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Thread: The cost of living thread

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    The cost of living thread

    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by Mastiff View post
    Wow. I have two houses, and both mortgages, insurance, and taxes don't add up to that!
    Maybe we need a new thread about COL. My rent alone is $1900 and does not include utilities. Throw in another $250 for utilities. Yea.. high COL areas suck



    And to add to that... now we are in a new thread. Property taxes are indeed lower, however Gasoline is usually higher than the State Average. You will save on utilities on the coast with generally lower electric and heating bills but other than that it is a simple supply/demand graph as illustrated by this wrestler in Exhibit A

    Exhibit A


    As you can see, when there is much demand, but little supply prices go up, as the demand for the good (housing) is outpaced by supply.

    In Exhibit B, this what we think of supply/demand when you live in said market..

    Exhibit B


    suck it...
    Last edited by Raf; 30 Jan 2012 at 2:58 PM.
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  2. #2
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    split from RTDNTOTO


    I remember back in the late 70's it seemed like there were a lot of young/single/recently unemployed Michiganders that went up to Alaska to work on the pipeline for a few years. The cost of living in Alaska was/is screaming expensive but alot of these guys managed to sock away 20% of their paychecks and returned to MI pretty flush.

    Locally, $113k bought a 30 y.o. 1700 square-foot house in 1999. Thanks to the Great Recession that's still about the going rate.
    Last edited by Maister; 30 Jan 2012 at 2:43 PM.
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  3. #3
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I live in central NJ, it's expensive. $1100 for a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment that I have to pay utilities for including water. Homeownership is out of reach for me in any area that I would consider living in with average home prices running between $250K and $300K in a reasonable town with a good school district, not to mention the property taxes of $7K to $10K annually. Yes, my salary is higher than what I would earn in most other places in the country but it doesn't go all that far either.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  4. #4
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    In this area our COL is quite low. Average 3 bed, 2.5 bath home with 1,800 square feet is going for $140k with an average of over 80 days on the market. But if you look at the median 3 bed, 2 bath that is around 1,400 s.f. it is going for $114k.

    Milk here costs $2.50
    Eggs are about $1.75 a dozen.
    Gas is $3.35

    Property taxes depending on where you live range from 55 mills to 140 mills. Which really are pretty low. For a house that is valued at $114k that would be ~$2k to ~5k per year.
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Cost of living in Albuquerque is, according to some survey I found, right about average for the rest of the country in areas of food and utilities. I find that the real challenge here is the ratio of income to house values. Below are some figures on that. For us, income tends to be on the low side and this has been almost stagnant since before 2008. Like everywhere else, I imagine, home values skyrocketed between 2000 and 2008 (we bought in 2007, right at the top of the market ) while wages remained almost level, increasing the housing affordability gap. And yet, our market has been deemed to not be artificially inflated. Where I live, we saw a modest dip in values in the 7 percent range, but that has been rebounding. At the same time, I recently met a woman who owns a home in another part of town she bought for about $300k. She is underwater on her mortgage and is extremely nervous now that a house two doors down (and almost identical to hers) sold for $174k!! So, I don’t quite know what to make about the housing market here and its stability. It seems, though that we are just seeing a shift to preferences for specific areas within the city. I guess I am fortunate to live downtown as prices there have been the most stable.

    My mortgage is in the $1200-$1300 range for a two bedroom, two bath plus MIL quarters (don’t recall the breakdown between the actual mortgage payment and the taxes/insurance – we just pay one lump sum into escrow each month). Property taxes are generally very low here compared to the rest of the country.

    These figures are from 2009:
    Median Household income: $44,594
    Individual: $35,325

    Average home price: $208,000 (median home price is about $190,000)

    Gas prices for Medium Grade vary from about $2.80 to $3.00/gal
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Housing prices in my neck of the woods are moderate compared to other parts of the country, BUT:

    - Property taxes can be MUCH higher, depending on location. We pay ~$4k/year (but the amount increased by >50% in the last 5 years). In the county next door, homes valued similar to ours have annual property taxes of $5k, even $7k.

