Author Topic: Location/Cost of Living Poll  (Read 7665 times)

uppy

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Location/Cost of Living Poll
« on: January 09, 2014, 02:52:38 PM »
Reason I am asking is that my partner and I are contemplating a move that, after moving many times over our lives, we hope will be semi-permanent. She will be doing social work. I will be doing...whatever I can find! Without taking mustachianism into account we would probably move back to rural western MA, where we have friends, family is ~3 hrs away (by car), but there are close to zero worthwhile job opportunities and driving daily is a necessity. 

I thought who better to ask than the huge amount of mustachians on this forum who are spread around the country and beyond. Here are some questions to get started:


Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?

What are job opportunities like?

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)

Feel free to add other stuff I didn't mention. Also mention how long you've been there.

thanks!
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 03:13:45 PM by jrez »

BlueMR2

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2014, 04:29:45 PM »
Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?

What are job opportunities like?

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)

Feel free to add other stuff I didn't mention. Also mention how long you've been there.

Sylvania, Ohio.  Cost of living is on the low end of average.  I like the area.  Despite having looked at moving elsewhere many times, I've always ended up staying here.

Job opportunities are mixed.  Pretty good if you're in the tech field or unskilled.  If you are skilled in other areas not so much.

Weather we have plenty of.  We'll hit 100F during the Summer and -15F during the Winter on the more extreme years.  Rainy days, sunny days, you name it, it happens here.  :-)  Bikeable pretty much any time for me.  Some people won't ride on snow/ice, so that might limit you.  I'm used to it, so it's no big deal.  Everything I need (except for my job) is within easy walking distance.

nawhite

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 05:47:32 PM »
Denver, CO for going on 3 years

Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area? Cost of living is above average for the country overall but below average for a city this size. I am extremely satisfied living here (a million times better in every way than DC)

What are job opportunities like? Job opportunities are very good here. There is a large aerospace industry, Boulder (45min away) has a very good start up tech company scene, and we actually care about the less fortunate and fund public services better than any city I've ever lived in so there are many Social Worker positions. I always complain to my wife (a special needs preschool teacher) that there are more preschool teacher positions available than anything else on Craigslist but there are plenty of tech jobs too.

How's the weather? The weather is great. Not California great but significantly better than the East Coast. Summers are warm and dry. Winters can be cold (had a 2 week cold snap in the teens or lower) and we get some snow but usually winter is just cool (30F-40F) bluebird days. Snow almost always melts within 3 days of falling. No real "Autumn" but spring is nice. Thunderstorms about 1x per week in the late summer but almost always between noon and 3pm. Other than that, blue skies all the time.

Do you do fun/free stuff outside?  I whitewater kayak all the time. There are 3 play parks within 20 minutes and tons of rivers within 2 hours. The hiking and mountain biking is ridiculously good compared to almost anywhere in the US. Easily 100+ hiking trails within a 1 hour drive. There is a road bike trail network throughout the city which allows for multiple ways to string together a century ride. There are $3 movie theaters and a nice walking mall/street in the middle of downtown.

Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?) If you live by a bike trail/green way (there are tons) then it is bikeable probably 340+ days per year. The roads themselves in some areas don't really have bike lanes but the trail network makes up for it. Personally to get around, I live 300 yards from a light rail station (think subway style train above ground). The light rail network serves the southern side of Denver pretty well, the Western side ok, and the Northern side not at all. They are currently building new lines in the East including a line out to the airport that should open in 2015. However, because most of the outdoor opportunities are in the mountains most people do keep a car for weekend fun. No good public transit to the trailheads ;-)

If you, or anyone else reading this, want to know more, feel free to PM me.

Zikoris

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2014, 06:00:04 PM »
Cost of living: I live in Vancouver, Canada. Cost of living has the potential to be very low or very high, depending on intelligence. It's pretty low cost for me(my half of spending is around $1000/month, including a lot of international travel). I've been here for about 8 years and like it.

Employment prospects: I've never had trouble finding work here, but I imagine it would depend on the industry.

Weather: Weather is great for most of the year, and only mildly crappy in the winter(rain).

Outdoor activities: I do a lot of hiking and biking. Kayaking and water sports are very popular, as is skiing and snowboarding in the winter. There's a whole outdoor culture here - everyone does this stuff. Nobody thinks twice if you bike to work.

