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What are the benefits of living in a high COL state?

1828 Views 33 Replies 32 Participants Last post by  Knittin' in the Shade
I say state because im referring to ca haha

I've been looking at housing prices and salaries and it doesnt really seem like people are making a lot less, in my field, in lower col states such as TX.

I've been in CA most of my life, I've traveled a lot and lived out of the country, but within the US i've mostly lived in CA

I like the weather, I like the scenery (im in sonoma co currently) but i just can understand why in this economy i would want to pay 500,000 for a condo when i could get a whole farm for that elsewhere and still be making the same salary, especially in a state that is so bankrupt.

What's the difference? Taxes? property, income tax etc? is health care different? are utilities more expensive in other states? gas is probably cheaper.. food?

If you live in a high COL area why?
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Well, prices are usually based on what the market will bear. High COL areas are that way because there tend to be more jobs, better paying jobs, and more people want to live there. People want to live there for a variety of reasons, which may include career opportunities, beauty, convenience, culture, or just plain like minded people.

We live where we do because this is where my DH's industry is. We'd probably be able to afford a giant house someplace with a low COL, but there would be no jobs for him. I also love living near the ocean, and having all of the culture and activities I could ever want within about an hour away on all sides, and much much more just a little bit further than that.
I don't know about CA as I have never lived there. But, I live currently on Long Island (NY) and it's pretty high COL. Of course, we are planning a move. lol We moved here to be with my family---I was raised here. And now that my mama is ready to retire we are taking her with us back south where the COL is much more reasonable and the pace of life more conducive to our lifestyle. There are a lot of things here that do not come in as much abundance in lower COL areas but the #1 thing is the proximity to Manhattan and all that bring with it (museums, shopping, theater, ethnic & racial diversity, options for travel, diversity of industry & employers, colleges & universities, etc). Plus, Long Island has so many beaches. Every early spring when I take the bridge over to Fire Island for my annual return to the ocean trip, I am reminded why I pay the outrageous property taxes I do.

Most of the people I know that chose to live here were born here and have family here and have no plans to leave (until it's time to retire and head to FL for 1/2 the year). Oh, a lot of them talk about leaving because we are afterall NYers and we enjoy complaining about the COL, taxes, corrupt government, etc. But very few of them will ever actually pack up and go.
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I don't live in a high COL state but area. Housing is up there so are food costs, gas, and other things. I am in a rural area, isolated, not that many roads to get in and certainly not on the way to anything else. Salary is low, this a place you want to live and you take a pay cut in order to do it. The trade offs are living in a mountain town, skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, rafting, hiking, etc.. all available in 10 minutes or less from my house. I don't ever have a problem finding crunchy mamas to hang out with. It appeals greatly to retirees who come for the scenery and young outdoorsy people, while many families do live here, they do seem to move on quicker then others because of the whole high COL thing. City services aren't great, they seem barely able to plow roads anymore never mind actually fixing any of the potholes that are the size of my truck tire.
It's all about DH's career for us. He loves what he does, and he needs to be in one of probably three cities, realistically. It helps that we're settled here now and both really like it, as well.
I don't want to come off soundy snobby, so I will make a general statement. Whenever I get discouraged about high COL in eastern MA, I remember I am living in a part of the country where people think like I do. There are attitudes in other parts of the country I could not live with, or have my children exposed to in public schools. I LOVE that I live in a state which permits gay marriage. Love love love it. But it does totally suck to pay as much as we do to live in a small older house and know that for a comparable amount we could live in a 6 bedroom brand new house somewhere. But I'd have to stay in that house all day
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I live in a LCOL state, but we have many of the pluses of HCOL states. We have tons of museums, incredible racial and ethnic diversity, 10 colleges and univesities in a 45 minute drive, all the night life and urban amenities you could want. Yet we also have within 45 minutes, huting, fishing, boating and nature type stuff. We have a low unemployment rate and tons of things to do every weekend. We are also ranked the happiest state in the country. What we don't have, that might be important to some, is lots of benefits if you are really low income. For example, unemployment is only $286 a week here at the highest level. I know it is more in many other states. I assume of assistance programs are similar, although I have never used them. But then we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country and our state is not broke. I think if you look really closely at Low COL states, you can often find areas that do fit criteria that are important to you.
high cost of living city here. For us it was initially about dh's job, now we love it and wouldn't want to move. Our area has a real sense of community, we can walk to everything, I want my kids to grow up with a sense of diversity etc.
I think usually, it has to do with one of a few things. 1 - family lives there, and people want to be near family. 2 - Job, some jobs only exist in a few certain areas. 3 - Something specific about the area, like weather, beaches/mountains/lakes, socio-political reasons, etc.
I live in a LOW col area. You could literaly get a MANSION here for half what you would pay for a condo in CA For example -$200k-250k gets you a 4-5 bed, 2-4 bath 2500-4000sq foot mansion. A NICE big family home in a great locale can be had for $150K, and a basic family home in a decent neighborhood can easily be had for 50-90K.
Mar123, I am curious -- where do you live? : )

Originally Posted by Rosebud1 View Post
Mar123, I am curious -- where do you live? : )
I'm guessing Indiana.
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Yeah, I have no idea why anyone would want to spend $500K on a condo?!? I'm much more financially stable since moving to CA almost 4 years ago. We rent our house and love it. Why do you have to own? We don't plan on ever owning here. We have a gardener that is included in the rent and have a nice two bedroom house next to the ocean, just outside of SF. We are out of debt (I moved to CA with a lot of debt) and we're able to live on just my income (we are banking DW's until she can be a SAHM). I make about 3-4 times here what I made in Missouri, doing the same job. I would need a higher degree and much more experience to come anywhere close to making the same there. The opportunities are just greater here. I would never have found my dream job where I was. And I have fallen in love with the people, culture, parks, beaches, etc here. If you like it here otherwise, then you don't have to live in the most expensive county to still live here. There are cheaper areas in the bay area to live than where you are.
Isn't Sonoma County the second highest COL county, next to Marin?
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I think it is worth every penny to live here because:
1. I can walk out my front door and walk to 6 different grocery stores within 15 minutes. And I never have to worry about not being able to walk because the weather is WONDERFUL.
2. I can go to the beach in the morning and the mountains in the afternoon and make it to the snow by evening.
3. I can get to SF in 17 minutes and SF has everything.

