Author Topic: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown  (Read 6440 times)

DJP1

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Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« on: July 13, 2014, 11:15:20 AM »
Hi All.

A quick background on myself: I'm 26, work as mechanical engineer and live in Ohio. My wife is 25 and is an assistant manager at a skincare company. We have no debt and a net worth between $70-80k. We're renting and recently welcomed our first child.

I've been a MMM reader for about a year. This place is great! I've learned a lot and it has certainly helped our financial situation.

The biggest dilemma we face now is choosing the right place to live. The 'Stashtown, USA and Moving to a Better Place articles made me realize we're missing out because a car for each person is mandatory where we live.

So, after reading the above articles, and all the comments, I'm looking for a little advice.

Do you live in a 'Stashtown? What make it so? What is most important to you? Are you on the East coast or West? Any particular lessons learned from your experiences? How is the work/life balance? The climate and surroundings?

I don't mind the Great Lakes region as most of our family is here but we're both open to a move. We took a trip to Boulder, CO two years ago to visit a friend and we loved it there. My friend lived in a nice, compact home in a friendly neighborhood. He biked 10-15 minutes to work and was only a few miles from the Flatirons. We're back and forth on if a move out West would be as good as we might think (grass is greener?) but regardless I really want to move to a location where work, the grocery store, the gym and our friends are only a bike ride away.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 01:35:18 PM by DJP1 »

NewStache88

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2014, 01:35:19 PM »
I lived in Atlanta for 3 years and loved it.

The cost of living is cheap, although its probably similar to Cleveland. There are lots of nature, hiking, camping opportunities and the housing market is pretty low at the moment (GA taxes are somewhat high if you don't itemize). Also some parts of it are pretty bikeable and there are plenty of great, walkable, dense urban centers.

Goldielocks

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2014, 03:18:13 PM »
Sounds like you have the basic three considered... Cost of housing, transportation, food (avoid alaska, sfo, boston, one small grtocerty towns,), childcare costs( n/a).

Next is to look at property taxes, cost of utilities.  Utilities vary widely. Climate is important.. I would say look for an area with no a/c needed, and if colder winters, they are shorter with sunshine. A location with natural gas will keep electric bill down.  My utilities, including and ppty tax ,water,sewer,trash is 1\3 that of alberta and 1\7 that of california.

City subsidized recreation is great too,  unless you would never use them.  Free entertainment! Flat-ish terrain!

Have fun in your search and let us know what you find.


clarkfan1979

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2014, 04:10:50 PM »
If you are "on the fence" I would try to move somewhere within a 6 hour drive of where you are now. You will be far enough away to be on your own, but close enough to drive home for important functions (weddings, birthdays, etc...) If it's more than 6 hours then it tends to be a plane flight. When it's a plane flight you don't make it home that often. I left the suburbs of Chicago at the young age of 18 and moved to San Diego. I wasn't "on the fence" so moving that far away was easy even if I couldn't come home that often. My mindset was "get me the F%CK out of here!"

The gray skies in the Midwest during the winters are very depressing. Move somewhere with sunshine. I went to grad school in Fort Collins, CO and loved it. It has all the things you mentioned in your post. The only downside is that many other people love it now too and the housing prices are starting to get expensive.   

C. K.

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #4 on: July 13, 2014, 07:20:39 PM »
I agree with clarkfan1979 that you might want to look within a certain short radius of current friends and family. I say this especially if you would like the recent child to interact a lot with the extended family and your close friends.

Resources
www.FindYourSpot.com - Find Your Spot has you select various elements of a place that you like, and from those choices narrows down a list of places that might suit you. The list includes in-depth city or town details.

www.WalkScore.com- Walk Score helps you find how close, walkable or bikeable a residential area is in certain cities. It's not exhaustive, but it gives you a feel for the neighborhood. Of course, visiting a place is best.

How Did You Choose Your Retirement Place? - This is a thread here on the forum that might be of help to you.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2014, 08:49:31 PM by C. K. »

chasesfish

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2014, 07:39:36 PM »
Atlanta probably wins for income to cost of living, especially if you can land the high paying engineering job way out in the suburbs.  Unlike almost all the other large cities in the US, there was developable land in all four directions from the city.   

There are much nicer areas of the country, but it's about impossible to beat the math.


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SDREMNGR

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2014, 11:35:58 PM »
Travel, sightsee, see for yourself before moving there.

GGNoob

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2014, 12:15:01 AM »
Moved from Wisconsin to Northern Colorado (near Loveland) almost 4 years ago and I have never once regretted it! If you can move out here and save money, I'd do it! Rent and housing seems to be very expensive though, so do your research. We got a great deal on a new house 2 years ago but prices have gone up quite a bit since. Most towns (Boulder and Fort Collins especially) are very bike friendly so it may be a great opportunity to go down to a 1 car household.


