Author Topic: FIRE for city people  (Read 8482 times)

Channel-Z

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #50 on: July 12, 2020, 05:00:08 PM »
I grew up in a university town (pop. 50,000 then, more like 100,000 now). I think it's a nice balance between the two. I've lived in large cities all of my adult life. I'm not sure I could handle some of the small towns (pop. 10,000 or fewer) where my relatives lived.

The suburbs are really hot right now as you might expect. As I heard on TV once, the suburbs have all disadvantages of the city and none of the advantages of the country, and vice versa.

spartana

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #51 on: July 12, 2020, 06:02:37 PM »
I've also found that population of a city in relationship to its location makes a huge difference. For example a city like Anchorage Alaska can seem relatively large because it has all the big city stuff and is densely populated but, since it doesn't sprawl as easily into large suburbs and is surrounded by wilderness, it can also seem smaller and more remote than other cities of the same size or even smaller in other locations. I've lived in many different places (ex-military) and I've found that the area the city or town is located in and its amenities can make a huge difference regardless of population. This also works in reverse where a small but densely populated city or town has all the big city stuff but just on a smaller scale. So it seems larger than its population compared to more rural or suburban sprawled out areas with larger population but fewer city amenities close by.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2020, 06:09:17 PM by spartana »

Syonyk

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #52 on: July 15, 2020, 10:20:43 AM »
What do you all think about this age old urban vs rural living debate in light of the crisis (crises) in the US right now?

Still out in the country, still happy out here.  The Frugalwoods article was pretty solid, and definitely covers most of it - you have to be able to do stuff yourself, which is a steep learning curve if you've not grown up doing that sort of thing.  Kids are a bit bored not leaving the property, but my son worked out how to climb up on the tractor by himself, so has been spending most of his time up there lately...

I'm sort of in a best of all worlds situation, though, because I work remotely from the property (and have been doing so for... oh, about 4 years now - the whole WFH thing was literally no change for me, and I have the best office I could imagine for my needs).  We just don't have to leave the property that often, and have family nearby enough to walk to.

Also, I disagree that rural areas are necessarily cheaper than cities overall. Yeah, the housing is typically cheaper but transportation costs will eat you alive due to the mileage, wear and tear, and the increased likelihood that you’ll wreck your car in a deer encounter. There are fewer stores so groceries are often more expensive. And since things are so spread out you have fewer choices.

Deer depend on where you live.  Not a real concern out in the mountain west.

If your transportation costs are eating the difference in housing costs, you need to re-evaluate your transportation choices.  Yes, distances are longer, but travel speeds are higher and in most areas, a used EV or PHEV really drives down the operating costs.

I figure running costs on our Volt, per-mile, are in the $0.07-$0.08/mi range.  $0.03/mi in energy, $0.025/mi in tires (pessimistic - $1000 for 40k mile tires, so likely lower in reality, but I don't have enough miles to get good numbers as it came with used tires), and assorted other maintenance costs for infrequent oil changes and filters.  At 12k miles/yr, that's under $1000 in per-mile operating costs, plus the regular fixed costs (registration, insurance, etc).  My truck costs a good chunk of that, for rather radically fewer miles (though far more heavily loaded - I can't haul a few thousand pounds of concrete, lumber, or gravel with the car - which is part of why we have the car we have, because it doesn't need to do that).

Sure, if I went with the Escalade the local dealerships keep sending me marketing material for, at $800/mo and 15mpg, and we put all our miles on that, transportation costs would be high, but... if you do it sanely, it's just not that bad.

Of course, lately, our transportation costs have cratered.  We've not put gas in anything since about March, and the car is occasionally running the engine in maintenance mode to keep oil splashed around everything.

If you try and import city life out to a rural area, yeah, it's going to suck.  We don't go to downtown Boise very often (and haven't been there since about Feb, given all the stuff going on with covid), but we enjoy our time out here.  The kids chase around the driveway with a PowerWheels (which now costs more than some of the cars I've owned... lithium pack, variable throttle, etc), play on the swings, in the sandbox, build stuff with scrap pieces of lumber, dig in the dirt, we go on walks... I can't complain.

beekayworld

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #53 on: July 15, 2020, 11:02:24 AM »
It depends on what you like to do most days. People who like to hike daily prefer easy access to trails. People who like to do crafts and projects need workspace. People who enjoy cooking particular types of cuisines need to be near places with grocery stores that carry the ingredients (not all can be shipped).

For activities like museums, concerts, restaurants, I wouldn't imagine people do these daily. Especially not MMM people as they are expensive.  Is being able to walk to shops and restaurants really the daily calculus?

I know people who bought near the beach and then realized they don't actually want to be on the beach often (except for the surfers). Fair enough that they like to look at the beach from the window and can do that daily, but the tradeoff is that tourists fill their town on the weekends so they can't get a table at the restaurants and parking is tough, streets are crowded so they end up staying in on weekends.  They wait until weekdays to even go out to buy groceries or go to the drugstore.

The core of my pre-Covid days was a dance class six days per week (60 minutes at one gym MWF, 90 minutes at another gym S,T,H).  To get the level of instruction I want, I have to live in or near a big city. 

