ERE City (US)

How to avoid signing your life over to a mortgage
jacob
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Post by jacob »

In the 6 months, we've been living in Chicago, we've met up with 3 (soon 4) ERE people. It seems like there are many more whereas in the east bay area it was always hard to gather people, e.g. the nearest was 15 miles away, the second nearest was 30 miles away, etc.
This suggests that maybe it's easier to establish ERE city where there's already some density.
Chicago pros:

Many ERE people are already living here.

Affordable housing (compared to CA, OR, and NJ).

Very good public transportation (car free is easy).

Very good strategic location (climate change and peak oil)

Coastal incomes but Midwest prices.

The city does, as far as I know, not have any restrictions on backyard chicken coops.
Chicago cons:

Crime can be an issue (certain areas are like Detroit minor) and a driver of real estate prices. E.g the same house would cost $40000 in a gang-ridden area and $160,000 in a prime (safe) area. Conversely, gentrification does happen with artsy people buying up "iffy" neighborhoods. It might only require a massive concerted effort.


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar »

Cons: weather? I still have to check out Chicago in person


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth »

Chicago is a beautiful city but it doesn't exactly scream ERE friendly to me. I love NYC but I'd say it isn't great for ERE either.
I've always thought ERE is more rural than urban. It isn't too easy to subsidize your income with a lot of crops in a crowded city.


Laura Ingalls
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Post by Laura Ingalls »

I'll throw out a couple of other suggestions
I personally don't care about the airport thing. While I also love to walk/bike and have used the public transportation available to me wherever I have lived in the past I guess going car free it not a high priority. I can live life I enjoy more in a more rural setting even if it means more time in the car.
I second Ralphy's vote of Decorah, IA and if you are going to consider it you should also consider it less collegiate cousin of Virquoa, WI.
I also think Brookings, SD has promise too. I actually visited on my way from DeSmet, SD (yes-for real-Little House fans)to points south. Neat college town feel, cheap (low housing prices, low property taxes about 1% of property value, no state income tax)
While I know less about it than others


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar »

Not sure if I mentioned it, but a big problem I have with some of the suggestions is a big criteria for me:
Racial diversity / acceptance / general non-ignorance
Many of the "best places to live" lists look great until I realize I'd be one of the few non-white people there. Even if people aren't outright racist, even subtle bias can kill it for me.


jzt83
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Post by jzt83 »

What's the heating costs of such a cold place?


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jennypenny
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Post by jennypenny »

@dragoncar--That's tough to find. (sad, really) Half of the reason we pay for private schooling for our kids is to have them in a diverse environment. Stepford is definitely not diverse, and was a real shock after living in Philly for 10+ years. We are very aware of this issue as we look at colleges for DD. We think college towns probably have the best chance at being ERE-friendly and diverse.
We were in Halifax a couple of weeks ago. I would definitely add that to a list of potential ERE cities. Small but big, if that makes sense. Economy is booming. Not very diverse though. Seemed like an extension of New England. For that reason, I think I still prefer Vancouver.
re: Chicago

They're not too fond of the 2nd amendment, and that's tough if hunting is part of your ERE plans.


jacob
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Post by jacob »

@dragoncar - From 50,000ft Chicago is extremely racially segregated. Most neighborhoods will have a very sharp division from one to the other, i.e. one side of the street will be all black, the other side will be all Hispanic and the third will be all white.
http://www.radicalcartography.net/index ... hicagodots
However, looking closely at the map, there are some areas where the dots spill into each other. E.g. north coast and west of the city.
I don't know how it looks like on the ground level.
Weather-wise, well, it depends ... when I think of weather, I'm more concerned with vegetation/can stuff be grown without irrigation/green houses than whether it's comfortable. For instance, San Diego is very comfortable but there's no natural water so nothing grows naturally there. The Midwest is acceptably comfortable (the weather won't kill you) and things grow here.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth »

Sadly, I just don't think there is an ideal ERE city because there are so many requirements that are currently mutually exclusive:
* A lot of farmable land

