‘Stashtown, USA

bikenightA big part of the recipe for a good life is to love the place you live. Although you can compensate for almost any living conditions with a strong Stoic attitude and some training, it sure is nice to be surrounded by an environment that truly agrees with your constitution. After all, all five of your senses are fueled by nothing more than the physical environment right around you, and every atom in your body is replaced every few years by atoms that happen to be nearby.

After fifteen years of living next to the Rocky Mountains, I am definitely still in love with my own patch of the world. Colorado in general, and old-town Longmont in specific, agree very well with me. The fine balance between warmth and cold, freedom and social order, affordability and fanciness, and even perfection and ugly flaws, seems just about right to keep life vigorous and interesting. After all, the happiest life is not attained by soaking yourself in the deepest possible tub of comfort. Instead, you win the game by extracting the most personal growth from yourself. This means doing hard stuff. Experiencing voluntary discomfort. Getting off your ass once in a while. Colorado seems to have been geologically formed with exactly this ethos in mind.

Finding a Great Place to Live (and Retire)


A marmot chills on South Arapahoe Peak during one of my hikes

The goal of this article not to share just one example of a location that provides a good life, but learn about more great ones from you. I’ll describe the typical factors that make it possible for me by describing my own town. But this is only one place. There are thousands of other great towns and cities around the world that offer amazing advantages. The idea is to draw some of them out here. You may be inspired to check out one of these destinations, or to find new life in your own home city. Sometimes a move across town can be just as life-changing as a move to a new continent.

Why I live in Colorado


View from Rabbit Mountain at the edge of Longmont

Back in 1999, I toured some of the country by attending job interviews in Massachusetts, Georgia, North Carolina, California and here in Colorado, and found the lifestyle of my potential coworkers to be the most enviable here. People keep active duty mountain bikes with dried red mud on their treads leaned casually inside their engineering cubicles, and CEOs wear sandals. This is a place where Life comes first, and Work is allowed to coexist as long as it does not show up wielding its characteristic Clipboard of Bullshit. Obviously there will be exceptions, but it is amazing how strong the regional cultural differences are even within the borders of a single country.

Why Longmont?

I stumbled across this place while living 13 miles down the road in its much more glamorous neighbor, Boulder. My coworkers and I used to take group motorcycle rides out here to visit the legendary Mexican restaurants, but I also noticed the big trees lining the creeks, beautiful public parks, and the historic downtown. With house prices at least 50% lower than Boulder, I noticed I could afford to have my pick of neighborhoods and live within walking distance of downtown. But unfortunately, this would mean voluntarily signing myself up for a car clown commute to the job in Boulder, so I dismissed the idea.

Until retirement in 2005, when suddenly we could live anywhere with no commute at all. So Longmont it was.

The City at a Glance

The shady sidewalks of Old-Town

The shady sidewalks of Old-Town

Longmont is a compact, historic city that fits within a roughly 5×5 mile footprint. Its population of 92,000 means it is big enough to have all your retail and restaurant needs covered, great Internet access and mobile phone service, and an urban feel in places. But small enough that you can fit the whole thing in your head – knowing all the streets and neighborhoods, and mayor and the owner of your favorite brew pub (who are coincidentally the same guy). Most importantly, it is small enough that you can bike from anywhere to anywhere in the city within minutes. My own rule is that Intra-Longmont car trips are only permissible if you are carrying more than 100 pounds of stuff – otherwise, use the bike and a bike trailer. But you’re still only 20 minutes from Boulder, 50 from downtown Denver and the same distance from Denver Airport, one of the largest and most well-connected in the world. The continent’s largest mountain chain begins about 10 miles to the West, which means you can be in a canyon within the confines of a lunchtime bike ride.


This is the bike path running through the high tech employment zone.

This is the bike path running through the high tech employment zone.

Here we benefit from our location next to the venture-capital-happy money fountain of Boulder. Small and large tech companies have offices nearby including Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Amgen, Seagate, and trendier ones I don’t keep track of due to the fact that I haven’t worked in tech in almost nine years. The area is also a minor hub for solar and wind power companies, and creative industries as well. But more interesting than the physical office situation is the number of people who live here but work remotely for companies in New York, Boston, LA, and Silicon Valley. It’s not a bedroom community since you don’t have to commute out of it to work. More of a Patio community.



Autumn in Thompson Park, across the street from our elementary school

In a word: Invigorating. Right now it is spring, which means a stream of warm sunny days (60-80F) with very occasional rain and clouds. Summer is a series of very dry hot sunny days (80-95F), with even less rain. Fall is back to the warm sunny days with occasional rain and surprising dumps of snow towards the end of it. Winter is mild sunny days (44F) with cold nights (15F) and occasional vigorous snowstorms and colder days. Annual precipitation is only about 15″, about the same as Los Angeles and a rather extreme difference from NYC’s 45″. On average, there are only a few days each year where weather makes it impractical to ride your bike, which is the most important measurement for me. But it’s not a great climate if you are a palm tree or a year-round outdoor vegetable garden.


The New Urban development known as Prospect, where I built some houses.

The New Urban development known as Prospect, where I built some houses.

Single family houses in this city start in the upper $100s. In the low $300s, you can find a quaint 2-3 bedroom house in the downtown region or a solid 3/3 modern house in a close-in suburb. The low $400s gets you one of the very nice houses* in the better neighborhoods and you can pretty much have your pick of the town if you show up with $500k or more. Full houses rent for $1500-$2500 per month, and apartments are less.


Property taxes are fairly cheap at about 0.8% of a property’s appraised value per year, so you’ll be paying $1600-$3000 rather than $5,000-$15,000 as they do on the East Coast. The region has an 8% sales tax, 4.6% state income tax, and no local income taxes. Colorado is very friendly to small business, with easy online LLC registration that costs me about $10 per year to maintain. And, not that you care, but gasoline is consistently some of the nation’s cheapest, and electricity is even cheaper at under 10 cents per kWh. Gigabit Internet is $50 per month.


This guy (the elementary school art teacher) is one of my favorite people ever.

This guy (the elementary school art teacher) is one of my favorite people ever.

Saving the best for last, this town has a real culture of caring for other people. It is expected that if you pass a stranger on any street, you will both exchange at least a greeting. You generally become friends with the people who work at your favorite stores, and your own neighborhood can be the source of your social circle. My own area has a rotating “porch club” which is an open invitation to gather at a designated front porch bearing food and drink, spouses and kids, and just shoot the breeze as the sun goes down on a summer night. We also have a good bike culture beginning: parents bike their kids to school, and the weekly Bike Night event draws over 200 people in the peak of summer. (I’ll be there on May 14th, by the way).


Keep in mind when reading all of this that I am an incurable optimist. There are plenty of things in Longmont that still suck. People drive their cars way too much, and far too few of them ride bikes. Some neighborhoods are run down, and plenty of the commercial buildings in the fringe areas are vacant too. It’s not a cultural hub and there are decidedly fewer beautiful people in restaurants than you will see in Boulder. Because of the family demographic, it would be a boring place to be a 20-something single looking for night life. And in the dead of winter when this place is brown or snowy, I have been known to long for San Diego or Hawaii.

Your Turn!

Do you live in a city that provides a nice base for the Good Life? Affordable living, good jobs and culture, and an outdoorsy and health-oriented vibe? Share it in the comments below and we can all learn from each other. Try to address the general areas above and link to a demographics page like these two for Longmont.

Looking to move HERE?

I’ll admit it right now: I’d actually like to help create a Badass Utopia right here in my own town. Several people I know have already moved here after reading about it on the blog, and I’d be happy to facilitate the trend, because Mustachians are good people. We will share fermented ciders on our respective porches and lend each other power tools and project advice. Get in touch via the contact form if you are one of these people and I can help you learn about the area, find a good place to live, etc.

* Speaking of nicer houses…

Revised: Here I had mentioned two houses that happened to be coming to market at the time of writing. One was my own house and another was the place next door, newly renovated by a builder acquaintance. They are of course both sold now.

Like many cities, house prices in this area have risen (some would say “recovered”) quickly in these last two years, but it is still one of the better deals on a price-to-awesomeness ratio, when compared to other areas with strong tech employment.

  • Mark Ferguson May 9, 2014, 11:23 pm

    I love Colorado as well. Old town Longmont is pretty nice. I love the part about making yourself uncomfortable. Many people set a goal of making enough money to be comfortable. The real fun in life is challenging yourself and doing things that are not comfortable, getting trough them and continuing to challenge yourself.

    I am in Greeley Colorado. Your a little closer to the mountains, but I love Greeley. We have a similar housing market; slightly lower prices. We have about 100,000 people and I like that size. The great part is very little traffic. Great economy with the oil and gas industry, agriculture, a university and many other companies.

    Another nice thing about Colorado is we do not see the wild swings in home values. It is relatively stable here, even though we have seen more than a 10% increase in the last year. Good for my ten rentals!

    • Sheila May 10, 2014, 7:58 am

      I lived in Greeley for about 5 years! We are now in Prescott, AZ ( 5700 feet altitude, great weather). I loved Colorado very much. We probably would have moved to Ft. Collins or Windsor had we stayed there.

      • Jack May 10, 2014, 11:36 am

        I also live in Prescott Az.
        I have yet to find a better town. Friendly people- great weather most of the time except for days in the spring when the wind howls for days on end.
        Housing fairly affordable. Lots to do downtown in the square most summer weekends.

        • tanner May 10, 2014, 11:18 pm

          Unfortunately Prescott doesn’t have a great job market. I work with a woman (her husband does this as well) that commutes from Prescott area to Scottsdale every week for work. Too bad that Prescott didn’t remain the capital of AZ.

          • Sheila May 11, 2014, 7:40 am

            That is definitely true. I telecommute myself, and don’t know what I will do if I lose my job. I see the good things about Prescott, but would not have chosen to live here or to continue living here on my own. My husband is an avid mountain bike rider and loves all the riding he can do and does work here. For the most part, this probably is a good place for retires, but the town has an unbalanced level of them already, and it is not a good thing, in my opinion.

            Jack, if the wind doesn’t stop soon, I may lose my mind. :)

            • Josh June 9, 2016, 1:27 pm

              I miss Prescott so much!! My wife and I lived there for five years in our early twenties and it’s near the top of the list for our early retirement. The job market is the reason we had to leave… My wife lost her job and couldn’t find anything in her field so when she received a good offer out of state we couldn’t turn it down.

    • Meghan May 10, 2014, 9:40 am

      I’m trying to transfer back home from DC to the north Denver metro area. I went to hugh school in Erie, CO, and that town has grown to a nice size. I had a home in Thornton but it was 5 miles east of the highway and the commute was not ideal. I drove far too often and paid $8 for parking. Longmont is my favorite for the reason MMM pointed out. The issue is just the commute to downtown Denver. I’m hoping rapid transit lanes run all the way up there within a few years.

      MMM, any ideas for someone who must commute 5 days a week? :)

      • DC Jr Mustachian May 11, 2014, 11:46 pm

        You don’t have to commute if you can find a way to live near your work, or work near where you live.

        • Mr. Money Mustache May 12, 2014, 7:35 am

          Yeah, downtown Denver is more of an annual trip for me rather than something that would make a reasonable commute from Longmont. There are amazing neighborhoods within cycling distance of downtown Denver, however, and the area is surprisingly affordable. If you add in spots connected by short light rail, you can work downtown, not even own a car, and still live just as as cheaply as a Longmontian! … then move up here once you retire or get a different job.

          • Meghan May 12, 2014, 9:03 pm

            I work for the government and we have 14 “core” offices, one of which in Denver (yay)! I’ve found a great niche in the government and finding like work on the outside would be impossible (in both the pay and duties department). I’m here until I can retire. I’d like to invest in a small apartment building down the road, and Longmont is perfect for those. We’ll see. Thanks!

          • RockyMtn2 May 15, 2014, 12:37 am

            If you have children, another consideration for downtown Denver is that it can be tough to find good public schools in that area. The light rail opens up possibilities if you don’t mind a ride each day (and the cost of public transport). I actually lived in Boulder and worked in Longmont when I was fresh out of college.. apparently I had it backwards :) I now live and work near DTC – good for raising a family and tech jobs, but a bit of a distance from the mountains and the mountain lifestyle. Tradeoffs…

    • patricio May 20, 2014, 5:20 am

      Best Place on Earth = Missoula, MT

    • Cubert November 17, 2017, 1:27 pm

      Are you still driving that silly Lamborghini, Mark? Or have you found it in your heart to upgrade to an e-assist bike? :-)

  • john May 10, 2014, 12:08 am

    White salmon, WA /Hood River, OR
    Situated across from each other along the Columbia gorge.

    Why White Salmon?
    It is famous for its windsport as well as close to Mt hood and Mt Adam and 60 miles from Portland and its international Airport
    Washington has no state income tax and Oregon no sales taxes.
    Miles of trails right from the city.
    Hood River has the highest number of brewery per capital. And White salmon is trailing behind but has one nice brewery and a few nice restaurants.
    In the summer people from all over the world gather here to Kite surf and windsurf as well as mountain bike and white river sports

    With the rise of the drone Boeing has bought a drone company who employs quite a few high income earners bringing a lot of money to this old logging town as well a quite a few subcontractors.

    Being on the east side of the mountain it is dryer and less rain than Portland.

    Very pleasant and easy to walk around town witch is pretty hill in some area. Single family house is in the upper 100 as well

    No bicycle lane on the bridge so need car to go to bigger grocery store in Hood river where there is no sales taxes.
    Can also be cold and gray during the winter.


    • Leah May 10, 2014, 2:23 pm

      I live in Portland and have thought about White Salmon as a nice place to live. Questions: is most of White Salmon up on a hill? How often do you get snowed/iced in/unable to commute across the river? How noisy are the trains that are always going by?

      • John May 10, 2014, 9:07 pm

        Yes White salmon is on Top and you do not hear the train much, Bingen at the bottom ( noisy with the trains). It is easy to bike around white salmon but if you go anywhere else out of town you get a workout :) . Snow is mostly like Portland can stay a little longer. But since it is dryer and sunnier it can go away quickly if it snow. I have a jetta tdi 2wheel drive and have no problem and commute to Seattle on a 3×12 schedule. I know not very moustachian but the plan is in place to fully retire in 3 years or so

        • john May 17, 2014, 1:05 pm

    • Money Saving May 12, 2014, 5:27 am

      I’ve always wanted to try this part of the country. White Salmon sounds like an awesome place!

    • Michelle September 11, 2014, 8:35 am

      I live in DC but I fell in love with White Salmon when I stopped there for a coffee hour after a couple of days in Trout Lake for some Mt. Adams hiking with relatives. I dream of retiring there (in less then 10 years hopefully!)

    • Katherine March 18, 2015, 3:57 pm

      I grew up in White Salmon!

      One thing I will say is that, if you have children, you should be prepared for them to want to get the hell out as soon as is humanly possible – the public school, while good enough to get kids into top-tier colleges, is itty bitty (my graduating class was 74) and for a young kid with big dreams, it feels suffocating. That said, my two siblings and I all fled east for college, but ended up back in Seattle because the NW is the best.

      My whole (adult) life, I’ve been hunting for a place just like White Salmon to settle down, but I’m not sure I’d choose the Slammin’ Salmon for myself :D

  • Jessica May 10, 2014, 12:26 am

    live in Bend, OR. It sounds very similar to Longmont except fewer high paying jobs and housing has really boomed here the past 2 years (feels like the 2008 bubble all over again). It is at the base of the Cascade mountain range so hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, etc are all huge here. There is also a big dog loving culture and 14+ (!) Brewpubs. I live on the west side about 0.3 miles from the river and 2 miles from Phils Trail, which is awesome mountain biking. I love it here and never plan on leaving. The parks are amazing too. An,ice skating rink is about to be built about a half mike from us as well. Only downsides here are the crazy amount of people (cough CALIFORNIANS) moving here and driving up housing prices. http://Www.bendparksandrec.org, http://www.visitbend.com Did I K

    • Karl Keefer May 10, 2014, 2:41 am

      I didn’t realize it was a trend, but I’ve been thinking about moving from California to Boulder for a while. Californian’s aren’t so bad ;)

      • Jessica May 10, 2014, 9:58 am

        To be fair, it’s not just Californians and I can’t really blame everyone for wanting to live in such an awesome place. Plus, my husband and I moved here from Texas , so if we really were to go all complainy pants about that, it’d be a huge case of the pot calling the kettle black :). Also helps that we bought near the bottom (paid $370k for our 2400 sqft house in 2012 that is now worth $525ish) so the housing boom isn’t “hurting” us per se but it’s definitely something that might turn off someone thinking of moving here. The rental market is even tighter with a 0.5% vacancy rate, but that actually benefits us since we own a rental property here as well :). There are much more affordable parts of town and we’ve seriously considered selling both our houses on the west side and cashing in on the run in housing and moving to a cheaper part of town but the location we are at cannot be beat and we walk/bike to pretty much everything.

        • Adam May 10, 2014, 10:31 am

          Hi Jessica, another fresh new Bend resident here, all the way from Sydney, Australia. Also worth mentioning is the expansion of the OSU campus to provide 4 year degrees; with up to 5,000 new student capacity in a town of ~90,000 it will likely have a pretty significant impact on the town….in conjunction with the recent upturn in CA property prices I don’t think the tight real estate situation will change anytime soon.