    - Many people still heat their homes with oil, which has become very expensive. We were able to switch over to natural gas with a new furnace a few years ago, but some communities don't have natural gas available.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Island of Oahu, Hawaii

    Median household income: $57,601
    Per capita income:$30,917

    Median home value: $589,500
    Median condo value: $330,000

    I think it is important to note that though the numbers may not look too shabby to some of you out there in other high COL areas, what you get for your hard earned $$$$ here would likely be demolished in most other places. Our housing stock is mortifying.
    Occupy Your Brain!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    To add some real numbers to this discuss:

    Median 2010 price of a home in SLO: 462,100

    Average Property tax on a new home would be approximately $4,621 a year. (1% of assessed value) If you own your home pre-prop 13 (1978) your "gold" because your property tax is based on that value. As such, my folks property value is stuck at an assessed value of $90,000, even though their home is now worth 2.5 times that amount.

    Average Rent 2010: $1,114 however shared rentals greatly lower this price. Rule of thumb: Apartments 1 to 2 bedrooms 800-$1200. House 2 bedroom $1000-15000. Three bedroom home $1700 to $2100. Four bedroom plus $2200+

    The most startling stat: Median household income $38,031

    That is well below the Golden State's 2009 median household income of $58,931.

    Obviously the service sector brings down wages in this area, but housing costs greatly exceed wages, making owning your own home in San Luis for a couple like ourselves virtually impossible. The only "good" jobs available are those in government work (propped up the university and various state jobs such as the local prison, and pysch ward). Basically because business around here attract some many job applicants for the "high paying jobs", they can low ball salaries simply because people will do anything to live here (yours truly included).

    The current average for Petrol in the nation is $3.40/gal. The CA average is $3.73/gal The San Luis Average $3.80/gal.

    If wages kept up with costs as it does in the LA/San Diego Region or the Bay Area and to the extent Sacramento, I wouldn't complain, but here, it seems wages have been very flat as the cost of living has greatly increased over the last 10 years.
    Last edited by Raf; 30 Jan 2012 at 6:28 PM. Reason: define income
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  9. #9
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Obviously the service sector brings down wages in this area, but housing costs greatly exceed wages, making owning your own home in San Luis for a couple like ourselves virtually impossible.
    If you could only get that Macy*s!
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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mastiff View post
    If you could only get that Macy*s!
    If only..but alas someone out there holds out hope..
    Men do dumb $hit... it is what they do to correct the problem that counts.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Is this the right thread to complain about official inflation statistics that are obviously manipulated to hell and back? Oh, we'll just leave food and gas out of the stats since they vary a lot. Well that makes our family meet budget...hahahah.
    I do feel for the statisticians because of huge quality increases/price decreases over the years in consumer goods (phones, cars) and even larger things like houses (living size, A/C), but the food side of things should be one of the easier ones to follow. For our perceptions the games the manufacturers play with package size are everywhere. I wouldn't be surprised if some gas stations started selling 0.9 gallon "gallons" just to have a smaller number on the sign. (Aside to an aside, I am fascinated by public reactions to gas prices, as it is one of the few prices that are advertised so uniformly)

  12. #12
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    My fair township....

    Median Household Income-$85K
    Median Family Income-$91K
    Median House Value-$353K
    Median Rent-$1200/month (1 bedroom $1000-$1100, 2 bedroom $1400-$1700, rental houses are rare and run $2000+)
    Bachelor Degree or Higher-close to 50%

    It's expensive for me to live here but I stayed here because of the school district for RT. Since I won't have to worry about this for another 5 years we are downgrading towns to get a bigger place and have a shorter commute in June.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  13. #13
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    AZ. Rent is $1000 in an decent area, but utilities (water,sewer, garbage, elec, gas) runs me about $470 in the summer and $270 in the winter. Gas is close to the national average. Property tax is low, but sales tax is over 9%. The public pension contribution is high (11.25% employee paid)
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  14. #14
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    In this area our COL is quite low. Average 3 bed, 2.5 bath home with 1,800 square feet is going for $140k with an average of over 80 days on the market. But if you look at the median 3 bed, 2 bath that is around 1,400 s.f. it is going for $114k.

