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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey ladies! I have been on and off this board for years and have been trying to get an end of year/new year grip on our finanaces and have been struck by how differently frugality and wise money choices must be faced in different parts of the country/world.

Not easier or harder, but different. For instance, there is the obvious issue of housing which is what people usually consider the measure of high COL, but then other things can often be found more frugality in high COL areas. Lots of free museums, performances, more varied shopping options, etc. It struck me when I was reading the thread about buying a house from a horder - this is a great forum to talk about money and I have gotten great advice here, but I think people really do have to adjust their budgets to where they are.

Anybody living in a high COL area want to start a chat about the unique benefits and challenges to living frugally in a high COL area?
 

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I live in a low COL metro area and we still have a fantastic variety of stores and a zoo, art museum, science center, history museum etc -- all of which are free admission. I don't mean to one-up, but just point out that high COL does not necessarily equal more culture.
 

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I second the awesome thrift store thing! We used to live in a very high COL area (wash. D.C.) and got great thrift. Now we live in a medium COL area where more people struggle, and the thrift is lousy. Outrageously priced and totally worn out.

I take an extra suitcase for thrifting when I visit D.C.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I was not trying to put down the options in lower cost areas. I know there are things to do, I have lived in several parts of WV; Lexington, KY and have been to St. Louis. I know there are cultural things to do in all of those places, but not on the same scale as in the higher COL areas I have lived in.

There were also other factors I was thinking about. Many of the easy travel hubs are in higher COL areas (Atlanta being an exception that immediately comes to mind so I am sure there are others) but flying is much less expensive now that I live in DC than when I lived in WV.

There are also unemployment rates. There is a much higher rate of unemployment where we lived in WV than where there is now and you generally got paid less for the same job. Ethnic markets are plentiful and very reasonable here and we have way more thrift options.

Anyway, I don't think one is better than the other, I just think that different things cost different amounts in different places. There are so many threads on MDC where somebody tells somebody else that houses cost way less or way more than where they live and I don't think it is the whole picture, does that make sense? I for one, know how much less housing costs in other parts of the country, but still think that we are better off here because we are close to family, job options that are good matches for us and a variety of other things that we would miss if we moved.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wildmonkeys View Post
I was not trying to put down the options in lower cost areas. I know there are things to do, I have lived in several parts of WV; Lexington, KY and have been to St. Louis. I know there are cultural things to do in all of those places, but not on the same scale as in the higher COL areas I have lived in.
Wow, I can't believe you just compared St. Louis to West Virginia.

Moving on...
 

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Originally Posted by wildmonkeys View Post
Is there something wrong with WV?
Absolutely not, but I've been to every major metro area in WV (Pittsburgh doesn't count, obviously, though I've been there too) and I would not consider any of them to be comparable to STL.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, I guess it is somewhat the same then. I really enjoyed living in WV and did find interesting things to do in Charleston and other areas. I saw performances at a variety of colleges (they have a fabulous Contemporary American Theater Festival) and interesting performances on PBS Mountain Stage. There were wonderful arts and crafts - their quilts and amazing glass blown items are among some of the most lovely works of art I have seen anywhere in the country. They have wonderful antiques and cute little towns. You can whitewater raft and ski and do many other amazing things in WV. Many things that you wouldn't see in a short visit - I am sure St. Louis is the same. I once spent a week there for a conference and saw a number of very nice sites, but I didn't get the impression that it has as many performances, museums, etc. as some major cities. I could be wrong and I am sure it is a very nice place to live, but maybe comparing Charleston, WV to St. Louis is sort of the samething as comparing St. Louis to NYC or Boston, you know? All very nices places, but different.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wildmonkeys View Post
Well, I guess it is somewhat the same then. I really enjoyed living in WV and did find interesting things to do in Charleston and other areas. I saw performances at a variety of colleges (they have a fabulous Contemporary American Theater Festival) and interesting performances on PBS Mountain Stage. There were wonderful arts and crafts - their quilts and amazing glass blown items are among some of the most lovely works of art I have seen anywhere in the country. They have wonderful antiques and cute little towns. You can whitewater raft and ski and do many other amazing things in WV. Many things that you wouldn't see in a short visit - I am sure St. Louis is the same. I once spent a week there for a conference and saw a number of very nice sites, but I didn't get the impression that it has as many performances, museums, etc. as some major cities. I could be wrong and I am sure it is a very nice place to live, but maybe comparing Charleston, WV to St. Louis is sort of the samething as comparing St. Louis to NYC or Boston, you know? All very nices places, but different.
Good point... it's different. Please NOBODY take this the wrong way, but IMO we are a smaller (4 million people in the metro area) but quite urban area, so we have a lot of the same amenities as NYC or Boston -- but on that smaller scale. I would call most WV cities more of a... country-type urban area. If that makes sense. At all. Cuz it doesn't make sense to me, rereading it LOL
 

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I'll give another thumbs up to St. Louis... I've only lived here since August and was admittedly not so thrilled about moving here, but there really is a lot of cool stuff. I lived in the San Francisco Bay area for 4 years, and I totally see Lindsay's point. Like, the bay area had at least 4 or 5 awesome science museums... St. Louis has two that I know of. I can think of three zoos we went to in the bay area - two great, one middling. St. Louis has one, but it's a really good one - and free. Forest Park is amazing - it's actually larger than Central Park, and in addition to all the park-y stuff, it has the zoo, a good art museum with some truly good stuff - we have our Renoirs and van Goghs - science museum, theatre - lots of theatre here, actually.