        • Chris May 12, 2014, 11:58 am

          Hey great to hear there are other Mustachian Bendites out there! I am a native Oregonian and have lived in Bend for around 7 years now. Definitely amazing to see the house price increases the last two years. Anyway we should all try to to meet up sometime. Let me know if any of you guys would be interested.

          • Ross May 13, 2014, 11:00 am

            Another new Bendite here! My girlfriend and I have been in Bend for almost a year, and have just purchased a house here. GREAT town, we really love it here too. Would be happy to have a Bend meetup sometime.

          • Robbie May 15, 2014, 11:27 am

            Yet another new Bendite here. This is a great city. I bike everywhere. Even in the winter, because we don’t get much snow. (And because MMM taught me about clothes.)

            • Aaron May 20, 2014, 3:56 pm

              My wife and I moved from Westminster, CO to Bend in January this year. My wife grew up here and her immediate family still lives in town. I have to say, living here is a treat! The culture is laid back and friendly, and the main downside to the tourism is long lines at restaurants and car “traffic”, which doesn’t bother me. From the perspective of having lived in the Seattle and Denver area, the current housing/rental rates in Bend don’t seem that outrageous, although I can’t argue that they aren’t volatile! We bought a 3bd 2bth 1300sqft home on Westside for just under 300K earlier this year. If you don’t mind living on the Eastside, you could have a similar house for under 200K. Or like Jessica alluded to, you could just wait for the market to drop again.

              I’m still pretty new in town, so I won’t go into other details until I understand them better. I’ve heard its hard to find a good job, but wouldn’t know as we both had remote jobs for software companies when we moved.

              I would definitely attend a Bend meetup! I want to meet the guy I saw pulling his dog around town in his bike trailer! I just bought a bike trailer and want to do the same but have been too chicken so far. :)

    • JJ May 10, 2014, 1:59 pm

      Yeah! Bendite! – you forgot to mention the fact that we are getting a 4 year university soon. That leads to some employment opportunities. I agree the housing is an issue, rentals are hard to find at a reasonable price point. I lucked out and bought my place at the bottom of bust. If public transportation got used more there would be a call out to get more routes, as it is a lot of people drive. I work up at the ski resort (25 min drive) but I am luckily walking distance to the mountain transportation bus stop.
      Bend is growing, and I believe it will continually grow. Leading to some growing pains.

    • Christof May 10, 2014, 3:51 pm

      Hi there from Germany… I’ve friends in the area and have been visiting Bend almost every year for the past decade. Love the airport. In the same time I check a bag in LAX I can be through security in RDM and made it to Seattle for my flight to Europe. Lots of great breweries in the area, too.

      • Kerry May 12, 2014, 10:18 am

        I was just in Berlin recently and I was so impressed with the public transit and all the great public parks. There were outdoor ping-pong tables and bocce courts, outdoor beer gardens, outdoor farmer’s markets and sidewalk cafes on many of the wide shady streets, especially in neighborhoods like Friedrichshan, Prenzlauer Berg and Neukolln. And the city has an amazing bicycle culture – the city is fairly flat and there are bike lanes along almost every street.

        Many of the people I spoke to said if you are earning euros, housing costs are very low, especially when compared to other European cities. A couple people complained about real-estate speculation driving up prices, but other people said they were really happy about the renovations that were happening because of increased investment.

        I don’t know about taxes, but there is a growing start-up culture is attracting tech talent from all over the world. But the best selling point was the general laid-back nature of the city. I was there for ten days and I only heard two cars honk their horns in traffic! Incredible.

    • Kelly May 23, 2014, 10:39 pm

      I grew up in Bend and in a month, my husband and I will be moving from Seattle back to be near my parents and my niece who has young children. I telecommute full time for my job, so I can work anywhere as long as I have an Internet connection. We just bought a house in Southwest Bend–nice trail access to the Deschutes and a short bike/walk to the Old Mill District. We had thought about renting, but as mentioned by others, the rental market is really tight. Buying made more sense. I love all of the outdoor activities and I’m especially glad to be near my family. I would love to meet up with fellow Bendite mustachians after we get there! Pick one of the many excellent brew pubs and I’m sure there would be a great turnout!

  • Michael May 10, 2014, 12:31 am

    This article comes exactly at the right time for me and my spouse! For the last six months we have been on a kind of research trip to find the next place for us to live.

    Due to your former blog postings we were already seriously considering Colorado, but this article almost convinced us to skip all the rest and just go for Longmont. Zillow is open on the other screen again ;-)

    We have lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the past few years – an amazing place to live, with lots of outdoor activities around, beautiful nature and beautiful warm/hot weather all year round, amazing food and a positive and active expat community. Life is incredibly affordable here: for $1000 a month you can live like a king in a beautiful house, have gardeners to take care of the green things and eat delicious food in restaurants all the time. But due to many different reasons, it is no place to be productive, and we both feel too young to be fully retired. So we feel the need to move to a more western place for a while.

    On this trip we have visited places in Europe, all over the US and Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and some here in Asia, but we still haven’t found the perfect place for us. Some are beautiful, some have the right vibe, some offer good working opportunities, some are affordable – choose any two of them.

    We have some favorites now, but none of them is perfectly right: Some places in Germany and Switzerland (easiest places to find well-paid work for me, as I am German), maybe something in the US (St. Petersburg, FL, as Kim is from the US, good job situation and real estate is crazy cheap) and Auckland (more difficult for both of us and less well paid, but very beautiful).

    We are eager to hear more recommendations in the comments from other readers!

    Michael + Kim

    • Christof May 10, 2014, 3:58 pm

      I live in a small town next to Hamburg, Germany, 75,000 inhabitants, everything available withing biking distance, and public transit to Hamburg, if I need anything unusal. The drawback? The weather is probably the opposite of your current place, and if you aren’t from this part of the country, you will likely consider people to be rude.

    • Venturing May 10, 2014, 9:58 pm

      Depending on your line of work I would bypass Auckland and head to one of the more regional areas of New Zealand. Auckland is far too sprawling and car based for my tastes and has a ridiculous housing market, too much like any other million people plus city. There are many other much more affordable options that have fantastic communities, easy access to the water/mountains and much lower housing and living costs. Tauranga, Napier/Hastings, New Plymouth, Wellington, Nelson and Dunedin all spring to mind.

      Auckland would be my least favourite city in NZ. If you liked Auckland I suggest you explore NZ further :)

      • Michael May 10, 2014, 11:38 pm

        We actually loved every single part of the country we visited. That was the most amazing thing about New Zealand: We could pull over at a random highway parking area and be sure there would be a selection of 4 or 5 absolutely amazing hikes waiting for us right there. Everywhere and always, and all of them beautiful.

        Unfortunately, my job (embedded systems, industrial control and sensor development) tends to be available only in bigger cities. Someone recommended Hamilton to me, as they seem to be strong in diary factory equipment there. But we ran out of time to go there. Too many amazing hikes on the way… ;-) Without the job question, I would choose a place somewhere in Northland.

        • Venturing May 11, 2014, 4:47 pm

          Christchurch should work for you. It is home to the other main engineering university (Auckland being the other) so is home to a lot of businesses in that space.

          • Tamali August 28, 2014, 9:46 am

            I’m currently on a working holiday in the UK but can’t wait to return to New Zealand next year where I intend to settle in Nelson in the South Island.
            Prior to travelling overseas, I lived in Napier, Hawke’s Bay. Great climate, loads of good hiking areas nearby, well priced housing. My property there is currently for sale if anyone wants to relocate :-) Built to be energy efficient with solar powered under floor heating, polished concrete floors for passive heating and all water is collected free from nature via rainwater off the roof.

    • Leo May 11, 2014, 10:09 am

      You should also look at Louisville and Lafayette. They are pretty affordable and are closer to boulder.

    • Dave May 12, 2014, 1:03 pm

      Hi Michael,

      I moved to Temple Terrace, FL (just outside of Tampa) about 5 years ago after living in Taiwan and China for a number of years. I love it down here. As you said, properties are extremely cheap, and the weather is fantastic (if you like the sun). If you plan your location well, it is exceptionally bikable (sunny and flat). They’re putting in more and more bike lanes, but I definitely plan my commute to avoid some of the busiest streets. Drivers down here aren’t great, but that seems to be true basically anywhere.

      There are loads of parks in our area, including a great community garden within a 10 minute walk. One of the things I love about Florida is that the weather lets you garden year-round (the soil, on the other hand, takes some work). We’ve also got a nearby bike co-op and an increasing population of various progressive types (time bankers / permaculturists / mindfulness practitioners, etc.) (if you’re into that sort of thing). My wife and I both work at USF, and we wanted to be within biking distance, so we’re not as near the coast as you would be in St. Pete. Our community garden includes a canoe, though, and is right on the Hillsborough River.

      Culturally, there are good museums and theaters, but live music is better in Orlando. One downside is the traffic. The Tampa / St. Pete / Clearwater area is quite sprawling, and most people think nothing about traveling between them. Tampa is also quite diverse, with large Indian, Middle Eastern and SE Asian populations (and restaurants).

      Like any American city, there is some crime but I’ve never had any trouble. And some people don’t like the weather in the summer — it will have high’s in the mid to high 90s — but I find it to be much more comfortable than St. Louis, MO, where I’m originally from. Plus, we usually get afternoon rains in the summer which helps take down some of the heat and the humidity.

      St. Pete is definitely a better choice if you’re interested in nightlife / restaurants. It’s also closer to the beaches (although some parts aren’t as close as you might think). One thing to be mindful of — most (if not all) of St. Pete is in a hurricane evacuation zone.

      • Steve May 16, 2014, 8:24 am

        I grew up in South Jersey and HATED the winter time–cold, overcast, brown vegetation. I have lived in Pensacola Florida for the past 20+ years. The great thing about Florida is that, except for touristy towns like Orlando, it is very cheap to live here. No state income tax, low property taxes and very friendly to business. Most retirees also move here for the weather. If you can tolerate the heat in the summer, the rest of the year is AMAZING! I love riding my bike in January in shorts and a T-Shirt! I grow my own peaches and oranges in my backyard and can garden all year-round if I want. We do have hurricanes which scare people but they’re only bad if you live on the coast. I live about 10 minutes from the Gulf and have never had any hurricane damage to my home. Also, lots of water! If you like boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, etc there is lots to do. We have a lot of rivers and, of course, the Gulf. My only complaint is that I miss hardwood trees. We have mostly pines in our forests which I don’t consider very pretty. I love to camp and hike in the woods and we have many state parks and forests around but they are filled with pines. When I want to see real forests, I take my family to northern Alabama or Georgia.

  • Faellie May 10, 2014, 1:32 am

    There is one thing I think you missed out in your analysis of Stashtown, and that is family ties. I’m not one for thinking that people have to stay in their hometown (I grew up in a perfectly nice town that meets nearly all your criteria) but I was miserable growing up there and would never go back. Luckily I had the option of retiring to a different location which meets a lot of the Stashtown criteria (sea rather than mountains, though) where my family history goes back hundreds of years and my cousins still live. A couple of years after I retired there, two more family members moved in locally. We provide support to each other, and can live a more Mustachian life because of it.

    • Alison May 10, 2014, 7:57 pm

      Which area near the sea? So many people reading this site are mountain people. I need water — lots of it. :)

      • Vic May 11, 2014, 6:26 pm

        Atlantic Ocean enough water for you? We live in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. We have lighthouses, beaches, farms, woods, Lobster! and are just 15 minutes from downtown Portland (ME), a cool city with plenty to do – vibrant art and restaurant scene.

        You do need to take up winter sports, or you might go mad for five months of the year. Mainers are frugal by nature, so the Mustachian life is in their blood.

        • alison May 12, 2014, 7:22 am

          Thank you!

        • RLS May 15, 2014, 12:34 pm

          Hello Vic (and Allison). I live in South Portland (Cape Elizabeth’s less expensive neighbor) and it’s a terrific town. Great schools, farmer’s market, many good local businesses, safe for my kids to walk/bike to school, next door to both city (Portland) and beaches, woods, lakes. I hate winter, yet I still live here…it’s that great!

    • Holly May 12, 2014, 12:06 pm

      I agree with you, Faellie. It is so hard for some of us to leave our families. I feel fortunate that I could find an awesome place to live within 45 minutes of my parents, but I would be hesitant to move much further. I want to be able to take care of them as they age, and as they have taken care of me throughout the years.

    • jp May 12, 2014, 2:52 pm

      I think this is an often overlooked key to happiness for many people. For me, relationships are far more important than being in a cool town. I am not going to leave my siblings and friends for a better climate or landscape. I am fairly sure that doing so would result in a net happiness loss. I have contemplated moves several times, and even had some career advancement opportunities, but when I really weigh what matters to me, I always come down on the side of preserving my relationships and staying in my current (less than enviable) locale (scenic southern Indiana).

      Now, if I could convince all the people I care about to follow me…

      • ms. b May 29, 2014, 2:14 pm

        Oh… another southern Indiana native. Tis true about that strange place; I’ve never had better/closer friend ties than there but just couldn’t take it. When I go down now, all I notice is the difficulty of living there as I see it now. Driving everywhere, getting unique spices foods is a trek, etc.

        When I explain to people here that my father was horrified when I decided to go car free, because in southern Indiana that makes you… welll…..an embarrassingly weird and probably poor and mooching relative, we all got a laugh of the cultural difference less than six hours away!

      • jp February 25, 2015, 12:59 pm

        My wife has voiced the same concerns but I’m trying to convince her that moving to a lower cost of living city will provide us with more time to travel and visit family and friends. She also is discounting potential new relationships and opportunities that will arise by relocating somewhere where people don’t put work ahead of personal happiness.

        We currently live in DC and all of our friends and family live between DC, Philly, and NYC. The East Coast corridor is one of the most miserable fucking places to live and work in the country but everyone we know lives here and is perfectly happy with the high income and high spending lifestyles.

        My dream is to rent out our overpriced DC condo to some yuppie scum and relocate to the Pacific Northwest. If everything works out perfectly, some lawyer working 80 hours a week will be paying me to hike, ski, and run road races in the most scenic part of the country.

        • Michelle M February 26, 2015, 11:54 am

          I have the same problem! All my immediate family and half my extended family all live happily middle-class consumer lives here in northern Virginia. I’ve been pining to move back out west since DH and I left central Texas 5 years ago. The pay and benefits we have right now are pretty cush and the jobs we have don’t suck but the defense contracting world is always precarious…

          And like you the Pacific Northwest is one of my favorite places to be. Fortunately my parents wouldn’t mind us living there since the other half of my extended family is in Tacoma. DH is on board but for now it’s the slow road of saving/investing enough to do it.

          Here’s hoping us Pac-NW fans will be toasting our early retirement around a campfire near Mt Rainier in the not too distant future. :)

    • Jeff August 19, 2015, 8:50 am

      My wife and I are originally from Michigan. Moved to Durham, NC for grad school (Duke), but her brother and her sister (and their significant others) moved to Boulder and Loveland, respectively. Our social circle has gotten a lot smaller as grad school friends moved away and we found less in common with friends who didn’t get houses, dogs, and kids. We are now seriously considering Longmont in about 2 years.

  • Tad May 10, 2014, 2:02 am

    Corona del Mar, CA.

    I did not move eagerly to Southern California (but married an LA girl, who is worth it.) I even less eagerly moved to Orange County, but a great job opportunity for my wife brought us here. But, now that we stumbled into paradise, are we ever grateful. The case for CDM, which, it turns out, is in Orange County, but not of Orange County:
    * Nature at your fingertips. I have three amazing runs right out my door – Crystal Cove State Park (3.2 miles of untouched beach, where you can see whales and sea lions), Buck Gully Reserve and trail (2.6 miles of well maintained trail along a creek; I have run across bobcats, rabbits, and other medium fauna), and Balboa Island (ok, not natural at all, but awfully charming). By bike you can go for miles along the beach trail through neighboring communities, or up into the hills.
    * The weather. Californians are beyond annoying in describing the climate, but 72 and sunny year round really does grow on you. Plus, it enables you to enjoy all that nature. My wife, son, and I walk 5 blocks to the little park on the bluff most evenings to enjoy a picnic and watch the sun set over the Channel Islands.
    * The schools are exceptional (#13 high school in the state). There are also plenty of parks for little kids within a few blocks. And, the city offers literally dozens of classes and activities for all ages, including a sparkling new senior center.
    * Grocery stores, restaurants, banks, post office, movie theater, hardware store all within a few blocks of the house.
    * Close proximity to treats such as Disneyland (30 minutes), San Diego Zoo, and Laguna Beach (bike ride).
    * A one hour drive to big cities like LA and San Diego when you need pro sports or a major international airport, although it’s a 15 minute drive to our very own John Wayne Airport.

    The big catch is that housing is not cheap by anyone’s definition. But, if some combination of savings and a job that you genuinely enjoy enable living here, it is a wonderful place to call home.

    • Laura W May 10, 2014, 6:44 pm

      You just hit my “take me back” button. I was born in Newport Beach and spent my early years growing up in CDM back in the ’60s. It was heaven! My grandfather moved there in the ’30s when a dirt road took you down where Jamboree Road is now. He ran a small grocery store on Balboa Island during the WWII and then ultimately ended up as a builder…in Orange County, CA…as you enter the ’50s — yep! Not bad timing at all! He built much of the original residential areas in CDM and was the lead on Harbor View Hills. My heart is still right there at Little Corona Beach. I could never afford to live there now, but I love to drive in and around it whenever I can get back there. Awesome place.

