Cost of Living & You :: A Defense of Big Cities (x-post from /r/cscareerquestions)

Background: Hi, I’m a mod over at /r/cscareerquestions, and sometimes-lurker here. I recently got frustrated by posters using cost of living websites somewhat naively to compare ‘effective’ salaries, and created [this thread](https://www.reddit.com/r/cscareerquestions/comments/6o0ypv/psa_cost_of_living_you_a_defense_of_big_cities/) as a response. /u/moneysloths then suggested that I crosspost it to this sub, so here it is.

——————–

*^By ^popular ^demand*

Every once in a while here, someone helpfully points out that earning minimum wage in Smallsville is the same thing as earning ***one million dollars*** in San Francisco, and then I have to explain that handy dandy cost of living (CoL) data sites like [Numbeo](https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/) or [Best Places](http://www.bestplaces.net/), while useful, don’t tell the whole story. Nowhere close to it, in fact.

Now I’m not here to argue that places like SF and NYC aren’t very expensive (they are), but these websites often exaggerate the difference even so. Here’s why you can’t just take a salary from one area and naively multiply it by the difference in cost of living that a website tells you about.

(For the sake of simplicity, I’m conflating big city with expensive city here, since those two attributes are usually correlated. I know that expensive small cities (Boulder) and cheap big cities (Detroit) also exist.)

###Some things cost the same no matter where you are.

Anything digital, like your Netflix sub, or all those cheap Steam games you buy on sale, same price no matter where you are. Almost any durable good that comes out of a factory, like your laptop or a car, same price across the country. For many nerds this constitutes a sizable amount of spending.

### Some things are actually effectively cheaper in bigger cities, in both obvious and subtle ways.

One of the more obvious ones is air travel, especially internationally. It’s going to be significantly cheaper (and less time/headache) to travel overseas if you live in a metro with multiple major airports, like SF or NYC, than if you live in Des Moines. A more subtle one may be, say, ‘shows’, like comedy tours or concerts or plays. Living in a small city, you’ll probably have to travel a fair distance, maybe even stay at a hotel in order to participate, whereas the person who lives in a big city can just wait for the tour to come to them.

And here’s an even trickier example: let’s say you’re comparing transportation in NYC vs Tulsa. BestPlaces, a cost of living comparison site, says that that category is more expensive in NYC. Makes sense, it’s definitely more expensive to have a car in NYC, and the transit pass probably costs more there too. Except…transit is nearly always much cheaper than owning and operating a car, and relying on transit is much more realistic in NYC (transit mode share: ~57%) than in Tulsa (transit mode share: 1.4%). Essentially, what these sites can fail to account for is how *viable* different strategies or lifestyles can be, and the financial impact therein.

### Most things that are good about cheaper areas can be had for more money in expensive areas

…but the reverse is frequently not true: things that people move to big cities for cannot be had in cheaper areas at all. The most salient point here is, well, usually the biggest thing people cite in favor of smaller cities is the cost of housing, that they can get a big house for cheap. That’s something you *can* get in bigger cities, it just costs much more, so that goes into the formulas. Conversely, many of the reasons that people cite for living in a big city, like walkability or cultural diversity or a feeling of “happeningness”, simply don’t exist in smaller cities, and can’t be bought at any price.

Ok, so what? Consider: if you *could* get walkability in a smaller city by paying a ‘neighborhood service fee’ of $200/month, that might get taken into account in a cost of living calculator, and it’d make the bigger city look better. But since it’s not available at $200, or $500, or $10,000, or infinity dollars, it just gets ignored instead. You can’t do a price comparison for something that doesn’t exist, so they never make it into any formula, which again slants things against bigger cities.

