students.

Then there's the higher cost of living vs. surrounding areas.  This, with lower pay, can make for tough sledding without a university job and benefits.

Look for small/LCOL cities with great colleges, but other industry that's at least as dominant, like Raleigh-Durham-Chapel-Hill NC, or Richmond VA.




« Last Edit: December 31, 2017, 08:19:21 PM by FiftyIsTheNewTwenty »

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2917
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2017, 09:29:58 PM »
I'm a telecommuter living near Allentown, PA and it sounds like it checks a lot of your boxes if you're okay with a little winter. (I grew up in Texas and it's not bad here.)

I'm also under 2 hours from both Philadelphia and New York which means that any cultural experience or specialty item is still pretty easy to get to,

frompa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 407
  • Location: Pennsylvania
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2018, 06:04:44 PM »
I second the recommendation of Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania.  The three small cities here, Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton (in order from most large to least) are walkable and bikeable, all with rich college town amenities, good school districts (excepting Allentown), and affordable housing.  Come on up for a visit.  I'd also recommend western Massachusetts -- winters are more significant there, but Cmwlth of Massachusetts has a good health insurance system.  Good luck!

iowajes

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6165
  • Location: United States
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2018, 06:13:43 PM »
Around Iowa City (but not in it) would meet your needs for that housing cost, but I doubt the tax situation makes it LCOL compared to your current residence. Still maybe worth looking at the bedroom communities... Solon, Coralville, Tiffin etc.  Walk ability varies...we walked to the grocery store and park in Coralville and husband biked to work and the University.

COlady

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 355
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2018, 03:14:13 PM »
Casper, WY if you can handle some really nasty winters. The summers are beautiful and you can get a really nice house for $250k.  Plus no state tax and real estate taxes are low. I grew up near Casper and it was a really nice place to grow up.  I never realized how nasty the winters were until I grew up and moved away....I guess you only know what you know.

CanuckExpat

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2757
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Travelling
    • Freedom35
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2018, 10:31:43 PM »
Gainesville FL? Smallish (130k), college town, median housing price apparently $167,700

Haven't visited nor lived there, but popped up on radar for other reasons

mrigney

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 150
    • Running of the Fools
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2018, 11:22:55 PM »
Huntsville, AL. City population ~200k, metro 450k. Small town feel, but most amenities you want/need in a city. Booming downtown scene, but housing is still cheap. I live in an older house on one end of town, 1750 sq ft, half acre, in a decent neighborhood. Own a rental on the other side of town, 7 year old house, 1530 sq ft, “hot” area for real estate. Paid $138k for the house I’m in, $161k for the rental (used to be my primary). You can get into some really desirable/walkable parts of town (by Huntsville standards) for $250k or have a huge, new house in the burbs. Choice is yours.

Culturally we lean more liberal than the rest of the state, although that’s relative. One of the most highly educated cities in the country (NASA, most Army aviation and missile research, Missile Defense Agency, Biotech industry). Also a pretty vibrant art scene and craft beer scene. Lowe Mill is the largest privately owned art center in the country (about 200 artists in residence, also holds concerts, restaurants, coffee shops). A couple of pubs have called us the beer Mecca of the south. Not sure I’d go that far, but we do have a dozen breweries and an improving restaurant scene.

Let me know if you have questions!

davisgang90

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1100
  • Location: NoVa
    • Chart prepping
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2018, 05:37:47 AM »
I'm moving to Roanoke Virginia in 5 months.  It checks the boxes you mentioned.  Small city, reasonable housing prices and Roanoke is blue (although surrounded by red).

Quite a bit of culture in the city, museums, great downtown market area, civic centers get big acts etc.
You can bike/walk lots of areas around the city and there is great hiking all around (AT passes right by).
Va Tech is 40 minutes away and there is a lot of investment right now in Roanoke for a new medical center/school.
Check out my blog.  Early retirement from a military perspective.

http://chartprepping.com




Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2018, 07:12:16 AM »
Roanoke looks beautiful.  I love the mountains.
Thanks, all of you, for the suggestions.  I'm looking at all of the suggestions.

It's funny how when I start looking (just online) I realize that even though we are in countryside/suburbia we aren't in a bad spot at all. There are things I don't like, but the scenery around us is actually really beautiful  (rolling hills, pastures, lakes).