My son and his wife are creative people and they thrive off the hustle and bustle of city life. It's stimulating for them to step outside and see people dressed in new interesting ways and to hear different styles of music and see the variety of actions different people are taking. 

Think about what you want to do every day, or most days. 

jmwagner5

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #54 on: July 15, 2020, 12:58:38 PM »
I've spend considerable time/lived in towns and cities of all sizes, and I find myself gravitating toward less populated areas as I get closer to FIRE.  Just a bonus that it tends to be cheaper than bigger cities.

As mentioned already, people seem to think it's all or nothing.  There are mid sized cities that provide many, but not all, of the features of a huge city but not near the overcrowding, and likely much closer to nature.  Midwest/Great Lakes USA is chock full of these cities (Ann Arbor, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Madison, Des Moines, Twin Cities, etc.).  People tend to associate them with manufacturing and related decay.  But there is definitely a shift going on; every time I visit Milwaukee it surprises me how vastly different, in a good way, it is compared to what it was in the 90s.  I'm sure other cities are reshaping as well.

Agreed. Add Omaha to that list. Omaha is surprisingly great.

Having lived in Milwaukee, Madison, and Omaha I fully agree that these cities are really underrated and give the best of all opportunities.  The COL is hard to beat as well for what you get. I can ride 20 miles of lakefront trails into the downtown or drive 10 easy minutes and be in miles of trails in state and local parks, which is what I value and prioritize the most. 

My one hatred about the "big" cities is driving and parking.  It just stresses me out.

Evgenia

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #55 on: July 15, 2020, 02:46:09 PM »
Just chiming in as someone who reached FIRE at 38 only living in HCOL cities, and who has stayed in an HCOL city since achieving FIRE five years ago. And I don't even really love or take advantage of city stuff much.

Part of what makes this possible is that we bought (and own) a very small house (hilariously considered a "tiny house" by some modern US standards at < 900 sq ft.) coming out of the Great Recession, before the housing market went bonkers. In California, our property taxes are fixed to that purchase price; they don't really rise much. I used to think our property taxes were outrageous.  Then I read -- on these very forums -- about people who live in rural states (Vermont and New Hampshire), paid 25%-40% of what we did for our house, and yet pay almost as much in property taxes as we do, and that's with only an acre or two of land. So that's been nice perspective to have.

I got serious about saving when I was 19 (I worked full time while going to college full time), so it took just about 20 years to hit FIRE. I've sometimes wondered if I wouldn't have reached FIRE sooner living in a LCOL area, but the salary I was able to get in a HCOL, while also keeping my cost of living low (i.e. a $500/month studio apartment for six years in Chicago; a rent control tiny apartment in San Francisco for several years; not owning a car for 10 years), was a good balance. The not-owning-a-car and LCOL savings were about the same at the time (which was a while ago).

We could move anywhere but we LOVE our house and garden, and our neighbors. I do NOT want a large house (1500 sq ft. is too big for me) and truly small ones seem to get harder and harder to find. We have a super tight block in particular; people have keys to each other's houses and cars, have been sharing food right and left in the pandemic; etc. That's not easy to replace. We're a few blocks from a library, grocery store, public transit, freeway, and the ocean is < 10 minutes drive away. When there's not a pandemic on, there's LOADS of free stuff to do.

I did elder care for a relative for a few years, and that experience really made me understand how awesome it is to have access to so many non-driving options AND medical care. Some of my friends in rural areas have to drive three full hours to the nearest hospital and basically live there if someone has surgery.

There are pros and cons to everything but, for now, we're fine with FIRE in our HCOL city. I'm sure we're not the only ones. :-)

deborah

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #56 on: July 15, 2020, 03:52:32 PM »
I think that mustashianism is about optimisation. You decide what’s important to you. I know people who’ve FIREd to cities. I know people who’ve FIREd to rural settings. And I know people who’ve FIREd to rural blocks in urban settings. Each of them is happy where they are because they’ve taken the time to understand themselves and their needs. If you FIRE to a LCOL area just because it’s LCOL, you’re not going to necessarily be happy there, and you’re probably going to need to move.

Family and friends are pretty important to most people. If your roots (and roots are important to you) are in a HCOL area, maybe you’ll take longer to FIRE, but then again, often salaries are higher in HCOL areas. There are many who FIRE to travel the world, which is not the cheapest thing to do in FIRE either.

Me, I’m a city person, in a HCOL area. I love where I live, and plan to live here the rest of my life. I have a garden that supplies all my fruit, and can supply my entire vegetable requirements. I live in walking distance of an abundance of shops, including most of the health care I could want. The major hospital is a bus trip away. I am surrounded by natural beauty, and can see a major national park from my living room. I’m happy here, and happy to be FIRE. But I’m me - not you. You want different things to me, and might go bat shit crazy living here, with neighbours a few metres away.

Kris

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #57 on: July 15, 2020, 04:03:38 PM »
Just chiming in as someone who reached FIRE at 38 only living in HCOL cities, and who has stayed in an HCOL city since achieving FIRE five years ago. And I don't even really love or take advantage of city stuff much.

