Author Topic: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?  (Read 13688 times)

F313

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« on: January 12, 2016, 08:58:08 AM »
One reads about the sky high salaries in silicon valley and Manhattan, but they go along with $1m one bedroom apartments and shacks.  On the flipside, there is flyover country with perfectly nice $150,000 homes, but a majority of jobs in the area that pay minimum wage.  I live in the San Diego area that has always had a reputation for relatively low salaries, but really high housing prices, i.e. the worst of both worlds.

Question:  What are your top metro areas that have a truly good balance of jobs with decent salaries, and reasonably priced housing/COL ?

I've read about Salt Lake City, Austin and maybe Atlanta as possibilities, but I'd be interested in opinions perhaps based on personal experience from folks on this website.

Platypuses

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 67
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2016, 09:58:45 AM »
Houston is a good location for relatively LCOL and higher salaries. Houston has a lot of good paying jobs in the energy sector and health industry.
Atlanta also seems like a good choice for cost of living vs. salaries

ender

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4864
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2016, 10:03:12 AM »
One reads about the sky high salaries in silicon valley and Manhattan, but they go along with $1m one bedroom apartments and shacks.  On the flipside, there is flyover country with perfectly nice $150,000 homes, but a majority of jobs in the area that pay minimum wage.  I live in the San Diego area that has always had a reputation for relatively low salaries, but really high housing prices, i.e. the worst of both worlds.

Where in the world did you get this ridiculous stereotype?


AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2016, 10:09:08 AM »
Will depend on the industry you work in. Maybe Minneapolis? Its a great place to live other than the horrible, freezing weather(or so I've heard). Has a few corporate hubs like UHG and Target. Its been about 3 years since I moved from La Jolla back to the Phoenix area, and while living is much easier and more money is being saved more rapidly, there are plenty of days, usually in the summer, where I regret my decision and cry a little bit on the inside.


ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2016, 10:33:15 AM »
Houston is a good location for relatively LCOL and higher salaries. Houston has a lot of good paying jobs in the energy sector and health industry.
Atlanta also seems like a good choice for cost of living vs. salaries

Housing costs have gone up a lot in Houston recently and low oil prices have caused substantial layoffs.

Dallas/Fort Worth has a more balanced economy and reasonable costs of living - Toyota is moving its US headquarters from California to Plano in the northern suburbs so its employees can afford houses.

F313

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2016, 10:59:05 AM »
Will depend on the industry you work in. Maybe Minneapolis? Its a great place to live other than the horrible, freezing weather(or so I've heard). Has a few corporate hubs like UHG and Target. Its been about 3 years since I moved from La Jolla back to the Phoenix area, and while living is much easier and more money is being saved more rapidly, there are plenty of days, usually in the summer, where I regret my decision and cry a little bit on the inside.

La Jolla, Carmel, Laguna Beach, Del Mar, all dreamy places.  Tough for mere working mortals though. 

Seems like a Texas theme is developing.

JustGettingStarted1980

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 377
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2016, 11:05:27 AM »
How about Pittsburgh? Visited there recently and was really impressed with 150 -200 K 3BR homes in decent suburbs and a recent urban restaurant/arts/hipster/tech boom.

405programmer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 87
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2016, 11:23:00 AM »
I live and work in Oklahoma City and it's pretty much dirt cheap to live here. Pretty nice 3 bed 2 bath homes for low 100's. The job market doesn't have the strength of Dallas but we also don't have the traffic. Overall I'd say it's a great city to work in technology especially because there are so many opportunities with older workers retiring and very few young people wanting to move into the state. The nearby Air Force base recently had a job fair with 1000 openings and many still aren't filled because most young adults can't pass a the background screening for their security clearance. Salaries there range from 40k - 80k for starting positions depending on the role.

The not so hidden gem in Oklahoma City is the Oil industry. (if you can find a job) Geologists can expect to start in the low 100's increasing to the mid 200's within 15 years plus most oil companies have great performance bonuses as well. But also thanks to the oil industry we are the most seismically active place in the country...

Think

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 88
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2016, 12:48:27 PM »
Houston is a good location for relatively LCOL and higher salaries. Houston has a lot of good paying jobs in the energy sector and health industry.
Atlanta also seems like a good choice for cost of living vs. salaries

Housing costs have gone up a lot in Houston recently and low oil prices have caused substantial layoffs.

Dallas/Fort Worth has a more balanced economy and reasonable costs of living - Toyota is moving its US headquarters from California to Plano in the northern suburbs so its employees can afford houses.

So employees can afford housing?  Houston is ridiculous cheap. You have no idea how inexpensive the real estate is compared to other parts of the US. 

AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2016, 01:02:26 PM »
Houston is a good location for relatively LCOL and higher salaries. Houston has a lot of good paying jobs in the energy sector and health industry.
Atlanta also seems like a good choice for cost of living vs. salaries

Housing costs have gone up a lot in Houston recently and low oil prices have caused substantial layoffs.

Dallas/Fort Worth has a more balanced economy and reasonable costs of living - Toyota is moving its US headquarters from California to Plano in the northern suburbs so its employees can afford houses.

So employees can afford housing?  Houston is ridiculous cheap. You have no idea how inexpensive the real estate is compared to other parts of the US.

Using this: http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/

The CoL in Dallas is roughly the same as in Houston. Housing is actually more expensive in Houston than Dallas, but everything else is cheaper. Overall, a wash.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8011
  • Location: United States
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2016, 01:09:44 PM »
On the flipside, there is flyover country with perfectly nice $150,000 homes, but a majority of jobs in the area that pay minimum wage.
Question:  What are your top metro areas that have a truly good balance of jobs with decent salaries, and reasonably priced housing/COL ?