      • Tad May 12, 2014, 3:47 pm

        Our (toddler) son LOVES Little Corona Beach… he refers to it as “his beach” :)

    • Patrick May 12, 2014, 3:05 pm

      The key to living anywhere in Southern California is to keep your “activity radius” as small as possible. Because SoCal is one giant, sprawling blob of housing, work, recreation, etc., people fall into the trap of thinking “I can live in Manhattan Beach, work in downtown L.A., go to the Angels games on Saturday in Anaheim, and do Thursday night dinner with friends in Palos Verdes. While all these places are “in Southern California”, you end up spending your entire life on the freeway! Definitely no way to live.

      If you can live, work and socialize in one small area, you’ve got it made. Housing can be prohibitively expensive, but there are still some nooks and crannies where things aren’t valued as if you’re sitting on an oil field. My GF and I live in a 2 bedroom apartment a few blocks from the ocean for about $1500/month. No screaming deal compared to other parts of the country, but when you’re surfing at 7PM, the sun is setting over Catalina Island, and dolphins are jumping out of the water, it feels like fair value.

      • Savin G's May 26, 2014, 3:23 pm

        Wow, $1500 to live by the beach! Definitely a steal in LA standards.

        I agree with what you said about SoCal. I live in the Westside and tend to live, socialize, and do everything there.

        I also do think that living frugally in LA is possible. If one can see the matrix and not follow the herd, ie, try the every new trendy restaurant that opens (which usually happens to be overrated anyway), max out the housing budget, and shop like everyone else despite varying income levels, I know that life can be good here. Also I noticed that if one resists the urge to wear their wealth, the faster they get rich. I work in the financial industry serving ultra high net worth clients and notice that the clients with the most money, tend to look and live quite simply!

      • Becki December 12, 2016, 3:44 pm

        Totally agree! How to accomplish this if you’ve lived in SoCal for a few years? Yes, I know this is an old post.

        I’ve lived in San Diego for 5 years and our friends, church, current home, etc are spread all over the country.

        How do I consolidate? I was thinking maybe I go with the highest common location? North Park has our church, Balboa Park, multiple friends, library, shopping, etc, etc, etc.

        Or do you go the route of choosing the neighborhood first and then changing your habits and behaviors to match your location? Meaning if I choose to live in downtown Santee (or La Mesa or Ocean Beach just for example) do I then find a new church and mainly specialize with people in that area?

  • christian de guzman May 10, 2014, 2:03 am

    I live in the San Fernando Valley, 30 mins from downtown LA, I try to ride my bike more than 50% of the time. LA is not a very bike friendly area, people drives crazy and sometimes ignore the safety of bikers but this past few years its been changing. I’ve been seeing more and more bike lanes getting opened on major roads which I use to commute to work. My work is 10 mile bike ride, I used to chicken out when its cold but upon reading your blog, i realized how doable it is. My other job is 17 mile away from home, I will bring my car and park it at the bus station half way and bike for 8 miles going to my second job. But my ultimate dream is to go back to my native land of Philippines. Yes it is a poor country but my heart belongs there. No matter how bad a place is, there is no place like home. There is a lot of bad things about it, but like you, I am optimistic about the place.

  • Newman May 10, 2014, 4:09 am

    Once enough Mustachians have moved there, maybe you should re-name Longmont and make a documentary about the concept of Mustachianism:

    Badassity in Badass City :-)

    Greetings from Sweden

    • Veronica May 12, 2014, 12:37 am

      Nice to know I’m not the only MMM-reader here :-)

      • zack May 13, 2014, 8:37 am

        Where in sweden are you Veronica (or Newman)? do you find sweden to be mustache-friendly? i’ve been a couple of times and love it. but worry about finding a job (not speaking swedish) and the winters being perhaps a bit too harsh for me. and outside of the major cities, it seems rather affordable to me. i love stockholm but can’t imagine i could afford to live there. but i think i’d be just as happy in a smaller city like skovde. especially with the public transportation. or even smaller, like tidaholm. and the “all man’s rights” are a mustachian dream — picking blueberries, lingonberries, and mushrooms while on a peaceful stroll through the forest without fear of ill will… any insight or perspective you could provide would be greatly appreciated. thanks!

  • Jill May 10, 2014, 4:56 am

    West Chester, PA. About an hour to Philadelphia which is a wonderful city plus 3 hours to either Washington DC or NYC for day trips for the Smithsonian or Broadway. We have the most beautiful old trees everywhere. It is lovely now in spring with all the flowers and trees and green grass everywhere. Valley Forge is nearby which is a great place to walk or bike. New Jersey beaches are where we’ll spend the summer days – down the shore. The schools are excellent and the parents are involved in the schools and education of the their children. We have good business around here – many pharmaceutical companies and QVC is literally in our borders. The boro of West Chester is the most lovely town you can imagine – very walkable with many good restaurants. They have a restaurant festival once a year in the fall and a bike race, criterium, in the summer where they close off the roads to traffic and everyone walks around town. There is a quaint library in town plus a larger one north of the boro in Exton. There are countless parks available for walking or taking the kids to play. People are unfailingly kind around here. I would say there is a culture of frugality around here. It doesn’t raise any eyebrows to discuss paying down debt or to get a good deal at an auction or garage sale. Garage sales are competitive around here – gotta get there early. West Goshen – my actual township – has been top ten in Money magazine for living well.

    For me the downsides – it gets hot and humid in the summer and cold and dreary in the winter – but that is the entire East Coast. I’m looking for southern California next. The housing prices are a bit steep. I don’t think you can get a decent single family home for under 300k – maybe you’d find one for 250k . There is certainly nothing under that. But taxes are relatively low. I’m one of the few bikers around here who commute but maybe I’ll start a trend. People in the boro bike and walk everywhere though – I’m about a mile outside the boro. It is not very diverse.

    Overall I think many of my neighbors are mustachian although I don’t know that they know the term. And if you are looking for a place and you have a family – it is an excellent place to be.

    • Roger Mexico May 10, 2014, 10:03 am

      West Chester!

      We are new residents of the borough and can’t recommend it enough. Not just walkable, but enough historic architecture that walking as actually pleasant. After spending a decade on the Main Line (which I absolutely do not understand the appeal of), finding WC was like a revelation.

      • Jill May 10, 2014, 2:32 pm

        Welcome Roger!

      • Kim May 16, 2014, 3:55 am

        I lived in both Villanova (in student housing) and Malvern while on an internship, and I tend to agree about places along the Paoli-Thorndale line. I might live there again if I were commuting on the train, but the rent is higher than the surrounding towns, and the walkability wasn’t great.

        I’d look at West Chester and Phoenixville if I was going to move back to the area. I didn’t spend enough time in either to give a very good review, but they’re both walkable places with relatively low rent, some history, and a nice downtown. They also didn’t give me the same “why are there rich people everywhere” feeling that the main line did. (The number of manicure shops I’d see on my commute from Villanova to Malvern was really confusing.)

        (Also, as a pizza lover with a corn allergy, West Chester scores big points for having a Peace a Pizza shop.)

  • Stephen May 10, 2014, 5:13 am

    I really enjoy the concept of simply being intentional about where you live. I feel like most people I know just ‘end up’ where they are without actually seeking it out. The other observation I”ve made is that there are often little stashtown sprinkled throughout even the least mustashian cities. Even Atlanta (You mentioned job options in GA) has it own little pockets of in town walkable neighborhoods but is mostly dominated by hour long suburban commuters.

    We live in Athens, GA by design and is about as close as it get to a stashtown in GA. We love it here with its great access to sports, bikeability, density, education, and cost. Other southeast options we enjoy are Savannah, hilton head (although a bit touristy) and St. Simonds. I too suffer from the eternal optimist bug so I tend to seek out the best parts of every city in which I’ve lived.. We also have strong family ties and all my family lives within a short distance as well (which was more important after kids)

    • Carter May 13, 2014, 12:04 pm

      Great to see someone from GA on here. I am from Atlanta and spent two years in Athens for grad school. It’s more livable than Atlanta in a lot of respects but not enough for me to choose it over Atlanta. I wish Athens was as diverse in its array of outdoor opportunities as Longmont or some other towns mentioned above. My family is in Georgia. I would like to return eventually but cannot settle on a spot that energizes me in the way that I am excited when I read about or visit other towns. Atlanta has some great neighborhoods that buck the suburban monstrosity but at the end of the day it is still a suburban monstrosity. I love the parks around the Chattahoochee which offer some surprising elevation change. Assuming no traffic you can find yourself in gorgeous mountains only an hour north of town. Only problem is there is almost always traffic. Accessibility to the outdoors from Atlanta is most limited by traffic in my opinion.

      I currently live in Hanover, NH. It’s a marvelous town during the summer, but I am not sure I can take many winters here. Nonetheless, this is a great spot if you love winter sports, do not mind being 2+ hours from a major international airport, and are not single. It’s better for married couples, particularly with children. Being 32 and single is not ideal in this area although Dartmouth College offers a welcome influx of intelligent graduate students. If I could plop Hanover somewhere warmer with a close international airport, it would be a near ideal spot. For some people it is unquestionably already an ideal spot. I forgot to mention no state income tax in NH.

      The Raleigh area might be best if I want to be in the southeast – has enough outsider influence to balance out the culture. Maybe Decatur if I want to stay in the greater Atlanta area. I’d really just like to move to Longmont after reading this article.

  • GK May 10, 2014, 5:29 am

    Just a question about the places mentioned; do any of them have any significant minority populations? We are a mixed race family and it’s important to us to find an community which is not too insular.

    • Meghan May 10, 2014, 10:26 am

      Longmont has a large Hispanic population. It’s about as diverse as northern/central Colorado gets, in my opinion. I suppose Colorado Springs might beat Longmont if you’re willing to live 1.5 hours south of Denver and are looking for more diversity. It’s a military town and people tend to go back to CO Springs when they retire or leave the service. It’s also very pretty.

    • Tallgirl1204 May 10, 2014, 5:17 pm

      Flagstaff has significant. Native American and Hispanic communities– we are considered a “border town” for the Navajo reservation, and many tribes are represented in the local community. Asian and African American people are less well-represented, although they are a significant part of the town’s railway and logging history (the logging companies brought many of their own employees when they came here from Louisiana in the 1950s). That said, neighborhoods vary. Our neighborhood school is mostly white, but we send our son to a magnet program that is about evenly split three ways between white, Hispanic and Native kids. There are a few African American or biracial kids in the school, but most of them are adopted. That said, Flag is a fairly tolerant town, with many single parent and same-sex couple families. However, most mixed-race families are a mix of white, Hispanic and Native American– just a matter of base demographics.

    • Sarah May 16, 2014, 5:25 pm

      Sacramento is one of the most diverse cities in the United States. There are pockets that are extremely walkable and bikeable, especially because the American River bike trail. East Sacramento is on the more expensive side, but the surrounding areas are quite affordable. We recently purchased a 4 bed/2 bath 1650 sq. ft. home in a small suburb for under $270k. We’re less than a mile from a large shopping center, around the corner from a K-8 school, a 10 minute bike ride from a major university, and less than 10 minutes to the American River.

      • SacTown Girl May 19, 2014, 9:17 pm

        Yay Sacramento! I was hoping someone would mention it! I grew up in the SF Bay Area, but since moving to Sac Town, I would never go back! I walk or bike almost everywhere and find that living in Midtown means I am close to pretty much anything I need. Housing is pretty affordable and it is fairly easy to rent a decent apartment for a reasonable amount. The prices do go up the further east you go, as Sarah mentioned, but there are certainly affordable places there as well. Anyway, go Sac!

        • Philo February 15, 2015, 8:53 pm

          Like you I moved from the Bay to Sacramento (I moved here in 2008.) Unlike you, I’m not as enchanted. It’s not that I long for home (I don’t miss the traffic and the really expensive real estate.)

          One thing I don’t like is how close the rough neighborhoods are to the nice ones. I’ve never experienced that before.

          I also feel like the economy is really bad here….still! I’m early 40’s, college educated, present well, etc. and still have not gotten a “real job” since the recession (I retreated to restaurants, no disrespect meant to anyone.) According to Indeed.com there are 2 applicants for every job posting in Sacramento….compared to an inverse ratio in some locales.

          And real estate, while cheaper than the Bay Area, is still not cheap. I’m looking for a rental (2 bed 1 bath.) I’d like a garage and a small yard and I can’t find very much in the $1200 price range I was hoping to spend (my current rental was just sold, so I need to move.) Yes, there are some out there, but many are in so-so neighborhoods.

          Just my two cents. I do like the area otherwise.

    • Tarynkay May 20, 2014, 6:49 pm

      Same here- so we ended up in Durham, NC, a minority majority city. It is historically African American and was an oasis of black industry and entrepreneurship shortly after the Civil War. We now also have a large Latino population and there is a small but appreciable Asian population. My husband and I grew up in SW FL and lived in Los Angeles for a few years during school, and Durham is our favorite city ever. If you scroll down, people have posted way more information about Durham (and neighboring cities that aren’t quite as great, but still nice, like Raleigh and Chapel Hill.) But as a fairly conspicuous family, we love living here and being able to pretty much blend in with all of the other conspicuous families.

  • Fiona May 10, 2014, 5:59 am

    Going off the stats you linked to, the average annual income is around $55K. And the median house price on Zillow is around $285,000. So housing comes in at around 5.1 times annual income.

    Here in Melbourne, Australia our median annual income is around $75K AUD. The median house price is around $550K. So housing comes in at about 7.3 times annual income.

    Complicating that though, our income tax rate is around 30% compared to the incredibly low rate in Longmont! I guess that depletes our housing affordability still further but it also pays for a wide network of social supports from health care to pensions.

    The city has been nominated ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ 3 times running by the Economist magazine, but they factor in things like quality of healthcare and education, violence etc.

    Culturally, Melbourne is a biggish city (4.5 million) built on a bay. We do have the plus factors of a big city including numerous cultural institutions, excellent education options, Universities, festivals, music, comedy, literature, some nice beaches. It’s also a city of parks and green wedges with a wide network of bike trails. Summer mean of 78F by day (with some peak hot days up to 110F), Winter mean of 56F.

    • Adam May 10, 2014, 10:42 am

      Fiona, the taxes MMM refers to are State income taxes which don’t exist in Australia. USA Federal income taxes are a little lower than in Australia, but when you combine all the different taxes the total tax takes for the two countries are not too dissimilar (but the governments choose to spend the taxes on rather different things). Also in Australia there are no property taxes which also contributes to the relative difference in the income to house price ratio.

      • Fiona May 11, 2014, 7:00 am

        Thanks, Adam. I was starting to feel all Complainypants about our tax rate for a minute there!

        • Stan May 11, 2014, 5:12 pm

          Folks, I echo the thoughts about Melbourne. I moved here from the UK about 2 years ago, after marrying an Aussie. It’s a fine city with plenty to see and do.

          I’ve enjoyed my time here, but shortly we’ll be moving to Wodonga (about 300km/200miles north), for better access to the countryside and lower costs, particularly housing! Compared to the UK, Melbourne seems incredibly expensive, but since we know most spending is optional and salaries here reflect the “normal/non-mustachian” cost of living it is a great place to work and save.

          We currently rent an apartment in Melbourne and we’re building a place of our in Wodonga, so I’m still learning about the various property taxes involved. The cost of buying the land included stamp duty (tax) of about 2% and then we pay GST (tax) of 10% of the cost of building our home. The taxes are one-off costs, but my understanding is that we’ll also pay “rates” to the local council each year and that these are similar to the annual property taxes paid to the state in America. The rates due are calculated as a percentage of the property value and I think that ours will come in between A$2,000-A$2,500 (US$1,700-US$2,100).

          Finances aside, Wodonga is a town of about 40,000 people. It is set in rolling hills about 60km/40 miles from the edge of the alpine region. It would be ambitious to bike there, but maybe one day I’ll try it! Closer to home is Lake Hume and the River Murray, with plenty of opportunity for fishing and water sports (I’m particularly looking forward to picking up a second hand canoe/kayak). Opportunities for biking/hiking and camping abound. All told, we can’t wait to move up there and start enjoying a slightly slower pace of life in more wide open space. I’ll check back in here later in the year to let you know how it’s all going…

    • Sparkie May 12, 2014, 5:20 pm

      We just bought up in the Dandenong Ranges. 50 minutes from the city centre, but a real country vibe. Everyone up here seems so much more friendly. The weather is 5C cooler than the ‘flatlands’ which is great in summer. We have views across the valley to Mt Baw Baw, and the sunrises are spectacular. Long walks through the rain forest on our doorstep, and all for $100k less than I sold my one bed flat in the city for. We are away from the touristy parts and love it. Can’t recommend it enough

  • Even Steven May 10, 2014, 6:00 am

    Colorado sounds nice, I have always pictured myself living in a smaller town on the coast of Oregon, something similar to Bend, Oregon. I currently live in Chicago, so the positives are the great public transport, walking distance to restaurants and groceries and the common joy that is had in summer since winter lasted “a little long” this year. The housing and taxes are higher, but on the plus owning a multi unit is more common. Depends on your neighborhood in Chicago.

    • Money Saving May 12, 2014, 6:51 am

      Chicago is an awesome place to live. More expensive, obviously, but there are tons of things to do there on a budget!

    • Mr. FI May 19, 2014, 1:53 pm

      I believe Bend is actually right smack in the middle of Oregon and about 4 hours from the coast. Arid, almost desert-y. But Oregon is appealing for sure.