Part of what makes this possible is that we bought (and own) a very small house (hilariously considered a "tiny house" by some modern US standards at < 900 sq ft.) coming out of the Great Recession, before the housing market went bonkers. In California, our property taxes are fixed to that purchase price; they don't really rise much. I used to think our property taxes were outrageous.  Then I read -- on these very forums -- about people who live in rural states (Vermont and New Hampshire), paid 25%-40% of what we did for our house, and yet pay almost as much in property taxes as we do, and that's with only an acre or two of land. So that's been nice perspective to have.

I got serious about saving when I was 19 (I worked full time while going to college full time), so it took just about 20 years to hit FIRE. I've sometimes wondered if I wouldn't have reached FIRE sooner living in a LCOL area, but the salary I was able to get in a HCOL, while also keeping my cost of living low (i.e. a $500/month studio apartment for six years in Chicago; a rent control tiny apartment in San Francisco for several years; not owning a car for 10 years), was a good balance. The not-owning-a-car and LCOL savings were about the same at the time (which was a while ago).

We could move anywhere but we LOVE our house and garden, and our neighbors. I do NOT want a large house (1500 sq ft. is too big for me) and truly small ones seem to get harder and harder to find. We have a super tight block in particular; people have keys to each other's houses and cars, have been sharing food right and left in the pandemic; etc. That's not easy to replace. We're a few blocks from a library, grocery store, public transit, freeway, and the ocean is < 10 minutes drive away. When there's not a pandemic on, there's LOADS of free stuff to do.

I did elder care for a relative for a few years, and that experience really made me understand how awesome it is to have access to so many non-driving options AND medical care. Some of my friends in rural areas have to drive three full hours to the nearest hospital and basically live there if someone has surgery.

There are pros and cons to everything but, for now, we're fine with FIRE in our HCOL city. I'm sure we're not the only ones. :-)

Yes, I already love living in the city, but these pros in particular are why retiring here also makes sense. As we get older, aging in place will be much easier for us since we have such easy access to infrastructure and non-driving options. We have a car but honestly don’t need one. When we can no longer drive, we won’t have to rely on anyone for transportation, like we would in a rural area.

E.T.

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #58 on: July 15, 2020, 06:09:47 PM »
...
For activities like museums, concerts, restaurants, I wouldn't imagine people do these daily. Especially not MMM people as they are expensive.  Is being able to walk to shops and restaurants really the daily calculus?
...

I agreed with most of your post with the exception of this section. I've lived in big cities most of my life and free museums (or free museum days) and free concerts / festivals / cultural events are some of my favorite things to enjoy frequently. There's always something interesting to go check out as a MMM person, it doesn't have to be expensive.

tk2356

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #59 on: July 15, 2020, 08:46:47 PM »
I grew up in a large Midwest town and have lived in NYC for a few years now. There are a few things I still can’t get over.
1. The no car thing is magical. We spend maybe $180/month on transport — if the subway’s delayed, we can read one of the many free e-books from the any of the world class NYC libraries, listen to podcasts, or just people watch.
2. From our apartment, less than an hour transit will get us to: 3 airports, nice beaches at the Rockaways, two professional baseball stadiums, world class parks, museums, historical sites, countless cultural enclaves with all the events & cuisine that entails
3. Cheaper housing is possible. Identify what isn’t as big a deal to you as for others (DW and I don’t mind walk-ups, living on a noisier avenue,  smaller apartments = we aren’t breaking the bank).
4. Every time you leave the apartment, it’s an adventure. For better or worse, depending on the day.

Poundwise

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #60 on: July 15, 2020, 09:48:09 PM »
I have a friend who lives way upstate in rural NY... she used to live in Manhattan but happened to go upstate for a hike, fell in love with the country, and eventually bought a property and settled down happily for thirty years. She and her partner loved the outdoors and used to do all sorts of skiing, snowshoeing, etc., and they were active in (as in started and ran) the local arts scene as well. They lived modestly and were never bored.

Unfortunately, she was telling me that as they get older, she's worried that they won't be able to manage the driving and the ice. They are in shaky health and need to be closer to better hospitals, so they're thinking about moving back to the city.

Chris@TTL

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #61 on: July 16, 2020, 10:05:04 AM »
...
For activities like museums, concerts, restaurants, I wouldn't imagine people do these daily. Especially not MMM people as they are expensive.  Is being able to walk to shops and restaurants really the daily calculus?
...

I agreed with most of your post with the exception of this section. I've lived in big cities most of my life and free museums (or free museum days) and free concerts / festivals / cultural events are some of my favorite things to enjoy frequently. There's always something interesting to go check out as a MMM person, it doesn't have to be expensive.

Yep, both of the large museums in walking distance of our place have free permanent exhibits. They do have special exhibits, where tickets are about $10/person, a few times per year, and we love them - but they're not the bulk of the reason to visit. The museums also host a LOT of events and the vast majority of them are free.

I feel like they're a great resource to have locally (and that's aside from all the nearby concerts, library system, etc that are free).

They've been a major benefit of our urban experience.

Of course, in rural areas... forest, wetlands, mountains, and loads of nature tend to be free, too!

