Friday, January 20, 2006

MSNBC: Go to the Midwest, young man! It's cheaper!

In the MSNBC article: "California or bust!" That's been the mantra for generations of Americans who wanted to ride the wave of westward migration. Now, the tide may be turning, as families turn back to their Midwestern roots, searching for a more affordable lifestyle for themselves and their children. "

"The average cost of a house in the suburban Midwest costs anywhere from $100 to $120 per square foot. On the East coast, you can pay from $300 to $325 a square foot. If you want to live on the West coast, some areas run as high as $500 per square foot."

"Taxes are another big reason that families are moving away from coastal properties. "


  1. S.F. Bay Area real estate sales dive
    Median home price falls $16K from previous month
    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    Inman News
    Home sales in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area declined on a year-over-year basis for the ninth month in a row in December as prices eased from a November peak, according to DataQuick Information Systems, a real estate information service.
    A total of 9,347 new and resale houses and condos were sold in the region last month, down 3.8 percent from 9,717 for November and down 15.5 percent from 11,068 for December last year, DataQuick reported.
    The month-to-month decline is unusual – sales normally increase from November to December, the company reported. Last month's sales count was the lowest for any December since 8,987 were sold in December 2002. The 15.5 percent year-over-year decline was the steepest since sales fell 27.2 percent in November 2001.
    "Demand still seems to be there, but the sense of urgency seems to be a thing of the past. We don't expect the market to tumble, but we do expect price increases to level off between now and spring," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president, in a statement. The median price paid for a Bay Area home was $609,000 last month. That was down 2.6 percent from November's record high of $625,000, and up 14.3 percent from $533,000 for December a year ago.
    The annual price increase was the lowest since prices rose 13.1 percent to $474,000 in March 2004.
    The typical monthly mortgage payment that Bay Area buyers committed themselves to paying was $2,867 in December. That was down from $2,921 in November, and up from $2,350 for December a year ago.
    Adjusted for inflation, mortgage payments are 16 percent higher than they were at the peak of the prior cycle 16 years ago.
    Foreclosure rates are low, but are expected to rise this year. Down payment sizes are stable and there have been no significant shifts in market mix, DataQuick reported.
    Sales dropped 30.4 percent in Napa County, 28.4 percent in Marin County, 26.6 percent in Solano County, 18.3 percent in Sonoma County, 16.9 percent in Alameda County, 13.1 percent in Contra Costa County, 12.4 percent in Santa Clara County, 7.9 percent in San Mateo County, and 5.3 percent in San Francisco County from December 2004 to December 2005.
    Meanwhile, prices increased 19.4 percent in Contra Costa County, 17.1 percent in Solano County, 15.7 percent in Alameda County, 15.3 percent in Sonoma County, 12.8 percent in Santa Clara County, 10.6 percent in San Mateo County, 6.4 percent in San Francisco County, 5.3 percent in Marin County, and 4 percent in Napa County from December 2004 to December 2005.
    A subsidiary of Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates, DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts.

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  3. The midwest looks attractive for housing costs-
    however regarding Kansas- recently passed laws to teach creationism in public schools- disptuing scientific evidence of evolution. Passed laws outlawing gay marriage/civil unions, and not passing laws against discrimination for gay men and lesbians- hardly a hot bed of progressivism and tolerance. Not a place where broadminded tolerance has EVER been learned. You can have Kansas-

    Ohio is barely better.

  4. Also

    on cost per sqaure foot costs- 100-120 dollar per square foot is slightly below what housing costs in Connecticut outside of Fairfield county would cost. My 1087 Sq foot town house would sell in this now slow market for 165K- so that is about 151 bucks or so per square foot.
    I live 35 miles from the Ocean- live 1.5 hours from Boston. 2.25 hours from NYC- the costs here are not much higher- and I have broad access to great cities- and live in a sophisticated state- the cost difference is well worth it.

    What does Kansas have or southern Ohio offer compared to what I have here? Not much. That is why smart Californians come here and avoid those aformentioned areas.

  5. skytrekker-

    I am an East Coaster who works around people who probably value many of the same things you seem to.