### Cost of living calculators use generic calculations that don’t take into account *your* particular needs and wants.

This is sort of a meta-point. Even if a CoL website accounted for all the problems above, ultimately it would still be a ballpark figure based on a hypothetical, average basket of goods. Fine for you if you’re average in your spending in every way, but otherwise you need to think about your particular spending habits, and your particular values and priorities. Someone for whom the number one priority is owning a big house will probably be well-served by CoL sites and should target a smaller city. Conversely, someone who places a high priority on traveling the world would probably be better served living in a major city with a major airport or two.

### Savings is CoL-orthogonal *if* the savings will be used after you move to a different city.

This is most relevant for retirement savings: if you’re not going to retire where you currently live, then it’s the absolute dollar amount that you are able to save right now that matters, **not** the amount you’re saving relative to your current cost of living. This means that living early in your career in SF tends to give you a life flexibility advantage, since moving will effectively increase the purchasing power of your savings, whereas the opposite is true if you saved money living in a cheap rural area. It doesn’t matter if saving $5,000/year is a big deal and could sustain you for years in Middle-of-nowhere Arkansas, it’s not going to be terribly useful if someday you do decide that you want to try out living in Boston instead.

### Cool cool cool, but what should I *do* with this newfound insight?

Using CoL sites is still okay for evaluating ballpark expensiveness as long as you’re aware of their biases and shortcomings. If you want to, say, look at *specifics* comparing two different areas, create a rough budget based on how you would live (for more on that, perhaps check out [/r/personalfinance’s budgeting tag](https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/search?restrict_sr=on&q=flair:Budgeting&feature=legacy_search#res-hide-options) or their [budgeting FAQ](https://www.reddit.com/r/personalfinance/wiki/budgeting)) in those two areas. Numbeo’s per-item breakdowns are good for this, as are the usual online tools and websites that let you estimate major costs: padmapper, craigslist, zillow, etc. With a budget in place, you can think both about your potential lifestyle in an area and its attendant costs, and also how much saving in that area would affect your financial future.

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34 Comments


  1. fi999

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Some other points.

    * Federal tax code curvature favors LCOL area.

    * Money isn’t everything. Living in a HCOL area can be a smart life decision if you are happier there. When I moved to a fun and sunny HCOL city, my health, happiness, and wellness skyrocketed, which in turn gave me the discipline to behave more frugally in some areas where I had previously lacked willpower because of my depression caused by living in a shitty LCOL town. Being around smarter, better people has also advanced my personal life and my career.

  2. DrGepetto

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Some good points here. I will also agree that starting in a hcol area early on makes it much more “profitable” to migrate closer to a lower col location once you retire.

  3. EventualCyborg

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Everyone is hung up on housing, but a huge difference for us with 3 young kids is daycare. We pay ~$1500/month for their childcare, in most HCOL cities, that wouldn’t be enough to cover one!

  4. _neminem

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    All of that is entirely true, but it doesn’t change the fact that housing is going to be by far the biggest cost for the vast majority of people – you say you’re comparing the cost of having a giant house, but I’d just compare the cost of “not being homeless”. Even a tiny condo is a decent bit more expensive than a much bigger house, let alone a tiny condo, in a LCoL area – and *crazy* cheaper compared to even a shoebox in SF or Manhattan. Everyone has to not be homeless, so that absolutely needs to go into a cost of living translation.

    Apart from that, though, I agree, everyone’s different. I don’t really feel like my cost of living, if you subtract housing, would be that much different anywhere in the US – but *outside* the US, probably would be (plenty of Asia where food would be at least twice as cheap, which is the second biggest expense; meanwhile, in Zurich, from what I could tell from the day I was there, it’d likely be at least 20% more expensive.)

  5. drcanislupus

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I have a job that I can work from anywhere from my computer as long as I have internet access. But I am in my 20s so I would like to live in a place where people my age are. I also travel internationally once a year. Are there any smaller ‘cool’ towns or cities where I can afford a house since my income is fixed while my spending depends on where I live? I would be grateful if someone has any suggestions anywhere in US.

  6. zerostyle

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Throw real estate costs into the mix and all the minor crap you mentioned is barely a drop in the bucket.