I think we'll roadtrip this summer and start poking around, but in the meantime, we'll be in our spot, saving up money. My ultimate dream is to build, but I know that I'd have to drastically increase our budget for that.

slappy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 573
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2018, 07:15:13 AM »
Huntsville, AL. City population ~200k, metro 450k. Small town feel, but most amenities you want/need in a city. Booming downtown scene, but housing is still cheap. I live in an older house on one end of town, 1750 sq ft, half acre, in a decent neighborhood. Own a rental on the other side of town, 7 year old house, 1530 sq ft, “hot” area for real estate. Paid $138k for the house I’m in, $161k for the rental (used to be my primary). You can get into some really desirable/walkable parts of town (by Huntsville standards) for $250k or have a huge, new house in the burbs. Choice is yours.

Culturally we lean more liberal than the rest of the state, although that’s relative. One of the most highly educated cities in the country (NASA, most Army aviation and missile research, Missile Defense Agency, Biotech industry). Also a pretty vibrant art scene and craft beer scene. Lowe Mill is the largest privately owned art center in the country (about 200 artists in residence, also holds concerts, restaurants, coffee shops). A couple of pubs have called us the beer Mecca of the south. Not sure I’d go that far, but we do have a dozen breweries and an improving restaurant scene.

Let me know if you have questions!

There was another thread similar to this one and a lot of people said Huntsville as well. I've talked to a couple of clients from Huntsville and they say the same thing.

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2018, 07:23:53 AM »
North AL is also a terrain I think I'd like. I have friends/family in bham, and know a few people (from college) who live around Huntsville. 
I am wondering about Florence, AL. Is that a cool/nice place to be?

wordnerd

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 842
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2018, 07:24:31 AM »
Not sure of the politics, but Greenville, SC is lovely and affordable.

slappy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 573
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2018, 07:26:47 AM »
North AL is also a terrain I think I'd like. I have friends/family in bham, and know a few people (from college) who live around Huntsville. 
I am wondering about Florence, AL. Is that a cool/nice place to be?

The tornado issue in AL makes me worry a bit.

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2018, 07:33:25 AM »
Oh yeah - hate tornados. We've had them where we are way too much in the past few years, and no basements because of clay+high water table. I'd like to be somewhere with fewer tornados.

Greenville does look nice!

Schaefer Light

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 964
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2018, 07:40:16 AM »
What does ISO stand for?  In my line of work, it means International Standards Organization.

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2018, 07:53:40 AM »
In search of.

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2599
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2018, 07:58:35 AM »
In search of.
i always thought it was
Is Seeking Out

Either works

dcheesi

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 587
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2018, 08:00:28 AM »
I'm moving to Roanoke Virginia in 5 months.  It checks the boxes you mentioned.  Small city, reasonable housing prices and Roanoke is blue (although surrounded by red).

Quite a bit of culture in the city, museums, great downtown market area, civic centers get big acts etc.
You can bike/walk lots of areas around the city and there is great hiking all around (AT passes right by).
Va Tech is 40 minutes away and there is a lot of investment right now in Roanoke for a new medical center/school.
I would say that Charlottesville VA is more "blue" than Roanoke. Or at least that the blueish-ness extends further out past the city limits. Of course C'ville is also more expensive, and suffers from some of the college town socioeconomic issues that others have mentioned, so there's definitely a tradeoff there.

Otherwise I agree with your comments. IMHO Roanoke has rapidly improved over the last decade, and is starting to feel like a real up & coming locale.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 08:05:51 AM by dcheesi »

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2018, 08:09:15 AM »
I'm very interested in the nc/va areas especially foothills & mountains.  I grew up coastal south and am not a beach person, and currently live inland several hours but not near mountains. We know we can't afford a shack in CO (although it's gorgeous), and water scarcity scares me, since I've always lived in the soggy southeast.

rubybeth

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1300
  • Location: Midwest
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2018, 08:17:34 AM »
Some non-metro area in Minnesota might meet your standard, if you can handle cold and state taxes. Education is a priority in the state. You can take a look at how states generally stack up for the wellbeing of kids with the Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count data: http://www.aecf.org/work/kids-count/ (hint: a certain state well known for being very cold ranked #1 overall)

Towns to consider: Duluth, Rochester, Sartell, even possibly some areas that are on the outer edges of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area like Shakopee or Blaine.
"Done is the engine of more." - the Done Manifesto

tralfamadorian

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 623
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #25 on: January 04, 2018, 08:39:37 AM »
I'm very interested in the nc/va areas especially foothills & mountains.  I grew up coastal south and am not a beach person, and currently live inland several hours but not near mountains. We know we can't afford a shack in CO (although it's gorgeous), and water scarcity scares me, since I've always lived in the soggy southeast.