    I have found that many of the amenities that coastal people think exist only on the coasts are all over the country.

    For example, there are tons of good chefs all over the country. Tons of good bookstores. University towns are the same everywhere.

    I think that one really doesn't need to live on the coasts to get much of life, other than great museums and beaches. But unless you go those things more than 4-5 times a year, what is the difference?

  6. I am willing to pay a premium to be near cultural ammenities (opera, symphony, good cinema, great restaurants, good bookstores, dance companies, etc), the ocean, to have great weather(but not in the summer!) and two international airports. I also love the walkability of San Francisco, its proximity to Napa and Sonoma and the natural setting of the city. I guess it comes down to what you are willing to trade off for your lifestyle. Most people I know in the Bay Area who have a great lifestyle and beautiful homes are either extremely hard workers (my husband and my friends' husbands work 70 hours a week or so) or have inherited wealth.
    If the cultural things don't interest you, and you aren't in a field where you are required to be in a certain urban area, you could certainly find an area that would make you happy for far less money than it costs to live in the Bay Area. You could always vacation or take a weekend in a city if you are a two time a year museum person. I just don't understand people killing themselves or taking great financial risk to live someplace that they don't really value more than other places.

  7. Most people I know in the Bay Area who have a great lifestyle and beautiful homes are either extremely hard workers (my husband and my friends' husbands work 70 hours a week or so) or have inherited wealth.

    So...if you don't have inherited wealth your lifestyle of 70 hour work weeks is horrible.

    Why not live in a cool college town, where there is a ton of culture and the living is cheap?

  8. Yes, all you working drones please put your houses on the market and head for the midwest so the rest of us with a clear memory of how dreadful living in the midwest is can buy your houses for cheap and live the good life in california while you all are shoveling snow and watching television all winter. I'll be in Tahoe or at the ocean or in San Fran (one of the greateste cities in the world) or in wine country toasting your newfound mundandity!

  9. I don't know about the midwest, but Texas is sure getting a massive influx of migrants from elsewhere. Here in China Spring (upscale suburb NW of Waco) housing in the best neighborhoods is still very cheap. My wife and I live in a gated subdivision of 1/2 to 5 acre wooded lots on a bluff overlooking the Brazos river. Quite scenic with lots of wildlife. This is the MLS listing for the house diagonally across the street from us. It's really a gorgeous house and immaculate. A 2212 sf 4 br 3 ba house on a one acre lot for $195 grand or $88/sf. This is in one of the best school districts in the region. Waco is a college town with plenty of arts and music. Dallas/Fort Worth are just over 1 hour north. Austin is 1.5 hours south. Houston and San Antonio are each 3 hours And the beaches on Padre Island and the Corpus Christi area are 5 hours away.

    My wife and I moved here from Seattle for her residency with the idea that it would be temporary. But now we decided to stay. The quality of life is just so much higher here in Texas than it was in Puget Sound. I know that sounds counter-intuitive. But we have 2 kids with a 3rd on the way. Everything here is no more than a 15 minute drive. No endless commutes across town in hellish traffic for soccer games or gymnastics. No hellish hours spent stopped dead on I-5. No planning your grocery or Home Depot trips late at night just to avoid traffic. And unlike the schools in Washington, the local school system here has a good all-day kindergarten and a good all-day pre-K. We had only 1/2 day Kindergarten and no public pre-K in Puget Sound. Paying private preschool tuition for two kids is a HUGE cost. We were barely living month to month back there. Now our mortgage and housing costs are less than 10% of our income.

    It's no wonder folks are leaving the coasts.

  10. Actually, if you love your job working long hours isn't an awful lifestyle. It's only awful if you are forced to work long hours at something you don't enjoy to support your lifestyle.

    A lot of people in such fieleds as corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, money management or venture capital can't go move to small midwestern college towns unless they want to spend the rest of their lives on airplanes flying to see clients. There are some industries only located in expensive urban areas. And no, telecommuting to meetings doesn't work. The investors want to see you face to face.

