I used to hate living in Cleveland.
In conference calls and podcasts (my old-school monthly CD audio interviews), I would often tell listeners I was calling from “lovely” Cleveland, Ohio. This was always said with a sarcastic tone. I actually sold my business as part of a plan to move to Charlotte, North Carolina.
There were several reasons why I wanted to leave Cleveland. The two biggest reasons were…
1. the weather.
2. the lack of economic prosperity in the area.
When I would forecast into the future and think about job opportunities for my children, I would always come to the conclusion they were at a disadvantage living here. This isn’t an area growing economically and it always seemed as if the best job opportunities were elsewhere.
Today, I LOVE living in Cleveland. I really do and it’s crazy how my perspective has changed. Here are a few pictures I snapped this past weekend hiking with my dog:
Lake Erie is 5-minutes from my front door. I’m at the lake several times a week and there are several beautiful lakefront parks and beaches.
I actually have learned to love the change of seasons. In the winter we snowshoe, enjoy sledding races, and have fun snowball fights. Winter evenings are enjoyed in front of the fireplace with a great book.
The best part of living in this area is the ability to generate attractive passive income. Our cost of living here is extremely low compared to other areas. A NICE first-time buyer home in a good area can be purchased for $70,000 to $80,000. This same home would easily rent for $1,100 to $1,200 a month. Or an investor could buy a mobile home for $8,000 to $10,000 and collect $300 a month on this investment. These are incredible investment opportunities and they’re all around this area.
Had I moved to a fast-paced growing city, I definitely would not have the time freedom I enjoy today. My cost of living would be significantly higher and I wouldn’t be able to achieve the same levels of passive income at low levels of investment forcing me to work for income. I am so extremely grateful for Cleveland today and have no plans to move. When the kids are out of school, we may travel more during the winter months.
The biggest lesson I’ve extracted from all of this is to really be careful what you wish for. The idea we typically follow is to move to where the best jobs are, because you’ll set yourself up for better job opportunities. We teach our kids this same approach, too.
Thinking through my family history, it’s easy to see we live in Cleveland today because there were job opportunities years ago. Both of my parent’s families moved to Cleveland for jobs back in the day. Those jobs are now long gone.
But what happens if your goal isn’t a great job? Where do you go then?
You do the exact opposite and move to an area that isn’t growing where the cost of living is extremely low. You focus your time on acquiring great income properties at very low price points. You engineer your life so you don’t have to work for income and you stop worrying about the best jobs. The best location becomes one with very attractive investment opportunities.
The cost of living in every “hot” area is extremely high and this creates a hidden trap for those looking for a great job. Their “great” job locks them into a situation where they’ll have to work until their 70s and this is because they won’t be able to create enough investment income to offset their living expenses.
However, if your goals are different (and they very well may be), the idea of living in a low-cost area may not be the best choice for you. The salary levels, business opportunities, and real estate appreciation rates are significantly less than higher growth areas. I guess it all comes down to how you value your time. If you are willing to trade your time for money, you will probably be better off in growth areas. If you’re not willing to trade your time for money, you will probably be better off in a low growth area.