Living in the right place

Los Angeles is a pretty great city but it definitely has some huge downsides.  This is arguably one of the most expensive cities to live in here in the U.S.  It also has probably the worst public transit system and some of the worst traffic known to man.  Also, did you know that LA is huge?  Seriously.  It has the worst case of sprawl ever.  I mean, we are talking WAY too big.  The city itself is just over 500 square miles while the county is an unimaginable 4700 square miles.  Just for comparison, Rhode Island is only 1200 square miles.

The point is, despite taking up all this space, there isn’t any quality, inexpensive housing to be had.  Because the city built out, rather than up, the cost per square foot is way higher than it should be, making the most affordable homes under 250K to all be 25 year old apartments that were converted to condos.  While it’s possible to find a good house here and there, there just isn’t any solid inventory.

After living here for three years, I’m actually getting tired of LA.  Yes, it’s pretty.  And the weather isn’t all that bad, although it gets really, unbelievably hot in the valley during the summer time.  And since I’m not from here, the thought of eventually (years down the line) moving somewhere else in order to maximize my earnings (and happiness, let’s not forget that part of the equation) has been rumbling around in my head.

So what should be my criteria for a place to move?  Let’s make a quick list, shall we?

1.  Cost of housing

2.  Schools

3.  How quickly can I get to my family?  Are they around the corner or are they around the globe?

4.  Will the girlfriend actually like it here?

5.  What’s the transit system like?  Can I get around on it?  Or will I be using my car?

While I’m not looking to move anytime soon, I’ve definitely been taking a look at a couple of different places and several have really caught my eye.

  • Austin, TX
  • Denver, CO
  • Boston, MA (Yeah hometown!)

At this point I’m not actively looking for work or anything in any of these cities; I’m pretty happy with my job and still have a few years to go before I can take my career elsewhere.  But I’ll tell you what, when I look at Austin or Denver and see a beautiful home for $300k that would be a $1 million house in LA, I kind of lose my mind.  A big part of financial independence and making some money later in life has to do with owning your home outright and maybe, if you’re ambitious, having some rental properties throwing off some income for you.  In LA, that just seems borderline impossible these days.  But in TX or CO it seems like someone can actually do it.

I really feel that a lot of what I’m doing trying to improve my savings, build up a buffer, etc, really has to do with happiness and contentment.  Being happy with my job, where I live, and being content and happy with my financial security are things that really seem to drive me.  The more I think about it, the more I feel the place I live will need to be a place that I can really work into my life plan and help me be happy overall.  LA just doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore in that regard!

So what cities should I be looking at?  Are those three my best options or are there others that I’m not thinking about?  Let me know!

One thought on “Living in the right place

  1. DC is nice, but the housing in surrounding suburbs is expensive and the traffic isn’t the best. But the really good transit system makes up for it. The Philly area is nice too. Moderately priced housing – there are some suburban areas where prices go way up, decent transit system.

    Those are my two suggestions. I have heard great things about both Denver and Austin too, though I’ve never been to either.

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