  11. A lot of people in such fieleds as corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, money management or venture capital can't go move to small midwestern college towns unless they want to spend the rest of their lives on airplanes flying to see clients

    Well....maybe, although there are plenty of large cities in the center of the country where some of those professions thrive. Plenty of corporate attorneys and money management people in Dallas that's for sure.

    But of course, anyone with a successful career in the fields that you mention is going to have no problem affording housing anywhere in the country. Even SF or NYC. There just aren't many corporate attorneys or venture capitalists living homeless out of their cars. It's the nurses and teachers and and truly middle class folk for whom the less expensive areas in the middle of the country really hold more draw.

  12. Unfortunately, although we need teachers and firemen and nurses in San Francisco, it is very, very difficult for them to live here on their salaries. Also, with corporate lawyers, my husband's large, first tier law firm has a very difficult time recruiting lawyers from anywhere other than the Bay Area or NYC to San Francisco. Lateral transfer associates can make $250,000 or so a year, but the hit in their standard of living, due to housing costs and sometimes the private school tuitions, is so great that most aren't willing to move here. Sure, when they have been partner for a few years they can afford to buy something here, but not anything great as an associate. We were able to buy a beautiful condominium in Pacific Heights while my husband was an associate, and that is no longer possible for younger people. I hope the market comes down so that we can keep young, vibrant people in the city, and attract more families. If the real estate situation doesn't normalize we will become a very third-worldish city of the very rich and the poor, without a thriving middle class.

  13. Everybody stay on the coasts if you are smart. The midwest is people are hicks and rednecks, there is no culture, it is boiling hot and humid in the summer and it snows thirty feet in the winter. Everybody is really poor in the midwest, and nobody wants to live here and that is why housing is cheap. You wouldn't like it here in the midwest. Please, for your own good, stay on the coasts where you are blessed and lucky, and where you actually have museums that you can go to. We do not have museums in the midwest. I have to fly to a coast to see a museum. We never go outside because the weather is so terrible. We stay inside our cheap houses and wish that we lived on the coasts. Really, you are so lucky to live on the coasts, so just stay there already. Whatever you do, don't come here.

  14. OK. I've been there, and outside of Chicago I do believe you're right. It's not called the Fly-Over for nothin'.

  15. Cultural ammenties not withstanding- those areas away from the coast by in large have inferior cultural outlets- you cannot compare the food available in Connecticut with that in Ohio or Missouri- to assume that is wishful thinking- or denied inferiority. And furthermore I was pointing out the virtual wasteland on 'cultural issues' from stem cell research to gay rights- which most of those areas away from the coasts seem in the dark about. These issues and a multiutde of others for me would prevent myself from ever considering living there. The proximity of Boston, NYC, Vermont and the ocean is in fact A VERY important issue to me-living near any city in Ohio, Missouri, Kansas- or Nebraska means nothing to me. That is why real estate is higher here- its simply a more diserable place yo live.

  16. having lived in Mpls/St Paul for five years I can safely say the Twin Cities (and Chicago) are worth a look, if you're coming from the coasts. both are world-class cities with extensive cultural amenities, universities, museums, etc., but the cost of living in both is high, realtive to the midwest at least. winters are long and hard and butt-cold. summers in the Twins aren't as awful as Chicago, but winters are worse.

    as for the rest of the midwest, prices are low because earnings are low, and there's no there there. coastal yuppies bloated with cash from an Irvine condo sale probably won't be real happy in Kansas City or Des Moines.

  17. I would agree David with you about the twin cities being a cold alternative to the coasts- Chicago is another excellent location.

    I would find both cities good places to live. Denver also is a progressive city- the rest of the heartland has varying degrees of sophistication and social/cultural amenities. No I would not be at ease in Missouri, Kansas or Iowa- or the rest of 'Flyover Nation'.

  18. As someone who is originally from the east coast (Boston), grew up in the Midwest (Columbus), and has lived or spent extended amounts of time on the east coast (Philadelphia, DC, and Baltimore), the west coast (Bay area, Portland), and the Midwest (Chicago, Cleveland, and Bloomington, IN) I always get a kick out of reading comments about the Midwestern "cultural wasteland".