    Most people are looking at 30-50pct higher salary for 200-300pct higher real estate costs

  7. mathgrethrow

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    If you’re a banker in Columbus (Ohio) or running corporate strategy at a F500 company in Bentonville (Arkansas) then you can make and save a ton of money. I have specific real examples in mind there.

    The problem is that most high paying jobs are in high cost of living areas because people generally prefer to live in high cost of living areas and people who make a lot of money can afford it.

    If you can get one of those jobs in a high cost of living area then you can probably get it in the low cost of living area too.

    Edit: the COL comparisons get real murky though. I probably spend an average amount on housing, but it gets me a non-master bedroom in a 2 bedroom apartment rather than a mortgage on a 4 bedroom house.

    If you wanted to live within 30 minutes driving distance of your Manhattan office that would be literally impossible to afford whereas even in Redmond that would be doable.

  8. Slammedtgs

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    >Almost any durable good that comes out of a factory, like your laptop or a car, same price across the country.

    Sometimes the case but ignores the overhead component in HCOL vs LCOL places. If you’re buying retail the prices are probably not the same. Online, different story.

  9. funchy

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Of course a million dollars in SF doenst equal minimum wage is Nowhereville. But, I can’t help but feel you are seeing big city life through rose colored glasses?

    Sure Netflix costs the same. But Netflix is like ten bucks and it’s not a necessity. Focus on what the average person spends most of his money on. [ This source](http://www.businessinsider.com/how-americans-spend-most-of-their-money-2017-1) claims 60%+ is spent on only 3 categories: food, housing, transportation.

    * housing by far is more expensive in big cities. I can live like a king in my semi rural area for what a tiny house costs in a decent neighborhood in San Francisco. For example [this wooden shack]( http://fortune.com/2015/09/25/san-francisco-cheapest-home/) which is currently unlivable is $350,000. I could buy THREE nice starter homes in good neighborhood for that shack.

    * transportation costs vary a lot depending on situation and lifestyle. Sure cities may have mass transit. But many people still depend on cars. Parking where i live is free everywhere. Parking in a big city might be $20+ a day. Insurance tends to be more in big cities. To find affordable housing near their big city job, the SF worker Is a [megacommuter](https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2013/03/05/san-francisco-bay-area-nations-capital-for-megacommuting/) driving longer distances, spending more time, and planning around the commute more. Where i live I won’t take a job I need to commute more than half an hour to get to by car. Gas is higher per gallon in SF than national average [by 37% in this article](http://www.businessinsider.com/how-expensive-is-san-francisco-2015-9/#to-afford-to-buy-a-median-priced-home-in-the-metro-area-youd-need-to-earn-about-158000-a-year-5)

    * food: sf grocery stores are [27% higher than national average](http://www.businessinsider.com/how-expensive-is-san-francisco-2015-9/#the-food-is-world-class-but-itll-cost-you-even-if-youre-not-splurging-on-fine-dining-a-meal-for-two-at-a-mid-range-spot-in-the-city-costs-about-75-nearly-double-the-national-average-8). And in a semi rural area such as mine, seasonally we can buy produce direct from growers at a fraction of supermarket prices.

    And one thing we need to consider: taxes. The more you make, the higher your tax liability. Cities have city wage taxes. Property taxes are based on value and there’s a world of difference in taxes between a $100,000 home and a $million one. When you retire, your million dollar condo will still have a massive property tax bill due each year.

    Broadway plays are ok if you’re into Broadway plays, but I’ve seen them (actually on Broadway Nyc) and it’s not my cup of tea.

    Airports? I’m driving distance to 3 major international airports. And since I’m not stuck in the middle of a city, by being halfway between them means I have many more options for flights = cheaper tickets.

    Transit passes? No we don’t have mass transit here but frankly I wouldnt take it anyway. America has generally crappy mass transit systems compared to Europe. When i did try transit, busses were irregular and it was a long distance to get to a bus line. The type of people who ride American mass transit arent always nice, friendly well-behaved folks. They were more like the dont-shower or registered-sex-offender type.