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former player

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2014, 01:51:57 AM »
If you find a location you like, chances are lots of other people will like it too (Boulder!).  That suggests that if you are currently living in a less-desirable location, house price movements could be against you in the longer term, which means either 1) move or buy a house there now or 2) be a high earner and buy your way in later.

I retired to a place where I had a holiday home for 9 years, where I had family roots and where I had family and friends from an earlier stint of living there before moving away for work.  When I did retire, it helped enormously to have that local knowledge already in place and a start on a social network.  It also happens to be a very desirable part of the UK, and if I had waited those 9 years I would not have been able to afford the house I am now living in.

RyanHesson

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2014, 03:08:35 AM »
Not sure where in the Midwest you are now, but if you can get a job at Ford's, Dearborn should fit your needs. And it's a fairly cheap place to live. Very good proximity to Downtown Detroit. You don't have to go East or West for biking to be possible.

DJP1

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2014, 05:16:29 AM »
I lived in Atlanta for 3 years and loved it.

The cost of living is cheap, although its probably similar to Cleveland. There are lots of nature, hiking, camping opportunities and the housing market is pretty low at the moment (GA taxes are somewhat high if you don't itemize). Also some parts of it are pretty bikeable and there are plenty of great, walkable, dense urban centers.

I had not considered Atlanta. It sounds like a great place from what youíve said. Howís the weather? I imagine hot and humid for quite a while. I have heard the people can be very friendly and welcoming, which is always a big plus.


Sounds like you have the basic three considered... Cost of housing, transportation, food (avoid alaska, sfo, boston, one small grtocerty towns,), childcare costs( n/a).

Next is to look at property taxes, cost of utilities.  Utilities vary widely. Climate is important.. I would say look for an area with no a/c needed, and if colder winters, they are shorter with sunshine. A location with natural gas will keep electric bill down.  My utilities, including and ppty tax ,water,sewer,trash is 1\3 that of alberta and 1\7 that of california.

City subsidized recreation is great too,  unless you would never use them.  Free entertainment! Flat-ish terrain!

Have fun in your search and let us know what you find.

Property tax and utilities, good points. I have considered property tax. Iíve found there is quite a difference depending on the city. For example, the rate for one city weíre looking at is almost $4k per $100k of home value. Thatís a hard pill to swallow since it never goes away. Thanks for the recommendations.


If you are "on the fence" I would try to move somewhere within a 6 hour drive of where you are now. You will be far enough away to be on your own, but close enough to drive home for important functions (weddings, birthdays, etc...) If it's more than 6 hours then it tends to be a plane flight. When it's a plane flight you don't make it home that often. I left the suburbs of Chicago at the young age of 18 and moved to San Diego. I wasn't "on the fence" so moving that far away was easy even if I couldn't come home that often. My mindset was "get me the F%CK out of here!"

The gray skies in the Midwest during the winters are very depressing. Move somewhere with sunshine. I went to grad school in Fort Collins, CO and loved it. It has all the things you mentioned in your post. The only downside is that many other people love it now too and the housing prices are starting to get expensive.

Bingo on the sunshine! The cloudy skies definitely get to you by the end of the winter season. Thatís a huge reason why my wife and I are considering a place out West like Colorado.


I agree with clarkfan1979 that you might want to look within a certain short radius of current friends and family. I say this especially if you would like the recent child to interact a lot with the extended family and your close friends.

Resources
www.FindYourSpot.com - Find Your Spot has you select various elements of a place that you like, and from those choices narrows down a list of places that might suit you. The list includes in-depth city or town details.

www.WalkScore.com- Walk Score helps you find how close, walkable or bikeable a residential area is in certain cities. It's not exhaustive, but it gives you a feel for the neighborhood. Of course, visiting a place is best.

How Did You Choose Your Retirement Place? - This is a thread here on the forum that might be of help to you.

Awesome links, thanks for sharing, Iíll be saving those. Have you found those sites correspond well to reality in your experience?


Atlanta probably wins for income to cost of living, especially if you can land the high paying engineering job way out in the suburbs.  Unlike almost all the other large cities in the US, there was developable land in all four directions from the city.   

There are much nicer areas of the country, but it's about impossible to beat the math.


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Again, I hadnít considered Atlanta but I know a few people who have lived there in the past so Iíll be sure to contact them with questions.


Travel, sightsee, see for yourself before moving there.