  • Mr. 1500 May 10, 2014, 6:05 am

    One other point I’ll make about Longmont is that the town is on the upswing. There are still run down spots, but it seems like those are quickly being redeveloped. The Butterball plant in Old Town is a perfect example: http://www.timescall.com/longmont-local-news/ci_25711752/butterball-properties-longmont-could-be-home-apartments-small

    I’d rather be in a place like Longmont that is still a little rough around the edges (potential for price appreciation) than a place like Boulder.

  • Mr. Frugalwoods May 10, 2014, 6:52 am

    We live in a high cost of living area now (Greater Boston) but are planning to move to western Mass or southern Vermont after we’ve finished our accumulation phase. Much cheaper to live there, but job prospects aren’t nearly as good.

    Being a handy guy, have you ever thought about living on some land and not in the city? Rural land can be really cheap, and as Mustachians we don’t really use “city amenities” like bars, restaurants and clubs. Rural living has it’s own expenses… but you strike me as the self sufficient type if given the opportunity.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 10, 2014, 8:46 am

      Could be fun.. but I’d have to bring all my friends along so they can remain within walking distance, which could be a tough sell.

      • 2300 May 20, 2014, 2:58 pm

        Exactly my problem…not the farming part I’d have trouble doing that, but getting everyone o move with me :( I’d love to move to PNW or Colorado–was actually Just out in Portland and Bend for Vacation and Denver for work and always loved it out there.

        But family and friends are all in Chicago so that’s where I’m stuck for now–I do both love and hate Chicago (sometimes on the same day), but I need some mountains/outdoors for my soul…someday.

  • Clark May 10, 2014, 6:54 am

    Partially thanks to the another article on here I read about eight months ago (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/09/28/get-rich-with-moving-to-a-better-place/) – we have spent that time designing and planning a way to move and work in a new city and state. We were extremely intentional about this move and the location, comparing cost of living, bikeability, access to outdoors, culture, and things to do, etc…After building a ‘top 5’ list we started planning the move and searching for jobs in those cities – and now with a job offer accepted the move is actually planned – with the winning area being Southern Oregon. Now that it’s actually in the works and we’ll be making the move this summer it feels extremely empowering.

    Since it will be >2,500 miles from most of our friends and family it wasn’t an extremely easy or heavily supported decision by others, but we feel the improvements in every other area of our life more than gives us enough reason to move.

    • LizinOregon May 10, 2014, 12:31 pm

      Clark, I live in Ashland and can’t help but think you will be a neighbor here in Souther Oregon. I moved here from the DC area 8 years ago when I retired and am very happy with my choice. Theater is my thing and it is hard to find in a small town. There is also a great music scene. I walk almost everywhere and hike a lot. The housing is higher than I was looking for (Californians again) but it’s a trade-off that I decided to make and haven’t been sorry. The biggest adjustment has been leaving friends and family so far away, but they think it is a great place to visit!

      • Clark May 10, 2014, 3:33 pm

        Very cool Liz! We will not be in Ashland, but not too far away – in Grants Pass. Once we can’t up with a number of places we liked, which job offers seemed the best came next and Grants Pass won for us. Southern Oregon seems like it will be perfect though, can’t wait to make the move from the southeast.

        • LizinOregon May 10, 2014, 4:02 pm

          Grants Pass is a great town too. Good luck with you move and the new job.

    • rob May 13, 2014, 1:49 pm

      well that’s what FB, skype and email are for, plus you can visit several times a year.

  • UncleCharlie May 10, 2014, 7:01 am

    I was hoping there would be a Canadian stache city in the comments section, but no such luck. As mentioned before, we are moving back to Canada from Korea and have our sites set on London, Ontario. I have family in Hamilton, not far away and hometown of MMM himself. We hope London lives up to what we expect it will be: a good but not “big” city, and bikeable/walkable to libraries, parks, YMCA, and many schools rated in the top 10-20% provincially but located in very affordable neighborhoods. I’m originally from Calgary but have no desire to endure the long winters and no real Spring, or the high housing costs.

    • Gotim Himel May 10, 2014, 9:01 am

      I lived in Toronto for eight years and moved back to Winnipeg a little over three years ago to be close to aging parents. Between the two, Toronto actually was the stachier city. While our house was expensive and needed a lot of repairs, I was able to bike to my Bay Street job from March to November, and even with one child, we did not own a car. Groceries in Kensington Market were fresh and cheap.

      While our lifestyle in Winnipeg is about a stachy as possible (super-well insulated 1,400 sq. ft condo made out of hollow-core concrete rather than wood and walking distance to my job and to preschool for our two kids, with one 10-yr old car in the family), property taxes are a killer, cyclists, pedestrians and bus riders are viewed with suspicion (they are obviously too poor to afford a car), and the winters are absolutely frigid. Overall, it is not a stachy city and we are doing well despite of it, not because of it.

      In my view, both London and Hamilton are under-rated cities. If you want a real stachy city, look at the small towns in Southwestern Ontario or small towns in British Columbia. If you don’t need a big city to work in (as I do for my job), they seem to have some of the best quality of life.

      • AmAnda May 10, 2014, 2:15 pm

        And if you ride your bike on the street you might just disappear into a pothole, never to be seen again.

      • Chris May 12, 2014, 11:44 am

        I live just outside Toronto right now, and was looking at moving to London. It has its pro’s and con’s. Job market there isn’t great. Only reason I am considering it is because the company I work for has a office located downtown that I can work from.

        Here are my pro’s and con’s from what I have seen:

        – Cheap real estate
        – Overall a great place to raise a family
        – Good location, in between Windsor/Detroit and Toronto. Both cities are withing a day’s drive
        – Lower gas prices per litre
        – University of Western Ontario is a pretty great school

        – Poor job market / high unemployment
        – High property taxes
        – Downtown core is pretty rough, dominated by students
        – They have a pretty bad drug problem that is very evident downtown and anywhere east of Adelaide street (used syringes can be found in alley ways and parking lots, needle drop of boxes are all over the place)
        – Not very vibrant city, not much going on outside of the university. Pretty much a typical University town.

        Overall i think it would be a great place to live if you are looking to raise a family and have a decent job lined up. Just stay out of the downtown core. Also the Ontario government is looking into building a high speed rail line that would connect London to Toronto and Pearson International Airport. London to Toronto would take about an hour on the train. But that won’t be ready for another 10 years.

    • DC May 10, 2014, 9:20 am

      I lived in London for almost five years. The neighbourhoods around the downtown can be quite nice and walkable. My favourite was Wortley village, south of downtown. Next favourite would be Old North. You’re also a reasonable drive to either Grand Bend or Port Stanley beaches. I found most of the suburbs bland and car dependent.

      For better or worse the downtown is completely dominated by the university crowd. I enjoyed that when I was in my early 20’s but I grew tired of it as I got older. Getting around the city is painful. The city is a massive sprawl with no expressway. It will easily take you an hour to go end to end in what would be a 10 minute drive on a proper expressway.

      Final issue with the city was lack of jobs. Unemployment is high right now and the tech sector was not great.

      I moved up the 401 to Kitchener where the tech sector is booming. KW has a wealth of tech jobs, affordable housing, and a strong transit vision (existing expressway makes it easy to get around too). There’s a decent trail system throughout the city and if you live close to Downtown Kitchener or Uptown Waterloo you can bike almost everywhere. Guelph or Cambridge are also popular for those looking for a smaller town. It also puts you an hour from Toronto if you want to head in for a day on the weekend.

    • Jeremy May 10, 2014, 1:51 pm

      Having recently moved from Halifax to Ottawa for work, I hope to go back someday and enjoy life on the peninsula like I did during grad school. Reasonable housing in the 300k range within 5 minutes of downtown, ridiculously bikeable, friendly culture, good entertainment, libraries, parks, beaches…

      • PtboEliz May 11, 2014, 4:51 pm

        +1 for Halifax.. a very educated population too (five universities in a fairly small city). And excellent out-of-city biking to various lakes and the ocean.

        • Jef Miles May 13, 2014, 8:00 am

          Could not agree more, spent 4 months in Halifax, assuming we are talking NS, Canada here, originally from Sydney, Australia and loved the place..

          Was over there studying @ SMU and got over to see the Cape Breton national park, Dartmouth, experience the most bars per capita in Canada and spent my 21st there.. Awesome memories

        • Kenoryn May 13, 2014, 6:13 pm

          My in-laws are in the Annapolis Valley, and I think if you’re not interested in big-city life it would be an awesome place to live. Beautiful there and dirt cheap, and still not too far from Halifax or ferry ride to Saint John.

    • Cary Smith May 12, 2014, 2:52 pm

      I currently live in Calgary. We HATE it, the weather is awful year round, the people are rude and too busy, the city is huge and expensive but the money is unreal. We will be moving to Penticton or Osoyoos when we retire, borh very beautiful and warm.

      • totoro June 12, 2014, 3:25 pm

        I’ll second Penticton or Osoyoos. I have not found a better area to live in my travels. Quality of life is super high if you have a job/income. Employment can be a problem. If you are retired, a professional, or telecommute it is fantastic. There are a lot of retired folks who live in this area though.

        As far as what Penticton has going for it:

        1. Bike anywhere in about fifteen minutes. Penticton has a beautiful bike path across the city along the river channel. There is also the Kettle Valley railway line.
        2. Beautiful beaches and huge, clean lakes.
        3. A burgeoning wine industry that exceeds Napa imo for vistas and matches in quality of product.
        4. Many outdoor activities year-round. World class rock climbing. Great hiking. Water sports. Excellent ski hill 30 minutes away.
        5. Great new rec centre and large concert venue.
        6. Nice library.
        7. Relatively affordable housing – you can get a nice-ish SFH for $300,000 in a decent area.
        8. Beautiful orchards and vineyards all around – lots of peaches, cherries, apricots, apples and plums.
        9. Active arts community.
        10. Lots of cultural events.

        Penticton was voted one of the top ten places to visit in the world.


    • Kristina May 17, 2014, 12:26 pm

      I agree with Gotim. There are nicer, slightly smaller cities elsewhere in Southern Ontario. I am originally from London, now living in a rural community in BC, and I don’t miss the urban sprawl, average downtown, and big box stores that draw people away from the core.

  • UncleCharlie May 10, 2014, 7:01 am

    I was hoping there would be a Canadian stache city in the comments section, but no such luck. As mentioned before, we are moving back to Canada from Korea and have our sites set on London, Ontario. I have family in Hamilton, not far away and hometown of MMM himself. We hope London lives up to what we expect it will be: a good but not “big” city, and bikeable/walkable to libraries, parks, YMCA, and many schools rated in the top 10-20% provincially but located in very affordable neighborhoods. I’m originally from Calgary but have no desire to endure the long winters and no real Spring, or the high housing costs.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 10, 2014, 8:45 am

      Yeah! London is nice. I often wonder about Sarnia too, near the lakes and just across from Detroit. Hamilton is still a partially undiscovered secret: sits on a nicer chunk of lakeshore land than Toronto, direct train service if you ever want to visit, but houses are less than half the price.

      • Michael May 11, 2014, 6:13 pm

        Better than Sarnia, try Port Huron, Michgan. A town on the beautiful shores of Lake Huron (population 30,000) with access to Toronto/Detroit/Chicago. Good community college and outdoor sports galore. Unemployment still a bit of a problem in SE Michigan, but things seem to be turning for the better. Best of all, for the price of that average home in fancy Colorado, you can have a large lakefront (or St Clair River-front) home.

        • Mr. Money Mustache May 12, 2014, 8:03 am

          Yeah! I often imagine living in Port Huron as well, whenever I cross the bridge on the summer drive into Canada. Huron is a spectacular Ocean of a lake. I would embark on month-long sailing trips on that lake and visit all the cities on its shores. Then sail the boat out through the St. Lawrence and down to the Caribbean in the winters.

          If I ever wanted to live near family again, but retain the advantages of the US (most notably everything being virtually free, except healthcare which I consume relatively little of), Port Huron would be a great place for it. Buffalo and Rochester NY have potential too.

          • Michael May 12, 2014, 8:42 am

            Excellent winter idea…winters are BRUTAL and we get away as much as we can December through February, while enjoying lakefront life during spring/summer/fall. Paid only $160k for a modest, mustachian lakefront house and it suits me just fine.

      • Lisa May 12, 2014, 6:25 pm

        My boyfriend and I just returned from a fantastic bike ride through the Eramosa Karst and along the Bruce Trail at the top of the Niagara escarpment in Hamilton. Hamilton actually has some pretty kickass places to ride bikes. I always grin at people who only know it from the QEW and it looks like some post-apocalyptic nightmare, but living near the waterfalls or in the west end is great. Also, I live close enough to Binbrook so that I can ride out to the farms and pick up fresh vegetables and fruits.

        I will FIRE in Hamilton and am lucky enough to have a decent paying job here now. I like that it’s close enough to Toronto for easy GO Bus day trips but that the real estate is so mucb cheaper. Property tax is pretty high though.

    • Rachel May 11, 2014, 10:49 am

      If you’re looking for a Canadian town on the west coast, Cumberland is the place to be. My little family moved here a few years ago. It’s an awesome little town of 3,500. The bike culture is huge, it has a wonderful main street, great community parks, mountain biking trails right out your back door, and a lake down the road. I can walk to work and my kids (9 and 4) can ride their bikes to school/daycare fairly safely.
      Employment is a bit sketchy in town, so lots of people do commute to the larger centres and housing prices are going up mostly because there is such demand to live here. Property taxes are a bit high but that’s because Cumberland is a bit remote from other areas and has to provide all its own services.
      The climate is great. We’re about 10 minutes inland from the ocean so a little colder winters – but not too cold – and the summers are hotter – but not too hot. There’s a ski hill up the road which usually has decent snow.
      I love it here and love living here. Vancouver Island is the best place on earth and Cumberland is the best of the best. If you can’t move here you should definitely visit!

    • Kenoryn May 13, 2014, 6:08 pm

      I’ve never been a big fan of London, but I’ve only visited, not lived there. That part of Ontario is very flat and agricultural and less appealing to me in terms of landscape than central/some eastern parts. I am in Peterborough and love it here. Real estate is cheaper east of Toronto than west (and cheaper the further east you go, except Ottawa). We’re an hour and a half from TO so it’s not unreasonable to go down for a weekend or to check out a big name concert that’s going through, and we are supposed to be getting a train to Toronto in 2017 or something. Great arts & culture scene in Peterborough, beautiful waterfront through the middle of town, vibrant downtown, and lots of great smaller communities on the outskirts like Millbrook and Lakefield – I’m a small town gal myself and like to be part of a small community, with big-community amenities close by. :) Lovely rolling hills and two great farmer’s markets.

      Alternatively I think the Niagara area might be a nice place to be in Ontario – very picturesque wine country, with the niagara escarpment and lots of beautiful natural areas, and a warmer climate than the rest of Ontario. Don’t know anything about real estate there, though. Or, on the other side of TO, the Picton area would be similar, out on Lake Ontario, beautiful area, close to Belleville and Kingston.

      • John June 4, 2014, 8:11 am

        Great to hear a vote for Peterborough. My wife and I are in Calgary at the moment but planning a move and semi-retirement back East to Ontario within the next year or so. We just did a road-trip through that area this summer and kinda loved Peterborough.
        Bancroft is on the list too, though it’s a fair bit North of there.

        • Heather June 16, 2014, 6:04 pm

          I’m a Peterborough native. It’s a great city, for sure. Like Kenoryn said, wonderful arts & culture scene, etc. And there’s a university and a college, which helps keep it vibrant. But that aside, there is a HIGH unemployment rate. Just Google Peterborough + Unemployment for info. Keep that in mind, if you won’t be fully retired when you move.

  • rpesek6904 May 10, 2014, 7:02 am

    Omaha, NE

    Most of the country thinks of Nebraska as flyover territory, but the truth is that it is a great place to live. Omaha, Nebraska has approximately 1.3 million people within a 50 mile radius of its downtown. Usually, that surprises people. As with any metropolitan area of that size, we have many entertainment options (Stadium, arena, concerts for major performers, opera house with Broadway productions, etcetera.) There are many cool neighborhoods that are extremely vibrant and Omaha has been successful in recent years in completely transforming its downtown and attracting and retaining a large amount of young professionals. Again, not really in the stereotype.

    As Mustachians we might be more interested in the economics. Omaha has an unemployment rate of approximately 4%. We have more than our share of large corporations offering stable, good paying jobs. For example, Mutual of Omaha, First Data Resources, Conagra, Keiwit Construction and many, many others. I’m an entrepreneur on business owner. There is no shortage of opportunities for that type of person either. The city is stable financially and generally has good government (there are always exceptions). Notably, Mr. Money Mustashe’s legal team is located in Omaha :)

    Home prices and the value of money in Omaha is the major key. For example, I live in a 2600 square foot home, 3 beds, 2 baths that I purchased for $169,000 (which included an escrowed $10,000 roof replacement). Google Maps: “3401 Woolworth Avenue” for a virtual tour of the neighborhood (which is worth it). This is just an example. However, I have repeatedly been told about the “reverse sticker shock” that east and west coasters experience when they move to Nebraska. For that reason, its a great place to grow your stash.

    There are so many things I could say about Nebraska. Our slogan is “The good life.” It’s true. We are happy to let everyone else fly over, we’ll keep the secret to ourselves! Check out the Omaha Wikipedia page for more info.

    • JB May 10, 2014, 8:57 am

      and you have the Oracle of Omaha. It is a very nice city. We went for the Berkshire meeting a few years ago.