    Walkability is nice *for some people* assuming you have the time, aren’t mobility impaired, local climate is favorable

    I feel that you’re forgetting walkability is more than building sidewalks. In the major cities closest to me, much of the blocks I would not walk. Safety is #1 concern. Blame it on me for being female, but i don’t feel ok walking most city streets alone after dark. Some areas I wouldnt want to walk through in daylight. And there’s the hassle factor if I need to buy anything: City people without cars spend $ on having everything delivered. From my home I can bicycle to a college, shopping centers, grocery store, a community theater, doctors offices, parks. And I can go walking or bicycling alone at any time without needing mace or an escort.

    There are pros and cons to city life. Some love it but it isn’t for everyone. But from a financial standpoint, you must admit big cities do tend to have some higher average costs associated with them.

  10. gottahavemorecowbell

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I can see the underlying reason why this is true, but really the best reason for living in a bigger city is the fact that you have a larger number of jobs available to you for negotiating or if you lose your job.

    I do have one gripe about a point that you made though:

    > One of the more obvious ones is air travel, especially internationally. It’s going to be significantly cheaper (and less time/headache) to travel overseas if you live in a metro with multiple major airports, like SF or NYC, than if you live in Des Moines.

    This isn’t true. The reason why SFO, LAX, NYC (really JFK) are cheaper is the competition for the gates that these airports allow, wherein you have a distributed number of airlines that have gates assigned to them beyond the codeshare partners to drive down prices. Don’t believe me? Look at MIA and IAD. MIA flights are as inexpensive as those while not being an HCOL like SFO, LAX, and JFK. IAD, on the other hand, often has fares more expensive than, say flying from JAX via IAD.

  11. movedtoTexas

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I kinda agree with you. Except housing, almost everything is the same every where. Last year, I talked to the manager at Papa John’s Pizza in San Jose when I was on vacation. I asked him how they keep prices the same everywhere when rent is much higher in California than Texas. He told me that prices are the pretty much the same every where however they do 50% off at least 4-6 times a week at lower cost of living areas. They rarely do that at higher cost of living areas. Just something to think about.

  12. available_username2

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I think I agree in general with your point about everything can be had in hcol area, but cheap big space is inversely correlated with walkability.

  13. fstak

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    So, I lived in San Francisco for a year, and I found that the cost of living created awful living situations for many of the people there. Just about everyone I knew and socialized with ranged from hardcore alcoholics who worked as bartenders and servers and levied so much debt they couldn’t bring themselves to care to rent control riders who lived in the same cockroach infested apartment for 35 years because they could never afford to move. People I met who were “financially responsible” were too afraid to go out after work because it is so costly, and they have house/car/school payments looming, and some of the highest taxes in the world to look forward to paying.

    An affront to big cities: this inflation effect ruins lives of the people living in the city who are unable to float up with flow. In America especially, it is dead easy to get into un-manageable debt just to keep living life the way you’re used to.

    Banks like Wells Fargo are no help either, coming after poor people with ridiculous charges for an overdraft they can’t deactivate. Will give you loads of credit and make it impossible for you to reasonable pay it back.

  14. WoeToTheUsurper2

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I remain very unconvinced, perhaps just because of cultural differences. Most of the good things you listed aren’t really something I would want. Working in or near a big city may still be optimal for accumulation due to job supply and the fact that you’re trying to save the largest absolute amount of money, not the largest percentage (assuming you’re willing to retire somewhere cheaper).

    Stuff like walkability or being able to ride a subway doesn’t really sound like a positive thing to me. I’d rather just drive the 5 minutes to walmart once a week for groceries and call it a day. Cars are an unfortunate expense, but I still think it’s a huge upgrade over public transportation (of course, I’ve never actually lived in a huge city for more than a week at a time). I have no desire for international travel or comedy shows or concerts. The things I do enjoy doing such as trail running, mountain biking, hiking, camping, and having a huge yard for my dogs are all better and cheaper in a LCOL environment. Again, if I wanted to do any of those things you listed (and even then, you do them a couple times a year at most?), Atlanta has all of them and is a short drive away.