Moved from Wisconsin to Northern Colorado (near Loveland) almost 4 years ago and I have never once regretted it! If you can move out here and save money, I'd do it! Rent and housing seems to be very expensive though, so do your research. We got a great deal on a new house 2 years ago but prices have gone up quite a bit since. Most towns (Boulder and Fort Collins especially) are very bike friendly so it may be a great opportunity to go down to a 1 car household.


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If you find a location you like, chances are lots of other people will like it too (Boulder!).  That suggests that if you are currently living in a less-desirable location, house price movements could be against you in the longer term, which means either 1) move or buy a house there now or 2) be a high earner and buy your way in later.

I retired to a place where I had a holiday home for 9 years, where I had family roots and where I had family and friends from an earlier stint of living there before moving away for work.  When I did retire, it helped enormously to have that local knowledge already in place and a start on a social network.  It also happens to be a very desirable part of the UK, and if I had waited those 9 years I would not have been able to afford the house I am now living in.

Good points. If we move West I am expecting the housing costs to go up significantly. I will admit we rent for very cheap right now for the size of our home and lot. Granted, the decrease in cost of transportation and recreation, plus the increased happiness, would I hope be more than worthwhile.


Not sure where in the Midwest you are now, but if you can get a job at Ford's, Dearborn should fit your needs. And it's a fairly cheap place to live. Very good proximity to Downtown Detroit. You don't have to go East or West for biking to be possible.

Do you live in Dearborn? Iíll be honest, working for Ford and near Detroit doesnít sound too appealing to me. Though Iíve only driven through Detroit once a few years ago, so I canít say from experience. Just from what Iíve seen and heard.

DJP1

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2014, 05:22:43 AM »
For me, having the option to bike to the essentials is huge.

1. Less cost in fuel and maintenance. Significantly less. I drove 24k miles last year.
2. Less time sitting in a big clown car and more time outside being physically active
3. We would be much more inclined to walk/bike to our friends, the park, the gym, the library, etc. if it were a 10-15 bike and not a 10-15 car ride.

I find commuting to be not only wasteful but frustrating. Very impersonal and borderline aggressive gauging from drivers in my area.

Am I making too big of a deal out of this issue, or have others found it to be a big benefit to their location?

chasesfish

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2014, 06:58:50 AM »
Biking is important, but don't give up a huge jump in income if you have to use the car.

If you look at Atlanta, try to stick to jobs 20-30 miles North (ne/NW) of the city's center.  They tend to pay the same but you can get an inexpensive house in a decent area next to the office.  You're not that far from Ohio, less than a days drive up 75 or take the busiest airport in the world


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Thegoblinchief

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2014, 07:45:52 AM »
Whether a city is bikable or not is often in your head. Plenty of people bike in "unbikeable" cities.

It's much more about putting work, home, and a decent/cheap grocer within a distance you'll be willing to bike or walk. The actual streets are less important. ANY surface street is bikable.

rtrnow

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2014, 07:48:22 AM »
I'll add a vote for Atlanta. I would disagree with living in the burbs though. The traffic can suck but that's mostly for people living in the burbs and commuting. There is still very affordable hosing in the city. You can get a nice house in cool neighborhoods for <200K pretty easily and even less if you're willing to do some cosmetic work. The city is also doing some great things to become more bike/pedestrian friendly. They even just removed a lane from a busy street to make bike lanes. I ride my bike about 6 miles to work and contend with very little traffic. Heat and humidity can be an issue in the summer which is why we head to the mountains to camp which is <2 hrs away. I will also choose heat over cold but that's just me. You're also only 6hrs from some great gulf beaches. I look forward to moving just to experience something new (I grew up here), but I imagine I will land back in Atlanta and plan to keep my rental property as a future residence.

C. K.

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2014, 03:02:24 PM »
Awesome links, thanks for sharing, Iíll be saving those. Have you found those sites correspond well to reality in your experience?

Find Your Spot was pretty good for me. Walk Score was ok. What they did was give general reassurance of my decision.

Still, nothing beats visiting a place, or living there for a spell if you can swing it.

Once I visited a place on my list that's also on the Find the Spot list. Exploring all its nooks and crannies, I found that it had the bike zones but had more congestion/ more people than I like, because so many people want to live where I want to live, but the infrastructure hasn't caught up to the new people, causing bottlenecks in weird places.

I didn't rule out the place; I looked nearby and found a lesser-known spot just a few miles North of where the website predicted, but still accessible to the places I need.

It also helps that I've traveled by this place a bit and feel comfortable.

Visiting helps you to refine your lists. Not just The City, USA (which is what these websites give you), but what district in the area is best for your needs.



