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Old 10-19-2015, 06:16 PM
4 posts, read 2,999 times
Reputation: 15


Trying to make the best use of 40k fixed income and some savings (on the consideration that I may not be able to work again due to ongoing health problems). I'm starting to see some patterns by looking at a lot of city statistics, but haven't quite figured it all out.

My guess is that my money goes further if three main conditions are met:

(1) City/metro size is not that large. Over 200k population seems to carry higher home prices and sprawl more often than not. Under a certain size however you lose certain stores, may have a clinic rather than a full hospital, etc. My guess would be about 50k population minimum for "full services". I definitely am not a fan of heavily urban areas, but my wife and I like to go to new events and things so we don't go stir-crazy.
(2) Population growth close to natural growth rate (ie, minimal immigration). Spokane, WA is a good example of low growth (~2% over 5 years). Home prices are generally stable in that situation and it won't be growing fast and create sprawl anytime soon. Negative growth I would think means major loss of critical industries causing poverty and high crime (or other issues), so I am avoiding declining population areas.
(3) Low home prices in absolute terms. Probably related to the other two, but price/income ratio is also important for avoiding overpriced areas. Smaller areas tend to have lower nominal prices, and what matters is that compared to my fixed income.

Home prices appear to be the biggest factor in total cost of living; things like groceries seem to vary +/- 10% by location but are generally consistent with the national average. So to find lower cost living given the same quality of life, finding lower home prices seems like the thing to focus on, and finding the factors to a city that creates low home prices (but not crime and other negative factors) seems important to the search process.

I used to live in Fremont CA where the housing index is now 400. Wages were not keeping pace with costs. I relocated to Reno NV where the index is 110 but costs are going up as the area grows quickly. I recently discovered Nampa ID with an index of 60 but the area is growing very rapidly (about 2%/year) and it's likely to become more like Meridian which is suburban sprawl for Boise (at least it looks that way). Still, it's the cheapest low-crime decent area I found so far of reasonable size (80k population) and the weather appears to be slightly better than Reno in the winter.

I try to stay above the median household income wherever I live as a rule of thumb. So in an area with 40k median and 3x price to income ratio, that is about 120k home price. I'd like a good sized house like 1600-2000 sq. ft. with an acre of land (privacy mostly) for under 150k, but be able to drive to the store and town in 20 minutes. That severely limits the search.

I actually found a couple places on the edge of Nampa that fit the bill, which is why I am planning a trip there soon, but I am interested in other areas that are similarly affordable.
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Old 10-19-2015, 06:44 PM
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
29,849 posts, read 54,552,867 times
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High prices come with the availability of good jobs, good schools, and low crime. That's why we are here in Sammamish, WA where the median home is over $700k, family income $144,000. It's also why we will move when we retire in a few years. We won't need the good schools or location for work any more, so low crime and low cost will be determining factors.
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Old 10-19-2015, 06:57 PM
Location: Arvada, CO
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So you're looking for a place that's cheap and good? Let me work on this.
Moderator for Los Angeles, The Inland Empire, and the Washington state forums.
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Old 10-19-2015, 06:59 PM
4 posts, read 2,999 times
Reputation: 15
Working in software QA (not super technical, some automation/programming but my degree is in business) for startups I couldn't get over 60k in the Bay (that's hardly a living wage there, esp. now); got tired of competing with foreign labor. I also got really sick of the grind and the traffic. Since my wife is disabled, I'm not seeing a job prospect emerging after my contract ended in Reno, and I'm starting to get sicker ... I really just want the slow life now without all the anxiety of the "city life".
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Old 10-19-2015, 07:24 PM
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Cedar Rapids, Iowa ... if you can handle cold winters. Median home price $138,00. Median income $50,000. Population 126,000. Cute downtown. Educated population. Great healthcare with two hospitals in town that rate high, and a large public university teaching hospital/dental college 25 miles south in Iowa City. You should be able to find an older home that meets your criteria. There are a few smaller communities adjacent to Cedar Rapids that are very nice ... Marion, Hiawatha, Fairfax, Ely.

Last edited by smpliving; 10-19-2015 at 07:37 PM..
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Old 10-19-2015, 07:29 PM
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Yeah you're best bet would be to relocate to the plains or midwest under that criteria.
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Old 10-19-2015, 07:40 PM
Location: Cleveland
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Cleveland has some of the lowest home prices in the country, because supply is so much greater than demand. Our city shrunk a lot, leaving a glut of houses, but our economy isn't too bad now.
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Old 10-19-2015, 08:02 PM
56,718 posts, read 81,038,544 times
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Some smaller Interior Northeastern cities may work. A sleeper may be Auburn NY, which is a half hour west of Syracuse and about 50-55 minutes east of Rochester. It has a walkable Downtown, affordable home prices, minor league baseball, professional theater and a public theater in its Downtown, has some historical sites, is in the Finger Lakes region and has a low crime rate. It is a "city" of about 28,000. History's Hometown

Auburn Downtown BID

Auburn Public Theater
Broadway in the Finger Lakes » Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival


RealtyUSA - Property - Property-List

There may be better fits, but that is one place that came to mind.

Last edited by ckhthankgod; 10-19-2015 at 08:26 PM..
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Old 10-20-2015, 08:25 AM
Location: Wonderland
45,005 posts, read 36,268,604 times
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Tyler, Texas has a population of around 100,000 - the Tyler metro area has about 220,000. The median income is $49,500. The median home price is $121,000 while the average home price is $155,000.

Tyler has an excellent medical community (three large hospitals), several colleges, and a very diverse, robust economy. It has numerous surrounding bedroom communities with good growth patterns and lots of housing. It's more of a white collar than blue collar atmosphere, with lots of excellent amenities including good sources for healthy foods and successful locally owned businesses as well as many national chains. It's also an attractive city, set in the green, rolling hills of northeast Texas - an area of lakes, rivers, and lots of oak trees. Tyler is about two hours from Dallas, three hours from Houston, and four hours from Austin.

Forbes Welcome
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Old 10-21-2015, 10:32 AM
56,718 posts, read 81,038,544 times
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Perhaps this WV area just south of Morgantown and home to a NASA facility, as well as a state college could work: Fairmont, WV - Official Website | Official Website

Fairmont Micro Area - USA.com™


I believe that Pittsburgh is only an hour and a half away too.

This area is just south of it: Clarksburg Micro Area - USA.com™

Clarksburg Visitors Bureau




Both are a part of the growing North Central WV area which also includes the Morgantown area, which home to West Virginia University. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North-..._West_Virginia

North Central WV MLS ~ Bridgeport, WV

North Central WV MLS ~ Bridgeport, WV

Last edited by ckhthankgod; 10-21-2015 at 10:49 AM..
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