Then maybe take a look at the mid/lower Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Rural, LCOL and very beautiful. Bath county, Staunton, around that area.
Best credit card bonuses right now:
AmEx Delta Platinum 70k through 5/16/18 
AmEx Delta Gold 50k through 5/16/18

historienne

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 286
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #26 on: January 04, 2018, 08:46:18 AM »
Agree with Staunton, also Blacksburg VA and Morgantown WV and maybe Boone NC.  A nice, big house for $250k will be easy in Morgantown, doable in Blacksburg, challenging but not impossible in Boone (much easier if you're willing to live a short drive out of town, but you'd be giving up walkability).

I'll also support Rochester NY, but if you're in Mississippi right now, both the taxes and the weather would be pretty shocking.

ETA: I'm an academic, so these are all university towns, or close to them.  Recommending them because I've had friends who moved from very blue-state areas to all of these places and been surprised by how much they loved their new cities. 
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 08:50:45 AM by historienne »

YoungGranny

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 335
  • Age: 27
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #27 on: January 04, 2018, 08:48:34 AM »
I'll toss my city into the ring: Okemos, MI. There's an awesome crew of us bikers here and we're gaining traction on getting more bike lanes around town. But even now traffic isn't bad and we have quite a few trails so it's easy to walk/bike anywhere I want to go. $250k would definitely get you a nice sized house and the schools are consistently in the top 10 in the state. We're only a few miles away from MSU which provides college town amenities while not living next door to students. Not to mention, growing up near MSU as a kid I had some awesome educational experiences since they offer a lot of program to kids in the area. I live in a very liberal neighborhood that is quite diverse; Lansing itself was voted one of the most diverse cities in America. We also have some seriously awesome farmers markets and a lake nearby that has free concerts every Friday in the summer (plus an amazing playground and big-wheel race track for the kids). We do get a winter but we're sheltered from the worst of the lake-effect snow by being so far inland.
Journal:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/young-granny's-life/

Personal Capital referral: http://share.personalcapital.com/x/s8istT

We both get a $20 Amazon gift card if you sign up and it's a great website to see net worth and investment trends.

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #28 on: January 04, 2018, 09:12:57 AM »
Ok, I'm in love with Staunton VA.
That's it, beautiful small town, pretty architecture.  Friends & family near DC would be close by.

:)

tralfamadorian

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 623
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #29 on: January 04, 2018, 09:51:21 AM »
Ok, I'm in love with Staunton VA.
That's it, beautiful small town, pretty architecture.  Friends & family near DC would be close by.

:)

Yay!
Best credit card bonuses right now:
AmEx Delta Platinum 70k through 5/16/18 
AmEx Delta Gold 50k through 5/16/18

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #30 on: January 04, 2018, 10:32:35 AM »
I've spent the last hour looking up info about the town, real estate, schools, etc. I am absolutely in love. They have an artisan center. I am an artisan. They have gorgeous architecture.  I am an architect.  They have a nice food scene, farm to table.  I am a foodie (really, I'm a very good cook). I love beer/wine, it is on the beer trail.

My husband will think I'm nuts, but I'm going to plan a trip and start sprucing up our house to sell. :) :)

Schaefer Light

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 964
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #31 on: January 04, 2018, 10:33:11 AM »

tralfamadorian

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 623
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2018, 11:37:02 AM »
They have a nice food scene, farm to table.  I am a foodie (really, I'm a very good cook).

Not sure if you saw this yet but the farmer in Omnivore's Dilemma is just outside of Staunton-
http://www.polyfacefarms.com
Best credit card bonuses right now:
AmEx Delta Platinum 70k through 5/16/18 
AmEx Delta Gold 50k through 5/16/18

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #33 on: January 04, 2018, 12:07:16 PM »
I did see that on the Staunton visitors site. Very cool. I love that.