Just Joe

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #62 on: July 16, 2020, 11:48:19 AM »
I think some of you misunderstand the appeal of city life for me.  We eat out maybe twice a month - usually at really cheap places - so restaurants are not the appeal. In fact, my inlaws probably eat out more than us but usually cheap takeout.  We rarely shop apart from second hand and the occasional sale item.  But city life offers a lot of cultural things to do for free or cheap that just don't exist in rural areas. For example, my best friend was just telling me about a series of classical piano concerts at our city's town hall for Euro 1.50 per person that she has been taking her kids to.  This weekend we plan to take our kids there followed by a big walk around our city's historic center.  Maybe we'll get an ice cream for the kids while we're out.  Last weekend we went to a historic site here where they have sound and light show (perfect for our kids) for free (we got a special deal).  Once a month all the museums in the city are free so we take our kids and it's great.  We have live music here - prekids we used to go to live music venues quite a lot and we'd love to get back into that once the kids are a bit older.  My husband is a huge music nerd but he didn't go to his first live music show until he joined the military at 18 and moved to a bigger town as they just don't have stuff like that in small towns.  Lots of artists live here in our city and there are galleries nearby.  Lots of street art and installations.  And there are free/cheap movies outdoors during the summer.  All of this stuff makes me really happy - just how I'm built.  I also love the fact that my kids' school is 50% immigrant kids and we hear all kinds of languages in our neighborhood and can buy all kinds of ethnic foods.  Obviously, not all rural areas are ethnically homogeneous but my husband's village is and my inlaws can be kind of scared of outsiders/foreigners.

Look for a university town. People coming and going, people moving in and out. Lots of free activities and the town need not have a population of 5M or 500K. I have visited very nice university towns of even 30K. Better yet, pick a "micropolitan" town. Even better, pick one a reasonable drive from a big city for occasions when name brand concerts and attractions are desired.

It just depends on how you like to live your life. Our hobbies and interests dictate a little space and access to the natural world. We prefer more space that we own to do our things. All the other things are a short drive away. I've driven in NYC and Rome and other very large cities. Totally understand why city folks don't want to drive anywhere. Me neither. Bicycles and scooters all the way. Not even the trains have alot of appeal b/c I don't like crowds. However driving in our patch of the world is not onerous. Neither is owning or maintaining a vehicle. Taxes are low. Roads are good enough and rarely salted that a car lasts 20+ years is well cared for. And our cars park in our driveway or garage not on a street. And no state inspections.  The roads are empty enough that I can ride my bike to town or for many miles in any direction. Or we can hop in our car and drive to town in ten minutes flat. If you don't like cars but still need to own and drive one - buy a Nissan Leaf. Hardly anything to maintain, quiet and vibration free, easy to drive with no gears.

We have good local and state parks but our own property is a private park. We have plenty of room with peace and quiet to live. Our noises aren't bothering anyone (saws, grinders, barking dog, teens and their toys).

I'm thankful to be able to visit these crowded big cities that some so adore but I don't want the constant din and crowds and other characteristic traits that comes with living there. Too much work. I did that in Italy no less for several years. It was interesting but not for me.

Oh and every place includes people who do nothing with their time. They eat, smoke, drink or watch TV to excess b/c they are not imaginative enough to occupy their time any other way.

Imma

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #63 on: July 16, 2020, 12:15:01 PM »
I grew up in a village and left that place as soon as I could to live in a big city. As you know I'm in the Netherlands so our villages aren't as remote as in the US and our cities aren't as big. I lived on the edge of our village and now in the closest residential neighbourhood next to the city center.

Honestly my life is not much different than it was in the village. I like reading, crafting, gardening, cycling. I'm a homebody, I don't go out much but I like live music. In the village my parents had a much bigger garden than my current 40 m2. We also don't have a garage/workshop, just a leaky shed without electricity that just about fits our bikes. My hometown has a much nicer library than the city, space is expensive here so the library is as small as they can get away with. Most people in the village also have large brick garages with electricity. We have more restaurants and bars in the city of course, but I hardly ever go there. The village has one proper venue and several live music pubs - in the village music is a big part of the culture and nearly everyone plays an instrument. I was a member of a sewing group there and I'm in a sewing group in my current location as well

The village is ethnically, culturally and politically very homogenous and I didn't fit in. I had to go to the big city where different lifestyles are not an issue. But my life itself hasn't changed much. We have one bigger art museum in the city and I've been there a few times and sometimes I go to art exhibitions. But when I lived in the village I just travelled to go to them (60 minutes by bus, 30 minutes by car to the nearest city).

The villages surrounding my current city are very expensive but I get why. They offer the perks of both city and village life. I lived in an apartment for 4 years and I can't imagine ever doing that again. As soon as I wake up I want to be able to take a small walk through my garden.

Just Joe

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #64 on: July 16, 2020, 01:50:38 PM »
And there are so many shades of urban and rural to use for examples in this discussion. Its easy to talk past each other.

Almost need definitions of small town and big city. I've seen examples of small towns I'd never consider living in despite living in a small town for many years now. Same with big cities. There are a few that have some appeal but most - just no. I'll visit instead.