    Having lived in the "hip" parts of some supposedly "hip" cities, I've noticed that the people who live in these trendy areas don't tend to be any more cultured or sophisticated than those that I meet when I'm visiting my parents, who still live in Columbus. If anything the people in my current area (northern VA) seem to be a little more shallow, being more concerned with money and status than culture. I'd suspect that many of the people who brag about all of the museums on the coasts spend more time in shopping malls than attending cultural events.

    Speaking of museums, I found an interesting link on the Web:
    City Search's best Museums in the U.S.

    Of the 10 museums listed, five are in the Midwest and one is in Texas. I've been to the Cleveland Museum of Art many times and I frequently visit the Wexner Center for the Arts when I'm in Columbus, and I've enjoyed my visits to these institutions as much as any place on either of the coasts. granted, there is a significantly greater quantity of museums and other cultural centers in many of the coastal cities, however this has much to do with many of the coastal cities being larger than Midwestern cities on average. Regardless, if you're one who likes to visit museums and/or go to the symphony more than a few times a month, you might find this relative lack of quantity of some Midwestern cities gets a little stale. I've also noticed that a greater portion of the visitors to Midwestern museums are natives while a large percentage of coastal museums are tourists. This means that Midwestern museums are typically less crowded and better places to meet people.

    On the weather:
    If you're coming from just about any place on the west coast, Midwestern weather will seem very harsh to you. If you're coming from the northern east coast (from DC up), the weather won't really be any worse. Unfortunately many Midwestern cities have high crime rates, so it often isn't very safe to wander around downtown after an evening at a museum or symphony.

    On college towns:
    Before moving to Dc I lived in Bloomington, IN for a few years and I must say that I really liked it there. It was small (~80,000 people), but it was a very pleasant and relatively inexpensive place to live. It also is good for cultural activities, especially if you like music. Indiana University's music school is one of the nation's best (right up there with Julliard and Eastman). Throughout my time there, I saw numerous recitals and concerts performed by world class musicians, often for free. Many other college towns offer similar high standards of living, however they are small, and if you prefer living in cities, you can feel a little isolated living in them.

    In the end, although I was born and have lived the majority of my life on the coasts, I still refer to myself as a Midwesterner, and I'm proud of it. I've found that the people of the Midwest are among the most pleasant and tolerant people of this country, and to refer to them as "hicks" is to show one's ignorance and naivety, as well as just being uncouth.

  19. As a current Chicago north shore resident, who grew up on the east coast, I'd like to second the pro-midwestern comments of the "anonymous" above. And I'd like to tell "skytrekker" that anyone who uses myself instead of me in the sentence "These issues . . . would prevent myself from ever considering living there," has no business accusing anyone of denied inferiority.

  20. Let me pile on here. Current DC (or more exactly NoVA) resident, grew up in NYC, lived in NYC, LA, Ohio, North Dakota and some time in Belgium. The supposed cultured people talking trash about flyover country don't know their ass from a hole in the ground. I second the second post before mine. I loved living in Ohio (Dayton area). Wonderful, unpretentious, friendly people. Some of the best festivals (Sauerkraut festival, anyone?) in the country, and great hiking and lakes within an hours' drive. I loved Cincinnati and Columbus for their cultural and culinary offerings, and the cost of living was very reasonable. Don't get me wrong, I love NYC and DC and even LA to a certain degree, but to say there's nothing in between is just a load of crap.

  21. "I love NYC and DC and even LA to a certain degree, but to say there's nothing in between is just a load of crap."

    Amen. Well put. I also grew up in the Midwest. There is some wonderful places in between the coasts.

  22. Please, stop defending the Midwest. Do you want the people on the coasts to come here and inundate us with their coastalness? I moved away from CA to the Midwest, and the last thing I want is more stinking Californians and other coastal-types coming here and making my state just like the cesspool that I left. Let them believe that the Midwest sucks, so that those of us who know better can enjoy it without having them come here and mess it up. I've seen other states like Arizona and Colorado get more and more like California over the years, and I DON'T want that to happen to my state in the Midwest.