Biking: Completely bike-able all year, with a huge bike culture to boot - bike lanes everywhere, as well as a lot of bikes-only routes. The buses all have bike racks on the front. Most apartment buildings and larger employers have secure bike cages, and a lot of people bring their bikes right into their workplaces and keep them indoors. I personally tend to walk places more than bike since I live in the downtown core, but I bike to a few of my grocery stores.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 06:19:26 PM »
Houston, TX here.

Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?
Really, really low cost of living. Just about all of the cities in Texas have extremely reasonable housing and shopping, and there is no state income tax, but the property taxes are higher to make up for that. You can buy a really nice and large house in a good neighborhood for under $150K. I am from out of state and came down here for schooling, but married a native. I don't personally like the state pride thing as I think it's a bit too over the top, but I think overall I'm pretty contented.

What are job opportunities like?
Extremely good. This area didn't suffer from the recession and joblessness compared to the rest of the country. Huge oil and gas and chemical plant opportunities (and good salaries as well), and as one of the largest cities in the U.S., it's got tons of schools, businesses, and just about any other occupation you could think of. The city is a sprawl; it has a large downtown and urban element, but there are hundreds of outlying neighborhoods that are suburban, and even rural within an hour from downtown that are within the city limits. I'm technically considered in Houston as far as the post codes, but I'm outside the city limits.

How's the weather?
If you like mild winters and hot summers, then you'll love it here. The heat can be pretty bad (mostly because of the humidity) and it doesn't cool off at night. We get spring for maybe 2 weeks around March or April, then right into heat by May through October. A few weeks of fall if we're lucky and cold weather from late November through February. Highs in summer can top 110˚F + with 90% humidity and winters we see an average of 40˚F but I've seen some where it just dipped to the high 40s at night for a few hours and hung out in the 50s during the day. We do get a touch of snow or ice about once every 3 years or so. Below freezing days generally are less than 10 a year.

I do need to mention that we have chances of hurricanes. I've been through two and they are scary. Certain areas also flood - badly - so you'd want to make sure you weren't living in a flood plain and the neighborhood hadn't had any flooding too.

Do you do fun/free stuff outside?
Yup. There are tons of activities - plays, concerts, conventions, art shows, museums and zoo days that are free. There are lots of parks and the coast (Galveston) is about 2 hours away if you're into beach activities. 


Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year?
Yes, but only within the general city/urban areas. So if you live within an area, you could get around to go shopping or work if that's where you worked, but I would not recommend trying to bike long distances. There have been numerous fatalities for bikers and some major roadways actually prohibit bikes completely. I would not be able to bike to work, even if I could ride that distance (I live about 15 miles from work). Houstonians LOVE their cars, and the bigger the better, and traffic is pretty crappy most of the time. Drivers here don't like sharing the road, either. There's a huge problem with drunk driving here. If you were just basing it off of weather, as long as you don't overheat, you could bike year round tho.


HappierAtHome

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2014, 06:40:02 PM »
Not sure you were after international replies, but...

Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?
Perth, Australia. Cost of living is high, especially housing and entertainment/dining out. And yep - I love it! Australia is a fantastic place to live.

What are job opportunities like?
Right now, pretty fantastic for a lot of people as the mining boom has generated a lot of jobs and there's a 'skills shortage' (so for example, I'm not in mining but the boom has definitely improved opportunities and salaries for me). Not sure if that will continue long term with the end of the construction phase of the mining boom.

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)
Weather is a tad hot in some (44 degrees celsius tomorrow) but lovely and sunny almost all year 'round. There are loads of fun outdoorsy activities and generally people here have a very outdoorsy lifestyle. If you are careful to live near a good bike route you could definitely bike to work year-round, or there is decent public transport for many suburbs and free buses in the central area.

Feel free to add other stuff I didn't mention. Also mention how long you've been there.
My whole life! Australians are good looking and friendly. My in laws + extended family are all from the UK and they think moving to Australia is the smartest thing they ever did. We also have cheap, decent public education and free health care for those who can't afford it.

i_am_the_slime

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2014, 04:57:50 AM »
Charlotte, NC

I love it here - low COL, nice weather (get all 4 seasons with mild winters), a lot of stuff to do.  I'm not sure about job prospects - I hear that a lot of people are moving here so it's recommended you move here FOR a job, not to FIND a job. 

uppy

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2014, 05:53:10 AM »
Houston, TX here.