    Milk here costs $2.50
    Eggs are about $1.75 a dozen.
    Gas is $3.35

    Property taxes depending on where you live range from 55 mills to 140 mills. Which really are pretty low. For a house that is valued at $114k that would be ~$2k to ~5k per year.
    Same for me since Hink and I are in the same region, but I have a house in the next county to the north which has uniformly lower property taxes for comparable properties.

    When I moved here from Chicagoland 1.5 years ago, the cost of housing was a real benefit for us (about half of where we were in Chicagoland) and the sales tax much better (~7% versus 10%), but most other costs are pretty much the same (food, utilities, gasoline, healthcare, etc).
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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  15. #15
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    This is gonna make many of you pretty jealous ...
    Jamestown, NY
    • Homeownership - 48.8%
    • Median owner occupied home value - 63,500
    • Median household income - 33,092

    Chautauqua County
    • Homeownership - 69.8%
    • Median owner occupied home value - 79,600
    • Median household income - 39,521

    I couldn't find any figures that I considered reliable for rents, but you can rent decent homes in decent Jamestown neighborhoods for between $600-$800 a month. IMO, apartments in Jamestown are overpriced in relation to the prices of single family homes. Nice apartments (1-2 BR) are in the $500-$700 range while even substandard apartments with space heaters rather than furnaces frequently rent for $400 and up in good neighborhoods.

    I paid $62,000 for my house in December, 2002. It's got 2 BRs, LR, DR, KIT, sun room, bonus room, and den plus a 2+ car detached garage on a large city lot. My utilities (gas/electric/garbage/water) run < $250 a month in the winter and around $100 a month in the warmer months. A big reason for this is our municipally owned public utilities provider that takes care of everything except natural gas.

    My property taxes are around $2600 but that includes a reasonably good school district, paid professional fire department, and generally excellent city services, so I'm not going to whine like so many of my neighbors. All total, my mortgage/taxes/insurance come to < $700 a month.

    If you like the laid back life-style of small-town/country living, take a positive attitude toward regularly getting 150-200 inches of snow a winter, and can find a decent paying job (and contrary to the prevailing myth around here, there are actually many), Jamestown and/or Chautauqua County are great places to live. I lived for 30+ years in Buffalo and Albany and moved here in 1998, and wouldn't consider living anywhere outside of Chautauqua County except for even more rural Cattaraugus County just to the east.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  16. #16
    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    I live in the county to the south of you CPSURaf… I feel your pain. Although, we did move away to two lower COL states, and ultimately moved back (because of job opportunities, and because we enjoy the weather/locale/cultural opportunities, and also because after living away from family for a decade, we realized we couldn’t live in the same city as all of them anymore, it felt way too confining.) We’re house hunting, but even though it’s a “buyers market” it’s still frustrating because we don’t want a 1,300 sq. ft. 1960’s tract home in “original condition” for $450K, or a 2,000 sq. ft. home with a postage stamp of grass in the back for $599K.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    When you calculate the real cost of living (including gas, insurance, medications, and such) and your pay check over the past 10 years, has your purchasing power gone up or has it gone down? Personally, I think most of America's has gone down and I think it will continue to for quite some time.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  18. #18
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    When you calculate the real cost of living (including gas, insurance, medications, and such) and your pay check over the past 10 years, has your purchasing power gone up or has it gone down? Personally, I think most of America's has gone down and I think it will continue to for quite some time.
    My wife and I both make considerably more money than we did 10 years ago, so furtunately, we've been able to handle some of the rising costs (inclding children ). Plus the COL is fairly average in Michigan.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    When you calculate the real cost of living (including gas, insurance, medications, and such) and your pay check over the past 10 years, has your purchasing power gone up or has it gone down? Personally, I think most of America's has gone down and I think it will continue to for quite some time.
    To me it's all about the money supply affecting the perceived purchasing power by inflation, which the actual standard of living is going up constantly. At the same time, the average family has been running up debt in the easy-credit times. The recent recession is not so much a decline, as a return to sanity in that regard.