    • Spaarwalvis May 10, 2014, 4:19 pm

      Props for Nebraska and South Dakota! I’ve spent a lot of time in both courtesy of local relatives. I like the “reverse sticker shock” remark – it’s not just housing prices. My grandparents’ 4 BR on 1/6 acre downtown (i.e. Walk Score of 94) fetched $66k. No misprint. Groceries much cheaper, no income or property taxes in S Dak, and so little crime that restaurants leave the tables set up on the sidewalks overnight! Sure there’s winter, but Mustachians can fix that with insulation.

    • D312 May 10, 2014, 9:11 pm

      I visited Omaha last summer and was very impressed with what I saw. Clean, easy to get around, and was in farmland within 10 minutes of driving west of the city. Nothing but cows and corn all the way to Lincoln. In both locations, I saw modest houses that looked well-cared for and got the impression that the average joe there lives a more humble life than what is typical in an east-coast city. Both locales had their share of grime on the fringe, but nothing near what you find in the NY or DC metropolitan areas.

    • frugalLaura May 11, 2014, 8:08 pm

      I’m going to be moving to Lincoln in a few weeks. I’ve visited there several times on short and longer visits. Coming from New Mexico, I’m looking forward to the walking trails and the lakes! Now I just have to secure a job. :)

    • Philo February 15, 2015, 8:34 pm

      I know this is getting a bit old, but who cares. I pulled up that address on Google. What a beautiful neighborhood! I live in the Sacramento area. The neighborhood you live in looks similar to the coveted “East Sacramento” neighborhood, with two differences: the houses appear generally larger in your neighborhood, and the homes of your size in that part of Sacramento go for $1,000,000 usually (as of Feb. 2015)

  • rjack May 10, 2014, 7:37 am

    I currently live outside Philadelphia, but I’m considering a move to Austin, TX. Do any of you Mustachians live in Austin? What is your opinion of best places to live in that area? Thanks!

    • CKennedy May 10, 2014, 8:40 am

      We live in New Braunfels, TX about 40 miles south of Austin. Its a smaller(40,000) town. Summers do get hot but we have wonderful spring fed river that all enjoy tubing, swimming, snorkeling and kayaking as well as fishing. Housing for us is a 1600 sq foot that is valued around 190,000 in a nice neighborhood.

      • Waterman May 11, 2014, 9:07 am

        As recent converts to Mustacheanism, my wife and I have been plotting our escape from Houston, and New Braunfels is high on our list of potentials. What I’m curious about is whether the small town culture is overly conservative and repressive. We very much enjoy living in the progressive enclave of the Heights in Houston, but of course it’s expensive and there are no natural wonders other than trees. We also have young school age children so, likewise, not only is the quality of the schools important to us, but the culture. I have always lived in a large metropolitan area and am nervous about raising my kids in a provincial closed-minded environment. Any thoughts about the culture of New Braunfels, or other towns in the Texas Hill Country for that matter?

        • wafer May 12, 2014, 1:50 pm

          a three-loop city with endless lanes of endless cars, a consumer paradise of shopping. If you ate at a different restaurant every day for every meal you could never try them all. If you wondered where Porsche, MB, and LandRover sell all their cars, it’s here.

          So why do we young, not-yet-retired mustachians choose to live here? We too yearn for more space, bigger mountains, cleaner air, simpler life.

          1. savings rate – where else can you earn so much and choose to spend so little? I’m earning double what I could earn elsewhere, while spending less than I would have to spend elsewhere. No state income tax and low cost of living means we are saving over 75% of our (post-tax) income while taking quarterly vacations around the country/world. My wife is about to graduate and get a real job, which will push our saving rate to the 85-90% range.

          2. Weather – Everyone loves to be impressed about how hot it gets in August, but I love to play in the water anyways. I was wearing shorts when I was reading about the March snows in Denver.

          3. Biking – everyone brags about biking in Austin. Well yes, you can survive riding on the road a bit better out there, maybe you’ll only get run over in 5 years instead of 30 days. But for mountain biking in the city (i.e. next to where you live/work) Houston is great! It’s no Colorado, but the parks are really nice, and the city has been expanding them rapidly. Frisbee golf courses are everywhere, as are city pools, tennis, volleyball, and every other activity.

          4. Young people – they are all moving here for the jobs, and the culture and excitement comes with them. Houston was ranked #1 coolest city in America recently.

          So if you dream of Longmont or New Braunfels, but you need some money first, West/Heights Houston isn’t a bad place to spend 5-7 years building a big ‘stache!

          • Mr. Money Mustache May 12, 2014, 8:51 pm

            Great summary! I also like Houston more than most people do. But just to get the facts straight, some Mustachians ride year-round there, on the roads, and are perfectly safe.

            Also, you get to wear shorts year-round here too. You just have to pick the days when it is not snowing. It just snowed here this week, and it’s the middle of May. The previous day, I was barefoot/bare belly playing in the creek with my son. That is unusual even by local standards, but it is Colorado’s way of showing it is the boss, and that seasons are irrelevant :-)

          • Waterman May 13, 2014, 7:20 am

            Totally agree with you about my hometown of Houston wafer. My wife can be seen most weekends wearing an “It’s OK to Love Houston” t-shirt. No better big city to build the ‘stache with loads of professional jobs and low cost of living. Thankfully, our ‘stache is nearly built, and I never had any intention of retiring in Houston. What MMM opened my eyes to is that I could do so in my late forties rather than mid-sixties. So rather than picking some geriatric retirement haven where schools don’t matter, I’m looking for a place to raise my family in a different way than I was raised – with more outdoor activities and less consumerism. Thanks MMM for this blog posting. It’s been a wealth of information.

    • JB May 10, 2014, 8:56 am

      Austin is one of the most expensive cities in Texas, but still probably cheaper than Philly. Just go look at real estate websites for Austin. Austin has traffic problems due to the lake. It is difficult to go East/West across Austin. One major freeway through town. It is heavily dependent on Gov’t. UT and Dell.

    • Barbara May 10, 2014, 10:40 am

      We moved to Austin from Long Island, NY in January of this year. Downtown Austin is super expensive- almost New York City prices. We live about 10 miles south of the city. We chose our neighborhood because it’s walkable/bikeable to commerce– grocery store, restaurants, yoga studio, movie theatre. Our children are grown so schools weren’t an issue, but it happens that we’re also in a good school district. Despite our choice, we both have put many more miles on our cars than we did in NY. I was working in Kyle (20 mile commute– ugh– I’m done when my contract is up at the end of this month), and we’re older (60ish) with musculoskeletal issues that prevent long bike rides, but still it feels like we have to drive long distances to get anywhere. That said, our housing costs are about half of what they were in NY, and we keep our energy costs low (so far– haven’t hit summer yet) by keeping the thermostat at 85 and opening up everything in the morning when it’s cool out. We also prefer the laid back lifestyle– no pressure to have mani-pedis every week, ok to wear comfortable clothes, really friendly people, really a good place to live. As cool a place as Austin is, it’s shocking to us that they haven’t done much of anything about public transportation, which could make it unliveable in a few years if the population continues to grow at the same rate. Water is also a huge problem here. If you have a social activist streak, there are certainly a lot of issues to take on, and we’re glad we moved here (we despise cold weather), but it’s not the utopia that myth makes it out to be. (It’s also in Texas, which adds in a whole mess of political challenges.)

      • rjack May 10, 2014, 2:07 pm

        I’m in a somewhat similar situation to you – kids grown and 54 years old. One difference is that I retired early, but my wife still works (she likes it). We are planning on downsizing to a 1300-1600 sf home. If you don’t mind me asking, what specific town are you in?

        • Barbara May 10, 2014, 2:59 pm

          I’m in South Austin in a neighborhood called Village at Western Oaks. I only wish we could have found a house that small– ours is embarrassingly large, but has been great for house guests, which we’ve had a lot of. There are a couple of new developments south of us with new construction that have smaller houses. (Seems that everything is big in Texas!)

      • mike May 10, 2014, 2:32 pm

        We moved from Austin to Denver a few years back. Love both places but traffic and apocalyptic summer temps are the main drawbacks. Very cool town, though. The trafic is bad IMHO not because of the lake but because of the “if we don’t build it they won’t come” approach that local government has taken towards building transportation since the 90s. Clearly that hasn’t worked since as of February the population was growing by about 140 per week. You have to be very intentional about where you choose to live if you move there or you may as well just sleep in your car. Its apparently so bad now that according to an NPR piece a while back it’s now impossible for the city to build its way out of the problem. Dallas has a much better transit system (and probably more employment opportunities) but much less cache and coolness.

        • Tanner May 10, 2014, 11:38 pm

          I can’t speak for Austin as I have never been there. But I lived in Dallas 3 years ago and I thought it was some of the worst traffic I had ever experienced (in relation to Phoenix which seems much much safer, drivers drive slower and aren’t as aggressive). With that being said if Traffic in Austion is worse that Dallas I couldn’t even imagine it?! In Dallas there was traffic all the time; late at night, in the middle of the day on Saturday, all the times you would expect to not deal with traffic. Plus with the urban sprawl it took forever to get places as they were 50 miles away. In that sense Austin would seem more bicycle friendly, but that is speculation.

          On the other hand Dallas does have great employment opportunities, if you can put up with downsides. I wasn’t able to put up with it. My family lasted 9 months in Dallas before we moved.

    • TomTX May 10, 2014, 12:48 pm

      Austin housing has spiked in the past year (no surprise) – and traffic sucks. Be sure to live in a livable neighborhood, near work. On the positive side, biking is very common. I’m way out to the NW, but so is work.

    • Julie May 10, 2014, 2:41 pm

      We live in Austin, but are currently considering getting OUT of this area. 20 Years ago this city was very mustachian, but much has changed (I’ve lived here since 1997).

      The Bad: 100K people have moved here within the last 3 years alone, so the metro area population within a 5-county region is about 1.1 million now. 150 people move here every day.

      One result is that our clown-car commutes (from south Austin, which is more “affordable” than central and west Austin) have risen nearly overnight to two hours a day (one hour each way), each, and we have it pretty good compared to many people. I have to drive my son to a charter school since the nearby schools are genuinely bad, and my husband’s job is mid-town; this used to take 20 minutes but now it’s an hour each way. Public transportation is mediocre at best though the city planners are working on it. Cycling is deadly-dangerous in most parts of town because cycling is not considered “real” transportation by the monster pickup-truck, SUV driving public. Drivers will go out of their way to hit, hinder, curse at, and otherwise harass commuting cyclists in much of town (though not everywhere, such as right by the University and within some suburban neighborhoods).

      Housing costs are skyrocketing. The cheapest houses (with 45 minute commutes or more) start in the upper 200k range and sell within days with multiple bidding wars. If you want to live in truly bikeable or walkable areas in central Austin, you need about 500k to buy in (condos or fixer-upper/restored older houses). Housing-to-income ratios are some of the worst in the nation. Austin is not a genuinely affordable city for most people. If you have a big ‘stache or are a wealthy tech-worker, you might be able to live downtown. Alternatively you could live in Round Rock, which is a bedroom city and therefore cheaper and more workable (though not particularly bikeable), but it isn’t Austin and you will need a car. Gas is approaching $4/gallon.

      Texas has some of the lowest per-capita spending on services families care about, including education, health care, parks, etc., and it shows. For example, libraries here close on a rotational basis because the city doesn’t get enough funding to keep them open every day.

      The heat and drought are causing very real, very serious problems regionally. It’s not uncommon to experience months of 100+ (and high-humidity) days. Drinking water is reaching critical levels. You are not allowed to water any landscaping more than once a week and then only during darkness — and we’re getting close to eliminating that ability if things continue as they have been for the last several years. You’re not allowed to wash your car (have to pay a car wash that recycles water). Thousands of crops were lost, cattle slaughtered, and wildlife have died over the last few years due to drought and wildfires. Ironically, flooding is a problem in some parts of town when sudden storms rip over the parched landscape rather than watering it. We routinely “enjoy” tornadoes, high winds, and hail in the spring and summer, and occasional ice-storms in the winter.

      The Good: there are jobs, especially in tech, startups (some even make it). Business friendly (which is why it isn’t particularly family friendly — Texans like their guns and their freedom from taxes and regulations). Lots of cultural and nightlife options, especially if you have money, though free music is everywhere as are great cheap-ish food trucks and restaurants (though you will probably have to drive to enjoy any of this). Lots and lots of sunshine, a very outdoorsy artsy culture (in certain parts of town, though not particularly in the burbs).

      Best neighborhoods, if you can afford them: anywhere encircling downtown, Mueller, Round Rock (if you DON’T commute), south and east Austin (if you DON’T care about schools). Near-east Austin is regentrifying so if you like fixer-uppers and restoring houses, that could be an option.

      Happy to answer specific questions if you have any.

      • rjack May 11, 2014, 6:30 am

        Thank you for the extensive review! The main reason we are considering moving there is that our son is starting a Phd program at U of T and we would like to be near him.

        What is your opinion of Pflugerville?

        • Julie May 11, 2014, 10:02 am

          Pflugerville is similar to and right by Round Rock and I’m not as familiar with it. If I recall correctly, one thing to watch out for in Pflugerville is Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) that can get really weird with costs, services, and regulations. I don’t know much about them but would do some serious research about what MUDs control which neighborhoods before purchasing there to make sure things are as you want them.

          Round Rock (RR) is also worth considering: some great parks, good choices for utilities. Right by Dell Diamond and Old Settler’s Park are some friendly and socially/racially diverse neighborhoods, still relatively affordable. Services are kind of strung out along east-west freeways there, though, so I’m not sure how bikable they are in terms of goods and services. RR still has a town square. Property values there are rising rapidly like the rest of the region but we do have a homestead exemption in TX and that helps. RR also has reciprocity with Austin’s library system (Pflugerville and other towns might also, though I’m not sure).

          If you’re looking north, Georgetown is really lovely with an actual town square, river front parks, and easy freeway access (though not right on it), and close to IKEA if you’re into that. There are some nice older neighborhoods with wooded lots up there.

          All three are suburb-towns that are about an hour’s drive from UT mostly due to traffic — so they are close, but not too close, and definitely more affordable than in-city if you don’t need to commute.

        • AUTOJOHNJOHN May 11, 2014, 1:31 pm

          Take a look at Wimberly and San Marcos. Two beautiful little Texas towns with lots to offer.

        • Rose May 15, 2014, 7:46 am

          My husband and I moved to the Austin area 6 years ago (from WA state) and have owned a house in Pflugerville for 5 years. I really like Pflugerville. It is cheaper than Austin and definitely has a suburb feel but it has a lot of great parks and trails. Our neighborhood is right next to a grocery store and five minutes from a large shopping center with a Home Depot, Target, movie theatre, restaurants, etc. A water park is opening up in Pflugerville this Summer. We bought our 1 story 1700 square ft. brick 3/2 for $160,000 5 years ago. Decent houses in Pflugerville can be bought for 145k and the newer developments on the edge of town have 2500+ square foot homes with high end finishes for about 300k.

          However, it isn’t a great commute downtown. Commuting to Round Rock would be very doable (10-15 minutes) but I commute to UT Austin and this ranges from 20 minutes (absolutely no traffic) to 45 (during peak rush hours).

          If I didn’t work downtown though, I would look at moving up to Georgetown. It is an adorable city with a very cute square with restaurants/shops. They have a fantastic historic theatre (The Georgetown Palace Theatre) that puts on really high quality shows and lots of festivals, etc. Maybe not the scene 20 somethings usually enjoy but for the 30+ crowd I think Georgetown is wonderful.

      • Tyler May 26, 2014, 12:29 pm

        Nice review.

        We moved to Austin in late 2012, and purchased a great house in far NW Austin for about $200k (bikable neighborhood, excellent schools). It’s now pushing $250k based on comparable sales, so prices are certainly escalating quickly. It’s true that for the most part Austin is quite expensive relative to pretty much any Texas city, and near downtown it’s downright silly. But there are still a few nice pockets if you know what you’re looking for.

        I should point out that while everything you say about the Austin water issues are true, drought issues are not at all unique to Texas.

        I personally enjoy the mixed Austin political culture. A Californian would rightly say it’s more conservative, but I prefer to think of it as more diverse. You can happily fit in whether you’re a religious conservative or a liberal social justice advocate, and I find that diversity of thought appealing.

        And of course the big draw lately is the job growth, especially in tech. Business is booming in Austin even while many cities are still struggling. So there are lots of opportunities, but it’s also become quite competitive for those jobs. At my office, every engineering opening seems to attract scores of applications from out-of-state people wanting to move here. Keep that in mind when you hear about the jobs — you’re not just competing with other locals for positions, but with people all over the US.

    • Debbie M May 10, 2014, 2:46 pm

      rjack, I live in Windsor Park, an older, marginal community with smaller, cheaper housing, but just north of all the luxury development at Mueller, the old airport. It’s a good place to commute by car (especially to the good jobs in NW Austin) because most people are going the other way. But pretty much ALL my friends live much further out and would disagree–183&Oak Knoll, Round Rock, and Mopac south of William Canon. Craziness. Now that I think about it, they are mostly near their jobs like I am. (Because traffic sucks.)

      One of the lyrics of one of the songs in the movie “1776” is “It’s hot as Hell/ in Philadel/ phia!” It’s that hot here, too.

      I have a longer entry later.

