Where Is The Best Place to Live?

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:

sadiesteps

sadieboat sadieinwater

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.

2 Comments

  • John D. Lozauskas

    Reply Reply June 6, 2016

    I love this post as it makes so much sense. I live in Northern NJ almost exactly between NYC and PA. I have a 3 bd 1.2 bach home, (no basement nor garage), on 0.17 acres. My property taxes are $7,100.00!! We have to pay for City Water and garbage pick up, too.

    The ultimate insult are my parents who live in the same town in an “Active” Adult Community. (I like to call it God’s Waiting Room), and they pay $6,000!! Plus HOA fees of a couple of hundred per month.

    I have a second grader so I am stuck here for 10 years. Many folks from NJ are moving to NC where the taxes are fractions for what we pay and then at age 65, they are reduced.

    My issue will be my wife and also my daughter are Jersey girls, so I might be stuck here forever. I like the change of seasons even though it never gets as cold here as it does in the midwest. I attended the U of Iowa, so I know sever cold like minus 10 with a windchill of -40 but never here or they close down the state.

    • Robert Minton

      Reply Reply June 6, 2016

      John,

      God’s Waiting Room! That’s what my 16-year old daughter calls Florida.

      A few years ago, I really wanted to move to North Carolina because I wanted to live on Lake Norman. Instead of moving there, we just rent a nice house on Lake Norman during the summer. When my kids were younger, we would stay for three weeks. Today, they are too busy to stay for several weeks, but we still go every summer. We spend a great deal of time on the lake boating, jet skiing, and paddleboarding while we’re there. I’ve found that this trip typically gets the “I want to be on the water” out of my system.

      I’m sharing this because you might be able to do the same thing if you relocate to a less expensive area. You can rent a nice home for a few weeks in Jersey. This way your family can get the “I want to be in Jersey” of of their system and everyone is happy. Plus, Jersey is probably more enjoyable throughout the summer months anyway. I actually took this idea from Andrew Carnegie. For many years, he would rent a large house (castle) each summer in Scotland for his family. They would live in the States during the fall, winter and spring and spend summers in the castle.

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