Clearly a big city is a much nicer place to live with money than without. ;)

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #65 on: July 16, 2020, 01:56:55 PM »
...
For activities like museums, concerts, restaurants, I wouldn't imagine people do these daily. Especially not MMM people as they are expensive.  Is being able to walk to shops and restaurants really the daily calculus?
...

I agreed with most of your post with the exception of this section. I've lived in big cities most of my life and free museums (or free museum days) and free concerts / festivals / cultural events are some of my favorite things to enjoy frequently. There's always something interesting to go check out as a MMM person, it doesn't have to be expensive.

Yep, both of the large museums in walking distance of our place have free permanent exhibits. They do have special exhibits, where tickets are about $10/person, a few times per year, and we love them - but they're not the bulk of the reason to visit. The museums also host a LOT of events and the vast majority of them are free.

I feel like they're a great resource to have locally (and that's aside from all the nearby concerts, library system, etc that are free).

They've been a major benefit of our urban experience.

Of course, in rural areas... forest, wetlands, mountains, and loads of nature tend to be free, too!

Same in our large Italian city.  My husband is now unemployed due to Covid so while I was working from home today he went for a long walk to our doctor's office and then around town a bit.  He went into two Medieval churches to look at some free art.  He walked past ancient Roman walls and towers, medieval streets and modern art galleries, he had coffee at our friendly local coffee bar and picked up a prescription from the doctor.  Ran into some friends on the street and got the latest gossip.  All of this was on foot.  We don't own a car not do we really need one.

We currently have a free outdoor movie festival nearby, a street food festival and lots of free concerts.  We also have cards which cost Euro 5 per year which allow us to go to a huge number of museums and monuments for free.  We do this very often - I'd say two weekends a month - even though we have little kids.  Tomorrow, my husband plans to hope on a train to a town about an hour away where he's going to "be a tourist" for a day.  We both really love art and history so we take full advantage of living in an historic Italian city.

zinnie

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #66 on: July 16, 2020, 02:30:51 PM »
My one hatred about the "big" cities is driving and parking.  It just stresses me out.

Driving a personal vehicle is not a great way to get around a big city--there just isn't enough space! The freedom of not needing a car is actually why I prefer cities. We sold our last car a while ago and don't miss it AT ALL.

Hula Hoop

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #67 on: July 16, 2020, 04:32:48 PM »
My one hatred about the "big" cities is driving and parking.  It just stresses me out.

Driving a personal vehicle is not a great way to get around a big city--there just isn't enough space! The freedom of not needing a car is actually why I prefer cities. We sold our last car a while ago and don't miss it AT ALL.

Same here.  We live car-free and it's wonderful.  I don't understand people who drive around cities.

Imma

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #68 on: July 17, 2020, 05:04:15 AM »
In my village we still walked and biked everywhere - we lived on the edge of the village and the other side of the village was maybe 15 minutes of cycling away. It's just a challenge to go anywhere else without a car since there are few buses at night and during the weekend (lots of public transit on weekdays because of students who go to school elsewhere) .

In my city I still ride my bike everywhere, we don't have a car, but paradoxically getting around takes longer. Walking and cycling are the most efficient way to get around, but distances are bigger (a place you need to go to may be in the same city but it could be 10 km away) and buses get stuck in traffic too.

spartana

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #69 on: July 17, 2020, 08:03:27 AM »
My one hatred about the "big" cities is driving and parking.  It just stresses me out.

Driving a personal vehicle is not a great way to get around a big city--there just isn't enough space! The freedom of not needing a car is actually why I prefer cities. We sold our last car a while ago and don't miss it AT ALL.

Same here.  We live car-free and it's wonderful.  I don't understand people who drive around cities.
I'm car-free in a suburb (about 50 miles south of LA) and it IS a much bigger challenge to bike or walk most places and public transit is fairly non-existent. But when I lived in cities I found it extremely easy and a joy to be carless. It is one of the things I loved about city life - or about living close to a big city. Especially smaller more compact cities where urban sprawl was somewhat under control (NOT LA!) and it was an easy walk to a train or metro line to get into the city. I've lived on the outskirts of some big European and US cities and found it easy to get around get around without a car because of awesome public transit. The west coast US is lacking that for the most part sadly.

4tify

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #70 on: July 17, 2020, 08:14:31 AM »
Cities are underrated for lowering your cost of living by only renting the apartment you need.

If you are FIRE with a rent controlled apartment, thats also a risk reduction. (assuming the subject city has rent control)

I just did this an am actually selling my condo and saving a ton on housing now. So much so that I may have enough to buy a small place in the country or a small town close to nature and have the best of both worlds.

But before I made the decision to go rent control, I set myself up to be FI with a mortgage in HCOL. Wasn't easy, but we also make more in these places so if you shape your mustache right it can be done.

spartana

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #71 on: July 17, 2020, 08:25:02 AM »
Just chiming in as someone who reached FIRE at 38 only living in HCOL cities, and who has stayed in an HCOL city since achieving FIRE five years ago. And I don't even really love or take advantage of city stuff much.