* Racially/socially diverse population

* Well-educated population

* Good public transport

* Low taxes

* Affordable healthcare options

* High population density
I just can't imagine any place fitting the bill.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth »

Sadly, I just don't think there is an ideal ERE city because there are so many requirements that are currently mutually exclusive:
* A lot of farmable land

* Racially/socially diverse population

* Well-educated population

* Good public transport

* Low taxes

* Affordable healthcare options

* High population density
I just can't imagine any place fitting the bill.


dot_com_vet
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Post by dot_com_vet »

Another reason I like Chicago - It's a major Amtrak hub.
I love train travel! From Chicago, Boston or NY is just one overnight trip away. Coach isn't dirt cheap, but it's not expensive either. You can bring your own food/drinks too.


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar »

Nevermind, I'm never going to Chicago

image upload

DW
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Post by DW »

@Dragoncar, That must be a highrise issue, I actually find we have a lot less insects and spiders here than we did in East Bay. For on street level racial diversity, like Jacob said there are definitely specific neighborhoods and you do see they generally go along with the violence and gang activity, but if you walk down the streets in the good neighborhoods (we live in Ravenswood), I see people of all races and ethnicity here, I love it. That said, I am not all that comfortable waiting for the bus in Uptown (next neighborhood over) at 9:30 with the obvious drug deals going on 40 feet away, I feel way to small town white girl, but I am adjusting


LiquidSapphire
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Post by LiquidSapphire »

All right, ya’ll, I am going to posit the following as the/one of the ERE Cities in the US. Longmont, Colorado.
Pros:

1) I live there!

2) MMM lives here!

3) The climate is quite temperate (over 105 in summer is rare, under 0 in winter is rare). A swamp cooler will do just fine unless you require sub 75 temps in the summer. We paid up to $80 in natural gas to heat our 1000 sq ft home in the dead of winter one month last year for indoor temps in the low to high 60s. Solar power is viable. 300 sunny days/year.

4) Craigslist is active (boulder.craigslist.org) and an even more active one is closeby (denver.craigslist.org). Freecycle is active.

5) Skiing within an hour’s drive. Private buses go there too.

6) Income tax = ¼ of your federal tax liability. Therefore, zero/low federal tax = zero/low Colorado tax.

7) University of Colorado, Boulder is 20 miles away and accessible via bus. This is our largest university in the state.

8) If you're a cyclist, they are EVERYWHERE, I see them all the time.

9) Nice homes are available for $100K-$125K.

10) Lots of open space/farm land outside of city limits.

11) You can see the mountains from the city and they are beautiful! Lots to do there as well, hiking, camping, mountain biking, etc.

12) Denver is a 45 min drive away and has pretty much all the big city life one could expect.

13) You can have chickens in city limits!

14) Fort Collins is 45 min the other way and has Colorado State University.

15) Couple great microbreweries here (Oskar Blues, Pumphouse, Lefthand)

16) Denver International Airport is a huge airport and it takes about 45 min to drive there.

17) Property tax is very very low (a little over 1% of value for us)
Neutral:

1) Public transportation is usable but not great intercity. It runs on time generally. Longmont itself is small enough that you could probably bike everywhere. They are building up light rail big time but it is going to take a few years and it is not scheduled to reach Longmont. I take the bus lots of places now intercity. The buses have bike racks and “under the bus” bike storage. It is possible but it takes a long time if you are going somewhere in Denver that is not downtown or near a major stop. On the other hand, you can be downtown in almost the time it takes to drive there, and that is where the sporting events/museums are. It's not that cheap though intercity... basically $4-5 one way. rtd-denver.com is the public transport site.

2) Denver is a huge economy and Boulder is somewhat of a high-tech hub, both have jobs. Longmont being small-ish, we have some large companies here but not a ton. Job luck will be very industry dependent in Longmont.

3) It's "diverse" in that we have a large hispanic population (30%?) but I don't honestly see many cultures represented beyond that.
Cons:

1) Sales tax is sort of high. 8-9% depending where you go.