      • Barbara May 10, 2014, 3:03 pm

        Yes, if you’re working, living near work is key. I commute against traffic and will be more or less retired as of June 1st. My husband retired a few years ago and still does some consulting, but that means he either works from home or travels, and we’re an easy ride to the airport as long as it’s not rush hour.

      • Erin May 13, 2014, 10:09 am

        We live in Windsor Park too and bought for much less than the “$500k” quoted a few posts above – (think less than $250k). Granted, houses in the neighborhood are now going for over $300k, but we have had multiple sets of friends who creatively bought in nearby – but less gentrified – Pecan Springs and both bought and built an eco-friendly home for less than $200k. And that’s within 4 miles of downtown. Both my husband and I are able to bike to work (less than 3miles) and we’ve found great bike lanes due to nearby Mueller development. We have all the mustachian amenities nearby (groceries, neighborhood pools and libraries, etc.) and consider ATX to be very friendly to our budget, sans the house price. I think it just takes some very careful consideration about what part of Austin you want to locate yourself to avoid becoming a car clown. On the plus side, there ARE great things to drive to less than 10 minutes away (hikes, springs, etc.) if you’re able to avoid commute times. And be willing to make improvements to your home to avoid an over-reliance on air conditioning. Windsor Park (and other older neighborhoods) are least full of big trees that can off-set the heated roof effect in hot Texas Summers. We’ve had great luck keeping the A/C off during the Spring and Fall to offset the Summer running as well.

    • Emily May 11, 2014, 3:44 am

      Not sure what interests you about Austin, but you might consider Denton, TX as an alternative. I lived there for six years, though I left five years ago. People say it is like what Austin was before it took off–funky, with a great music scene. It is totally possible to live small and charming near the centre of town for not a lot of money. It definitely has a small town feel, even with a population of 100,000-ish–that wasn’t my thing, but it might be yours. There is a nice little town square, good bars, plus all the big box stores. Dallas and Ft. Worth are both about an hours drive, though the traffic is somewhat hellish. It is really close to DFW airport, which is really well connected.

      • Aaron June 8, 2014, 7:34 am

        I’ll 2nd Denton, TX, which has been my home for six years.

        It is the cultural hub of North Texas, with multiple large Music/Art festivals each year, and tons of live music.

        Denton is the only large city in North Texas that isn’t completely suburbanized. The lines between residential and commercial are blurred just enough to where you can bike less than a mile to anything you need, while still having safe & quiet residential streets.

        The bicycle community is small, but growing. The city is now connected to downtown Dallas via the A-Train. Car traffic in-city is wonderful…. just stay off of I-35.

        Historic Downtown is fantastic. Great food, great bars, great atmosphere. And you can live within half a mile for super cheap. (Although your home may have been built in the 1940s).

        There are two great universities here, and a couple of community colleges.

        Tons of parks, multiple libraries, and a city-run fitness center and natatorium that are a third of the cost of “big-box” fitness joints.

        No HOAs in most of the city, so I’m able to raise chickens in my backyard and garden with no problems.

        The weather is great and we enjoy low-humidty and moderate temperatures throughout the year. July & August are in the 90s and 100s, but the rest of the year is very enjoyable.

        Downsides: The newer homes are on the fringe of the city, and not nearly as well connected. There are large segments of homes built in the 1940s (where I live), and others in the 60s-90s. Denton is one of the fastest growing cities in America, which could change the small town feel that we currently enjoy.

    • Julie Sunday May 12, 2014, 9:29 am

      I do! Be aggressive with any real estate agent about wanting to be inside the box (w/in the bounds of I-35, Mopac/1, 71, and 183) if you want to be able to bike around. Within the box (I live north of UT, in Hyde Park) things are great and bikeable. If I had the cash to liquidate from an expensive city and move here, I’d look at buying a duplex or a house and a condo, because the rental market far exceeds the buying market, largely because there are about 50k college students that drive up prices. So investing in rental inside the box is a great and neverending fountain of cash. Windsor Park is definitely a nice neighborhood, pretty close in, I think the prices are going up pretty fast there.

    • Veronica May 14, 2014, 12:22 pm

      I’d like to recommend San Antonio which happens to be about 70 miles south of Austin. San Antonio has an inferiority complex with respect to Austin (see “Keep San Antonio lame” ‘campaign’), but I don’t buy it (especially after reading some of the other comments about Austin). Housing can be really cheap, but we chose to live in Alamo Heights with nice, older, smaller, pricier homes and very close to shopping and restaurants. The city as a whole isn’t bikable per se, but they’re are currently several greenways which will eventually connect into a large green belt around the city. Also, the Riverwalk isn’t just for tourists anymore, it extends miles to the north and south of the touristy party into amazing paths that go by museums and natural wildlife. There are bike lanes available on some roads, but they start and stop randomly. There are, however, year-round farmer’s markets, amazing Mexican restaurants, many festivals like Fiesta and the Rodeo, and the people are very friendly. There are many employment options and good universities. I read somewhere that while many cities experience “brain drain,” San Antonio is experiencing “brain gain” and seems to be retaining educated young professionals. It’s a big city, it has traffic, but I absolutely loved it there. And the weather, yes it’s deathly hot July-September, but it’s so worth it when it’s 60 in January.

  • Eddie May 10, 2014, 7:42 am

    Longmont sounds very nice, and but it would appear to be very much like the old 1950s version of what American used to be. However, it also sounds as if there’s not a lot of diversity. If you don’t fit the typical family mold, it doesn’t sound like a very welcoming place. What does the population make-up look like: do you have Hispanic, Africian American, interacial or even Gay couples that are welcomed into the community?

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 10, 2014, 8:41 am

      You’d have to look at the census and other data for real numbers, but I think the city is about 40% Hispanic, and there is definitely not any suppression of non-straightness, if the flags and couples on my own street are any guide. Not many African Americans (or Canadian Americans for that part) in this part of Colorado, however. Maybe just because it is so far from the traditional settling points of the country.

      • Longmont Kathy July 23, 2014, 4:10 pm

        Also worth noting about our mutual hometown is the Japanese American heritage, witnessed by the continuing, and growing, Buddhist temple. Additionally, the growing South Asian community is served by cricket pitches in the public parks.

    • Joe May 14, 2014, 12:55 pm

      Longmont (and the entire Front Range) is part of an interesting cultural cross-section. I grew up there in the ’80s and ’90s and last owned a home there in ’05. There are definitely conservative strongholds right alongside the super-progressive. Boulder is right down the road and although on paper isn’t nearly as diverse as where I live now (Los Angeles) it does hunger for it in ideology.
      Beginning around the turn of the century Longmont began a sort of transformation from the mainly middle-of-the-road-conservative small town I grew up in to more of a Boulder-lite experience which brightened things up considerably. We get back at least once a year to visit (my mom lives over near 23rd and Francis) and I would say currently the balance is pretty groovy. The GP has definitely loosened up but it hasn’t been completely overtaken by growth. It has one of the best public libraries I ever been to, one of the best municipal fireworks displays around and oh… Deli-Cioso is the best Mexican style restaurant in the entire universe so it has that going for it ;)

  • Derek May 10, 2014, 8:02 am

    Longmont sounds ideal! I’ll put Olympia WA out there too.
    A town heavily influenced by Evergreen State College, there’s a big keep it local, keep it community, keep it green, keep it organic and keep it artistic feel. It’s a safe town, and you’re more likely to get hugged than mugged if you’re out late at night :)
    It’s beautiful. There are lakes everywhere, the town is covered in green and growing things, mountains and the ocean are a short drive away, and it’s hard to go more than 1/2 mile in any direction and not hit a city park- its almost ridiculous :) Bike friendliness! It’s hard to find a place in town that doesn’t have either a bike path, bike lanes or super wide sidewalks to get to. There’s a big yearly bike commuter contest that the city puts on and the transit system is amazing.
    We have parades. And festivals. And outdoor movie nights on both sides of town. And all kinds of hippie type community classes going on (low cost or free) – my wife is going to a fermenting cabbage class in a couple weeks. We have one of the biggest farmers markets in the state open year round with live music playing every day in spring summer and fall.
    Olympia school district is one of the best around(we don’t have kids but when we rented out our place, this was the specific reason or renter moved from Tacoma)
    I could go on and on, i keep an anon photo blog where I post the occasional phone photo of our life around here ( iphone, no service but I like the camera and ability to edit photos and share them via wifi)
    The bad (or so we hear) It rains a little more often than some places. Perhaps we have gotten used to it (or have nice rain gear) but it rarely affects either of us. We still make a point to get outside often and if that’s a trade off for everything else, we gladly accept it.
    Night life is available down town if thats your thing but it really isn’t us. We are both usually trying to escape from our culture and the people that are sunk deep into it.

    Im not sure about jobs or housing, I don’t really pay much attention to stuff like that. We rent out our 1800 sf house in a great location for $1550 and we rent a very large custom studio apartment in an even better location for $800 and this includes all utilities. Our combined income is around $85,000 a year and that is way more than enough to be comfortable here (trucker and part time dental hygienist)

    We are happy as clams here, but will be watching this thread closely as we do like to travel from time to time. Great idea for a post!

    • SEVY May 10, 2014, 11:06 pm

      Well hi neighbor. Also an Olympian. To add a few things to Derek’s great post, we are on the Puget Sound. Seattle an hour north and Portland a couple south. Mount Rainier an hour east. Being the state capitol there state jobs everywhere. Microsoft, Intel, Boeing, the list goes on. Housing can range from a starter home in the mid to high 100k all the way up to water front mansions 3+ million. Most of the move in ready housing goes for about $130 a SF. I agree it’s a great place to live.

    • Warren May 11, 2014, 8:34 pm

      Another Olympia resident here. I regard it as a near-ideal location. Just to add a few things to the other residents’ posts – First, I enjoy the diversity in markets for a town of under 50,000. I live on the side of town near Lacey and there are several very good Asian markets (SE Asian, Korean, etc) and Mexican grocery stores (and a small Indian grocery) within a short bike ride or drive. Many great deals to be had there and whole worlds of food to explore and learn to prepare. I stopped eating out much several years ago after realizing how easily and cheaply many of my favorite ethnic foods can be made at home with the right ingredients. There are also good food co-ops and farm stands in town.
      There are actually two universities in or adjacent to Olympia (Evergreen and St. Martin’s) and a fairly large community college in town. All of the have many positive influences on the community.
      One of the other things that makes this town great for me is the fact that I can launch my kayak right here and paddle around the beautiful Puget Sound while looking up at majestic snow-capped peaks of the Olympics.
      As mentioned already, there are some great local festivals that kind of go under the radar for most people, even myself sometimes. Last year I went to my first Eastside Neighborhood Block Party (amazing!) and the first Oly Bluegrass festival. Always some great music going on downtown too – surprisingly good offerings for a town this size.
      Overall, it’s a very progressive, grass-roots driven kind of place.

  • Finn May 10, 2014, 8:05 am

    Currently, my family lives in Old Town, Alexandria VA, just outside Washington DC. It’s a self-sufficient town in a 2 square mile radius, five miles from the nation’s capital. You can walk to everything in town: restaurants, grocery stores, the waterfront, metro, movie theaters, play theaters, etc. You can also bike to Mount Vernon, neighboring towns, and into DC very easily. The only issue is the area is very pricey. So, we are moving south to Durham, NC later this year. Durham is a small city in the Research Triangle area with tons of amenities and a strong economy due to the Universities and Research Triangle Park. Taxes are low and homes prices are comparable, if not a little cheaper than Longmont. Sports, art, culture, nature all abound. There also is a good rental market in Durham if you are interested in getting into landlording. Highly recommend checking out both areas depending on your needs and budget.

    • Eccdogg May 10, 2014, 10:08 am

      Raleigh resident here and all the things you say are true. For us it is like a little utopia. The universities and the fact that it is a state capital allows it to punch above its weight as far as stuff to do. But the fact that the area is spread out allows you to have smaller communities that feel like smaller towns. We live in the inner burbs a couple miles north of down town and rarely venture more than 5 miles or so from home and there is a very strong community

      We don’t have the big striking natural beauty but the area is an incredibly green place with huge oak trees and loads of vegetation. in the spring the place looks like the Masters. There is something blooming seemingly all year even in January (Camelias). Parks and green ways abound and you are 2-3 hours from both the Atlantic and Appalachians. Summers can be miserable but you can spend days at cheap public pools. Spring and fall are glorious and winter is a mixed bag you get days in the 70s even in Jan but but generally nights right around freezing and highs in 50s with clear blue skies

      The people are generally educated tolerant and friendly and due to rapid growth come from all over. The housing is not too expensive and the taxes are relatively low. Public transportation is not that great but the schools are good.

      As you can tell I love the place and it often makes the “best place to” list of magazines. One of the reasons I want to be financially independent is that I never want to have to leave for job reasons.

      Oh also great medical care with two teaching hospitals nearby and a very convenient airport with directs to most major US cities and a few international flights.

      • nm_dude May 10, 2014, 12:26 pm

        I agree a lot with life in Raleigh and The Triangle (with Duke U in Durham to civilize it). I had the privilege of renting in New Hope and busing over to NC State to finish up my schooling while the kids and missus had easy access to schools and neighborhood fun. It’s a town within a city. But that was in 1987…NO doubt it’s changed; other sections of town have likely evolved to take its place. There IS a time window when a given location “nails it”, and the dynamics inevitably change that which made it desirable.

      • Finn May 10, 2014, 2:47 pm

        Any suggestions on neighborhoods to look at in Durham for new transplants? Outdoor activities? Any other info that you think would be helpful? Thanks!

        • Lauren May 10, 2014, 4:05 pm

          I lived in Durham for a couple of years and my husband grew up there. It is an awesome town with a lot of Mustachian qualities. It has grown immensely the past few years and was almost a completely different town just a few years ago (especially downtown). I heartily recommend it. We would LOVE to move back but are looking to move to state that is friendlier to teachers (and Colorado is sounding really nice!)
          For outdoor activites, Eno River State Park is great for that. There’s a festival in the summer that celebrates the Eno, and the park has tons of hiking trails and educational programs. There’s also walking trails on Duke’s campus. There’s also plenty of area camping sites.
          Trinity Park is a very nice and trendy neighborhood, though I think it might have higher home values as a result. The Duke Park neighborhood is similar, but might have slightly better prices? Generally avoid anything east of Roxboro Rd as it’s going to be a sketchier area. I found south of the Durham Freeway to be a little less bike friendly, though that’s a generalization and you might be able to find something.
          Also, check out the beer and restaurant scene there as there is a lot of great stuff. Bull City Burger & Brew, Triangle Brewing Company, Piedmont, Cocoa Cinnamon, Geer St Garden are all great places. Also check out The Scrap Exchange if you like art & crafts.

        • bogart May 12, 2014, 12:44 pm

          I’m no help on neighborhoods. Durham schools vary substantially, so if you’re concerned about schools and/or resale value, get good advice/info.

          If you have kids in about the 2-9 age range, it is almost impossible to beat the Durham Life Science Museum for value if you buy a membership and use it much. It is fabulous (you can google it).

          Eno park(-s; multiple locations), as mentioned, are nice. Duke forest offers extensive hiking/running trails — also multiple locations. Duke gardens are lovely, and good for picnics or family gatherings — you may have to hunt around a bit (but not far on evenings/weekends) for free parking as I think the main lot is now pay. Jordan Lake, nearby, is free (plenty of free boat ramps and kayaking, though you’ll be in with notorboats and jet skis, depending when/where you go), with hiking trails and campgrounds in various areas. Umstead park, near Raleigh, is astonishingly lovely for a natural park near a growing urban area. Outdoor music, much of it free or low-cost, is pretty ubiquitous in summertime — you can check the American Tobacco Campus series, and others (Chapel Hill, Saxapahaw; the former accessible by bus, the latter not). Durham Bulls games can be fun and are reasonably affordable. The beach and the mountains are each 3-5 hours away by car, depending where you choose to go. Closer by (but still a drive) Hanging Rock state park (to the west) and Mount Medoc State Park (to the east) are lovely (both offer camping).

        • Tarynkay May 20, 2014, 6:56 pm

          We live in and love Northgate Park (located in the triangle formed by Roxboro, Club, and Duke.) We have a great neighborhood park, a very active and friendly neighborhood, and we are in walking distance to the Life and Science Museum and the Edison Johnson athletic complex. There is a great biking/walking trail that takes you downtown in about 2.5 Miles. The houses are almost all fairly small, 2-3 bedrooms, mostly built in the 40s and 50s. Prices were pretty low, in the low to mid 100s, but have recently started to rise.

    • Meghan May 10, 2014, 11:06 am

      Any tips for someone moving to Alexandria next Saturday? I hope it’s a short stay and that I’ll be on my way home to Colorado soon, but would appreciate any tips you have on how to keep costs down. Housing is already decided on, and it’s expensive, so I have to find other ways to save. Thanks!

      • Dan May 10, 2014, 1:53 pm

        I’m in Arlington (neighboring county). Pick the right grocery store. Aside from Costco, make sure to shop at Giant (or similar) instead of Whole Foods, etc. If/when you’re not biking, pay for your metro (train) trips with pre-tax money. It is free to the employer, so every employer offers this option. Don’t miss out on the wealth of rare (and mostly free) cultural opportunities while you’re here. Some people who live in the DC suburbs never take advantage the museums, parks, and other amenities even though tourists plan entire vacations around experiencing just a fraction of them. There are plenty that are not right on the national mall too. Finally, be careful while biking in Alexandria. The local police department (and residents) are known for being less bike-friendly than some other places nearby. Tickets for not putting a foot down at a stop sign are common. That said, it’s still far more bike-friendly than many less urban places. Finally, if you do need a car, consider zipcar. It is less expensive than maintaining insurance (let alone car ownership) if your driving is limited.