How's the weather?
If you like mild winters and hot summers, then you'll love it here. The heat can be pretty bad (mostly because of the humidity) and it doesn't cool off at night. We get spring for maybe 2 weeks around March or April, then right into heat by May through October. A few weeks of fall if we're lucky and cold weather from late November through February. Highs in summer can top 110˚F + with 90% humidity and winters we see an average of 40˚F but I've seen some where it just dipped to the high 40s at night for a few hours and hung out in the 50s during the day. We do get a touch of snow or ice about once every 3 years or so. Below freezing days generally are less than 10 a year.

I do need to mention that we have chances of hurricanes. I've been through two and they are scary. Certain areas also flood - badly - so you'd want to make sure you weren't living in a flood plain and the neighborhood hadn't had any flooding too.

What's all that I hear about "dry" heat in Texas? I suppose you're too close to the Gulf for that, though.

Thanks all for the great info. I really like the looks of Colorado but it may be too far from my gf's family who we need to see quite often. Speaking of which, why don't we have flying cars and teleporters like we were promised in "Beyond 2000"?? Somebody dropped the ball...
« Last Edit: January 10, 2014, 06:00:50 AM by jrez »

MissStache

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2014, 07:40:40 AM »
Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?
We live in Alexandria, VA and work in DC.  COL is NUTS.  Very expensive, but I love the area.

What are job opportunities like?
We moved up here because I got a promotion into our corporate offices.  He worked here already and was commuting from about 50 miles away (yikes).  Obviously there are a lot of federal jobs (if you can get one) and just about every other industry you can imagine.  We have not felt the recession like many other areas.

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)
Weather is usually great (though not lately!).  It's a nice middle ground for weather and you have 4 distinct seasons.  It does get pretty hot in the summer, but I don't mind.  There are lot of free activities thanks to the Smithsonian museums, national monuments and parks, and general culture.  Public transportation is pretty widespread and reliable-ish.  There is a big biking culture around here, at least in the area that I work. 

Pros-
-Pay is generally very high in this area
-Incredibly diverse people, food, activities, etc.
-Good public transportation
-Good access to all sorts of varied landscapes- mountains, beaches, quiet country, other cities. 
-3 major international airports in close distance, two easily reached with public transportation
-Lots of culture- museums, theatre, music.  It is really easy to meet interesting and brilliant people.

Cons-
-Very expensive to live here
-Traffic is a NIGHTMARE in every direction
-Not easy to get into DC if you aren't near a Metro line or in the city proper
-Can be very crowded
-Lobbyist/Capitol Hill dickbags are everywhere

I love it, but I wish it was cheaper!


Thegoblinchief

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2014, 08:01:08 AM »
Milwaukee, WI (for my whole life excepting college in the Rust Belt)

How is the cost of living? Below average for the country as a whole, but relatively high for non-coastal areas. Property values are pretty depressed right now in the city proper, though they've already gone back past '08 levels in many of the suburbs. Taxes are pretty high, but that again varies on the municipality.

Are you satisfied with the area? Family is here, DW's from Baltimore/DC area (which neither of us want to move to), but I don't think we'll be staying here once we hit FI. We have our hearts set on areas like CO with less severe winters, more sunshine, and plenty of mountains. 

What are job opportunities like? Honestly don't know. If you have a trade or construction skill, probably very good. Welders in particular are in very high demand, or at least used to be until the mining equipment companies slowed down. There seem to be plenty of people making money (I work in high-end retail).

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? Bikeable all year if you're okay with winter biking. Winters really drag here, though. It's cold and dreary from Nov through April. Not a ton of snow (40") but what falls generally stays around. Summers are humid but rarely super hot (many years without a single 100F day).

Really good park system in the city and a lot of state parks within easy driving distance. I love May-October here. Kids get a lot of outside time, I just wish the season lasted longer.

Biking here is pretty easy. Drivers in general are nice. Lots of parkways, a few multi-use trails. Actual bike lanes, however, are pretty half-assed. Lots of roads will get redone, a bike lane painted down, but a mile or two later it disappears.

BoulderTC

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2014, 08:54:17 AM »
Denver, CO for going on 3 years

Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area? Cost of living is above average for the country overall but below average for a city this size. I am extremely satisfied living here (a million times better in every way than DC)

What are job opportunities like? Job opportunities are very good here. There is a large aerospace industry, Boulder (45min away) has a very good start up tech company scene, and we actually care about the less fortunate and fund public services better than any city I've ever lived in so there are many Social Worker positions. I always complain to my wife (a special needs preschool teacher) that there are more preschool teacher positions available than anything else on Craigslist but there are plenty of tech jobs too.