Have you BEEN to flyover country?  That's an absurd statement.
MANY cities in the middle states have wonderful jobs available. That's why people live there.

I live in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, Iowa area.  Our COL is on par with Austin, TX. (Cedar Rapids has a lower COL than Iowa City area) There are plenty of excellent paying jobs to be had, especially for people with experience who are moving in looking for them. What industry do you work in? There is medical research, biotech, aerospace, manufacturing, "green" energy, educational publishing, and a ton of stuff I know nothing about. The vast majority of people in this area do not work in any sort of agricultural field.  To "make it" in the Iowa City area- you generally need a good education. There is an overabundance of people with PhDs running around; but if you have the skills, then it doesn't matter.

If you are willing to live rural and commute a bit, you can get a very inexpensive house. If you are willing to live in a small house, $130k-$150k will get you a perfectly nice home. If you want a very nice house, it is more $300-400k. 
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 01:13:41 PM by iowajes »

F313

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 20
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2016, 01:24:23 PM »
Relax.  You come off as having a chip on your shoulder.  Everyone else apparently understands the gist of the post. 

What is it with the internet? Nit picking and confrontation for sport.

Yes, there are surgeons, entrepreneurs, and brilliant engineers everywhere that make good money.  There, I concede and you win.  Feel better?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2016, 01:38:19 PM »
Houston is a good location for relatively LCOL and higher salaries. Houston has a lot of good paying jobs in the energy sector and health industry.
Atlanta also seems like a good choice for cost of living vs. salaries

Housing costs have gone up a lot in Houston recently and low oil prices have caused substantial layoffs.

Dallas/Fort Worth has a more balanced economy and reasonable costs of living - Toyota is moving its US headquarters from California to Plano in the northern suburbs so its employees can afford houses.

So employees can afford housing?  Houston is ridiculous cheap. You have no idea how inexpensive the real estate is compared to other parts of the US.

So they can afford housing compared to California where they're currently based. Houston is certainly still cheaper than California, but that doesn't mean housing hasn't gotten a lot more expensive there over the last five years.

I managed to get a good salary with fairly low cost of living by telecommuting from the Rust Belt and not inflating my lifestyle to match.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2016, 01:40:20 PM by ShoulderThingThatGoesUp »

jda1984

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 179
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2016, 01:39:32 PM »
Will depend on the industry you work in. Maybe Minneapolis? Its a great place to live other than the horrible, freezing weather(or so I've heard). Has a few corporate hubs like UHG and Target. Its been about 3 years since I moved from La Jolla back to the Phoenix area, and while living is much easier and more money is being saved more rapidly, there are plenty of days, usually in the summer, where I regret my decision and cry a little bit on the inside.

I live in Minneapolis and work in a suburb.  It's a pretty great place to live.  Even the winter can be fun if you dress properly.  There are plenty of parks in the city and lots to do.  There are several major companies as stated above.  I'll add US Bank, Wells Fargo, 3M, Honeywell, Medtronic, etc. to the list of companies with headquareters or large corporate offices in the metro area.  Unless you're in investment banking or the military, it's likely you can find a job in the Twin Cities.

JLee

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5632
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2016, 01:40:14 PM »
I like the Phoenix area. You can get a perfectly good house for ~150k and the job market (at least in IT) isn't bad.

andy85

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1072
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Louisville, KY
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2016, 01:44:04 PM »
I do enjoy my city of Louisville, KY
top 30 in largest US cities

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8011
  • Location: United States
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2016, 02:06:44 PM »
Relax.  You come off as having a chip on your shoulder.  Everyone else apparently understands the gist of the post. 

What is it with the internet? Nit picking and confrontation for sport.

Yes, there are surgeons, entrepreneurs, and brilliant engineers everywhere that make good money.  There, I concede and you win.  Feel better?

I answered your question. I named a metro area with a low (though high for Iowa) cost of living and many high paying jobs in a variety of industries. I'm not a surgeon, entrepreneur or engineer.  neither is my husband. We both have jobs with excellent salaries. Other than being annoyed at the idea that everyone here makes minimum wage, because that's so far from the truth, how could I have answered differently?

It's hard to say if there are good jobs here with high pay for a particular individual without knowing what kind of work you want to do.

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2016, 02:10:23 PM »
On the flipside, there is flyover country with perfectly nice $150,000 homes, but a majority of jobs in the area that pay minimum wage.
Question:  What are your top metro areas that have a truly good balance of jobs with decent salaries, and reasonably priced housing/COL ?


Have you BEEN to flyover country?  That's an absurd statement.
MANY cities in the middle states have wonderful jobs available. That's why people live there.

I live in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, Iowa area.  Our COL is on par with Austin, TX. (Cedar Rapids has a lower COL than Iowa City area) There are plenty of excellent paying jobs to be had, especially for people with experience who are moving in looking for them. What industry do you work in? There is medical research, biotech, aerospace, manufacturing, "green" energy, educational publishing, and a ton of stuff I know nothing about. The vast majority of people in this area do not work in any sort of agricultural field.  To "make it" in the Iowa City area- you generally need a good education. There is an overabundance of people with PhDs running around; but if you have the skills, then it doesn't matter.

If you are willing to live rural and commute a bit, you can get a very inexpensive house. If you are willing to live in a small house, $130k-$150k will get you a perfectly nice home. If you want a very nice house, it is more $300-400k.