      • Finn May 10, 2014, 2:45 pm

        Sure thing! In terms of transportation… you can pretty much get anywhere you need to by bike in Alexandria as well as getting over to Arlington or DC. Bike trails run throughout Alexandria and many streets have bike lanes, especially in the downtown Old Town/Del Ray/Rosemont area. In terms of groceries…there is a Costco in Pentagon City right by the metro stop (or you could easily bike there from Alexandria). In terms of entertainment…we spend a lot of time in nature hanging out by the waterfront in Old Town, biking on the Mount Vernon Trail, and walking to Jones Point Park at the end of Old Town. We do a lot of walking – we seem to walk miles every weekend (no need to ever get in a car if you’re in Old Town). The city also has a free movie weekend on the water during the summer and Crystal City has free movies every Friday or Saturday during the summer (which is an easy bike ride to). We’ve also found the library system to be terrific. We currently check out DVDs from our branch in Old Town and there is never a shortage of books. We’ve been really impressed with the library services. Also, we used to use Goldstar.com to get discounted theater tickets at the Old Town Theater (pre-kid…) If you want cheap eats, Del Ray has them plentiful – we like Taqueria Poblano for delicious tacos (we do takeout there every weekend). Finally, if you want to join a cheap gym, the Community Centers seem to offer very good services for cheap rates. The Old Town Community Center was $50 for me to join the gym for 6 months, and it’s a really nice facility. It was built just a few years ago.

        • Meghan May 10, 2014, 2:55 pm

          Those are great tips – thanks! I’m looking forward to checking things out!

        • HattyT May 13, 2014, 9:19 am

          I’d like to put a word in for the DMV bus systems. While not as good as biking, buses are cheaper than the Metro, more predictable (you can call for NextBus), especially on weekends. I nearly halved my commuting budget, and increased my commute by 15 minutes when I switched from metro to the bus. The bus drivers are overwhelmingly helpful even friendly, often you can get closer to your destination than with the Metro train.
          Also, I love the library systems. I’ve got library cards for DC, Arlington, Fairfax County and more. If one system doesn’t have the book I want, another system may. They also have great free events, book signings, yoga classes, bike safety classes, language conversation groups and on and on.

      • Julie Sunday May 12, 2014, 9:36 am

        I grew up in Arlington and used to work in Old Town, it’s one of my favorite places. There is so much beautiful stuff to do for free it’s not even funny. You can bike on a rail-to-trail all the way to Leesburg, from Alexandria down to Mt. Vernon along the river, and from Georgetown to harper’s ferry, wv, one of my favorite places on earth! Here’s the map of the trail that goes to leesburg–you can get it several places in Alexandria. http://www.wodfriends.org/map1.html

    • Matt May 10, 2014, 8:01 pm

      the DC area is not mustachian what-so-ever, although it is a fun place to live. Old Town Alexandria is unbelievably expensive, and although you can walk to grocery stores and stuff, most people in NoVA, MD, or DC, commute a fairly large distance. Not to mention the extraordinary traffic.

      Your move to Durham is certainly a smart one.

      • milos May 11, 2014, 4:18 pm

        Just want to put in a word for Alexandria and the DC area. As with the young NYC couple featured recently, you can be mustachian ANYwhere! Yes housing is expensive, but that can be overcome with imagination (and willingness to fix stuff up). Also, there is such density of opportunity, of cultural options (many free or low-cost) and transportation choices.

        We are a bike-friendly, walk-friendly, subway- available city! So keep an open mind. The older cities need the mustachian mindset!

        • Matt May 11, 2014, 7:38 pm

          Yes, you can be a successful mustachian anywhere, but places like NoVA are less conducive. It’s an expensive location with unbelievable traffic and crowding. There may be plentiful bike paths/lanes, but that by no means it’s biker friendly. I’ve seen bikers darting in and out of traffic at Alexandria… it’s slightly terrifying. The metro system is decent, but it takes a long time to get around in it, and from what I understand, it’s gettign more and more expensive.

          • acorn May 12, 2014, 7:57 am

            Arlington Mustachian here. Biking in NOVA is just fine thank you very much. Just took the whole fam to Alexandria the other day on bikes- no problem there either. It’s important to teach the kids to be confident, safe urban cyclists.
            There are plenty of reasonably priced places to live in NOVA, DC, and MD, if you are willing to compromise on dwelling size. And plenty of bikeable/walkable places.
            And if you can’t bike to work like I do, Metro works just fine as an alternative.

          • Dan May 13, 2014, 7:56 am

            One of the great things about being mustachian is that the typical downside of NoVa that you listed (“unbelievable traffic and crowding”) disappears. There is car traffic. But I pass the stopped cars on my bike every day. They don’t slow me down because the bike lanes and shoulders aren’t clogged. Also there’s a free class to teach new bikers how to navigate traffic safely. It’s offered by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. Once you know what you’re doing there’s nothing terrifying about it.

            Also, if I take metro to work it is twice as fast as driving and a bit faster than biking as well. It can’t take a long time to get around on a train unless the train is not going to the same place you are. It is more expensive than biking, but it is definitely less expensive than driving.

            As for bike friendliness, I agree that Alexandria is not all that it could be. But don’t write off all of NoVa! Arlington is very bike friendly. At least in my particular spot it’s difficult to imagine how it could be better. And most of Washington DC is great for bikes as well. That’s why you see so many of them.

            Local real estate is certainly expensive. And MMM’s property taxes are favorable too. But salaries reflect the difference at least some of the time. My sister just moved from here to Florida. Equivalent jobs just didn’t pay as much. So the high price of real estate may be part of a package that is ultimately favorable.

            • A. May 13, 2014, 10:29 am

              Arlington mustachian here that has lived in Alexandria for 6 years, in DC for 8, and in Arlington for the past 6. As a former refugee (came here in the 90s) I can tell you that you can live very nicely in the DC metro if you know how to manage your money well. My parents never earned more than 45K together when I was growing up (most times it was closer to 40K), and yet I went to a great school and college, went to school trips, travelled to Europe in the summers, ate incredible food my mom made, dressed really well, sent money back to our family, and did numerous cultural activities around the area. We didn’t own a home, but we had everything else. This region is incredible if you know how to live in it the right way, and it’s only getting better.

            • mozar May 15, 2014, 8:26 pm

              adding my 1+ to the DC area. I live in Greenbelt MD. It’s a mustachian paradise here. I bought a townhouse for 100k in Old Greenbelt. Walking distance to decent schools, grocery co-op, movie theatre, credit union, with lots of small town activities. This is all a ten minute bus ride from the greenbelt metro which goes into DC. I work for NASA out in MD so I don’t go to DC much. But the metro is right there if you want it.

  • Doug May 10, 2014, 8:17 am

    I coincidentally ended up in Lexington, KY due to grad school, but purposefully stayed here. There are a surprising amount of good paying IT jobs here, and a very low cost of living. I once thought the city wasn’t very bike friendly, but a little creativity and the realization that I shouldn’t bike the same roads that I drive really goes a long way.

    My wife and I bought an awesome 14 year old 1400 sq ft house in the $120’s, which backs up to 20 acres of green space, is two blocks from an enormous (600+ acre) park, is a block off a bus stop ($0.75/ride, 25 minutes to downtown) and has a safe 9 mile bike ride to downtown. We also have access to a bike trail that goes out into the country and ends at the horse park but will soon be extended to a neighboring town. There are a ton of bike infrastructure projects going on; every time they do construction on a road, a new bike lane pops up.

    There is also a community bike shop in town which is 100% volunteer run, which will help you fix your own bike; they only charge $4/hr for stand time and access to every tool you would ever need. Also, it’s connected to a brewery/bar that only sells the amazing beer that they make. They allow people to earn “sweat equity” by volunteering, and this enables many less-well-off people to purchase some of the donated bikes that they help repair.

    We still have way too many people driving cars, and many neighborhoods with enormous million dollar McMansions. The culture isn’t as awesome as Longmont, but you can find it if you look in the right places. The climate here isn’t as ideal as in Longmont, but it is fairly typical midwest with slightly less snow in the winter time.

    • MandyM May 13, 2014, 6:27 am

      Hi Doug! I am also in Lexington. I’m a big fan of the area – I love how friendly people are for the most part. I am new to biking though, what is the name of the bike shop you mention?

      • Doug June 6, 2014, 1:15 pm

        Hi Mandy! I didn’t get a notification of your reply, so I am sorry for the very delayed response. The bike shop is called Broke Spoke (thebrokespoke.org) and they’re connected to West Sixth Brewery.

        It’s a great place, you should check it out!

  • ChicagoMom May 10, 2014, 8:21 am

    I am raising my kids in a high rise in downtown Chicago. Wait! Before you dismiss the idea. EVERYTHING is in walking distance. We own one beat up old car and will drive it into the ground. We don’t need a backyard because there are miles of public parks outside our building. There’s no hassle or expense over yard work, snow removal, etc. We have wonderful caring neighbors. Yes, association fees are something to wrestle with, but they cover: property taxes, heat (!), building maintenance, common insurance, water, security, and a nice portion of the cable bill. We don’t have a ton of space to fill up and that keeps us in check about buying things we don’t need. We left a house for a high rise and I didn’t know what to expect. Now we are free of the hassles of owning a free standing house and it gives us more time to enjoy our family and Chicago.

    • JB May 10, 2014, 8:53 am

      I didn’t think it was possible to raise kids in a high rise. :) All my friends think a backyard is necessary for the growth of a child. We don’t have large parks nearby. In the summer, nobody is outside anyway. We plan to sell our house get a condo and do some long term traveling for a few years while we are young.

      • PFF May 11, 2014, 8:53 am

        Wow! It’s always a learning experience, isn’t it? Remember, there are and have been millions of kids living in walkups, condos, and apartments in cities all over the world. I lived in a Hong Kong apt for several years as a child – as did everyone I knew there. Of course, some dense cities are better about distributing and maintaining common green-space then others, which is a big perk. And yet so many US people have this post 50s idea that the only way to do right by the kids is a big yard in the burbs.

    • MamaKate May 10, 2014, 9:00 pm

      I’m also a Chicago mom and couldn’t agree more! Both my husband and I are in professions that make more sense in a larger city and Chicago housing prices are relatively affordable given that criteria. As a bonus, we have family here which is wonderful. We are in a 70+ unit loft building in Northcenter and feel like we’ve found our utopia. All of the benefits of condo living you’ve noted are absolutely true!

      We have no yard but we socialize with the other families in our neighborhood daily at the many local parks (and – during the winter in the building hallways where our kids are scootering and biking!). Single family homes in our neighborhood are expensive (700++++) and I doubt we’d ever go that route but there are ample condos, I’m also keen on older (50’s-60’s) town homes, which are often sold fee simple so no assessments, and cost about the same as a condo. My husband and I have also considered purchasing a 2 or 3 flat and owner occupying in the future. It seems like a viable way to have some of the “house” benefits such as a yard for a garden, with a smaller cond0-like living space. While the overall prices is higher than a condo (although sometimes less than a single family house), we’d have tenants to either pay down the mortgage with us or provide income once we own it outright.

      We have a beater car but we get around primarily by walking – most of our daily needs like grocers, banks, etc are so close even a bike seems like overkill. For longer trips, we bike or use CTA. Our car is useful to get to Grandma’s house in the burbs but when/if it bites the dust we can decide to replace it, use metra (suburban transit) or use car sharing like zipcar.

      Our mayor has stated that he’d like to see Chicago as the most bike friendly city in the nation…. I’m not sure I trust anything he says but any effort he puts towards that goal benefits us regardless. The bike commuting culture is strong and there are often showers, places to store your bike, etc available at the workplace. With some familiarity and planning you can use bike lanes to get most anywhere in the city.

      Many of the comments on here have mentioned diversity – Chicago is about as diverse as it comes. There are certainly insular neighborhoods but there are also areas of great diversity – if you get out and about you can interact with anyone from anywhere.

      Cultural opportunities abound and can be as expensive or inexpensive as you’d like. All of the museums have free days. The libraries also have family passes to many of the museums that can be checked out for free. You can spend a fortune on concert or theater tickets but there are also free performances nearly every night. We rarely if ever pay for “entertainment” and there are more free options most weekends than we could ever possibly explore!

      I’m sure many of you have been through O’hare so it’ goes without saying that you can get a flight to just about anywhere at anytime if you need or want to travel.

      Can you tell I love it here? I’m a born and raised Chicagoan but we’re definitely here by choice, rather than default.

      • ChicagoMom May 11, 2014, 8:15 pm

        So nice to hear from everyone. I couldn’t agree more with JB and PFF. It seems uniquely American to believe kids need their very own backyard. Plus, I find so many friends who moved for a big backyard found that it had an expiration date roughly around the time their kids turned 12. The other point I love about raising kids in Chicago is that as teenagers they can walk, bike, or ride public transit rather than drive. It’s funny how so many folks assume that the suburbs are SAFER for kids. I can’t think of anything less safe than teenagers driving.

        MamaKate, I loved your post. North Center is an amazing neighborhood. We lived there when the kids were very, very small. Great CPS schools, wonderful pubs and restaurants, and RibFest rocks.

        • Mr. Money Mustache May 12, 2014, 7:56 am

          “I can’t think of anything less safe than teenagers driving.” – that is the ultimate bit of parental wisdom ever, so thanks for sharing it. So many people write to me with all manner of concerns about the dangers of various things.. but then they take hurdling around in cars for granted and give them to their kids on the 16th birthday. The statistics for kids killing themselves while driving are astonishing, and anecdotally I lost a number of high school friends to their own bad driving back in the day, and our neighbors across the street lost their 20-year-old son when he jumped/crashed his car just a few years ago.

          These are the kinds of stories I normally think are pointless to share, but it is relevant when choosing a town, because you really win when you minimize your dependence and interaction with cars. Car culture is worth minimizing when seeking out places to live.

          • Leah May 12, 2014, 11:53 am

            As a trauma nurse some of the worst stuff I see is teenagers with traumatic brain injury, and it’s always from motor vehicle crashes. I’ve never seen TBIs as severe from biking collisions.

      • millenial-in-SB October 25, 2017, 9:46 pm

        I’ll jump in here as a born and raised Chicago suburbian. I grew up 20 minutes due west of downtown Chicago and it was ‘normal’ for me to drive EVERYWHERE because there was no reasonable public transportation system. The suburbs are very dispersed – so to those reading here – I’d like to emphasize that Chicago is different from its suburbs. (On a side note, I did ride my bicycle several miles to my local public high school every day in the blazing hot summer to get my driver’s license education.) I left because I could not handle the freezing wind chill temperatures.

    • hikergirl May 11, 2014, 11:01 am

      I currently live in chicago, and plan to leave. Taxes are very high in chicago (worse than New York City where I am originally from), especially state taxes. Winters are very harsh here, and generally last about 5-6 months of the year. Public transportation here is a mixed bag, it is definitely present but can be quite mediocre at times. Rents are rising, even a distance from the loop area. Groceries can be expensive here, strangely enough I find groceries cheaper in Brooklyn where I am originally from than in Chicago. And if you like the outdoors like myself, the hikes in the area are not great. There is a lakefront path, but in the summer it gets very very crowded, kinda like Times Square with the amount of people biking. And as a New Yorker, I even find people can be kinda rude here at times. So that is the other side of Chicago.

      • ms kitty May 12, 2014, 3:25 pm

        you should really check out the older suburbs – alot of the problems you cite above (except the public transit part) are less present there, and if you pinpoint your location right, you can be less than 30 minutes to the loop by transit (includes my biking/locking my bike up time).

        once you get out of cook county, taxes go down immensely, rents are about the same but good deals on smaller, older homes can be found and groceries are much less (thanks to aldis and costco.)

        plus, there are massive amounts of forest preserves and parks that don’t get so crowded, so you get your nature as well (no lake front views though.)

    • Another Chicago Mom May 12, 2014, 8:56 am

      Another Chicago city dweller with kids here, and I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say! Condo living can be very mustachian. There is no room to fill up the house with stuff we don’t need. Chicago has a lot of beautiful parks (which we do not have to maintain), and we walk or bike all over the place including to work/school. I don’t feel my kid is missing out by not having a yard – we have four large, well-maintained parks within walking distance all with different amentities (playground equipment vs. basketball courts and baseball fields vs. open space) – some with fieldhouses as well. And the free/cheap family activities are really almost endless.

      • Ellie, Chicago suburbs May 14, 2014, 10:33 am

        So nice to see so many Chicagoans posting here, I had no idea of MMM’s readership geography. I live in a north suburb of Chicago and love it. Having lived my entire life within 30 miles of a Great Lake, mostly Lake Michigan ( grew up on the other side, in west Michigan), I love water sports, especially sailing small, board-type boats and kayaking. Combining great beaches with easy public transportation to Chicago really is the best of both worlds. The schools are good, and you can find anything you want in stores within 5 miles of home. Although there is certainly a benefit-going, private club-belonging social scene that we are not part of, there are plenty of Mustachians around too. The downsides are the high property taxes/home prices, and of course the winters. Before this past brutal winter, I used to be all complainypants about the usual Chicago area cycle of a good snowfall followed quickly by a thaw, because I like cross country skiing and mourned the melting of a nice snow after only a few days. Now I have vowed to quit griping about the weather. ;) Our plan is to stay in our paid-for little 1950s ranch house after we retire, and travel around in the winter. Some of other posters’ comments about their locations have me wanting to check out a few other areas, especially Olympia, WA. It would be weird leaving the Great Lakes though.