How's the weather? The weather is great. Not California great but significantly better than the East Coast. Summers are warm and dry. Winters can be cold (had a 2 week cold snap in the teens or lower) and we get some snow but usually winter is just cool (30F-40F) bluebird days. Snow almost always melts within 3 days of falling. No real "Autumn" but spring is nice. Thunderstorms about 1x per week in the late summer but almost always between noon and 3pm. Other than that, blue skies all the time.

Do you do fun/free stuff outside?  I whitewater kayak all the time. There are 3 play parks within 20 minutes and tons of rivers within 2 hours. The hiking and mountain biking is ridiculously good compared to almost anywhere in the US. Easily 100+ hiking trails within a 1 hour drive. There is a road bike trail network throughout the city which allows for multiple ways to string together a century ride. There are $3 movie theaters and a nice walking mall/street in the middle of downtown.

Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?) If you live by a bike trail/green way (there are tons) then it is bikeable probably 340+ days per year. The roads themselves in some areas don't really have bike lanes but the trail network makes up for it. Personally to get around, I live 300 yards from a light rail station (think subway style train above ground). The light rail network serves the southern side of Denver pretty well, the Western side ok, and the Northern side not at all. They are currently building new lines in the East including a line out to the airport that should open in 2015. However, because most of the outdoor opportunities are in the mountains most people do keep a car for weekend fun. No good public transit to the trailheads ;-)

If you, or anyone else reading this, want to know more, feel free to PM me.

+1 to everything nawhite says about Denver. I've lived in the Boulder/Denver area for 8.5 years and won't ever move to another state. I live in Denver proper and work in Boulder. I take the bus every day for my commute (with a free bus pass provided by my work). So, while I have a long commute, it doesn't affect my COL or my happiness nearly as much as car commuting would. My husband and I are engineers and we feel there are plenty of opportunities for jobs for us.

I would just add, nawhite, that the $3 movies can actually be as low as $1.25 if you go to a matinee and use a coupon on the back of a King Sooper's receipt. Stellar deal!

mollyjade

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2014, 09:35:28 AM »
Austin, TX

How is the cost of living?
High for Texas, low compared to other cities/the rest of the country. Housing is expensive (for Texas) in central areas ($250,000-$350,000 for a small house), but really inexpensive in the suburbs (McMansion for $200,000). The housing bubble didn't really reach us.

Are you satisfied with the area?
We love living here. It's a very progressive area, with lots of small businesses and quirky traditions. We have family in town, and other family a three hour drive away. Our parents are strongly considering retiring here. A downside is that it's not very diverse.

What are job opportunities like?
Pretty good. Lots of jobs in tech, academia, medicine, and the service industry. It's also a pretty good place to be an entrepreneur.

How's the weather?
HOT weather starts in May and ends in September/October. The rest of the year is mild. Only moderate humidity. Lots of drought the past five/ten years, and in the longterm water will be a concern.

Do you do fun/free stuff outside?
Lots of hiking, camping, and music, however those aren't our sorts of activities. A great library system though, which we take full advantage of. There are lots of festivals, which are expensive to attend, but usually include associated free events that locals take advantage of.

Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)
Yes, if you're willing to bike when it's 90-100 degrees, which it is for almost half the year. The city has been adding lots of bike lanes recently, which helps. There's a decent, but not great bus system. Like many places, it's still much easier to get around by car, but it's gradually getting better.

amicableskeptic

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2014, 10:14:23 AM »
I wonder if anyone has lived in Nashville TN.  I've been reading about it recently and becoming very intrigued.  There are tons of parks and greenways for biking in the city (http://www.informingdesign.com/greenways/), decently priced houses (100k-400k), and it seems like there's a good economy with startup opportunities (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/us/nashville-takes-its-turn-in-the-spotlight.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0).  Weather seems similar to DC which I'm okay with but could be too hot for some.  It's great weather for growing your own food (or doing a CSA if gardening isn't your thing). 

The biggest negative I see to Nashville is the southern culture of the place.  TN has no income tax which is nice, but this low taxation probably causes the pretty terrible schools (looking on Zillow I saw most Nashville schools rated as 1s or 2s on a 10 point scale) and lack of other public services (apparently there are lots of streets that don't even have side walks).  I've heard that Nashville is more culturally mixed than the rest of TN so I'm still intrigued by it, but I'd really love to hear from some actual residents.  Also I wonder how bad the mosquitoes really are in the summer time.

Spork

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2014, 10:24:27 AM »
Houston, TX here.

