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I did some research and came up with a list of the 50 Best US Cities for Early Retire
Old 08-12-2015, 12:29 PM   #1
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I did some research and came up with a list of the 50 Best US Cities for Early Retire

Hey everyone, I did some research and wanted to share:

My wife and I are planning on moving and we wanted to see which US cities have the lowest cost of living, are considered somewhat liberal, and also have mild winters.

After doing the research, I put together a map. I've marked the cities with the lowest cost of living by lighter colored markers, while the more expensive cities have darker colored markers.

Link to the Google Map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer...I.kuqlOwPc3FAk

Details:

First, I started with gathering the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which does a decent job of summarizing the cost of living, including housing, for all urban places with 2,500 inhabitants or more. I then sorted the list by CPI ascending, so the lowest cost cities are listed first.

Then, to identify places that are “somewhat liberal”, the least-terrible solution I could think of was to look up the 2012 Presidential Election results for each city and only include the ones where more than 50% of the vote were Democratic (Obama).

Finally, for selecting only “mild winter” locations, I looked up the average high/low temperatures for January and July. Cities that have an average January high of less than 40F (4.4C) were filtered out.

Finally, I added in a “Low Taxes Rank” for each of the states. I got this data from the Tax Foundation, which did a study on State-Local Tax Burdens for each state.

Also, here is a link to the Google spreadsheet with all original data if you're interested in messing around with it: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... KUfJ61h6S0

Let me know if you have any questions or recommendations to improve this!

Thanks!
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Old 08-12-2015, 02:40 PM   #2
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Thinking aloud here. You have memphis at number 6 (!), while Nashville is not in the top 50. Probably due to the rental increases in Nashville over the past 18 months, which has made it pricier.

What happens if you include crime rates? Comparing crime in Nashville to crime in Memphis - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13 (2013: Memphis murder rates 3X Nashville). And what could be used to easily represent economic growth (if that is a positive)?

I suspect that your criterion of democratic voting city and low tax rates for the state is going to lead to overweighting of oases and college towns....
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Old 08-12-2015, 03:05 PM   #3
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well yeah you can't beat the rio grande valley with those criteria - I hope you like very hot, humid summers tho


I was dove hunting around McAllen one September and it was so hot the soles of my boots fell off in the field lol
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Old 08-12-2015, 03:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ponchoape View Post
Let me know if you have any questions or recommendations to improve this!

Thanks!
you need a spouse indicator - he/she gets to veto any location


possibly also a harsh weather indicator - like for hurricanes or tornados or earthquakes
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Old 08-12-2015, 03:11 PM   #5
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Beaumont doesn't pass the sniff test...literally.
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Old 08-12-2015, 03:13 PM   #6
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Beaumont doesn't pass the sniff test...literally.
I had a full ride at Lamar Univ (in Beaumont) for football - first day of practice in shorts and a helmet (a morning in August) I weighed in at 237 and I weighed out at 228. That was the end of my gulf coast football career.
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Old 08-12-2015, 03:14 PM   #7
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Thanks, it's always interesting to consider different options and I appreciate your posting the results of your analysis. Of course, the "best" cities will depend on what factors people value most, and that's where you're likely to get some disagreement. Low crime and high quality medical facilities are two other factors that often get mentioned. But I always enjoy reading these types of lists and understanding why people like certain locations.
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Old 08-12-2015, 03:16 PM   #8
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my city got deleted because our January average high is just under 40 degrees - but there is a really good ski hill 30 minutes from my house


also, it's 100 out and I just took a 30 minute drive without the A/C on and didn't sweat - humidity is a big deal - I love cold steppe climates
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Old 08-12-2015, 03:24 PM   #9
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I consider myself somewhat left leaning but live in a conservative 'voting' area of Arizona. I certainly don't see it as an issue in the things I like to do, golfing, hiking, bike riding, traveling. You may be missing some nice to live areas by using that criteria. I don't associate with those that are fanatical on one side or the other, most out here aren't. As mentioned above crime would definitely be a criteria, population (I prefer smaller cities), traffic and air quality.
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Old 08-12-2015, 03:28 PM   #10
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I think this is pretty cool.
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Old 08-12-2015, 03:29 PM   #11
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This is really cool! Nice work!
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Old 08-12-2015, 07:04 PM   #12
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Nice job, fun to read that's for sure! Thanks for sharing.