Here's a funny thing. I compared Staunton to where we live, side by side on city-data.com and apparently my town votes more blue than I'd thought. It's almost purple.

dougules

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
  • Location: AL
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #34 on: January 04, 2018, 02:46:23 PM »
Any more specifics on what you like?  Are you looking to stay in the South, or do you want anywhere?  Any preference on climate?  Do you specifically want a blue/purple state, or are you just meaning the specific town?

Some ideas off the top of my head would be:  Athens GA, Raleigh/Durham, Savannah, Chattanooga, Hood River OR, Eugene OR, Greenville SC, Olympia WA

The problem is that prices have appreciated so much in some of those places so fast, that I really have no idea where is cheap or expensive any more.  Asheville and Portland are ones that I know are really nice but that have gotten really expensive. 

Huntsville, AL. City population ~200k, metro 450k. Small town feel, but most amenities you want/need in a city. Booming downtown scene, but housing is still cheap. I live in an older house on one end of town, 1750 sq ft, half acre, in a decent neighborhood. Own a rental on the other side of town, 7 year old house, 1530 sq ft, “hot” area for real estate. Paid $138k for the house I’m in, $161k for the rental (used to be my primary). You can get into some really desirable/walkable parts of town (by Huntsville standards) for $250k or have a huge, new house in the burbs. Choice is yours.

Culturally we lean more liberal than the rest of the state, although that’s relative. One of the most highly educated cities in the country (NASA, most Army aviation and missile research, Missile Defense Agency, Biotech industry). Also a pretty vibrant art scene and craft beer scene. Lowe Mill is the largest privately owned art center in the country (about 200 artists in residence, also holds concerts, restaurants, coffee shops). A couple of pubs have called us the beer Mecca of the south. Not sure I’d go that far, but we do have a dozen breweries and an improving restaurant scene.

Let me know if you have questions!

Sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree.  HSV is neither liberal nor very walkable.   It is cheap with a lot of amenities, but  I am planning to leave as soon as we hit FIRE. 

Florence AL is a nice quiet place, but also fairly far right. 
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 02:52:17 PM by dougules »

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #35 on: January 04, 2018, 04:52:26 PM »
I would like 4 seasons, but not upper Midwest cold.  I've never lived where there's snow, but think a week or two could be kind of fun, but not all winter.

I wanted to try out Asheville  (never been, but loved the smokies nearby), but I think we've been priced out by now.

I guess realistically we'd stay in the southeast, but there's no reason other than fear of change and expense of an actual move that would keep us from trying anywhere.


dougules

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1129
  • Location: AL
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #36 on: January 05, 2018, 10:52:27 AM »
I would like 4 seasons, but not upper Midwest cold.  I've never lived where there's snow, but think a week or two could be kind of fun, but not all winter.

I wanted to try out Asheville  (never been, but loved the smokies nearby), but I think we've been priced out by now.

I guess realistically we'd stay in the southeast, but there's no reason other than fear of change and expense of an actual move that would keep us from trying anywhere.

You might try looking at the Pacific NW, but that's as far from the south as it gets without leaving the continental US.  Also, I think some of the smaller places in the Pacific NW are moving towards California pricing too, so that may also be an issue.

The NW does have 4 seasons, but the winters aren't much colder than in the South.  Summers are beautiful, though.  Nobody has A/C because it's not needed. 

Apple_Tango

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 252
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #37 on: January 06, 2018, 12:33:14 PM »
I've spent the last hour looking up info about the town, real estate, schools, etc. I am absolutely in love. They have an artisan center. I am an artisan. They have gorgeous architecture.  I am an architect.  They have a nice food scene, farm to table.  I am a foodie (really, I'm a very good cook). I love beer/wine, it is on the beer trail.