I was looking at Cedar Rapids as it was one of those lists for best affordable cities to live in or whatever. I'm certain I'd be in for some amount of culture-shock (as an Asian American coming from Southern California lol) but I think we could get used to it. How is the weather there, generally? I'm starting to think more about relocating to a LCOL area now that I've started telecommuting and my wife will soon be quitting her job. I think it's still too soon, as I'd like to feel out how telecommuting is for me (it's my first time) and at least for year. But beyond that, I feel like I'd be even more open. My parents want us to stay down here (or move up to the Bay Area) and seem to have hinted at offering to help with giving us a loan towards buying a bigger place. I dunno... I don't think we could handle living any closer to them. And even with them helping, it's still expensive living here in Southern California :(

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2016, 02:39:45 PM »
On the flipside, there is flyover country with perfectly nice $150,000 homes, but a majority of jobs in the area that pay minimum wage.
Question:  What are your top metro areas that have a truly good balance of jobs with decent salaries, and reasonably priced housing/COL ?


Have you BEEN to flyover country?  That's an absurd statement.
MANY cities in the middle states have wonderful jobs available. That's why people live there.

I live in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, Iowa area.  Our COL is on par with Austin, TX. (Cedar Rapids has a lower COL than Iowa City area) There are plenty of excellent paying jobs to be had, especially for people with experience who are moving in looking for them. What industry do you work in? There is medical research, biotech, aerospace, manufacturing, "green" energy, educational publishing, and a ton of stuff I know nothing about. The vast majority of people in this area do not work in any sort of agricultural field.  To "make it" in the Iowa City area- you generally need a good education. There is an overabundance of people with PhDs running around; but if you have the skills, then it doesn't matter.

If you are willing to live rural and commute a bit, you can get a very inexpensive house. If you are willing to live in a small house, $130k-$150k will get you a perfectly nice home. If you want a very nice house, it is more $300-400k.

I was looking at Cedar Rapids as it was one of those lists for best affordable cities to live in or whatever. I'm certain I'd be in for some amount of culture-shock (as an Asian American coming from Southern California lol) but I think we could get used to it. How is the weather there, generally? I'm starting to think more about relocating to a LCOL area now that I've started telecommuting and my wife will soon be quitting her job. I think it's still too soon, as I'd like to feel out how telecommuting is for me (it's my first time) and at least for year. But beyond that, I feel like I'd be even more open. My parents want us to stay down here (or move up to the Bay Area) and seem to have hinted at offering to help with giving us a loan towards buying a bigger place. I dunno... I don't think we could handle living any closer to them. And even with them helping, it's still expensive living here in Southern California :(

Since I mentioned Dallas above, I'll point out that Collin County, Texas is 10% Asian. So, less culture shock likely in a place like that. (Fort Bend, near Houston, is 15% Asian).

Telecommuting a big-city job and living in a LCOL area is like have a cheat code for your savings rate.

ender

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4864
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2016, 02:46:32 PM »
Relax.  You come off as having a chip on your shoulder.  Everyone else apparently understands the gist of the post. 

I was rather confused since I thought you were responding to the OP.

Regarding Iowa weather, our high today was around 4F and since we had 15MPH+ wind, the wind chill hovered around -10F. This will be quite the shock...


jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2016, 02:53:20 PM »
Relax.  You come off as having a chip on your shoulder.  Everyone else apparently understands the gist of the post. 

I was rather confused since I thought you were responding to the OP.

Regarding Iowa weather, our high today was around 4F and since we had 15MPH+ wind, the wind chill hovered around -10F. This will be quite the shock...

lol.... on second thought....

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2016, 02:55:54 PM »
On the flipside, there is flyover country with perfectly nice $150,000 homes, but a majority of jobs in the area that pay minimum wage.
Question:  What are your top metro areas that have a truly good balance of jobs with decent salaries, and reasonably priced housing/COL ?


Have you BEEN to flyover country?  That's an absurd statement.
MANY cities in the middle states have wonderful jobs available. That's why people live there.

I live in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, Iowa area.  Our COL is on par with Austin, TX. (Cedar Rapids has a lower COL than Iowa City area) There are plenty of excellent paying jobs to be had, especially for people with experience who are moving in looking for them. What industry do you work in? There is medical research, biotech, aerospace, manufacturing, "green" energy, educational publishing, and a ton of stuff I know nothing about. The vast majority of people in this area do not work in any sort of agricultural field.  To "make it" in the Iowa City area- you generally need a good education. There is an overabundance of people with PhDs running around; but if you have the skills, then it doesn't matter.

If you are willing to live rural and commute a bit, you can get a very inexpensive house. If you are willing to live in a small house, $130k-$150k will get you a perfectly nice home. If you want a very nice house, it is more $300-400k.

I was looking at Cedar Rapids as it was one of those lists for best affordable cities to live in or whatever. I'm certain I'd be in for some amount of culture-shock (as an Asian American coming from Southern California lol) but I think we could get used to it. How is the weather there, generally? I'm starting to think more about relocating to a LCOL area now that I've started telecommuting and my wife will soon be quitting her job. I think it's still too soon, as I'd like to feel out how telecommuting is for me (it's my first time) and at least for year. But beyond that, I feel like I'd be even more open. My parents want us to stay down here (or move up to the Bay Area) and seem to have hinted at offering to help with giving us a loan towards buying a bigger place. I dunno... I don't think we could handle living any closer to them. And even with them helping, it's still expensive living here in Southern California :(

Since I mentioned Dallas above, I'll point out that Collin County, Texas is 10% Asian. So, less culture shock likely in a place like that. (Fort Bend, near Houston, is 15% Asian).