How's the weather?
If you like mild winters and hot summers, then you'll love it here. The heat can be pretty bad (mostly because of the humidity) and it doesn't cool off at night. We get spring for maybe 2 weeks around March or April, then right into heat by May through October. A few weeks of fall if we're lucky and cold weather from late November through February. Highs in summer can top 110˚F + with 90% humidity and winters we see an average of 40˚F but I've seen some where it just dipped to the high 40s at night for a few hours and hung out in the 50s during the day. We do get a touch of snow or ice about once every 3 years or so. Below freezing days generally are less than 10 a year.

I do need to mention that we have chances of hurricanes. I've been through two and they are scary. Certain areas also flood - badly - so you'd want to make sure you weren't living in a flood plain and the neighborhood hadn't had any flooding too.

What's all that I hear about "dry" heat in Texas? I suppose you're too close to the Gulf for that, though.

Thanks all for the great info. I really like the looks of Colorado but it may be too far from my gf's family who we need to see quite often. Speaking of which, why don't we have flying cars and teleporters like we were promised in "Beyond 2000"?? Somebody dropped the ball...

Texas is huge.  The weather can be all over the charts depending on where you are.   But, back to CoL... it's pretty reasonable all across the state.   Oddly it seems (or has been my experience) that the CoL is lower in the large cities than the smaller ones.  Or, to be more specific, you may have areas of higher costs in the central business districts of big cities, but they generally have suburbs that have much cheaper costs than those of smaller cities.

I'm waaaay north of the gulf and it's still really humid where I live.   If you go out to west texas or the Big Bend area, you'll find dry heat.

Albert

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2014, 11:20:37 AM »
Talking about cost of living are you familiar with numbeo.com? I just found it recently and they have a pretty neat cost of living comparison tool for places all over the world. I spent about 30 min playing with it last weekend. I checked the prices for cities I have lived in and they seem to be reasonably accurate (mainstream choices of course).

As for my own place, it has all imaginable advantages except one - almost everything here is extremely expensive.

jnik

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2014, 11:29:18 AM »
Four answers for the last four places I've lived, random order:

Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?
Watertown, MA. Cost of living high relative to the rest of country, middling for Boston area. Figure $1800 for two-bed duplex.

What are job opportunities like?
Quite good, particularly in high tech. Watertown has been a choice for light industrial (like car battery development) and there's a fair bit going on in Waltham. Plus, you have the whole Boston area fairly accessible.

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)
Weather's not bad. Yes, there's a winter, but the snow usually melts out. I was car-free the whole time I lived in Watertown and bikability's fine. The Charles paths from Watertown Square inbound are usually kept somewhat plowed. Lots of time on the Charles and hiking in the Whites in NH (2-3hr drive.) Decent transit for suburbs: rush hour express busses to downtown, several local routes to Harvard and Kenmore that then connect to the subway. Suburb, but with its own sense of identity. (Highly walkable, too.)

Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?
Brookline, MA. Figure $1750 for a one-bed apartment, on-par to expensive for Boston area. Great place to live.

What are job opportunities like?
Not a lot in town, but very easy access to jobs in Boston and Cambridge

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)
Weather's same as Watertown and rest of Boston area. Great paths along the Muddy and in Olmsted Woods. Long runs or rides to the Arboretum. (And hiking in NH, too.) Bikeable year-round; the secondary road network is reasonably connected. Great transit access via C or D green line. And tons of stuff in walking distance.

Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?
Los Alamos, NM. COL high for NM but that's low for everywhere else. Rents range from $1200 for a new construction two-bed apartment to $800 for three-bed duplex of old government stock. There are things I like and things I hate about the place.

What are job opportunities like?
If you ain't working for the lab and want a 9-5, forget it. You've never seen more highly-educated people (labbie spouses) competing for so few low-paying jobs. Some entrepreneurial types are doing OK running businesses to cater to the lab itself or its employees.

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)
Weather's just about perfect, 300+ clear days a year. Winters can get cold (sometimes very cold) but average pretty temperate; the elevation keeps the summers reasonably cool. Fantastic hiking/MTB trail system out the back door. Bikeable just about year round weather-wise, fairly compact and walkable, but culturally antagonistic to cyclists and pedestrians (despite decent bike lanes and sidewalks: the engineering's okay, the culture's crap.) Free bus system. No culture or shopping. Someone with the right temperment, a good business plan, and a desire to spend most of their free time in the mountains could do pretty well. A fairly dense but rural small town.

Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?
Grand Rapids, MI. COL: $900 for a two-bed duplex near a college, edge of the city proper. The place has been getting better in terms of things to do, etc.

What are job opportunities like?
Fair-to-middling. Really depends on your skillset. The GR-Holland-Muskegon triangle has been keeping the rest of the state afloat.

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)
Weather's nice April through mid-October. Then it clouds up and doesn't clear until January, when the sunshine is made up for by the snow and cold. Muddy until April; spring seems to linger (in the rotten snow and mud sense, not the flowers and singing birds sense.) Not a lot of outdoorsiness but improving, largely based on some long-distance multi-use trails. Bikability varies: the weather really isn't a big limitation, but the paths aren't necessarily maintained for winter travel, secondary roads don't always go through, and main roads rarely have bike facilities. The legal and cultural support for cycling is pretty poor. Bus system is not bad for such a sprawling place in the midwest, which isn't saying much. On the non-free front, culture and music and such are really picking up in GR and are far cheaper than they would be elsewhere. If you're interested in a second-tier city (think Lowell, or Hartford, or Springfield for the general category), GR's not a bad place to consider.

catccc

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2014, 12:00:58 PM »


Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?   I moved from the DC metro area to Kennett Square, PA in 2007.  Love it here. The cost of living is a shade above average- 104.9.  I love the area and the community.  We rent, it's 1200/mo for a 3 bedroom, and you can buy for much less.  I love this town, I think it's pretty much the best thing ever.  The town is basically a few walkable blocks of restaurants/retail, Y, library, post office, a couple banks, etc.  The closest big grocery store is 1.5 miles away from the center of town.  The only reason I would leave would be because I experience wanderlust from time to time and wonder what life would be like in another region.  But if I decided to look for another place to live, I'd basically be looking for a copy of Kennett Square in a faraway state. 

What are job opportunities like? There are lots of jobs available in nearby Wilmington, DE, home of many many banks.  Wilmington is about 12 miles away, so it bike commuting is a possibility.  It is a hilly area, though.  Philadelphia is about an hour away, and the suburbs between Kennett and Philly bring additional job opportunities, though driving would then be required.  Kennett has a couple of large employers- Genesis Healthcare and PECO, and smaller opportunities within the town itself (retail/restaurant, post office, library)

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)
It's the mid-atlantic, so you get all the seasons.  The town has a parade every other day (okay, maybe not really) and the community loves to organize events.  It's the mushroom capital of the world, so you get the mushroom festival each fall, plus they do a memorial day parade, a halloween parade, another parade before the multi-day mushroom festival, and just this year they did a new years mushroom drop (700 pound illuminated mushroom touched down in the town's main intersection, how exciting!)  The sustainable agriculture community in the surrounding area is big, so there is great locally grown food available.  There's a farmers market right in town that goes year round (weekly May-Oct, biweekly the rest of the year).  They have a free outdoor summer concert series in the park.  It's a cute little town to raise a family in.  We don't take advantage of this (yet) but there is a lot of water in PA (streams and creeks and the like) and our neighbors were big time kayakers.

nawhite

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2014, 12:38:19 PM »
I wonder if anyone has lived in Nashville TN.  I've been reading about it recently and becoming very intrigued.  There are tons of parks and greenways for biking in the city (http://www.informingdesign.com/greenways/), decently priced houses (100k-400k), and it seems like there's a good economy with startup opportunities (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/us/nashville-takes-its-turn-in-the-spotlight.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0).  Weather seems similar to DC which I'm okay with but could be too hot for some.  It's great weather for growing your own food (or doing a CSA if gardening isn't your thing). 

The biggest negative I see to Nashville is the southern culture of the place.  TN has no income tax which is nice, but this low taxation probably causes the pretty terrible schools (looking on Zillow I saw most Nashville schools rated as 1s or 2s on a 10 point scale) and lack of other public services (apparently there are lots of streets that don't even have side walks).  I've heard that Nashville is more culturally mixed than the rest of TN so I'm still intrigued by it, but I'd really love to hear from some actual residents.  Also I wonder how bad the mosquitoes really are in the summer time.

My wife grew up in Nashville and we go back at least once a year to visit her family. My impression of the trails and greenways is that they are extremely nice, but hard to access. Not very good access from neighborhoods so using them usually involved driving to a parking lot near the trail. The advantage is that they have been deserted the couple times we've convinced her family to go for a walk on them.