    Happeningness? Literally don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Cultural diversity? Come live in Florida. There you’ll find black and white and every flavor of Spanish. Come live next to any military base. Instant diversity. Probably not the kind of “cultural diversity” you’re looking for though.

    The airport thing is stupid too. You can buy a huge house 45 minutes outside of Atlanta for 150k.

    Can we just be honest and call it what it is? A lot of people want to live around people who think like them. I’m referring to liberals here. Blue voters are concentrated in big cities. Don’t get me wrong, I live in Georgia and hate the culture, but let’s not pretend like it’s not just another luxury purchase and ultimately it’s one of the most expensive ones. Nearly everything you want in a big city can be had by living 45 minutes away from a Tier 2 city for a quarter of the price, but you have to deal with living next to poor republicans and so it’s not worth it to some people.

    This is also why everyone here jerks off about SF, NYC, Denver, Austin, Seattle, and of course the hidden gem that is Detroit while you never hear about Jax, Tampa, Atlanta, Nashville, Louisville, Charlotte, and every city in Texas that’s not Austin. And it’s why people are posting here talking about moving to 3rd world countries due to the “unstable political climate” of the Trump presidency.

  15. 1981babyy

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    This post is like a battle between HCOL people vs LCOL people. Geez if you happy where you are at, no need to feel insecure about it.

  16. 1981babyy

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Just like everything else. Someone is paying for it. Sweet and sour chicken is gonna cost more when minimum wage is $15 instead of $8.

  17. urmombaconsmynarwhal

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    The thing is youre posting on a sub where people are living the most boring lives possible just to retire 8 months earlier. Eating rice and beans to retire two years earlier. So international airfare is not something most readers here are even considering for any reason.

    Your points are valid, but this would have a lot more relevance on PF as opposed to the people here who bike to work 9 miles for the sole reason of saving 400 a year on car insurance

  18. issue9mm

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    > Anything digital, like your Netflix sub, or all those cheap Steam games you buy on sale, same price no matter where you are.

    Because all of the tangential points I might have made in response to this were either already addressed by the (excellent) post or by any of the excellent replies, I just want to point out that this isn’t absolutely true, tho it’s basically true enough to not matter.

    Some locales (namely Chicago) have begun implementing specific taxes for streaming video services, like Hulu and Netflix. [45 cities in California](http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/27/pasadena-will-tax-netflix-hulu-and-your-city-might-be-next/) are apparently contemplating a tax that would be applicable to basically all video services, including HBO Go and Hulu, in addition to Netflix.

    That said, it’s definitely worth pointing out the tax burden of living in bigger cities. In America, I of course pay federal income taxes, but as a resident of Maryland, I also pay a state income tax. I currently live outside of Baltimore, but if I moved inside city limits, I’d be subjected to a city income tax as well.

    It’s hard to compare apples to apples when it comes to taxation, but bigger cities tend to dip into your wallet moreso than smaller cities and townships and such (though obviously not always true.)

    https://www.attn.com/stories/13076/chicago-is-getting-sued-over-video-streaming-tax

  19. ajswdf

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    There’s a couple problems here.

    On the things that cost the same no matter where you live, this is true, but this makes up a very small percentage of expenses for most people.

    On transportation, you can get by without a car in LCOL cities if you really want. There are areas here in Kansas City where you could very easily get by without a car. When I worked a corporate job I took the bus to work every day even though I live in the suburbs. A monthly pass for the NYC subway is over $115 a month, which is comparable to what I spend monthly on my car expenses, yet my car can take me directly to my destination, in private, much more quickly. It also gives me the freedom to drive to a distant place at a moment’s notice.