« Last Edit: July 14, 2014, 03:05:21 PM by C. K. »

acroy

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2014, 03:59:42 PM »
I live, work, and like the 'burb outside of Dallas TX we've settled in

Pros
nice people
reasonably bike friendly (and getting better)
cheap housing
cheap everything
low taxes, non-intrusive government

Cons
Hot summers
boring scenery - no mountains
lack of snob appeal

Mitigating factors:
-when we do go on vacation, it's awesome. People living in Colorado, Hawaii, etc get used to it & don't know how good they have it. Us, we appreciate it.
-Pool: helps a lot to survive those summers
-snob appeal: it keeps the real snobs away. that's nice :)

To consider (this applies to much of the West/Midwest):
-every town can be very different, from the wasteland suburbia of Plano to the kinky weird Austin. we have found a happy median.

I work as an engineer for a food company, DW is a SAHM with the 5 kids, we live on around $35k/yr incl. mortgage on a nice house with a pool.

It's been good for the 'Stache! :)

DJP1

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2014, 08:30:28 PM »
Whether a city is bikable or not is often in your head. Plenty of people bike in "unbikeable" cities.

It's much more about putting work, home, and a decent/cheap grocer within a distance you'll be willing to bike or walk. The actual streets are less important. ANY surface street is bikable.

Excellent point. I suppose I hadn't considered that directly. It was more of a "I'm going to bike wherever we move to next" idea in my mind but I appreciate your input.



Find Your Spot was pretty good for me. Walk Score was ok. What they did was give general reassurance of my decision.

Still, nothing beats visiting a place, or living there for a spell if you can swing it.

Well put. My wife and I are talking about making a few small trips as soon as next week.


I live, work, and like the 'burb outside of Dallas TX we've settled in

Pros
nice people
reasonably bike friendly (and getting better)
cheap housing
cheap everything
low taxes, non-intrusive government

Cons
Hot summers
boring scenery - no mountains
lack of snob appeal

Mitigating factors:
-when we do go on vacation, it's awesome. People living in Colorado, Hawaii, etc get used to it & don't know how good they have it. Us, we appreciate it.
-Pool: helps a lot to survive those summers
-snob appeal: it keeps the real snobs away. that's nice :)

To consider (this applies to much of the West/Midwest):
-every town can be very different, from the wasteland suburbia of Plano to the kinky weird Austin. we have found a happy median.

I work as an engineer for a food company, DW is a SAHM with the 5 kids, we live on around $35k/yr incl. mortgage on a nice house with a pool.

It's been good for the 'Stache! :)

I have heard many good things about Texas. Dallas and Austin in particular. My previous work was in the oil and gas industry so if I decided to venture out that way I feel I would be able to find good work that would keep me quite busy. Glad to hear it has worked out well for your family. And excellent job - $35k/year for a family of 7!!

Westoftown

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2014, 02:24:58 PM »
One thing to consider are taxes.  We moved to Arkansas from Tennessee.  Arkansas has 7% state income tax versus zero in TN(on earned income).  Thats more than a small consideration.  Its beautiful here, but the tax situation wasn't something I considered previously.   I see that washington state has no income tax, while Oregon has a high one(low sales tax though).    Just me, but the state income tax is a pretty big deal.

RyanHesson

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2014, 03:13:31 PM »
Quote
Do you live in Dearborn? Iíll be honest, working for Ford and near Detroit doesnít sound too appealing to me. Though Iíve only driven through Detroit once a few years ago, so I canít say from experience. Just from what Iíve seen and heard.

I lived there until I was about 14, then moved to Ann Arbor. Have since moved from there a few states away, but I have fond memories. Might not be the type of place for everyone, but thought I'd throw it out there, might've caught interest.


Trudie

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Re: Seeking Advice for Choosing a 'Stashtown
« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2014, 08:22:55 AM »
Travel, sightsee, see for yourself before moving there.

I agree with this.  Maybe put together a short list of cities and vacation there over the next couple of years.  Go and explore and try to figure out the job market first and try to figure out if it would be good for both you and your spouse (if that is what you desire.)  If you're close to family and friends that's important -- especially when your kids are young.

For instance, I live in a cool little college town in the upper midwest -- the kind of place that's very bikeable, walkable, has a fantastic main street, 4 grocery stores in town, and a huge farmer's market.  We're not culturally starved either.  In some ways it's very Mustachian.  But, the sad reality is that it's somewhat geographically isolated and --other than the college -- offers few jobs with living wages/benefits which often forces one spouse to work away from town (and encourages commutes).  But for some families it's an absolute utopia.