For schools, there are magnet schools for students that test in but I get the same impression as you do about the education at the general population schools. Many streets do not have sidewalks. The city is more diverse than much of TN and certainly more diverse than Denver but that's not saying much. The mosquitoes aren't really that bad in the urban areas but you're on your own in the country.

uppy

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2014, 05:38:41 PM »


Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?   I moved from the DC metro area to Kennett Square, PA in 2007.  Love it here. The cost of living is a shade above average- 104.9.  I love the area and the community.  We rent, it's 1200/mo for a 3 bedroom, and you can buy for much less.  I love this town, I think it's pretty much the best thing ever.  The town is basically a few walkable blocks of restaurants/retail, Y, library, post office, a couple banks, etc.  The closest big grocery store is 1.5 miles away from the center of town.  The only reason I would leave would be because I experience wanderlust from time to time and wonder what life would be like in another region.  But if I decided to look for another place to live, I'd basically be looking for a copy of Kennett Square in a faraway state. 

What are job opportunities like? There are lots of jobs available in nearby Wilmington, DE, home of many many banks.  Wilmington is about 12 miles away, so it bike commuting is a possibility.  It is a hilly area, though.  Philadelphia is about an hour away, and the suburbs between Kennett and Philly bring additional job opportunities, though driving would then be required.  Kennett has a couple of large employers- Genesis Healthcare and PECO, and smaller opportunities within the town itself (retail/restaurant, post office, library)

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)
It's the mid-atlantic, so you get all the seasons.  The town has a parade every other day (okay, maybe not really) and the community loves to organize events.  It's the mushroom capital of the world, so you get the mushroom festival each fall, plus they do a memorial day parade, a halloween parade, another parade before the multi-day mushroom festival, and just this year they did a new years mushroom drop (700 pound illuminated mushroom touched down in the town's main intersection, how exciting!)  The sustainable agriculture community in the surrounding area is big, so there is great locally grown food available.  There's a farmers market right in town that goes year round (weekly May-Oct, biweekly the rest of the year).  They have a free outdoor summer concert series in the park.  It's a cute little town to raise a family in.  We don't take advantage of this (yet) but there is a lot of water in PA (streams and creeks and the like) and our neighbors were big time kayakers.


This place sounds interesting. What you said about parades etc. seems right. When I looked at street view on Google Maps on the center of Kennett Square, there is a big banner across the street that says "AIR SHOW" :) https://maps.google.com/maps?client=safari&oe=UTF-8&q=kennett+square+pa&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x89c6f8a0cef127db:0x987f67bf10facea2,Kennett+Square,+PA&gl=us&ei=epHQUpTyLafmsAS1xYGIDA&ved=0CNMFELYD

Also I would love to watch a mushroom touch down vs. a giant ball of glitzy bullshit. (ahem. Sorry. Can you tell I'm over NYC?)

CrochetStache

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2014, 07:59:41 PM »

Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?
Tokyo, Japan - There are plenty of ways to live reasonably and still save while living here. Coming here expecting to eat steak and potatoes and live in a McMansion will make your cost of living very high. Live on fish, vegets, and in a smaller living space,etc as a typical Japanese and you'll do just fine. We really, really enjoy living here. Our only major expense that we wouldn't have in the states is the flight to visit family.

What are job opportunities like? For English speakers there are options such as schools, international companies and the military bases in the area.

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)
We only get about 1 - 2" snow each winter, super humid and jungle-like in the summer. Japan is an outdoor untapped paradise for hiking, cycling, etc. There are lots of amazing free galleries to see and so much more!
Public transportation here is one of the best in the world, while I do have a  license to drive a car and we do have one, I drive it maybe every 2 months or so. Everyone bikes here...even my 90yo neighbor.

Feel free to add other stuff I didn't mention. Also mention how long you've been there.
radiation? what radiation? It's all drifting towards North America. We been here 9 of the last 10 years.
 
An expat experience is an amazingly valuable experience that is difficult to put a price tag on. Good luck on your search!

hlca

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2014, 05:29:58 AM »
Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?   Palo Alto, CA.  Very expensive, but mostly due to housing.  I love the area.  Very diverse and full of fun and interesting people.

What are job opportunities like?   Fantastic.  If you are a highly skilled worker, you can likely find a high paying job here.  Silicon Valley isn't just for engineering.  There are a lot of opportunities in finance, sales, medical, and legal.

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)   Weather can't be beat.  Very temperate, and sunny for most of the year.  There are a lot of outdoor activities.