Part of what makes this possible is that we bought (and own) a very small house (hilariously considered a "tiny house" by some modern US standards at < 900 sq ft.) coming out of the Great Recession, before the housing market went bonkers. In California, our property taxes are fixed to that purchase price; they don't really rise much. I used to think our property taxes were outrageous.  Then I read -- on these very forums -- about people who live in rural states (Vermont and New Hampshire), paid 25%-40% of what we did for our house, and yet pay almost as much in property taxes as we do, and that's with only an acre or two of land. So that's been nice perspective to have.

I got serious about saving when I was 19 (I worked full time while going to college full time), so it took just about 20 years to hit FIRE. I've sometimes wondered if I wouldn't have reached FIRE sooner living in a LCOL area, but the salary I was able to get in a HCOL, while also keeping my cost of living low (i.e. a $500/month studio apartment for six years in Chicago; a rent control tiny apartment in San Francisco for several years; not owning a car for 10 years), was a good balance. The not-owning-a-car and LCOL savings were about the same at the time (which was a while ago).

We could move anywhere but we LOVE our house and garden, and our neighbors. I do NOT want a large house (1500 sq ft. is too big for me) and truly small ones seem to get harder and harder to find. We have a super tight block in particular; people have keys to each other's houses and cars, have been sharing food right and left in the pandemic; etc. That's not easy to replace. We're a few blocks from a library, grocery store, public transit, freeway, and the ocean is < 10 minutes drive away. When there's not a pandemic on, there's LOADS of free stuff to do.

I did elder care for a relative for a few years, and that experience really made me understand how awesome it is to have access to so many non-driving options AND medical care. Some of my friends in rural areas have to drive three full hours to the nearest hospital and basically live there if someone has surgery.

There are pros and cons to everything but, for now, we're fine with FIRE in our HCOL city. I'm sure we're not the only ones. :-)
Are you me lol! Pretty much my script too and living small (and not too expensive) in a HCOL area of Calif. Not fond of my suburban area but very easy access to beach via bike and some hiking trails (mostly by car but some local big parks near by) and all the big city stuff within walking distance. Not the dream place for me but OK for now. I would like to go even smaller in house size than my current 1000 sf but more in a small city close to amazing outdoor recreation areas rather than the burbs. Getting the BF to tag along is not so easy though ;-).
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 08:26:35 AM by spartana »

Christof

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #72 on: July 17, 2020, 09:19:16 AM »
The west coast US is lacking that for the most part sadly.

The West coast doesn‘t have a lot of big cities. But I found public transport in San Francisco to be equivalent to European cities and Seattle and Vancouver to be close enough. I’ve never been to Portland (except the airport), but heard good things about public transport.

Los Angeles and San Diego, yes, those are car based cities, when I was there. Back then I couldn‘t find a way to leave San Diego airport by walking, so I spent a few hours at the airport that I could have spent somewhere else.

What other large cities or metropolitan areas are on the west coast? Most smaller European cities don‘t offer much in public transport either except for a train station which is like a regional airport in the US and busses that run in the morning and evening, during school hours, and maybe even hourly.  I agree that Southern California has an issue with public transport, but not the entire West coast. ;-)

spartana

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #73 on: July 17, 2020, 09:58:26 AM »
The west coast US is lacking that for the most part sadly.

The West coast doesn‘t have a lot of big cities. But I found public transport in San Francisco to be equivalent to European cities and Seattle and Vancouver to be close enough. I’ve never been to Portland (except the airport), but heard good things about public transport.

Los Angeles and San Diego, yes, those are car based cities, when I was there. Back then I couldn‘t find a way to leave San Diego airport by walking, so I spent a few hours at the airport that I could have spent somewhere else.

What other large cities or metropolitan areas are on the west coast? Most smaller European cities don‘t offer much in public transport either except for a train station which is like a regional airport in the US and busses that run in the morning and evening, during school hours, and maybe even hourly.  I agree that Southern California has an issue with public transport, but not the entire West coast. ;-)
I agree that San Francisco is pretty good compared to most places in Calif. BART goes to most suburbs as do buses. I lived north of SF in a suburb of Marin county and it only had commuter buses But no train or subway. But compared to Europe and a lot of East Coast US cities it still seemed lacking because there is much of a train network. When I lived in Germany (Dachau) and Spain (small town outside Girona) it was really easy just to hop on a train and go to the big city (Munich and Barcelona) or really anywhere it Europe. Really no need for a car at all. We just don't have that here. Maybe NYC and Boston suburbs (lived outside Boston and they have a good subway, train and bus system) but otherwise most US cities have very local public transit and it is hard to get beyond the city metro area without a car.  I don't know about Portland or Seattle.

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #74 on: July 17, 2020, 10:15:46 AM »
My one hatred about the "big" cities is driving and parking.  It just stresses me out.

Driving a personal vehicle is not a great way to get around a big city--there just isn't enough space! The freedom of not needing a car is actually why I prefer cities. We sold our last car a while ago and don't miss it AT ALL.

If I lived in a big city I'd ride the bus and train.

I'd walk and pedal my bike too.

But I'd still have a car/SUV so  I could drive to rural locales/visit friends.


Christof

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #75 on: July 17, 2020, 10:37:20 AM »
When I lived in Germany (Dachau) and Spain (small town outside Girona) it was really easy just to hop on a train and go to the big city (Munich and Barcelona) or really anywhere it Europe.