Telecommuting a big-city job and living in a LCOL area is like have a cheat code for your savings rate.

All my mom's side of the family is out in Texas, and we've frequented numerous times. I could see myself living in Austin potentially. It's just the heat that would be a total put-off... oh and also getting used to saying "y'all" (as well as being made fun of for saying "you all"). Otherwise, I wouldn't mind occasionally waiting in line at Franklins (since I can telecommute, why the heck not? Just gimme a comfy folding chair LOL).

mrteacher

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 203
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2016, 03:05:01 PM »
My girlfriend's family is from Western Michigan (Grand Rapids area), and I've been out numerous times to visit. The COL (especially for home prices) is noticeably lower. You can get a 3BR for around $100-$150k. Get up over $200/$250k and you can buy a real nice home in an excellent school district.

The COL is noticeable for smaller things, too, like beer prices at bars/restaurants. $1-$3 off Boston prices. Just a small - but noteworthy, I think - comparison point.

cbr shadow

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 470
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2016, 03:06:32 PM »
I'm going with the high COL and high Salary areas like Silicon Valley.  IMO those are the best places to make a lot of money and SAVE a lot of money fast.  Here's a real example:

Illinois suburb of Chicago (1 hour away from city)
Rent = $1400/month <$16,800 / yr>
Salary = $85k

Silicon Valley (San Jose)
Rent = $2900/month  <$34,800 / yr>
Salary = $150k


There's more to COL than rent, but rent is by far the largest difference in COL between places. Food was similarly priced (slightly more in Silicon Valley), cars cost the same, utilities are similar (slightly more Chicago due to terribly cold winters and hot summers).   

The biggest issue someone could have with the numbers I posted above is that not everyone will make $85k in Chicago or $150k in Silicon Valley.  That's true, so you'd have to run your own numbers. In general Silicon Valley pays higher salaries than LCOL areas by a longshot.





Molzy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2016, 03:48:59 PM »
Nice to see some fellow Iowans here (we are recent transplants to the Cedar Falls area).

While I wouldn't recommend Iowa for the weather particularly (though being a former Minnesotan, Iowa often seems warm to me), the combination of cost of living and jobs has been great for us. We've lived in both Ames and Cedar Falls, which are both college towns with professional job opportunities, but relatively low costs of living. We both make good salaries), working professional 9-5 Monday through Friday jobs. Our house would probably have been twice as expensive in Minneaplis (my home town) and property taxes would also be much higher. While we both would love Minneapolis, the lower cost of living in Iowa has really appealed to us, and we are now located squarely between both sets of parents!

I love living in a college town, as there are still good restaurants and things to do (though we rarely go to things that cost money since starting our mustachian journey). There are a lot of other transplants due to the college, so we aren't the only non native Iowans around (we were previously during a stint in a small, 6000 person town!). I will say that the small town we lived in previously was not a good fit for us (hard to meet people, not much to do, limited housing options). But Cedar Falls has been great for me because there is stuff to do/people to connect with, but no traffic (worst downfall of Minneapolis in my opinion!).

Another nice thing about smaller towns in flyover country - there seems to be much less of the keeping up with the joneses! We don't have kids yet so maybe that'll change, but no one looks at us weird for wearing jeans and t shirts around (or carharts and boots at some times of year!), or for driving an 18 year old car. Our coworkers don't really question why we bring lunch everyday, and our neighbors mostly do their own lawn work too (though we have had multiple people offer us has lawn mowers and leaf blowers when they see us using manual means of completing those tasks!). In fact, just yesterday we had a contractor over to give us a quote on blowing in insulation in our attic, and he didn't even try to give us a quote for air sealing and instead showed us how to do it ourselves, saving us $200 off what they would have charged to do it! Mid westerns tend to like a good deal, and help their neighbors out, at least in my experience. I don't know if we would get that in other parts of the country or not.

Altons Bobs

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 331
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2016, 04:03:48 PM »
The Dallas area is very cheap, and it's easy to find jobs, and there is no state income tax.  Downside is the summer, it's very hot!  Another downside is that the area is big, you have to drive everywhere, unless you want to stay in your little community and don't get out at all then you can walk.

CanuckExpat

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3002
  • Age: 36
  • Location: North Carolina
    • Freedom35
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2016, 04:15:06 PM »
Its been about 3 years since I moved from La Jolla back to the Phoenix area, and while living is much easier and more money is being saved more rapidly, there are plenty of days, usually in the summer, where I regret my decision and cry a little bit on the inside.

I'm going with the high COL and high Salary areas like Silicon Valley.  IMO those are the best places to make a lot of money and SAVE a lot of money fast. 

These two posters get at a good point: you can't just look at COL. I think everyone should try to live somewhere they love (or love where you live).

Hell, someone ranked where we live as the worst place to retire early (San Diego was 10th worst), and our numbers say we could do it here by 35 or earlier. So I'd take any generalities with a grain of salt. Figure out where you want to live, and figure out a way to make it awesome.

If you are looking specifically at "tech", I've seen a few analyses where Austin tends to come out well in terms of COL adjusted average salaries. People who live in Austin seem to really likeit as well (I visited, liked the city a lot, not sure about the humidity in the summer). Any of those studies are only averages, any individual will find more optimized results if they go looking.