Sent from my iPhone using Early Retirement Forum
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Old 08-12-2015, 07:45 PM   #13
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Thanks! btw, if anyone happens to have an interest in updating the spreadsheet with additional data please don't hesitate! Crime stats and humidity data would be awesome to add in, but I didn't have enough time. Ok, that's a lie - since I'm FIRE, I do have the time, but I guess I'm too lazy!
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Old 08-12-2015, 08:07 PM   #14
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I love this type of analysis as a starting point, and its smart to then share and get feedback. After all, no model is ever correct, yet many can be useful.
If nothing else, it is a great way to create a short list of cities to visit - never know when the perfect place will jump out at you!
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Old 08-12-2015, 08:08 PM   #15
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From a big picture level, it looks decent. No surprise that the Southeastern United States is heavily represented. Somewhat mild winters plus low overall COL and many cities lean slightly liberal.

FYI, you'll probably find the SE US has roughly the same hotness as Costa Rica. Hot and humid for at least a couple months of summer except the mountainous areas (like Asheville, NC). It varies, as sometimes it's horribly hot and humid for long stretches, but right now it's relatively dry and hovering in the 80's which is bearable. Even felt cool out this evening right at twilight.
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Old 08-12-2015, 08:37 PM   #16
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Nice work. Really nice work.

Would be great to have crime rate and weather severity. For instance, hurricanes and tornadoes would have a great impact on lifestyle in some of the "winners".
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Old 08-13-2015, 07:27 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zinger1457 View Post
I consider myself somewhat left leaning but live in a conservative 'voting' area of Arizona. I certainly don't see it as an issue in the things I like to do, golfing, hiking, bike riding, traveling. You may be missing some nice to live areas by using that criteria. I don't associate with those that are fanatical on one side or the other, most out here aren't. As mentioned above crime would definitely be a criteria, population (I prefer smaller cities), traffic and air quality.
Agree. Also bit of a lefty (Canadians) We spend winters in Arizona and the politics and gun culture don't really show.
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Old 08-13-2015, 10:11 AM   #18
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Some people including myself might say throwing politics into the mix totally skews the results. As a member of the "other side" I can say that we make nice neighbors too.
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Old 08-13-2015, 11:07 AM   #19
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Sorry, there is no way you can come up with the 50 best places based on a few criteria. All you can do is eliminate some places based on personally important factors to narrow down the candidates, and probably have a guide for where to start. There is value in that, but if all else were right for me, I usually live with one factor being off.

There's so much more behind the numbers. Low taxes are important, sure, but I don't want low standard of services either. And btw, total taxes, including property and sales tax, would need to be included, perhaps more than state income taxes for ERs.

I see how I can sort the spreadsheet columns but I don't see how to change the formulas to weight the factors, if, say, I would want to filter out the super hot summers rather than the cold winters, and want to eliminate the Obama vote factor. So I don't know how to get results to show anything other than places that ponchoape might consider living. That's not a general "best places to ER list". Maybe I'm missing something in the spreadsheet options.

Crime rates would certainly be a factor for me. Quality of health care, rather than cost (which is what I think is in the spreadsheet?) is more important to me.

As one who is also "somewhat liberal", I would probably be more likely to sort on the middle range. I'd rather be in a place closer to 50/50 rather than the extremes on either end, but I wouldn't want to eliminate some of those places with very low Obama vote rates because they otherwise appeal to me.

The other issue is that my current residence doesn't even show up because it's not incorporated, but it is pretty ideal for me.
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Old 08-13-2015, 11:35 AM   #20
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Not sure I'd count Colorado Springs as "somewhat liberal" despite the 2012 vote (which surprises me). Colorado Springs is one of the most conservative cities in the country. Then again, Manitou Springs, a little village just west of CSprings, is very liberal.
Still, not a bad place to live. It would probably be near the bottom of my top ten list.

----

That all said, nice job. Google maps with these sorts of overlays are quite useful, albeit can take quite a bit of work to get the visualization to what you like.
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