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Cost of Living vs Quality of Life
Old 09-09-2011, 10:50 AM   #1
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Cost of Living vs Quality of Life

There have been a few threads (walkability, etc.) lately grappling with this topic - DW and I are definitely struggling with it trying to pick a relocation spot (though getting closer). Not surprisingly, they appear to be inversely related. Found this article that I thought might be of some interest to others researching relocation.

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Take Hawaii. The state won the Quality of Life category, edging out Colorado, another scenic, pristine locale. Meanwhile, Hawaii ranked last in Cost of Living, just behind California. (Colorado, by the way, was 35.).

Tops in the Cost-of-Living category—meaning the most affordable—were Oklahoma and Tennessee, with both Arkansas and Kentucky one point behind them. Now take a guess where they rank in Quality of Life. Try the bottom ten, with Tennessee at 49.

Is there a perfect balance? The rankings would suggest not...
http://www.cnbc.com/id/37516043/
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:50 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
Not surprisingly, they [Col, QoL] appear to be inversely related. Found this article that I thought might be of some interest to others researching relocation.
I guess it's not surprising that costs are higher in places where more people want to live. The surprising part is how much you can save on CoL by capitalizing on any differences between one's individual QoL factors and that of the "herd". For example, DW and I don't mind a few months of cold weather, but we find hot, humid weather more objectionable than most folks. That means we get to skip right over some of the trendy hotspots and save a lot by living in the Midwest.

We didn't find the overall "Places Rated" rankings to be very useful, but the rankings of individual categories, and our assessment of the importance of those categories to us allowed us to weed out some spots and optimize the bang-for-the-buck.
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Old 09-09-2011, 02:04 PM   #3
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As samclem pointed out, quality of life factors differ from person to person. So does cost of living, to some extent, as does inflation.

Some compromise may be required in settling on one's dream retirement location. It might help to make a list of your criteria and the relative importance of each, and try to limit the compromise to the criteria that are less important to you. No location is utopia in my opinion so it's just a matter of what compromises you decide to make.

Then spend some time in the places that are most interesting. We were surprised to find out that the layout of a town, and the geology and topography mattered as much to us as they did.

Speaking of compromises, even Hawaii, which your article mentioned as winning the "Quality of Life" ratings for the author, is not utopia for some people. I lived in Hawaii for years, and during that time observed people moving there from the mainland and being greatly disappointed. Some people do not like being so far from children and grandchildren. Some feel hemmed in because they cannot get into their car and drive all day, without driving in circles. Some miss the four seasons. Some have problems adjusting to the racial/cultural balance there, where they are suddenly in the minority instead of the majority and where nobody seems to think they are "all that", so to speak. Some are surprised that even after decades there, they will still be considered to be a "coast haole" and never a kamaaina. Some lunatics think it is too humid (just joking! They are probably totally sane too.). And then there are folks like me, who don't mind any those issues but who feel like quality of life is diminished if I can't afford the lifestyle I want there. Besides, I have a bit of BTDT (Been There Done That) going on that makes the idea of moving to my family home less appealing to me.
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Old 09-09-2011, 02:24 PM   #4
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Having picked the most expensive state to live in, I'll piggy-back on what samclem said. There are always ways to mitigate the additional costs. In Hawaii, for instance, (at least for now) pension and SS are not taxed, giving very significant savings. DW and I exploit free stuff (concerts, beaches, whale-watching, etc.) and avoid "attractions" which cost money. We will probably never eat a fresh blueberry here either.

The biggest single thing we could do to beat local costs would be to get rid of one or both cars and use THE BUS. This would be very doable, but we have so far decided it isn't necessary for us.

Still, some costs are very difficult to mitigate unless one is willing to go to extreme measures. Housing is the main issue in Paradise although we have not exploited some of the existing options. if the only other choice was to live on the beach, we would abandon our adopted state. Since for many years we researched and planned for the costs, we have found it possible to make this our home.

The trick is to do the planning - just like most other things associated with retirement (and "living" for that matter.) YMMV.
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Old 09-09-2011, 06:13 PM   #5
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Interesting data on KY and TN; especially given that DW and I just moved from KY to TN 4 mos ago. And, btwn us, we've lived in HI, NoCal and DC/NoVA, among other locales.

Based on our recent (last 4+ yrs) experience in KY and TN, the QOL varies greatly, and I mean GREATLY, by location in such "bottom ranking" states. But, the COL not so much; it seems more uniformly inexpensive compared to the expensive coastal hotspots.

IOW, you can find some cool places to live in inexpensive states, when many (especially those on the coasts) would dismiss whole state out of hand. For example, we bought a beautiful house on a small pond in KY for half of what it would cost in NoVA, and a quarter of the cost in San Francisco. The KY location was a small (60,000) college town in central KY, which is beautiful, and has lots to offer (you'd be surprised how good KY wineries have become), and is close to Lexington, which has great medical care, and within 1.75 hrs of three good airports.

We now live in downtown Knoxville, which, although not North Beach in San Francisco, is a happenin' place; walking and dog friendly, tons of stuff to do and, again, walking distance to a major university. And, once again, MUCH less expensive than the aforementioned places.

The lesson here for me is that "gems" can be found in inexpensive places, which means less COL which, in turn, means earlier FIRE.

Now, if I can just find that inexpensive "gem" with a beach next to it!
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Old 09-09-2011, 07:03 PM   #6
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Now, if I can just find that inexpensive "gem" with a beach next to it!
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Old 09-09-2011, 11:41 PM   #7
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Yo baby! Just need to brush up on my Afrikans.
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Old 09-10-2011, 07:46 AM   #8
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IOW, you can find some cool places to live in inexpensive states, when many (especially those on the coasts) would dismiss whole state out of hand.
That was our discovery too. When we told family/friends where we were moving to WV the reaction was "You're moving where? But all of WV is not Appalachia and run-down trailer parks and coal mining towns.

Hey, we even have waterfront property. Opequon Creek has water in it, that makes it "waterfront", right?
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