You might also want to consider the effects of relocating: work in a high COL area with a high salary, and then relocate later. There's also some evidence that people who start their career in SF/Silicon Valley and then move later are able to command a higher salary in the future.

chops

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 164
  • Location: Mustachian Midwest
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #27 on: January 12, 2016, 04:51:11 PM »
Wow, I haven't heard Iowa mentioned this much since the Rose Bowl!

Molzy - Me and Mrs. Chops are fellow transplants from the East Coast and I wholeheartedly agree with your points on less keeping up with the Joneses here.  My wife likes to joke that Iowa has to be more mustachian than MMM's own Longmont!  Coming from the HCOL and showy East Coast, I've never seen so few luxury cars and so many cars that people keep nearly forever.  My 1995 buick century (with a few dents) fits in just fine!

Iowajes - I agree with your thoughts on the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor.  My wife and I both found great jobs here when we decided to take the plunge to come out here a year ago.

JPlee - Yes, it gets cold here during the winter.  But I find it easier to bundle up (see MMM's Holiday Living Guide http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/12/28/holiday-living-guide/) than to deal with the extreme heat or humidity for several months in some of the hotter parts of the country.  For example, I biked in to work this morning.  Yes, it was 4F and windy.  And yes, there were other bikes in the rack :)

Also, we've found the level of diversity to be high, especially in the metro Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas.  I would say that more than half of our friends here were not born in the US. 

 - Chops 




jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #28 on: January 12, 2016, 05:10:32 PM »
Wow, I haven't heard Iowa mentioned this much since the Rose Bowl!

Molzy - Me and Mrs. Chops are fellow transplants from the East Coast and I wholeheartedly agree with your points on less keeping up with the Joneses here.  My wife likes to joke that Iowa has to be more mustachian than MMM's own Longmont!  Coming from the HCOL and showy East Coast, I've never seen so few luxury cars and so many cars that people keep nearly forever.  My 1995 buick century (with a few dents) fits in just fine!

Iowajes - I agree with your thoughts on the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor.  My wife and I both found great jobs here when we decided to take the plunge to come out here a year ago.

JPlee - Yes, it gets cold here during the winter.  But I find it easier to bundle up (see MMM's Holiday Living Guide http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2015/12/28/holiday-living-guide/) than to deal with the extreme heat or humidity for several months in some of the hotter parts of the country.  For example, I biked in to work this morning.  Yes, it was 4F and windy.  And yes, there were other bikes in the rack :)

Also, we've found the level of diversity to be high, especially in the metro Cedar Rapids and Iowa City areas.  I would say that more than half of our friends here were not born in the US. 

 - Chops

Thanks for the input! It's good to hear from someone who just moved to a location to speak more about it. Come to think of it, I agree that it's easier 'managing' the cold versus the heat, in general. It's easier to bundle up as much as you need (for the most part) in order to be comfortable. Can't say the same for heat - there's only so much you can strip off and *still* be uncomfortable LOL

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #29 on: January 12, 2016, 06:19:41 PM »
You can get used to the heat, though. My father grew up in New England and has spent every weekend gardening in Texas since the 70s.

When I went on a business trip to Houston last year everyone commented that I was the only person they would talk to that day who is actually from Houston. Large cities in Texas are more cosmopolitan than you'd think.

(We live in Pennsylvania to be close to my wife's family.)

icemodeled

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 162
  • Location: Southwest FL
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #30 on: January 12, 2016, 06:28:18 PM »
I currently live in Ohio. We bought our 3 bedroom 2000 sqft home for only $73500, 5 years ago. It needed minor remodel, most all done ourself. Its worth around  $100k today. Many homes in decent shape in good areas are well under $150k. A average salary for someone without a degree is around $10-12. Minimum wage if taking fast food or entry level retail. With a degree could be much more. COL is very low in general. Columbus ohio would be my suggestion. Dayton could be a possibility but less jobs then Cincinnati or Columbus. Overall, I would say jobs pay fairly well and living costs are low. Worst thing is the cold gloomy winters.

JoeBlow

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 55
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #31 on: January 12, 2016, 06:44:27 PM »
Wow, I haven't heard Iowa mentioned this much since the Rose Bowl!

You must not listen to political news =)

use2betrix

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1772
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #32 on: January 12, 2016, 06:49:56 PM »
One reads about the sky high salaries in silicon valley and Manhattan, but they go along with $1m one bedroom apartments and shacks.  On the flipside, there is flyover country with perfectly nice $150,000 homes, but a majority of jobs in the area that pay minimum wage.  I live in the San Diego area that has always had a reputation for relatively low salaries, but really high housing prices, i.e. the worst of both worlds.


To assume they pay minimum wage you must not have any skills. In which case, you will be best off living the cheapest place you can find.

CanuckExpat

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3002
  • Age: 36
  • Location: North Carolina
    • Freedom35
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #33 on: January 12, 2016, 07:47:12 PM »
People are pillorying the OP for the way he phrased his question, but she makes a good point, as pointed out in this article: "The best cities to get ahead are often the most expensive places to live, and the most affordable places to live can be the worst cities to get ahead."
Quote
Dayton or San Francisco? It's an instructive question.
Dayton is the most affordable housing market in the United States, while San Francisco is the least affordable place to live in America. But the San Francisco-San Jose area has a better record of social mobility than just about any region in the country. A variety of factors make it the best place for young person to work his or her way into the middle class and beyond. Dayton and other Ohio cities account for four worst cities for that same measure of upward mobility.

It isn't about Ohio vs. California. It's about a broader dilemma...The cities with the least affordable housing often have the best social mobility. And the cities with the worst social mobility often have the most affordable housing.