Yes, Europe has a better network of trains, the US has better coverage with airports. The state I live in has no commercial airports at all, except for some seasonal charter traffic to mediterranean destinations in the summer. I live close to Hamburg, which is the next state, so I do have access to an airport (Trivia: Hamburg is one of the oldest existing airports. It was founded in 1911, eight years after the invention of aircrafts).

But Europe is also smaller. Dachau is just 12 miles from downtown Munich. Therefore commuter trains go there and a bit further.

What is different to Europe is that the US has a lot of smaller cities, like Detroit, with a huge metropolitan area that are far more spread out without much public transportation. Barcelona, Hamburg or Munich are larger or in the range of Philadelphia, US‘ fifth largest city. London is more populated than New York City. But the metropolitan area doesn‘t extend and grow to the same degree. In other words, Europe just has a lot more cities like San Francisco or Boston or New York.

Anyway, as a tourist in the big cities on the West coast I didn‘t feel neglected except for LA and San Diego when I didn‘t have a car. Rural area, or smaller cities like Bend, OR, yeah, you are screwed without a car.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2020, 10:38:51 AM by Christof »

spartana

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #76 on: July 18, 2020, 08:54:30 AM »
When I lived in Germany (Dachau) and Spain (small town outside Girona) it was really easy just to hop on a train and go to the big city (Munich and Barcelona) or really anywhere it Europe.

Yes, Europe has a better network of trains, the US has better coverage with airports. The state I live in has no commercial airports at all, except for some seasonal charter traffic to mediterranean destinations in the summer. I live close to Hamburg, which is the next state, so I do have access to an airport (Trivia: Hamburg is one of the oldest existing airports. It was founded in 1911, eight years after the invention of aircrafts).

But Europe is also smaller. Dachau is just 12 miles from downtown Munich. Therefore commuter trains go there and a bit further.

What is different to Europe is that the US has a lot of smaller cities, like Detroit, with a huge metropolitan area that are far more spread out without much public transportation. Barcelona, Hamburg or Munich are larger or in the range of Philadelphia, US‘ fifth largest city. London is more populated than New York City. But the metropolitan area doesn‘t extend and grow to the same degree. In other words, Europe just has a lot more cities like San Francisco or Boston or New York.

Anyway, as a tourist in the big cities on the West coast I didn‘t feel neglected except for LA and San Diego when I didn‘t have a car. Rural area, or smaller cities like Bend, OR, yeah, you are screwed without a car.
Yes the train system in Europe is awesome. Had a 2 month Eurail Pass once and it was a great experience to travel long distances and to far flung places solely via train. We do have Amtrak in the US (and in LA and San Diego) which has both commuter routes and long distance/cross country routes but are very limited. Most Americans outside the really big cities have cars. There are ways to get around carless in Calif cities like LA, SF, SD, usually by bus, and that is how I use to go when needing to go to an airport in LA or San Fran etc, but I wouldnt want to do that everyday as a commuter. Plus it is so sprawled out here it is hard to get anywhere except by car. Boston on the other hand (like many cities in Europe) has a subway directly from the airport right to downtown and you can connect by subway, train or bus pretty much anywhere. Loved that.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2020, 08:57:16 AM by spartana »

dignam

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #77 on: July 29, 2020, 02:44:29 PM »
Agreed, most US cities are too spread out/sprawling to make use of mass transit.  I think this was mentioned earlier, but one thing the US does do well is air travel.  Several years ago I took a direct flight from Madison, WI to Reagan airport in DC, hopped on the metro from the airport, and was at the museum in a few hours total.  The flight was like $150.  For perspective, Madison has about 250k people, and the airport, although very nice, is generally considered the most expensive in the US.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2020, 02:47:05 PM by dignam »

vand

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #78 on: July 29, 2020, 03:11:18 PM »
In my experience even dyed in the wool city dwellers tend to move further towards the suburbs when they start a family and trade a more central location for a bigger place a little further out.

I do know some extreme cases where people move farther out to a commute that is well over an hour.. maybe even 2hrs each way. It’s a brutal trade off, in all honesty, and much of the savings they make in cheaper housing is sucked up in horrendous commuting costs. Could never do that, myself - no job/lifestyle combo is worth 3hrs of your day in a soul sucking commute.

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #79 on: July 29, 2020, 03:22:56 PM »
In my experience even dyed in the wool city dwellers tend to move further towards the suburbs when they start a family and trade a more central location for a bigger place a little further out.

I do know some extreme cases where people move farther out to a commute that is well over an hour.. maybe even 2hrs each way. It’s a brutal trade off, in all honesty, and much of the savings they make in cheaper housing is sucked up in horrendous commuting costs. Could never do that, myself - no job/lifestyle combo is worth 3hrs of your day in a soul sucking commute.

We did the opposite. Went urban with the kids. Got sick of the commutes.

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #80 on: July 29, 2020, 03:55:52 PM »
In my experience even dyed in the wool city dwellers tend to move further towards the suburbs when they start a family and trade a more central location for a bigger place a little further out.