    There are some things you can do in bigger cities that you can’t in smaller ones, which is why some people say the extra expense is worth it. But when talking purely financials, LCOL areas will usually win out.

    It’s true COL calculators aren’t perfect, but unless you’re highly unusual in your spending habits they’re going to be roughly accurate, especially since housing is most people’s biggest expense. And when you adjust for COL, the average person in KC makes more than the average person in NYC.

    The truth is that living in a LCOL city puts FIRE on easy mode. But the whole point of financial planning is to help live a better life, and if living in a HCOL area is worth the cost to you, then you should live there.

  20. Laser45

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    COL is not always correlated with city size.

    The Bay Area is the most expensive place in the continental US today. But it is not the largest. At 4.6 million, it is only the [11th largest metropolitan area](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Metropolitan_Statistical_Areas).

    The following are larger, and around half the cost of living or less;

    * Chicago
    * Dallas
    * Atlanta
    * Houston
    * Miami

    All are massive metropolitan areas. Chicago has better transit than the Bay Area, the rest have worse.

    Most tech folks are far better off in these other cities, unless you are in the top 5-10% in The Bay Area and pulling in the $300k package. These other cities are full of 6 figure tech jobs, sometimes with far less competition than The Bay Area.

    Comparing small towns to San Francisco is not really a good comparison, it is 2 extremes. Compare other large cities to San Francisco.

  21. fortworthtexas

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I track my expenses the last 3 years. I spend 30k a year or $2500 a month on everything exclude saving for a new car or big replacement items such as roof or AC unit. I live in 2500 square feet home on 1 acre that I bought 12 years ago for 95k. I shop mostly at Aldi, Costco and Hmart. Within 25 minutes drive, I can eat and shop Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese towns. I make six figure salary in IT. So tell me, where can I do better for my family of 4 in our early 30’s?

  22. curiously_clueless

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Honestly, every post I’ve ever read about comparing cost of living or geographic arbitrage misses one *really* important point. It’s all about the *people* in your life. The thought of living somewhere for decades and not putting down roots with your community, or building bonds with family and friends seems deeply sad to me. I don’t think most people chose where they live based on some cost of living calculus. I’m not sure I’d ever want to.

  23. lsp2005

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    You lost me the moment you said cars are priced the same across the country. They are regionally priced. They even offer different features depending upon your region as add ons and stripped down vehicles. Did you know Massachusetts and the South receive the base model stripped down because of college kids and the amount people want to spend on cars. If you are on the east coast MD has better prices than NY/NJ?! My neighbor was the eastern regional manager for a major brand and we had this discussion regularly.

  24. serdyn321

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    wasn’t expecting this to hang out in 3 different places I lurk lol

  25. iliikepie

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Eating out in San Francisco is insanely expensive. Even if you don’t go to fancy restaurants.

    Also, public transit in San Francisco takes forever. Unless you live within walking distance to everything you need (much higher rent), you will be paying with your time by commuting long hours. Even if you only need to go a mile or two.

  26. MJA87

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I just turned down a $62k job offer in a HCOL area (Boston) today and am not positive I made the right decision. I feel good about it overall, but I’ve never really had the city living experience and feel like I might be missing out.

    It looks like I’ll make ~$10k less where we currently live in Durham, NC. We love the area and are looking to possibly buy a house soon, but this is the biggest city I’ve ever lived in. I guess we can afford to take trips to cities and I’ll experience it that way.

  27. Eckish

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    The biggest issue that I’ve had with CoL calculators is that they don’t do 1 for 1 adjustments. There’s a Quality of Life difference in what they are comparing. Housing, for example, will usually be represented as “someone in your situation paying X will pay Y for housing in this new location.” Someone with an engineer salary in cheaper area is going to be able to afford a house, while the same engineer on a big city salary is not likely to live in anything detached. And that’s the expectation. It is a big city because of the density of its structures and people.