The article points out exceptions of cities which do well both in terms of affordability and social mobility, some mentioned already on this thread, including: Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City.

I think the whole article is worth a read if your interested in the topic. Not everything is necessarily that relevant to people on this board: if you only plan to work for five to ten years, and you are flexible to move several times, perhaps the social mobility aspect isn't as big a deal for example. But I think a lot of the points raised in that article still apply and are worth considering.

Let's not beat the OP up too much for the way s/he phrased their original question.

CanuckExpat

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3002
  • Age: 36
  • Location: North Carolina
    • Freedom35
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #34 on: January 12, 2016, 08:09:21 PM »
If you are willing to live rural and commute a bit, you can get a very inexpensive house. If you are willing to live in a small house, $130k-$150k will get you a perfectly nice home. If you want a very nice house, it is more $300-400k.

The Dallas area is very cheap, and it's easy to find jobs, and there is no state income tax.  Downside is the summer, it's very hot!  Another downside is that the area is big, you have to drive everywhere, unless you want to stay in your little community and don't get out at all then you can walk.

There's the rub, if you factor in transportation costs, many low cost cities no longer look as affordable:


Those numbers are generated with median income in each location, so you could possibly do better by living in an area that requires driving if you make above median income for the area, and keep your transportation costs low.

But we wouldn't want too much to encourage people to move somewhere with commuting and clown car driving built in would we?

chops

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 164
  • Location: Mustachian Midwest
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #35 on: January 13, 2016, 08:34:55 AM »
Wow, I haven't heard Iowa mentioned this much since the Rose Bowl!

You must not listen to political news =)

Low information diet for the win ;-)

- Chops

FLBiker

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 985
  • Age: 43
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #36 on: January 13, 2016, 09:22:14 AM »
Tampa has been good for us.  You need to pick your location carefully to make it bikable, though.  We live just outside (in Temple Terrace) and work at a nearby university.  5 miles each way.  We got a 4/3 ~1800 sqft for ~$140K, but that was in 2011.  Still, our neighborhood is very affordable.

JLee

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5632
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #37 on: January 13, 2016, 10:38:38 AM »
If you are willing to live rural and commute a bit, you can get a very inexpensive house. If you are willing to live in a small house, $130k-$150k will get you a perfectly nice home. If you want a very nice house, it is more $300-400k.

The Dallas area is very cheap, and it's easy to find jobs, and there is no state income tax.  Downside is the summer, it's very hot!  Another downside is that the area is big, you have to drive everywhere, unless you want to stay in your little community and don't get out at all then you can walk.

There's the rub, if you factor in transportation costs, many low cost cities no longer look as affordable:


Those numbers are generated with median income in each location, so you could possibly do better by living in an area that requires driving if you make above median income for the area, and keep your transportation costs low.

But we wouldn't want too much to encourage people to move somewhere with commuting and clown car driving built in would we?

That can't be right unless the Google info for median household income is wrong (it shows Phoenix at 48k, and 50k for NYC).  You could probably pay rent for two houses in Phoenix for what you'd spend on one apartment in NYC.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6865
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #38 on: January 13, 2016, 10:43:28 AM »
How about Pittsburgh? Visited there recently and was really impressed with 150 -200 K 3BR homes in decent suburbs and a recent urban restaurant/arts/hipster/tech boom.
brrr.

I went to college in Pittsburgh, and grew up nearby.

My cousin lives there.  A quote from yesterday's FB page "I hate this city - 2 hours and 45 minutes to get home!!"

(Pretty sure they were getting hit by a snowstorm?  At least my family a couple of hours north were).

AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #39 on: January 13, 2016, 11:47:43 AM »
If you are willing to live rural and commute a bit, you can get a very inexpensive house. If you are willing to live in a small house, $130k-$150k will get you a perfectly nice home. If you want a very nice house, it is more $300-400k.

The Dallas area is very cheap, and it's easy to find jobs, and there is no state income tax.  Downside is the summer, it's very hot!  Another downside is that the area is big, you have to drive everywhere, unless you want to stay in your little community and don't get out at all then you can walk.

There's the rub, if you factor in transportation costs, many low cost cities no longer look as affordable:


Those numbers are generated with median income in each location, so you could possibly do better by living in an area that requires driving if you make above median income for the area, and keep your transportation costs low.

But we wouldn't want too much to encourage people to move somewhere with commuting and clown car driving built in would we?

That can't be right unless the Google info for median household income is wrong (it shows Phoenix at 48k, and 50k for NYC).  You could probably pay rent for two houses in Phoenix for what you'd spend on one apartment in NYC.

Yeah, that chart is all kinds of wrong.

Scandium

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2223
  • Location: EastCoast
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #40 on: January 13, 2016, 11:54:39 AM »
Problem is that a lot of LCOL states often have other issues, such as terrible schools, dilapidated public services, high rates of poverty and/or crime. Often related to politics. Yes living in Appalachia would be cheap, but you'd be in a trailer surrounded by meth labs.. Sometimes you get what you pay for; higher taxes provide better services/schools (Illinois excepted).

There is of course a limit, trick is to find the balance. But some ritzy, pickup truck infested, suburb in Texas where they don't waste money on sidewalks or public transit because poor people use it is not my idea of great place to live. Unfortunately this often leads me to the north-east which has other issues (expensive and crowded the main ones). And of course I deeply dislike hot+humid
« Last Edit: January 13, 2016, 11:57:26 AM by Scandium »

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8011
  • Location: United States
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #41 on: January 13, 2016, 12:16:30 PM »
I was looking at Cedar Rapids as it was one of those lists for best affordable cities to live in or whatever. I'm certain I'd be in for some amount of culture-shock (as an Asian American coming from Southern California lol) but I think we could get used to it. How is the weather there, generally?