2) Insurance is required for cars, mopeds, motorcycles.

3) Not much water around here... we have some reservoirs for water sports, etc but that's about it.

4) It is very dry here, single digit humidity is not uncommon. Weather wise it's a great plus but gardening wise... you will be paying for water to water your garden. It is illegal to collect rain water. (I know, it's wrong, but... there you are.)

5) Pretty much nooo night life... but you can go to Boulder for that.

6) No really "cheap" grocery stores like Aldi, Grocery Outlet... you have Kroger and Safeway as your main choices. There's a Save-a-lot but that didn't impress me much. Boulder has Whole Foods (couple of them) and Lafayette has Sunflower Market (similar). Boulder is very hip/granola-y kinda town and you can find a lot of uniqueness there (but it is extremely expensive to live there). Also a lot of wealth lives there so you can find a lot of high-end activities in Boulder like fancy pants restaurants, etc, but there is not much of that in Longmont (we have maybe 2 or 3 restaurants that I would really consider "gourmet" or "really really nice")

7) If you can garden here year-round I am not aware of it; you are pretty much done with gardening after October and generally cannot pick it up again until March for only the hardiest plants and May for most other plants.


dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar »

Colorado sounds great to me. I don't know anyone there. Will you be my friend? Can I come live with you? Can we go to the zoo? :-p
Lots of water stored in the mountain snow, right?
Lol@fancy pants restaurants. I live next to a restaurant where you can expect to spend over $100 for a meal, NOT including wine. I go there never. I feel like the one time a year I might actually go somewhere expensive, I can travel there and make it an event.


secretwealth
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Post by secretwealth »

Pretty good argument for Bloomington IMO. The university there isn't as well known as it should be--it consistently ranks high in rankings for several fields. Close farmland and low property values are big appeals too. The only problem I can foresee is high heating costs in the winter.


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jennypenny
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Post by jennypenny »

This is good to read. IU Bloomington is at the top of DD's list of colleges right now. The only thing I don't like is that it's landlocked.


LiquidSapphire
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Post by LiquidSapphire »

@dragoncar- Between our 4 pets and the two of us there isn't room for another soul :) But you can buy/rent some place nearby and we could be neighbors and best best friends and hang out all the time!
That is the primary water source - mountain run off, from the snow that they get in the winter. Last year we hardly got any snow so we have drought conditions. Drought conditions seem to occur more often than not.
Here are the two fancy pants places in Longmont I know of - maybe not so fancy pants by your standards since leaving with a bill of <$100 for two might be possible!

http://www.terroir-restaurant.com/

http://www.sugarbeetrestaurant.com/


lee1988
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Post by lee1988 »

Wilmington, NC: very nice weather, high quality beaches, cheap rents, University feel (could be good or bad), about 1.5 hours away from Triangle Research Park


vivacious
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Re: ERE City (US)

Post by vivacious »

I hope you guys don't mind me reviving this thread but here are some ideas I have.

I would posit many small, west coast places as fairly good for ERE. Specifically within an hour or 2 from a city. The prices are MUCH lower at that point. You could go into the main city sometimes also.

For example maybe Sacramento or something comes to mind. It's very cheap, the weather is good most of the year (though is pretty hot for a few months), most of it would be walkable/bikeable. It's the capital so work could be had through the government. Also computers, journalism, and media are some industries there I think.

There are many places to go in northern California also. Beautiful scenery, many recreational opportunities on the weekend, etc. California is spread out so some kind of rideshare may need to be worked out.

I'm just brainstorming here but I think something like that could cover a lot of the main ERE type points.

I think more of a smaller town within range of a bigger town as opposed to an actual suburb is probably better also.

Stimulation is a factor too I think. How stimulating of a place do you guys need to be in? For me I usually like a place with a lot of things going on. Then when you have free time many things are possible.

What do you think? In general the west is less dense also and seems easier to carve out a place in.

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