  28. Elkyrie

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Hmm. Okay, interesting post, OP, but how does all this change when you start factoring in kids? Thinking about daycare, transportation, housing, groceries, etc, I imagine that those CoL calculators biases against large cities start to become more palatable. I have no actual idea, though. Thoughts?

  29. shatmae

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    When we were considering moving from Toronto to the Bay Area I did a lot of research. Id look into the cost of living sites for things like groceries but for the most part I looked up actual costs, for example I looked on Zillow for apartments and locations. I asked around why some locations were so much cheaper. I looked up crime rates, etc. I looked up cost of buying a new car, how much gas is and insurance. I can’t imagine just doing a simple cost of living multiple and thinking that is enough.

    My expected costs ended up being pretty accurate too for when we actually moved here, but I was well aware that it was going to be a heck of a lot more expensive which most people are seriously shocked by when they move here.

  30. 281fishing

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    Could you cite an example of someone posting that a $1 million salary in San Francisco is equivalent to minimum wage anywhere?

  31. trollyoutoday

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I’m good. I don’t want to pay federal, state, AND city income taxes to live in a dirty city where it’s impractical for me to own a car, gun, or tract of land.

    I’ve gone to two concerts in my life and didn’t really enjoy them. Walking around in a dirty crowded placed like NYC is revolting to me. People in large cities are rude and generally suck. I really don’t see the appeal. The idea of paying for parking to go to a store makes me irrationally angry. To say nothing of all the other big brother nonsense that comes with living in a huge city.

    But hey, more power to you. The more of y’all go to the cities the cheaper land will get out here.

    Flight expense is conceded. But with churning it’s basically a non-issue for me beyond the extra time due to connections.

  32. currid7

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I’m going to do something I hate and pick on specific points rather than your bigger picture.

    You state that durable goods cost about the same wherever you are, this isn’t really the case. In 2013, I bought a 2012 Fusion with 35k miles for $13k in KS. I looked 3 months ago for the same car for my wife, except higher mileage. A 2012 Fusion around 65k miles here in NOLA was $15k. Somehow after 4 years, my car had appreciated! But seriously, domestic cars have big swings based on where the cars there are sourced from, i.e. VWs in the north are more expensive than in the south (where they come from Mexico). Also, sales taxes make everything more expensive. Although they’re not directly correlated to size, big cities do typically have them. Whether because their state does (NYC, Boston) or because they have city taxes (Chicago, LA).

    Transportation is obviously supposed to be apples to apples (all of them are), so you can’t say “well, you’ll use the subway in NYC, so that’s cheaper.” Also, flying out of a bigger airport is not necessarily cheaper. I’d say it’s about 50/50 that a smaller airport has a higher airfare, it’s usually just more travel time. Points travel makes this point irrelevant.

    Housing: even in small cities, most neighborhoods have HOAs (or other association fees, my home has 3) and they directly contribute to the walkability, niceness, and other stuff of that nature. It’s in the formulas.

    The biggest point you make is about these things not applying to your specific situation. This is the case with any of these types of calculators. People that don’t get that really aren’t even worth talking to.

  33. pAul2437

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    This only applies to tech.

  34. porcupine-free

    July 19, 2017 at 5:30 am

    I live in a very hcol area, big city. I have never saved more money than I have now. Before I lived in a very lcol city, like my rent was $340 a month and food was cheap. The thing is if you get a decent wage in a big city, you only take public transport, and you get cheaper groceries, you will save a whole lot more than you think. The only thing I am sacrificing is space. Plus where I live now has more things I want to do for fun. Yes my old city also had lots of fun places to eat and all that but after everything is accounted for, my current hcol city has 10x more fun stuff to do, and stuff that I *want* to do that I can’t find in other cities.

    Beforehand I was making more than enough to live and save, but now that I have a high wage city and get that high wage, but still live like I have a low wage, I saved more in my first 2 years here than i did in my entire life before. Literally doubled 10 years of work’s savings in a couple years. If the variables are right, the big hcol city can work.

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