I transplanted from Austin, Texas, and I find the weather to be a fair trade off for the fact that there isn't traffic :)  It does get very very cold here, sometimes brutally cold. But in the summers it can get really hot too (and also very humid due to the Mississippi.) I find Iowa to be a great place to live, and I never expected that when we moved here for my husband's PhD. I thought we'd be in and out back to "home"- but it's been a decade now. 

Moving from California, I'd recommend Iowa City area (IC/Coralville/North Liberty) over Cedar Rapids. With the university it's a pretty liberal community with a decent amount of international influence for a very white state.

Think

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 88
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #42 on: January 13, 2016, 12:17:37 PM »
Problem is that a lot of LCOL states often have other issues, such as terrible schools, dilapidated public services, high rates of poverty and/or crime. Often related to politics. Yes living in Appalachia would be cheap, but you'd be in a trailer surrounded by meth labs.. Sometimes you get what you pay for; higher taxes provide better services/schools (Illinois excepted).

There is of course a limit, trick is to find the balance. But some ritzy, pickup truck infested, suburb in Texas where they don't waste money on sidewalks or public transit because poor people use it is not my idea of great place to live. Unfortunately this often leads me to the north-east which has other issues (expensive and crowded the main ones). And of course I deeply dislike hot+humid

Yes there is poverty in Appalachia but I wouldn't think it's any worse than the millions of people living off of government assistance in the Bronx.  The poverty just looks different to you. 


I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8011
  • Location: United States
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #43 on: January 13, 2016, 12:26:05 PM »

To assume they pay minimum wage you must not have any skills. In which case, you will be best off living the cheapest place you can find.

The Walmart and McDonalds here both start people above minimum wage.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #44 on: January 13, 2016, 12:33:41 PM »
Problem is that a lot of LCOL states often have other issues, such as terrible schools, dilapidated public services, high rates of poverty and/or crime. Often related to politics. Yes living in Appalachia would be cheap, but you'd be in a trailer surrounded by meth labs.. Sometimes you get what you pay for; higher taxes provide better services/schools (Illinois excepted).

There is of course a limit, trick is to find the balance. But some ritzy, pickup truck infested, suburb in Texas where they don't waste money on sidewalks or public transit because poor people use it is not my idea of great place to live. Unfortunately this often leads me to the north-east which has other issues (expensive and crowded the main ones). And of course I deeply dislike hot+humid

Have you been to Texas? The schools in much of suburban Texas are excellent, and the large-city school districts have better performance than many of their east-coast equivalents.

Certainly transit in Texas isn't great, but Dallas does have an extensive light rail system that extends into the ritzy suburbs like Plano.

RedBaron3

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 27
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #45 on: January 13, 2016, 12:36:43 PM »
How about Pittsburgh? Visited there recently and was really impressed with 150 -200 K 3BR homes in decent suburbs and a recent urban restaurant/arts/hipster/tech boom.
brrr.

I went to college in Pittsburgh, and grew up nearby.

My cousin lives there.  A quote from yesterday's FB page "I hate this city - 2 hours and 45 minutes to get home!!"

(Pretty sure they were getting hit by a snowstorm?  At least my family a couple of hours north were).

The weather got bad quickly yesterday and there were accidents everywhere.  I'm assuming your cousin lives in the East, West, or South of downtown?  I live 25 minutes north and zip in and out with no issues.  The other directions can be brutal with the tunnels and bridges.  I moved to Pittsburgh for two reasons...family proximity and COL vs Salary. 

Giro

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 604
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #46 on: January 13, 2016, 12:37:45 PM »
I currently live in Ohio. We bought our 3 bedroom 2000 sqft home for only $73500, 5 years ago. It needed minor remodel, most all done ourself. Its worth around  $100k today. Many homes in decent shape in good areas are well under $150k. A average salary for someone without a degree is around $10-12. Minimum wage if taking fast food or entry level retail. With a degree could be much more. COL is very low in general. Columbus ohio would be my suggestion. Dayton could be a possibility but less jobs then Cincinnati or Columbus. Overall, I would say jobs pay fairly well and living costs are low. Worst thing is the cold gloomy winters.

I live in Dayton, OH.  Today our house would sell for $250k and it's a pretty nice house and only a few years old...about 2800 sq ft.  With the military base, high paying Engineering jobs are quite prevalent and not a lot of talent in the area so good people are in demand.  I'm always looking for highly qualified people to hire.

My husband and I both work in career fields but he's a government employee so makes a bit less.  (a little over $100K) but he has a military pension...so another $50k.  I make a little over $150k with bonuses.  So, for this area, we do extremely well.  We can pretty much pay off anything we would want and we can live on 20% of our income. 

Currently it's 10 degrees, so there is that. 

I like the idea of high incomes in lower cost of living areas.  You give up some amenities but with this group, who needs a bunch of 5 star restaurants and Lambo dealers. 

And one other good thing about small towns, once you've established your reputation for being a good worker, jobs come after you. 
« Last Edit: January 13, 2016, 12:44:20 PM by Giro »

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2931
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #47 on: January 13, 2016, 12:54:02 PM »
Problem is that a lot of LCOL states often have other issues, such as terrible schools, dilapidated public services, high rates of poverty and/or crime. Often related to politics. Yes living in Appalachia would be cheap, but you'd be in a trailer surrounded by meth labs.. Sometimes you get what you pay for; higher taxes provide better services/schools (Illinois excepted).