What can I say, <3 California.
i want to buy because i feel like owning real estate is the best investment - assuming you own it outright or pay it off at some point. I want to buy a small house with enough land to have some chickens, a garden and maybe a cow. So we would have no debt, own a house and have the ability to live off our land if need be. It is also super important to me to have time as a family. DH ot work 14 hour days, be home for dinner maybe even breakfast, put dd to bed and also be relaxed and have time as a couple after dd goes to bed, not both be so burnt and tired that we either argue or sleep.

I'm not sure that sonoma co is so high col for bay area. We moved here from walnut creek and it was much cheaper both rent and sale. There are definetly cheaper areas within ca, but my work is here in petaluma and we fell in love with dd's school here and there are a few waldorf charters. The thing is in austin for example the waldorf school is literally half, the tuition for the private school here. We could afford tution there, the house we want for about 200,000, the lifestyle we want

But diversity is important to me and i hate smoking and drinking, last time we visited there people smoked everywhere, they had smoking sections in restaurants, i heard the word ****** more than once or twice and it seemed like everyone i met was an alcoholic. Could just be coincidence or the people we happen to be around. I'm sure we can find a way to find the community we want. On the other hand im pretty antisocial and stay home most of the day anyway...
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I don't live in a high COL area (I'd say we are mid), but my brother lives in NYC, and has a 1-bed apt in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. His rent for a tiny space is 3 times what we pay for 3K sq ft, 5-bed, 1/2 acre home. So, he could buy a mansion here, for that amount. But I know for him, just thinking about living in the desert is a big turn-off. When he helped us move, he was a bit shocked that we couldn't find anything, besides a couple pizza places, that delivered food here. He said every single restaurant within a 10 mile radius of his place delivers - so it was unheard of to not be able to order sushi rolls, or whatever. Personally, I would much rather live where there is not much going on (and really, Albuquerque has pretty much everything we've ever wanted/needed besides a beach
) than pay such an insane amount for a tiny living space just to be in the middle of all the action (not that that is my bro's main reason - he has a killer job there, but has the opportunity to transfer to numerous locations around the country and world, yet for now, they stay in NYC).

Now, TBH, I wouldn't mind retiring to somewhere like Malibu, or a Hawaiian island - but with a growing family, I'd rather have space and low(er) cost, than the ideal, beautiful, coveted area.

I do think for most people, it comes down to family and/or job security, though. And really, if you are used to paying $5K per month for a mortgage, then maybe you don't know anything else, so it's not so bad (and hopefully you make plenty of $$$).
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I live in Boston and I love it. I never wanted to live in a big house - I like small, cozy spaces. I love the fact that I can walk to dozens of restaurants, shops, museums etc., and that public transportation will take us anywhere else we want to go. I like the political mindset here (minus the recent election) and I even like the crazy weather.

I currently work at home, so in theory I could work anywhere. But if I were to lose my job, there are reasonable opportunities here to find a similar position, which is important to me as a single parent.

Having said all that - the most important thing is that my family (parents and all siblings) are here, and everyone intends to stay here. I can put up with a lot of inconveniences knowing that our little family of two has a warm and loving extension nearby.
Somewhat high COL where I live but we do it because we don't want to be stranded where the ideologies don't match ours. My DH can work in his artistic field (MAJOR bonus) and we have all the amenities of a big metro city (museums, clubs, boutiques, transport, restaurants) but with low-ish crime. Drawbacks: our house is really crappy, my DH would be infinitely happier in a larger home with lots of storage and more land.

Originally Posted by yukookoo View Post
i want to buy because i feel like owning real estate is the best investment - assuming you own it outright or pay it off at some point. I want to buy a small house with enough land to have some chickens, a garden and maybe a cow. So we would have no debt, own a house and have the ability to live off our land if need be. It is also super important to me to have time as a family. DH ot work 14 hour days, be home for dinner maybe even breakfast, put dd to bed and also be relaxed and have time as a couple after dd goes to bed, not both be so burnt and tired that we either argue or sleep..
Those are valid reasons, and a move to a lower cost of living area could be worth it. There are many lower COL where those dreams would be within your reach. If you don't mind the weather, you could look into areas around college towns in the midwest.
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It's my home. It is paradise. I'm connected to this land, it's history, etc.

That being said I know the influx of people is damaging it so I'm hard up to encourage anyone else to move here. I wish there were a way to say that without sounding elitist, but sadly I think it may just be that even if I don't want those emotions to be.
Momentum can be a powerful force, even moreso when money is tight. I certainly would have liked to try living in other places before starting a family, but I didn't. My partner and I both grew up in the general area and have the majority of our family here. If we choose somewhere else to live in the future, we certainly might go for something less expensive, but we would have to be sure about the trade-off. As much as a lower cost of living sounds good right now, I have always been pretty certain that this is just about the best place to live
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