My husband will think I'm nuts, but I'm going to plan a trip and start sprucing up our house to sell. :) :)

Staunton and Harrisonburg are great towns within 30 min of each other  :) If you visit Staunton, check out the Shakespeare Theatre! Such a cool venue.  Both are  colleges with fun downtowns, mountains, art scenes, etc. Harrisonburg even has a ski resort 5 min outside of town. Fun fact: Staunton is pronounced “Stanton” by the locals. The U is silent lol.  Also there’s an annual Harry Potter festival in the fall which is pretty cute. The whole town gets in on it, and there’s quidditch tournaments...it’s pretty quirky!
« Last Edit: January 06, 2018, 03:21:57 PM by Apple_Tango »
It's a lateral freeze down during the melt up.  Soon to be followed by the transverse falling bounce and the transient index inversion short, both of which are also strong sell signals in this buyer's market.

CanuckExpat

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2757
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Travelling
    • Freedom35
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #38 on: January 13, 2018, 08:59:22 AM »
What resources were you using when you checked out Staunton that made you think it's so great?

Someone mentioned Greenville SC, the downtown and area around is absolutely gorgeous. They've done a great park in the middle of downtown with a waterfront, and there is a lot of great revitalization. Seems like nice trails to surrounding towns.

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #39 on: January 13, 2018, 09:31:11 AM »
City-data.com,  the town's tourist site, zillow.com. 
It seems like the schools aren't very highly rated in the town.

I don't even know what we're doing to do. Every time I try to find some place to settle, I get hung up on something.

The most frugal thing would be to stay put, since moving is expensive - realtor fees, the actual move, etc.
Our schools are highly rated even though we're in a bad state for education, but a very good school. We're in a poor state, but a wealthy area. Our house is paid off. Our needs are simple, and where we are is fine - I just keep thinking we should try something new.



CanuckExpat

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2757
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Travelling
    • Freedom35
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #40 on: January 14, 2018, 05:36:40 PM »
Nothing wrong with staying put, or taking your time. This discussion made me decide to take a trip down to Staunton, we're currently not far away.
It was a nice town. The architecture seemed similar to some other towns (Cumerbland, Roanoke), but different size to each. We mainly just walked around the city center, had some good mexican, and I had a lot of drinks. I saw more younger people than I expected, college kids? A few families, also a few older people. The streets were kind of empty, but the places we stopped all had people, so it might have been the relatively cold weather. The downtown seemed to have fun enough mix of breweries, restaurants, coffee shops, and it was picturesque. Couldn't tell what the residential areas were like. They have a Pho place if that matters (it matters to me :)

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #41 on: January 14, 2018, 07:10:52 PM »
Ok, that is cool that you got to visit, and yes, pho matters. :)

I really want a small town. Our suburb is 23,000 and growing, but really doesn't have a city center, which is another reason Staunton appealed to me. A small town AND city center.

I think we're going to DC in early summer and I'm thinking we will drive so we can stop off at all these NC and VA towns.

For now, I really am fine where we are - saving that money, fixing up (diy) our suburban house, either ready to sell or just to enjoy,  either way we're good. 

v8rx7guy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 895
  • Location: PNW
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #42 on: January 15, 2018, 08:20:06 AM »
How about Wenatchee WA

The 58

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 64
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #43 on: January 15, 2018, 10:06:49 AM »
Nothing wrong with staying put, or taking your time. This discussion made me decide to take a trip down to Staunton, we're currently not far away.
It was a nice town. The architecture seemed similar to some other towns (Cumerbland, Roanoke), but different size to each. We mainly just walked around the city center, had some good mexican, and I had a lot of drinks. I saw more younger people than I expected, college kids? A few families, also a few older people. The streets were kind of empty, but the places we stopped all had people, so it might have been the relatively cold weather. The downtown seemed to have fun enough mix of breweries, restaurants, coffee shops, and it was picturesque. Couldn't tell what the residential areas were like. They have a Pho place if that matters (it matters to me :)

Funny that Staunton has come up so much in this discussion. Just a couple weeks ago my SO and I stopped through (we live in Northern VA/DC area) and walked around to check it out. Loved the old architecture, walkability, and the overall vibe. Attached a few photos.

We liked it a lot better than some of the nearby shenandoah cities like Charlottesville, because Staunton seemed less pretentious. UVA seems to bring a preppy vibe to Charlottesville, not to mention the fact that it's gotten EXPENSIVE to live there!