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  24. Once again

    NO one here esp. the last few posts- despite the profuse wording of all- has addressed social cultural Issues.
    Firstly gay rights and stem cell research. All of you wonderful mid westerners or former from that gei region surely can berate me on my grammar-and that is fine with me.........
    but if I move to the midwest- as a gay man will I face discrimination? Will I have rights as a human being? NONE of you backwoods hinterland stooty wananbbees have addressed that!! Or on Stem cell research- where my Dear beloved mother who suffers from Alzhiemers- is she a hopeless case in Omaha or wonderful Columbus?
    God I am so glad I live on the east coast- and I love the west coast! You can have flyover country- because NONE have you have begun to talk about issues that matter- go live in god forsaken Ohio- and horrible Indiana and Kansas and Missouri- the people in these states are just out of the damn loop- as the posters above me are. At least in the the NE and California I have less stress about being bashed or called names for my orientation- or I can have hope that someday there will be a cure for parkinsons or alzheimers
    The east and west coasts are superior in every way-believe me.

    In the end- it is sure a housing Bubble does exist on the two coasts- and much of it is excessive- but in the end the two coasts are the hotbeds of culture and innovation and fowrard social thinking- to be sure there are 'Islands' in the middle- but that is all there is. I love Chicago- bit it is NO NY LA OR Boston or DC.

    January 22, 2006 11:22 AM

  25. "I love Chicago- bit it is NO NY LA OR Boston or DC."

    Its better. Chicago rocks. So much to do there and not bubblicious like NYC, LA, Boston, or DC.

  26. skytrekker wrote:
    if I move to the midwest- as a gay man will I face discrimination? Will I have rights as a human being? NONE of you backwoods hinterland stooty wananbbees have addressed that!! Or on Stem cell research- where my Dear beloved mother who suffers from Alzhiemers- is she a hopeless case in Omaha or wonderful Columbus?

    One the stem cell issue:
    "Several states have authorized funding for stem cell research in 2004 and 2005... State funding for adult stem cell research was already occurring in at least one state, Ohio... Illinois Governor Blagojevich signed an executive order to create the Illinois Regenerative Medicine Institute and provide for grants to medical research facilities for adult and embryonic stem cell research. Meanwhile, grant programs for stem cell research have yet to get underway in California and New Jersey with some obstacles related to funding or oversight issues."

    In addition to the wealth of medical research going on in the Midwest, the region is also home to such auspicious medical institutions as the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic.

    On the gay issue:
    My previous home in Bloomington, IN proudly houses the Kinsey Institute. The Institute does extensive research and advocacy of gay sexuality.

    My childhood home of Columbus is at least as gay tolerant as any place that I've lived on the either of the coasts (Ok, maybe the bay area is more tolerant, but not by much). In fact, my high school had an openly gay teacher, and the school board never seemed to have any problems with this.

    Some links on this topic:
    "Columbus, Ohio: Home to the Chrome Party which is the new version of the Red Party which was the first Circuit Party ever held and started the Circuit Party scene. Columbus has several gay neighborhoods and a huge gay nightlife. The city has over 30 gay bars which is proportionally high."

    In addition to bars, Columbus has numerous businesses that are openly gay-owned.

    Also, Columbus is home to one of the country's largest gay pride parades. which drew about 100,000 people last year.

    from :
    "Friendly Gay Columbus

    Columbus is the largest city in Ohio, the 15th largest in the United States and the fastest growing city in the northeast quadrant. It is within 550 miles of one-half of the nation's population, meaning Columbus is less than one day's drive for many U.S. residents. To locals, Columbus is known as "the big little city" because of its positive business climate, while retaining an "all-American" town feel thanks largely to its pubs, art districts, fine food, active nightlife and historic neighborhoods. To the gay & lesbian community, the renaissance of the city has translated into an openness and vibrance felt throughout many areas. "

    And also Google says that Columbus is a good place to be gay :)
    "If a cold winter climate is no problem, I would highly recommend
    Columbus, Ohio. It has the largest gay population between coasts,
    even larger than Chicago's. There is a good social life centered
    around the areas of German Village and the Short North (both are
    upscale neighborhoods). The city is amazingly tolerant considering
    its midwestern and Bible belt location.

