Author Topic: Talk to Me About Cost of Living  (Read 22965 times)


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Talk to Me About Cost of Living
« Reply #50 on: August 15, 2014, 12:52:21 PM »
I'm with the OP. Moved to DC 10 years ago and have moved around central neighborhoods until settling into a condo in a neighborhood that I really like 5 years ago. On a cost per sq foot basis, our place is very expensive compared to the Midwest, but my wife and I have lived very comfortably for 5 years in a 800 square foot condo and have no plans to move. I look at my structural expenses, and sure the mortgage is steep, but with a 15-year fixed only about $600 of it is going to interest and DC real estate taxes are super low. The idea of car ownership is laughable to me, especially with car2go around to rent by the minute, so that doesn't register as an expense. Trader Joe's is nearby and a well-stocked fridge under my desk keeps the lunch costs low. The biggest challenge to Mustachianism in DC is the sheer number of new restaurants and bars that open up around me and the fact that my friends, while by no means extravagant, often want to try them out. I succumbed quite a bit to lifestyle inflation for a few years before finding this blog and am in the midst of ramping back down to the frugal lifestyle I had when I made less money.

As the OP mentioned, jobs are plentiful here and life is good, especially if you can avoid the commute from the burbs. I may move to another part of the country or another country altogether when I FIRE, but that will be more for the variety of life experiences than for a lower COL.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Talk to Me About Cost of Living
« Reply #51 on: August 15, 2014, 12:59:49 PM »
+1 to BlueHouse. The DC stuff is why I want to stay and suspect I might not enjoy a LCOL area. Dunno.

+1 to both of you.

For fun, I was looking at home prices in Rochester, NY; Tampa, FL; and Raleigh, NC. By coincidence, I've been to all of these places. While they are nice enough, they do not have the breadth of activities available in DC.


  • Stubble
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Re: Talk to Me About Cost of Living
« Reply #52 on: August 15, 2014, 05:45:56 PM »
I used to live in PG County MD and I think it's true that HCOL areas are just more expensive. My senior year of college in South Bend, IN, I rented (with friends) a 3br house that Zillow estimates as being worth about $68k. (Walking distance from Notre Dame, if anyone knows the area. Not a sketchy part of town.) The bus cost a dollar a ride. Groceries were significantly cheaper. Gas, somewhat surprisingly to me, was more expensive.

OP, don't you find your food to be an expense? Or do you not eat either? (I kid, I kid.)

I have not eaten since 2002. Really cuts down on costs!

Seriously, though, I think I mentioned the grocery topic in another post in response to Rural.

Rural pointed out how in DC vs Richmond, several costs are higher. Utilities and transportation do not affect me much since I mostly telecommute and have figured out ways to reduce utility usage. The higher groceries affect me since we have to eat. However, I am traveling through the Midwest and have found the price not *that* much less expensive. For instance, I buy chicken stock from time to time. It costs $1 more here than at my Trader Joe's back home. GF flour is more expensive too. I don't have a full comprehensive list since I am not doing full grocery shopping here; I just noticed that a few of my staple items are more expensive here in the big box store in the Midwest than back home in DC. I realize one can easily poke holes in my anecdotal evidence. =-)

My main point overall is that one can live on the cheap in a city by avoiding the "pain points" in terms of cost. By buying a cheaper-than-average house, figuring out a way to telecommute and avoid the expensive gas/subway, and doing what I can to save on groceries and utilities, I think we are doing pretty well.

I am so glad you all commented here, because now I have this idea of looking at cheapie towns where I can buy a realllly cheap house and maybe get out of the rat race sooner.

Maybe it depends on what you eat. I agree, the GF stuff was more expensive in the midwest. So was the lactose-free milk. I never did a really good comparison either.


  • Bristles
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Re: Talk to Me About Cost of Living
« Reply #53 on: August 15, 2014, 07:38:37 PM »
I live in Portland, Or and for >400k you still get to live in a really nice neighborhood...


  • Guest
Re: Talk to Me About Cost of Living
« Reply #54 on: August 16, 2014, 06:35:21 AM »
I live in a mid COL area. Housing is cheap, but taxes are high. Hopefully by the time we are FI, the market will have recovered some, but we bought in 2006 and our house is still -40-50% of its value. Ugh.

Neither of us want to stay here forever.

DC is a cool place to visit but no way in hell would I live there. Dense cities stress me the fuck out.