I think having so many colleges and universities here makes the difference. There are tons of free lectures and films available through the colleges, and there are also lots of low-cost classes on interesting things. Wash U is a highly-ranked elite university - the medical school is generally ranked second in the nation.

But yeah, definitely urban. No quaint little towns or quilt shows - this is the city. Not West Virginia at all... and it has some of the problems typical of cities, like urban blight, crime, poverty - but all in all I think it' a cool place.

We also have awesome public transportation, which does remind me of the bay area. We also lived in a suburb of Kansas City and the public transportation in St. Louis is much, much better. The metro light rail train is about my favorite thing here, and there's also a great bus system. I know plenty of people without cars, which is a money-saver... and totally doable here. My university has a car-share program, too, so people can borrow a (hybrid) car once a month to do big shopping.

So yeah, I think St. Louis is pretty special... of course, the weather is nowhere near as great as the bay area, and this freezing sleet stuff we had last night really needs to go...

Dar
 

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In my area (Chicagoland) there is plenty to do and being its cold cold in the winter and hot in the summer, you can keep pretty busy.

Some benefits to higher COL areas:

public transportation. We have the Metra line that goes into the city a block from our house.

more choices to shop around. More people on freecycle, garage sales etc so you can pick and choose more.

In the midwest, its cheaper to fly places as well as shipping to places, thus the reason a few select people used to jump on my coops so fast- fast ship time and cheaper.

Since Ohare is a 20 minute drive and the busiest hub in the world, you can fly any where and not expensive since someone has to connect thru here.

But housing is more expensive, sales tax, property taxes, etc. Come to visit and stay in a hotel, eat out and pay to get into our different attractions can cost a lot. Also, if you're not from a busier area, you might shop at the various malls around here since its not near your home.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Dar View Post

So yeah, I think St. Louis is pretty special... of course, the weather is nowhere near as great as the bay area, and this freezing sleet stuff we had last night really needs to go...

Dar
You're not freakin' kidding -- my dp drives a TRUCK. (locally, not OTR.) I was on the phone with him earlier and he's like "oh crap, I'm sliding across the road" -- apparently that is no big thing for him. I, however, have been mildly freaking out since that convo
:

Oh, and on the light rail -- BEST. THING. EVER. But I'm irked that Prop M got defeated -- cuz they were going to build an extension out to me, and now they won't.
 

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One thing I appreciate is access to Aldi's and Trader Joe's, which a lot of smaller cities don't have. And ethnic markets, as other people have mentioned.

Another thing that I appreciate is that there is a lot more support in my area for a lot of parenting practices that also happen to be frugal: breastfeeding, babywearing, EC, cloth diapering and co-sleeping. By support I mean resources like La Leche League, EC meet up groups, pro-breast feeding family doctors, natural child-birth classes, stores that sell all kinds of baby wearing options. But I also mean a climate in which I rarely get weird looks or comments for nursing in public, putting the baby in a sling, or cloth-diapering, and in fact get a lot of nice comments and smile.

Now, I'm sure that there are some low-COL places that are very supportive of all of the above. Moreover, I would do all these things wherever I lived, and I certainly don't do them just because they are frugal. But I do consider it to be a perk of living in a high COL area.
 

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Oh, that's scary! We had all sorts of errands planned for today, but I walked the dog this morning and now I'm considering delaying them... even though I have 4 wheel drive, I hate driving in the weather.

And yes, it sucks about prop M. We live right in between three light rail stations, which is great. To get to the airport I walk for 5 minutes and then hop on the train, which takes me right to the terminal. We do often end up connecting through Chicago, though... and we have no IKEA, which is really what keeps us from being a world-class city, IMO.

Oh, but I have gotten some awesome thrift deals! I'm currently wearing my $1.50 Patagonia fleecy pullover, and I got the most awesome vintage Saks 5th Avenue cashmere sweater for $3 on Friday.

We're going to see the St. Louis ballet's production of the Nutcracker tomorrow, so then I can tell you how good the ballet here is... and tickets were $5, because it's a school show through our homeschool group. Oh! That's another big-city thing - large, well-established homeschool groups that offer lots of activities. Regular tickets are $45, I believe...

Dar

ETA: We do have Trader Joe's and Aldis, even though we have no IKEA... and we have Costco, and the Global International Market is about the best ethnic supermarket I've ever seen... and we have lots of farmer's markets. If only we had IKEA...
 

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I HATE IKEA... my ex was from Pittsburgh and brought a bunch of IKEA furniture with him, and it was all CRAP imho.

I also have errands to do, and they involve toilet paper and dog food, two things I can't really put off... but I have a freakin' Neon... blah!

I would like to know how the Nutcracker goes.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wildmonkeys View Post
I am glad you both like St. Louis


Anyway, back to living in a high COL area

We will be quiet about St. Louis now.
:


Dar
 
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