Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My Thoughts on Most Affordable Places to Live Well offered this article and list featuring the most affordable cities for fine living based on a matrix of factors including quality of life & dollar value.

"First among them: Minneapolis.
It nabbed the top spot on our list of Most Affordable Places To Live Well.
There, homes are relatively affordable, residents enjoy a high quality of life
and access to choice arts, leisure and entertainment offerings."

The list also included: (2) Indianapolis ; (3) Cincinnati ; (4) St. Louis and (5) Houston.
It's a good article with a concise slide show summary. Here's the link for the summary: In Pictures: Most Affordable Places To Live Well

If I were to put together, my own point system for targeting affordable cities with great quality of life, I would examine these factors:

1. How are the schools? (public and private). What kind of after-school programs are offered for kids? Are tutors expensive?

2. How is the weather? Pittsburgh ranks in the top 10 of the Forbes list and the city has great cultural institutions and affordable housing. But the weather is very overcast in Pittsburgh, which is located in a valley. I lived there for a couple of years during the early 1980s, and the overcast days depressed me. But I had a lot of great friends that I miss very much. My sister and her husband live there too. Hi Debbie & Frank!

3. Are there discount programs for cultural events? Show tickets in Miami are expensive, but various events have $5 seats for students and super cheap rates for seniors, groups or families. New York City is very expensive, but I enjoyed the free star-studded Shakespeare in the Park presentations in Central Park.

4. How is the public transportation? It's possible to save thousands of dollars a year by using public transportation. Subways and buses save gas, insurance costs, parking and maintenance. But a city without a reliable public transportation system is a no-no in my book.

5. Is there easy access to affordable shopping for food, household trinkets and clothing? I love Miami Beach, but life in a tourist town has challenges. Until recently, we had very few local stores that offered basic life materials (food, clothing, light bulbs). I can't eat postcards and boutique shoes. Therefore, we had to travel quite a distance for the basics. With the arrival of a few big box stores, our quality of life has improved.

6. Bookstores & Great Coffee. I need my books & coffee.

7. Great water views. I feel landlocked without access to an ocean, river or even a canal. I have to have water. I need a Room with a View.

8. Cheap hotels or great promotions. It's great to live in paradise, but if the local hospitality industry is to pricey, no one (out-of-town friends and relatives) can afford to visit you. You'll feel very lonely, especially if your place is not large enough to accommodate guests.

9. A spiritual center: I like a community with a mix of synagogues, yoga teachers and new age spirituality. I can't live in a spiritual desert.

10. Walkways & parks. As a former runner, I've become addicted to walking. I love walk-able cities like NYC and Boston. Miami Beach also offers great paths for walkers.

oh yeah: I need a good sports team and decent sports talk radio. But you can't have everything.


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Making and Saving in the LBC said...

Those "best places to live articles" are always skewed. I'm looking to leave Southern California for cheaper housing, better schools, land and people that speak English (even with an accent).

The weather here is nice but I miss thunderstorms and rain. Being able to walk and hike. Clean streets. People that say hello when they see you. Small town life.

Having lived in Minneapolis, I can say that there is very little diversity, it is colder than Alaska in winter and is not inexpensive. The schools are questionable. I do not understand the article.

Saving Freak said...

I have to agree on the weather issue. All those Midwestern cities have terrible weather. Give me Atlanta or the Texas cities any day.

Anonymous said...

My own choice would be a small nice town with enough kindness to live with.
I'm ok with some weather issues now and then or even if it is more expensive to live on.
There are a lot of frugal living tricks & tips that can be practiced anytime and anywhere in this world.
The most important is to stay happy and healthy physically and financially.

J.C. Carvill