Best Places to Live? Hogwash!

Thursday, December 25, 2003
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What a disappointing list from Money Magazine. Many of these places ranked high are chic communities, of course, but the cost of living makes them anything but the “best places to live.” Look at the median home prices on this list. Look at the “increase since 1990″ column, and see the effects of the housing bubble. Some of these communities have seen home prices triple in the last dozen years.

Some of these “best places” to live have median home prices of $300 to $500k. Why do these lists ignore a huge factor such as the cost of living (especially pertaining to real estate and taxes)? Because we are a nation of debt mentality, and higher costs of living can be financed via cheap mortgages and credit cards. The fact that things can be had now and paid for later makes the cost of living irrelevant in the current age.

On an entirely personal note, people ask me why I live up here in Michigan, endure the cold, the torture of 60-90 days of gloomy, winter skies, etc. My answer is, and always has been: the cost of living. My home would cost three times as much were it in Northern Virginia or the Seattle suburbs, for example. Being 30 and still shacking up with friends, or living in someone’s spare room, or in a 500 sq. ft. dump for $1300/month does not appeal to me. Nothing is more important to me than affordability and debt-free living. That leaves room for the important stuff like savings, iPods and wireless laptops, good wine and bourbon, good eats, and of course, a top-notch, electric-start snowblower…..

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