    Much of what we have now is so much better than even 10 years ago, much less 100, that it's hard to compare. I have a device in my pocket, smaller than a deck of cards and runs on a pittance of electricity, that will let me communicate instantly and effectively free to nearly any human on earth, and broadcast my thoughts to millions, and tell me my location to within 20' or so, and take photos/video, and access 99% of the total human knowledge. Cars are more powerful and still get better gas mileage and are safer. Medicines being developed to treat new things all the time. We worry about our poor people being too fat, not starving. Then down at the grocery store things seem more expensive, but I can get tropical fruits in the depths of winter among other miracles of international trade and high tech agriculture.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Random Traffic Guy View post
    To me it's all about the money supply affecting the perceived purchasing power by inflation, which the actual standard of living is going up constantly. At the same time, the average family has been running up debt in the easy-credit times. The recent recession is not so much a decline, as a return to sanity in that regard.

    Much of what we have now is so much better than even 10 years ago, much less 100, that it's hard to compare. I have a device in my pocket, smaller than a deck of cards and runs on a pittance of electricity, that will let me communicate instantly and effectively free to nearly any human on earth, and broadcast my thoughts to millions, and tell me my location to within 20' or so, and take photos/video, and access 99% of the total human knowledge. Cars are more powerful and still get better gas mileage and are safer. Medicines being developed to treat new things all the time. We worry about our poor people being too fat, not starving. Then down at the grocery store things seem more expensive, but I can get tropical fruits in the depths of winter among other miracles of international trade and high tech agriculture.
    I think that your view is correct. The hyper-inflation that so many doomsayers have been predicting for the last 30 years hasn't materialized, and doesn't seem likely to do so. Our COL has increased largely because our standards have climbed. We want more things, and we want those things to be bigger, better, more powerful, etc. Except for the early 80s, inflation has been running at less than 4% a year. That's hardly staggering.

    That said, however, the problem in our economy is that wages have failed to keep pace with inflation. There are a number of reasons for this, the two biggies being automation and the shift from manufacturing to services. The current recession has exacerbated that situation.
    If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. -- John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

  21. #21
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    For me its been seen in investment income. Ten years ago I was able to average ten percent returns, now I do well if I get one to two percent.

    Cost of housing around here has really taken a nosedive however. But it has not done so without major social impacts.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  22. #22
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Random Traffic Guy View post

    Much of what we have now is so much better than even 10 years ago, much less 100, that it's hard to compare. I have a device in my pocket, smaller than a deck of cards and runs on a pittance of electricity, that will let me communicate instantly and effectively free to nearly any human on earth, and broadcast my thoughts to millions, and tell me my location to within 20' or so, and take photos/video, and access 99% of the total human knowledge. Cars are more powerful and still get better gas mileage and are safer. Medicines being developed to treat new things all the time. We worry about our poor people being too fat, not starving. Then down at the grocery store things seem more expensive, but I can get tropical fruits in the depths of winter among other miracles of international trade and high tech agriculture.
    Thanks for the positive reminder. I think we often forget how good we have it. I recently read poor people in America have a better standard of living than kings of centuries past. Today's poor would be wealthy just decades ago if we base it on material possessions and home ownership rates.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Random Traffic Guy's avatar
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    Small bump for an article I saw today on inflation in your wallet versus on an official gov't spreadsheet:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505144_162-57387655/inflation-not-as-low-as-you-think/

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