I do know some extreme cases where people move farther out to a commute that is well over an hour.. maybe even 2hrs each way. It’s a brutal trade off, in all honesty, and much of the savings they make in cheaper housing is sucked up in horrendous commuting costs. Could never do that, myself - no job/lifestyle combo is worth 3hrs of your day in a soul sucking commute.

We did the opposite. Went urban with the kids. Got sick of the commutes.

Same here.  We lived a bit further out for the first 3 years of our younger kid's life.  It was just too complicated dealing with commuting on top of parenting small children.  I have no idea how other parents do it.  We were constantly juggling.  we moved to the center of town and it's way better.  Our younger kid's school is on our street, supermarket is half a block away, metro is a 5 minute walk.  So much easier.

Christof

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #81 on: July 30, 2020, 12:13:28 PM »
I do know some extreme cases where people move farther out to a commute that is well over an hour.. maybe even 2hrs each way.

From my German perspective that doesn‘t sound like an extreme case at all. We live at the city border of Hamburg (city, not metro area) and DW has a commute of 1:15hrs each way just going to the city center. In Berlin you can easily spend 2hrs commuting from one end of the city to the other.

The_Big_H

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #82 on: July 31, 2020, 09:30:09 PM »
A lot of this is going to be dependent on how a city is built.  I like cities but only "actual" cities, not commuter suburbs or car-sprawl cities.

For me, living in walking / biking distance to most everything I need to do is fairly paramount.  Quite a good deal of cities or parts of cities in the USA, big, medium, small... really fail this test.

Now, I can understand living in the country its a different lifestyle but not for me personally.

Rural life: good because you can be alone / quiet with a lot of land, and relatively inexpensive.  Downside not much to do nearby and got to drive.
(proper) Urban life: good because you can get to a lot of stuff without driving, plenty of things to do.  Bad side is you'll be near people and no/little land and be expensive.

Suburban life:  the worst of both... they still pack you in on tiny postage stamp lots in the burbs, you cant walk to anything but other houses / got to drive everywhere, and they are expensive.  I've never been more miserable than when I've lived in a far flung suburb.

The_Big_H

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #83 on: July 31, 2020, 09:42:49 PM »
My one hatred about the "big" cities is driving and parking.  It just stresses me out.

Driving a personal vehicle is not a great way to get around a big city--there just isn't enough space! The freedom of not needing a car is actually why I prefer cities. We sold our last car a while ago and don't miss it AT ALL.

A significant number of American cities are extremely difficult to get around without a car.
You can cycle but its "on hard mode"

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #84 on: August 01, 2020, 04:07:19 AM »
To be honest if I was going to move to a city, I wouldn't even see the point of moving to one that wasn't walkable (or at least, the subsection of the city that I was in was walkable). What's the point of putting up with all that noise and pollution if you still can't get to anywhere easily?

Malcat

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #85 on: August 01, 2020, 06:15:56 AM »
To be honest if I was going to move to a city, I wouldn't even see the point of moving to one that wasn't walkable (or at least, the subsection of the city that I was in was walkable). What's the point of putting up with all that noise and pollution if you still can't get to anywhere easily?

Agreed.

I see myself as a hardcore urbanite, but it really does depend on the city.

My city is 1M people, so not overly huge, not congested, and jam packed with green space even in the downtown core. It's also extremely cyclist friendly with 500 miles of bike path. I live pretty central and I take 2-3 hour walks every day along mature-tree lined waterfront paths.

We use our car primarily for groceries and to visit family. I can't fathom living in a city where I have to drive everywhere, that just sounds like the worst of everything to me.

I also agree with PP who mentioned not liking cities that are basically just massive suburban sprawl. If there's no rich, vibrant city core, then that would be miserable for me.

I'm a minimalist who doesn't enjoy anything beyond minor home maintenance when it comes to home ownership. My dream home is a small apartment on a very high floor of a tall building, with big windows and a big balcony to enjoy stunning views, and a BIG indoor pool. That's as urban a dream as it gets, and we just moved to it a year ago and are so, so, so much happier.

Cities are great if you don't feel compelled to own space on the ground. Houses, garages, lawns, gardens, to me it's all just more work. Granted, I live in the land of truly terrifying snow fall, so the more space you own, the more snowfall you are responsible for managing. With my concrete sky-box, none of that snow is my responsibility. It's glorious.

I am trained in multiple fields and do a lot of contract work, so being in a major city makes employment for me incredibly easy. I'll never have to consider relocating for an amazing job opportunity unless I want to relocate. My entire main industry could disappear over night and I still have tons of options.

Then there's all the fun stuff!
This morning's plan is to walk about a mile along the river path to go for outdoor brunch overlooking a waterfall and a huge river. Then some tai chi in the park, and meeting with family for drinks and backgammon at the outdoor lounge of a decommissioned church.
Just a typical chill Saturday morning.

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Re: FIRE for city people
« Reply #86 on: August 02, 2020, 07:29:03 AM »
To be honest if I was going to move to a city, I wouldn't even see the point of moving to one that wasn't walkable (or at least, the subsection of the city that I was in was walkable). What's the point of putting up with all that noise and pollution if you still can't get to anywhere easily?

Totally. We moved into the city because we didn't want to have to drive everywhere. Now we take the car out a couple times per month, at most. Love it.