    You will find a good assortment of bars and restaurants which cater to
    the kids and in all price ranges. The gay flag flys openly on the
    front of several buildings and the Short North district will remind
    you in many ways of West Hollywood. (other than the weather, again)

    Columbus is fast growing and there are job opportunities even when the
    rest of the country in in a downturn. The high-tech sector is
    expanding rapidly as well as medical research, communication research,
    and more. Columbus is also an affordable city in which to live.

    There are gay service organizations which are among the best in the
    nation. Two fairly large gay newspapers and several smaller

    From "Gay Columbus" - "Columbus, Ohio has one of the most vibrant gay
    communities in the country. It has been rated as one of the safest and
    friendliest cities for gay people to live and work in, in the country.
    It has one of the best anti discrimination laws around. There is
    something for everyone in our community, somewhere in the city or one
    of the surrounding cities.""

    As I stated in my earlier post, I currently live in DC, and I love being here. However, the Midwest (especially the "Great Lakes States" ) is far from a backwater, and, as I stated in my earlier post, if anything I've often found the people of the Midwest on average to be slightly more sophisticated than those in many coastal cities.

    skytrekker, with you being gay, I'm surprised that you aren't more tolerant of other people/regions and more critical of uninformed, cliched views of some regions of this country.

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  28. What are Ohio' gay rights laws?
    Does the state offer employment, and other anti discrimination safeguerds based on sexual orientation? Your lengthy statement above is long with words-but does not answer my question- does Ohio or any other state in 'flyover' land offer laws that protect my rights as they do on Connecticut?

    As far as stem cell research -well again most of these states are in the dark- and your long missive above offers fluffy and reassuring plentitudes- but Ohio ranks nearly last in bio tech and stem cell research
    Mass and California rank at the top

    Show me the beef- Connecticut passed a STATEWIDE law 15 years ago against HATE crimes and discrimination based on sexual orientation-plus passed a civil unions law in October of 2005- what has Ohio done with LAWS???

  29. 'It has the largest gay population between coasts, even larger than Chicago's."

    I find it very hard to believe that Chicago a metro area with over 5 times the population has less gay people then Columbus, OH 1,693,906 ( US Census 2004)
    Chicago 9,391,515 ( US Census 2004)

  30. All of us in non-biotech states are just going to die an early death because we don't sponsor stem cell resarch.

  31. Well, let's all thank the higher power of our choice that Skytrekker is staying on the coast(s). Frankly, I don't fancy running into anyone quite so strident, self-righteous, one dimensional and flat-out intolerant around my diverse and not-so-bubblicious neighborhood.

    Peace Out,

    Chicago north shore

  32. Skytrekker;

    Stay the fuck away from the center, we don't want your ignorant, butt-fucking, plastic-house, mall-shopping, McMansion assholes fucking up our clean neighborhoods.

    As far as stem-cell research goes, it will not cure alzheimers, you dumb fucking hick. Try reading some about calcium amylides. It won't cure aids either.

    Shit for brains. You must be a product of the fucked up Californian school system and were too busy trying on clothes for you boyfriend to learn anything in community college about the shit that comes out of your mouth.

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  34. Firstly

    I do not live in California- I live in central eastern Connecticut- near Hartford in an old mill town that is mixed white and blue collar. I have A BA degree from Central Connectict State University- and graduate work in Social Work, plus a certificate in Microcomputers. Your above statement does not deserve a meaningful reply- because it proves what I said about MOST of the area of this country away from the coasts. I suggest you take your hate and narrow minded ideas- and keep then bottled up in your backward god forsaken locale- and stay as far away from Connecticut as possible.

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  36. Chicago North shore.....

    strident and self righteous am I?

    Hmmmm- I merely asked a question on which states have the most liberal laws on gay rights and have progressive research on stem cell and I am attacked- Illinois is one of the few states in the midwest to consider both gay rights (I believe they have passed hate crime and discrimination laws) I never condemned you or your city- too bad your midwestern inferiorty complex finds reason to insult me. In any case cheers. As I said above I live in not a swanky upscale town of Connecticuts gold coast- but a faded mill town- which much diversity- northeast of Hartford. Been through too much to be self righteous- seen too much pain-