BrickByBrick

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 111
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #44 on: January 15, 2018, 12:50:05 PM »
As this thread seems to continue in that direction I will just be another voice for Virginia.  You can find many large towns/small cities throughout the western portion of Virginia.  The more urban you get the more liberal the locals, meanwhile in the immediate vicinity around these enclaves is a sea of red.  But, with the populations in NOVA/Hampton Roads/Richmond areas the state is solidly purple, and currently on a trend to becoming more blue.  I would avoid Charlottesville as a few others have mentioned.  It's nice to visit, but between the inflated costs and inflated egos there are better choices.  As the thread has said, Staunton and Roanoke have improved tremendously in the past 10 years.  Another up and coming place would be Winchester, VA I think, I visited there recently and it reminded me a lot of Staunton.  I live in south-central VA and have visited most of the state over the years.

One other note about central/western VA is that we tend to not have to worry about natural disasters too much, so that's a plus...winters tend to be fairly short (although Virginian's treat a couple inches of snow as the apocalypse - the state and local governments don't know how to plow roads unfortunately), although our summers can be pretty muggy...but less so in the western portion of VA.  Since your from Mississippi though I imagine VA will seem less humid to you.

EDIT:  I cannot speak to the property prices of Winchester so YMMV. 

« Last Edit: January 15, 2018, 12:56:11 PM by BrickByBrick »

CanuckExpat

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2757
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Travelling
    • Freedom35
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #45 on: January 15, 2018, 01:02:49 PM »
A few people have talked about CVille being expensive. Is it? What are we talking about as expensive?

I'd like some opinions about the pretention, but I guess that's a matter of opinion. Both times I've visited and stayed in CVille it's seemed fun and has lots going on. I like that UVA makes it feel much bigger than it is otherwise, and leads to more options it seems

ChpBstrd

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 879
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #46 on: January 15, 2018, 01:53:58 PM »
The thing about LCOL areas is that houses tend to depreciate over time. Newer houses (like yours, I assume, at about $100/sf in Mississippi) usually command a much higher price than older homes (e.g. I paid $72/sf in central Arkansas for a 1960's house that needed paint and bathroom remods).

Your options could greatly expand if you're willing to consider a wide range of ages/conditions. You could even move into something and fix it up yourself in a few years as a post-FIRE project. This would lock you into lower retirement costs because you are not suffering new-house depreciation. Could you tolerate a brown/pink bathroom tile combination and a chipped tub?

More options are nice because what you are asking for is a rarity. Places with good schools, walkable communities, etc. are generally not cheap because those things are desirable. LCOL red states tend to vote against funding such things.

Carrie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 558
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #47 on: January 15, 2018, 03:43:25 PM »
I definitely can do renovations, and have been learning skills like patching drywall, painting, and I'm about to learn to do tile work, and have plans to build & install a barn door.
For the right price and location I'd be totally into doing work on a house. Even better, I want to build from scratch, but I know that's double the cost of buying used.

FireHiker

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 623
  • Location: So Cal
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #48 on: January 16, 2018, 05:12:23 PM »
How funny, I was looking into Staunton, VA a couple months ago, with my criteria being pretty close to yours! Proximity to Polyface was a big plus for me. The schools were a big minus. Right now we're tied to our current school district (which we LOVE) and my aging in-laws, but man I would love to cash out of our HCOL area and live somewhere different.

tralfamadorian

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 623
Re: ISO a LCOL smaller city
« Reply #49 on: January 16, 2018, 06:12:27 PM »
A few people have talked about CVille being expensive. Is it? What are we talking about as expensive?

I'd like some opinions about the pretention, but I guess that's a matter of opinion. Both times I've visited and stayed in CVille it's seemed fun and has lots going on. I like that UVA makes it feel much bigger than it is otherwise, and leads to more options it seems

No one's answered you so I guess I'll take a stab at this one. Charlottesville is a relatively attractive area- it's pretty, safe, cultural engaging, etc so it attracts/retains folks that are monied and/or location independent, which results in housing costs as a percentage of local salaries being higher than in much of the surrounding area. The supposed pretension? IMO more of the same added with the fact that UVA is culturally preppy with a relatively high percentage of students from upper middle class families. 
Best credit card bonuses right now:
AmEx Delta Platinum 70k through 5/16/18 
AmEx Delta Gold 50k through 5/16/18