There is of course a limit, trick is to find the balance. But some ritzy, pickup truck infested, suburb in Texas where they don't waste money on sidewalks or public transit because poor people use it is not my idea of great place to live. Unfortunately this often leads me to the north-east which has other issues (expensive and crowded the main ones). And of course I deeply dislike hot+humid

Have you been to Texas? The schools in much of suburban Texas are excellent, and the large-city school districts have better performance than many of their east-coast equivalents.

Certainly transit in Texas isn't great, but Dallas does have an extensive light rail system that extends into the ritzy suburbs like Plano.

One of my TX cousins grew up in the Dallas/Plano area and he and his sister are all kinds of smart. Both went to UT Austin (which it turns out is a pretty good school...:P :D) as did many of their friends... I just recall many of his friends around him were really intelligent, and no they were not all Asian :D

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6865
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #48 on: January 13, 2016, 01:16:02 PM »
How about Pittsburgh? Visited there recently and was really impressed with 150 -200 K 3BR homes in decent suburbs and a recent urban restaurant/arts/hipster/tech boom.
brrr.

I went to college in Pittsburgh, and grew up nearby.

My cousin lives there.  A quote from yesterday's FB page "I hate this city - 2 hours and 45 minutes to get home!!"

(Pretty sure they were getting hit by a snowstorm?  At least my family a couple of hours north were).

The weather got bad quickly yesterday and there were accidents everywhere.  I'm assuming your cousin lives in the East, West, or South of downtown?  I live 25 minutes north and zip in and out with no issues.  The other directions can be brutal with the tunnels and bridges.  I moved to Pittsburgh for two reasons...family proximity and COL vs Salary.
I'm not really sure which area of town she lives in (so many cousins...) but she mentioned Bigelow.  I'm not terribly familiar with Bigelow, but I know Forbes all inside-and-out.  Or did at one point anyway.

sw1tch

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 271
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Middle of no and where
Re: Best places to live, COL vs. Salaries ?
« Reply #49 on: January 13, 2016, 03:36:48 PM »
On the flipside, there is flyover country with perfectly nice $150,000 homes, but a majority of jobs in the area that pay minimum wage.
Question:  What are your top metro areas that have a truly good balance of jobs with decent salaries, and reasonably priced housing/COL ?


Have you BEEN to flyover country?  That's an absurd statement.
MANY cities in the middle states have wonderful jobs available. That's why people live there.

I live in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, Iowa area.  Our COL is on par with Austin, TX. (Cedar Rapids has a lower COL than Iowa City area) There are plenty of excellent paying jobs to be had, especially for people with experience who are moving in looking for them. What industry do you work in? There is medical research, biotech, aerospace, manufacturing, "green" energy, educational publishing, and a ton of stuff I know nothing about. The vast majority of people in this area do not work in any sort of agricultural field.  To "make it" in the Iowa City area- you generally need a good education. There is an overabundance of people with PhDs running around; but if you have the skills, then it doesn't matter.

If you are willing to live rural and commute a bit, you can get a very inexpensive house. If you are willing to live in a small house, $130k-$150k will get you a perfectly nice home. If you want a very nice house, it is more $300-400k.

I was looking at Cedar Rapids as it was one of those lists for best affordable cities to live in or whatever. I'm certain I'd be in for some amount of culture-shock (as an Asian American coming from Southern California lol) but I think we could get used to it. How is the weather there, generally? I'm starting to think more about relocating to a LCOL area now that I've started telecommuting and my wife will soon be quitting her job. I think it's still too soon, as I'd like to feel out how telecommuting is for me (it's my first time) and at least for year. But beyond that, I feel like I'd be even more open. My parents want us to stay down here (or move up to the Bay Area) and seem to have hinted at offering to help with giving us a loan towards buying a bigger place. I dunno... I don't think we could handle living any closer to them. And even with them helping, it's still expensive living here in Southern California :(

I am actually looking to do the opposite (move to a locale that has a bit more of an Asian American population) but am willing to up the COL a bit.  I'm Asian American but born and raised in Omaha, NE.  Now that I've explored some and seen different locales, I'm not all that excited about the lack of Asian options and generally things to do here.

We recently went down to visit the Dallas and Houston areas and I'm considering those two for the future, especially Houston.  However, keep in mind I really don't mind the hot & humid (at least what we see here in the summertime - I usually don't turn on the AC in my car until it registers > about 95 degrees on the outside temp reading).  Here's a good website that I found that compares average temperatures, rainfall, snowfall, etc by city: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0762183.html.  According to that site in comparison of Houston vs Omaha, the average temps in July are about 7 degrees hotter but 30 degrees warmer in January.  Also, there are only 6 more days with Precipitation in Houston but without any snow (or only negligible amounts).  Galveston is within an hour if you want to see the ocean.

Also, in Texas, there were so many Asian food (and culture) options available that just DO NOT exist here in Omaha.  I don't know if Cedar Rapids is much different, but I'd imagine it's lacking a lot/most of what you might be accustomed to in Socal.  We do have LCOL and good pay which is very nice if you're in the accumulation stages pre-FIRE, but otherwise, you'll have to drive quite a ways for some good Asian food and the winters can be very tough with blistery cold wind-chills.  Texas seems like a good trade-off for me.

However, if there's one thing I've learned from living here, it always comes down to you get what you make out of it wherever you are.

Maybe I'm just ready for a change.