Feel free to add other stuff I didn't mention. Also mention how long you've been there.   Lived here for 5-10 years.  Lived in big East Coast cities and suburbs before.  CA is a good place to work in a high-paying job before moving elsewhere more affordable down the line.

pipercat

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2014, 09:43:30 AM »
Charlotte, NC

I love it here - low COL, nice weather (get all 4 seasons with mild winters), a lot of stuff to do.  I'm not sure about job prospects - I hear that a lot of people are moving here so it's recommended you move here FOR a job, not to FIND a job.

How is the cycling culture there?  Are there areas where you can walk/bike to both work and recreational areas?  I've sort of romanticized Charlotte for awhile, so I'm just curious.  DH and I are in Richmond, which is nice, but very car-centric.  We love to talk about where we will move when the rugrats leave the nest


uppy

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2014, 01:24:28 PM »
Figured I should answer my own poll question, in case anyone was interested.

Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?

Brooklyn. We live in an area that is cheaper than most in New York, so in that sense we are satisfied with it. However NYC is a very "luxury"-centered city, by which I mean most people seem to prioritize having expensive fun over frugality. (Even poor folks seem to do this, buying iPhones and flatscreens when they can't afford basic amenities.) Even before personal choice comes in, COL is huge.

What are job opportunities like?

Enormous in certain markets. But you have to have marketable skills or experience to make money, and you have to resist the rampant consumerism ingrained in the culture.

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)

The weather here is strange: both hotter and colder than you'd expect. Purely weather-wise it "should" be bikeable year-round, but we found that when the days got shorter and the roads got narrower with snow/ice, drivers (who are already antagonistic to the plentiful bike lanes in Brooklyn) got more aggressive. Taxis too are willing to run you off the road. That said there is almost no such thing as free stuff to do in the city in winter, since you at least have to pay for transportation. But there are libraries, and the Parks/botanical gardens are amazing, and some of the museums and galleries have "optional" fees (you can pay zero if you're brazen enough with the ticket person).

Feel free to add other stuff I didn't mention. Also mention how long you've been there.

We have only been here for 4 months full time. Before that we were just visiting occasionally. I will just add that as an experience, you do get to see a cross-section of humanity you would rarely get to see otherwise; that is, you see everything, the best and the worst of it all. [/b]

(edited for formatting)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2014, 01:26:54 PM by jrez »

Bumfluff

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2014, 08:26:10 PM »
Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?

Brisbane, Australia. The cost of living is pretty high - Brisbane recently ranked no.13 on the "world's most expensive cities to live". We love the area where we live as it is close to the ocean, has a village vibe, good transport links and a great community. We have lived in Brisbane for 10 years, in five different suburbs, all good.

What are job opportunities like?

I only have experience of IT (through DH) and marketing communications and PR type roles but for us the job market has been fantastic. I find that people are much more willing here to take a chance on you than they are in the UK or the Netherlands for example. We've both been given opportunities we couldn't imagine happening anywhere else.

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)

For nine months of the year the weather is pretty close to perfect - warm, dry with maybe 24 degrees c during the day and 10 degrees c at night. But the summer months - Dec to Feb - are way too hot and humid for me, with lots of storms. It hit 40 c last week.

It is quite a bikeable city but Aussies love their cars (and utes, boats and trailers). With long distances between cities you would need a car if you wanted to see the country.

There is a lot to recommend Brisbane and I have loved my time here but I do pine a bit (secretly, so as not to be a whinger!!) for England and Europe and the architecture, museums and different cultural vibe. It depends where your interests lie I guess. But lots of free stuff to do in terms of the great outdoors in and around Brisbane.

judgemebymyusername

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Re: Location/Cost of Living Poll
« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2014, 02:08:39 PM »
Where do you live and how is the cost of living? Are you satisfied with the area?

What are job opportunities like?

How's the weather? Do you do fun/free stuff outside? Is your area bike-able for most/all of the year? (Or how do you get around, if not by car?)


Omaha, NE, very low cost of living for a relatively urban area. Can get even lower if you live outside of the city or pick a small town nearby.

Lots of job opportunities. We're one of the few places in the country that was relatively unaffected by the down economy. Omaha and/or it's suburbs are consistently rated as one of the top 10 places to live, raise a family, young professional jobs, etc.

The weather can vary wildly. We get all four seasons. If you're scared of heat, cold, snow, wind, or rain, you're gonna have a bad time here. The city is working on becoming more bike friendly, but it will never be that great as it's very large when you compare population to land mass. The metro area is simply spread out because there is so much land; so we build out instead of up.