  • Lugo May 10, 2014, 8:28 am

    Glendale, CA

    Specifically, we live in the Sparr Heights district in northern Glendale. Glendale itself is a very nice city of 300K just north of Los Angeles. Sparr Heights and its adjacent neighbor Montrose, CA are small communities which are cut off from the Los Angeles sprawl by the Verdugo Mountains to the south. Just north of us are the San Gabriel mountains. Hwy. 2 a motorcyclists paradise provide a beautiful ride through these mountains. I hike there nearly every weekend. In a few miles, I can be walking along a tree shaded creek. 20 miles in, I can be hiking in a pine-fir-cedar covered wilderness.

    Our small Montrose Shopping district is a small town delight with very few chains (Starbucks just moved in; there goes the neighborhood). We have good restaurants, coffee shops and small specialty stores. A Trader Joe’s is within walking distance (is that a chain)?

    Houses are very expensive. My 1600 sf home is valued at $750K on Zillow.

    Pasadena, to the east has more shopping, eating and cultural opportunities within a 10 mile (each way) bike ride. A ride around the Rose Bowl and back is a nice 15 mile ride.

    Weather is So. Cal foothill. 50s-60s high in the winter and 70s to nearly 100 in the summer. June and July are best with weather in the 70s and 80s. August and September are hot with temps in the 90s to 100.

    If you like a walkable town, Sparr Heights/Montrose is it. Check out our walkable score:


  • Rich Uncle EL May 10, 2014, 8:32 am

    Sounds like Longmont is a very affordable place to live, just with the housing and taxes being low it’s great for retires. I live in the expensive northeast as mentioned in this post. Where taxes are going insane, and makes houSing a bigger percentage of income every year. NJ has been my home for 20 years and before that it was nyc. When I retire I will move to an affordable, tax free state, with my bike ready to log a few thousand miles per year.

    • PeachFuzzStacher May 10, 2014, 1:43 pm

      I live in and have grown up in NJ as well. It feels like everyone here is a millionaire, except me, of course ;).

      I stayed near my family, but wouldn’t have stayed at all if it wasn’t for them still being here. Maybe when my parents realize they could never afford to retire here, I’ll follow them.

    • Scott May 11, 2014, 12:25 am

      Ignorant Canadian here but how is it that east coast proprty taxes can be double the mill rate of western taxes? Is it the case that infrastructure maintenance is that much more expensive?

      • PeachFuzzStacher May 11, 2014, 11:13 am

        In NJ, anyway, there’s two main reasons why taxes are beyond high, but ridiculous.
        1) Home Rule – There are lots of small towns right next to each other, making up a giant suburban sprawl with separate governments, police, fire, and school systems every couple of miles. Newer parts of the country started off with bigger townships, sharing administrative costs.

        2) Abbott Districts and Teachers Unions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbott_district
        Although NJ in general is rated extremely high in quality of education, there are a few rotten apples that pull in loads of money from the more fortunate districts. The problem is, more money doesn’t necessarily work when bad people aren’t allowed to get fired. See the move “The Cartel” for more info http://www.thecartelmovie.com/

  • Lucas May 10, 2014, 8:46 am

    Taking notes from everyone here as well :-) Hawaii had a lot going for it when we lived there. I took a 7 min boat ride to work every day across pearl harbor, followed by a 5 min walk through the historic officers housing (very nice area). We lived in the dry area of Ewa Beach, which was one of the lower cost areas for several reasons ( flight path for the air port and military base – which meant 3 am screaming fighter jets over your house, rundown areas with very bad schools, biking and shopping access was poor unless you drove to Kapolei, etc. . ). Somehow the sun and 10 min walk to the beach made most of that irrelevant :-)

    Most of the “best” areas in Hawaii are very expensive housing wise. MMM liked Kailua (which is one of the most expensive areas, but maybe you could figure out how to get MMM to come build another guest room which you could rent out ;-) ). Overall though housing is very unaffordable for most people. If i had my choice i would probably pick upcountry Big Island town of Waimea. Consistent temperate climate (50-70 year round), some higher paying jobs if you work for Keck, and more country living. Getting off island is really expensive though from there, and the beach is a drive. At least there is a costco within 45 min though ;-)

    Northern Virginia (where we live now) definitely has the jobs (3rd highest median income in country – fairfax county is 107k – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-income_counties_in_the_United_States). 3 bed town house though is 300k+. Single family home in our neighborhood (which we like and can bike to work from) would be 600k minimum, so townhouse it is until we move from the area (which is fine). Climate isn’t the nicest as summer is just nasty humid (early spring, and late fall are pretty much the only nice times). Probably the worst part of the area though is that almost no one has any margin in their life, and is always stressed out. Driving anywhere is a serious hazard to your health as well.

    • Meghan May 10, 2014, 11:10 am

      I agree on the NOVA paragraph. I’ve found that biking is a bit risky too.. Perhaps it’s because the stressed out people who for some reason feel very important aren’t paying attention. :)

    • Lucas (in Hawaii) May 10, 2014, 11:26 pm

      This is hilarious! My name is also Lucas and I actually live in Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii, which you mentioned. It’s beautiful here, but expensive, no doubt.

      Theres is a dry side of town and a wet/green side. Houses are $300k-$1mil+ on the dry side and rent is at least $1,200 for a very modest 2bd, 1bath house. You can bike everywhere in town for groceries, errands, and the 2 little parks. Lots of millionaires and retirees around, porsches, mercedes.

      On the wet side of town it rains often and it’s kind of dangerous biking along the 45 mph highway into town with 2 feet of shoulder in some places. Another thing to consider is the vog — when the wind stops or blows the wrong way, we be breathing some sulfur particles.

      Milk is $5/gallon when it’s discounted. Gas hovers between $4.50-$4.95/gallon. Electricity is about 50¢ per kWh. My family pays $170/month electric — and we don’t have heating/AC, pools or anything fancy; we hang-dry our clothes and our water heater is programmed to be on for 1h45m/day.

      Why do I live here? Family. And my favorite beach in the world is a 15-minute drive down the hill. Did I say drive? Pfft… I walk to town and take the bus to the beach.

  • Luana May 10, 2014, 8:48 am

    Davis, California. Hip little college town, full of culture, environmentally conscious, abundant sunshine, and a cyclist’s paradise. Sacramento is just next door. San Francisco is a bit further but still well within reach. And this place has some unbelievable chances to get away into nature all within a ~100 mile radius. Hiking, snowboarding, surfing, backpacking, climbing are all at your fingertips. Housing in Davis is more expensive than you’d find in Sacramento but cheaper than much of the Bay. Yay for Davis!

    • Flavah May 10, 2014, 7:32 pm

      +1 to this! As my good friend has said every time he’s moved “we keep trying to find Davis.” Great food and everything you need within biking distance. Buyer beware, there is a rather large population of folks here who are left of liberal…but that wouldn’t stop a fairly conservative guy like myself from moving back ;)

    • Saskia May 10, 2014, 9:12 pm

      Another vote for Davis! I’ve lived here 40+ years and, though it’s grown and changed of course, it’s still a great town. Named Best Cycling Town by USA Today this year, there isn’t anywhere you can’t bike to in Davis. With the university, there are endless number of interesting, free things to do. The town has a bit of an international flair, too, with the many folks affiliated with the university who come here from all over the world. Weather is great and you can garden year-round.

      Excellent schools and all kinds of opportunities for extra-curricular activities for kids– a great little league, an awesome rock climbing gym with a junior program, an art center, and craft and recreation classes for kids through the city and university. The downtown has a vibrant restaurant and shopping scene, too. Biggest downside is the cost of housing compared to nearby towns, though it sounds like it’s not that much higher than Longmont.

      • Tanner May 10, 2014, 11:46 pm

        My wife was actually looking for towns to move to recently and picked Davis as a potential site. Let me know if you know anyone hiring for a Finance Director/Manager ;)

    • MegC May 23, 2014, 8:58 am

      We (family of five) retired early (in our 40s and 30s, respectively) and have been living out of our RV for over five years. We moved every two weeks at the beginning, primarily between Florida and Kansas, with jaunts to Maryland and the southwest, living in state and regional parks. Last year we decided we liked longer stays and might even want to settle down somewhere we wouldn’t have to drive to services and entertainment (other than the great outdoors). We wanted someplace sunny and walkable, with a slight preference for California (for the diversity of people and geography). On paper, we honed our requirements and desires, and Davis, CA emerged as our ideal hometown. I made a springtime recon visit via Amtrak from San Francisco, walked the town for an afternoon, and fell in love.

      We moved last November (still in the RV) and we feel more at home every day, despite leaving our extended families behind. The kids climb at Rocknasium daily, making the most of our dirt cheap family membership. The adults climb too, but less often, and walk through the UC Davis arboretum for exercise and relaxation. Walking for our daily needs isn’t nearly enough to keep us fit — everything is that close! We are happy to be somewhere the kids have plenty of independence without having to drive until they’re older. They rarely bother to ride bikes to their destinations, but when they get interested, there are many options for upgrading our wheels, including a great used bicycle shop just a block away.

      Admittedly, we spend too much by finding too many daily restaurant specials. We used to never eat out, but in a college town with a teen, a tween, and a kid, the variety of reasonably priced meals is hard to resist. The farmers’ market is a great scene with some decent deals on fresh produce, and Whole Foods, Traders Joe’s, and the Food Co-op have everything we want off the shelves. We have chains and locals, thrift shops and fancy specialty stores. I’m sure we haven’t tapped even a quarter of what Davis has to offer. We’re lazy, and we have time.

      Walking is easy and mostly safe. Bicycles are actually more of a hazard than cars, where we walk, so we stay alert (especially as class times approach – multi-use path rush hour). Buses around town are a buck, two bucks to Sacramento. The Amtrak station (a ten-minute walk for us) lets us get to the BART system in about an hour, SF proper in two. Three well-served airports (SMF, OAK, SFO) are accessible without a car (SMF by direct bus, the other two require a couple of hours for trains — actually, even SJC is possible with a longer ride).

      Davis is not a cheap town for housing. Our RV space is $500/month, and the mobile homes in out little court probably run $15k-$50k (guessing). Nothing else is that cheap. I have a dream of moving into a 2-bedroom central Davis apartment and spreading out a bit (the RV might be 300 sq ft). We don’t particularly miss the trials of home ownership, so rental would work for us, except for the price tag. Not sure we’ll ever be able to swallow that.

      The other downside: Davis lacks a bit in ethnic diversity. I grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and Davis feels very white to me. There is a huge population of Asian students, but Davis seems surprisingly light on Latino residents. Compared to the nearby cities of SF, Oakland, and even Sacramento, it just seems quite white. I guess that goes with the housing costs, but it’s definitely another point against. Last, there is a visible homeless population in Davis. We are comfortable with that, and treat the homeless as our neighbors. But I realize that might deter some people.

      We still haven’t seen a better town for us, but we know how to move if we find it. For now, Davis is home, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    • Dan May 27, 2014, 6:14 pm

      I’ll cast another vote for Davis. It’s an awesome place to live aside from the higher than average home prices (very little inventory under $500K). Davis has a network of paved bike paths, dozens of public parks, great schools, walkable downtown with lots of dining options, college town atmosphere, and it’s about 15 miles to downtown Sacramento, which can be commuted via bike, bus or train.

  • JB May 10, 2014, 8:50 am

    No city is perfect, but we have the desire to move to Lake Tahoe. Hiking, biking, skiing, gambling etc. Near an airport, no state income taxes. Seems like a chill place to retire.

    • Brenton May 12, 2014, 12:55 pm

      Lake Tahoe is nice, but the California side is nicer than the Nevada side. Obviously, CA has higher taxes so maybe find something along the border?

      • Joe May 21, 2014, 5:50 pm

        Incline Village is the nicest town in Lake Tahoe and is located on the NV side of Tahoe.

  • Megan May 10, 2014, 9:03 am

    St. Paul, MN. I didn’t choose Minnesota intentionally, I stay to be close to family primarily, but I love it. The Twin Cities are regularly ranked at the top for biking (winter biking included, since that’s 5 months of the year), libraries and arts.

    For jobs, Medtronic, Target, Best Buy and General Mills are based here, and plenty of other large companies have regional offices. (And Minnesota is very friendly to entrepreneurs, so there are lots of small businesses too.)

    I live in a 2bd/1ba condo in a highly walkable area about equidistant from the two downtowns. My place is worth $130k, and surrounding single family homes range from $150k for a 3br/1ba fixer upper Craftsman to $500k for 5bd/3ba Victorians. Cost of living overall is lower than the national average.

    The drawback is the weather, of course. The winter has weeks straight of highs below 0F, and the summer has crazy humidity. But if you can live with that, it’s well worth it.

    • Frugal Vegan Mom May 10, 2014, 3:11 pm

      I will piggyback on that and say Minneapolis, MN. I also live here because I grew up here and my family is here, but apart from the winters it is pretty ideal!

      Many people embrace the winters though, I have a lot of friends who do lots of winter sports, and yes even bike all winter long. I just happen to be a wimp.

      We live in NE Mpls and everything is within biking and even walking distance. There are so many interesting things to do all year round and I love the people too – there is a very local/hippie vibe to our neighborhood and all I see all forms of mustachianism practiced regularly.

      • Rebecca May 10, 2014, 8:54 pm

        North Minneapolis is also a good place to live, if you do some research into specific areas. I pay $600/month on my mortgage for a charming 1925 bungalow across from a park, and within easy biking distance of downtown and uptown!

        And it is possible to bike almost all winter, but I gave up during the polar vortex this year!

        • Mark A. May 11, 2014, 3:21 pm

          Was wondering when someone would mention the Twin Cities. We’re just relocating here for the second time after spending a stretch in Washington, DC and Atlanta. The North Loop is an exploding warehouse loft district between the Mississippi River and downtown Minneapolis. We have a Whole Foods downstairs and tons of trails along the river, which I’m going to bike as soon as I’m done posting. We’re renting for a few months while we search for a house in St. Paul, which is somehat less trendy and expensive than Minneapolis but equally accessible to everything good about the area mentioned above: extensive biking, arts, light rail, nice people, good education system. Sounds something like Longmont vs. Boulder. I read recently that this area was voted as having the healthiest population in the country and usually the per capita income is among the top four or five states.

          I have to say, as a Southerner who’s lived coast to coast, the forward-looking political climate is so much better here where, for example, this little state of 5 million voted a few years ago to increase its sales tax a sliver so that it could pump $4 billion over 25 years into conservation and the arts. The Twin Cities rocks and one could do worse than building a simple life here, as we are. Longmont sounds cool too.

          • Tim May 11, 2014, 8:01 pm

            Glad to see people representing theTwin Cities here. I’ve been in Minneapolis for the past 7 years and I’m a native Minnesotan, so the winters don’t bug me much. Great culture, much of which can be had for free or cheap with only a little searching. Love the bike culture and the many farmers markets.

            Sadly though, I’ll be moving in about a month. My wife and I will be having our second baby (!) in July, so we’re moving closer to her family for the help with daycare.

            We will be moving to Colorado, and Longmont is on our list of places to settle longterm. So hopefully all will be good!

            • Julia May 12, 2014, 8:15 am

              Hi Tim – Congrats on the new baby! My husband and I are also native Minnesotans, loved living in north Minneapolis for 7 years. Then we moved back to our hometown in southern MN for the next 7 years while our kids were small, to be close to parents as well.

              Then just last summer we took off for new adventures, because we fell in love with the mountains and sunshine and general culture of front-range Colorado. We were aiming for Longmont but ended up in Loveland (about 30 miles north of Longmont), which has some very similar stuff going on but is just a bit cheaper cost-of-living, and has pleasantly surprised us. Fort Collins is just 10-ish miles north of us, and Estes Park is a beautiful 30-mile drive to the west through Big Thompson Canyon. We love it here. (Lots of fantastic beer in Fort Collins & Loveland if you’re into that as well!)

              I do miss the Minnesota farmers markets. Haven’t found anything quite as good around here yet. And the public radio!

              But the sunshine – did I mention the sunshine? Such a pleasant change for a Minnesota girl!

              Good luck on your move!

          • MJB November 18, 2014, 3:15 pm

            One bummer about Minneapolis (aside from winter and lack of mountains) is property taxes. If you have a family of three or four, you’ll probably *want* around 1500 square footage. For this, I pay nearly 3700 per year, on a home appraised at 250K. OUCH!!! But I suppose living near the creek and lakes comes with a cost…

      • Tarzan of the Northwoods May 15, 2014, 2:57 pm

        Duluth, Minnesota

        I love Minnesota! I am originally from the Green Bay area in Wisconsin. I lived in Duluth/Superior (The Twin Ports) from 2008-2012 while I was in college at UW-Superior.

        I’ve lived in Waterbury, CT for almost 2 years now, spending a lot of time in NYC and all of Connecticut’s major cities. It has really given me perspective as to just how awesome the Duluth area really is.

        It’s located on the rocky shores of Lake Superior, the greatest of the Great Lakes. It’s also the beginning of the idyllic North Shore, the stretch of coastline from Duluth to the Canadian border.

        When my family would visit me, they described the city like a mini San Francisco due to its steep streets and vibrant culture. The population is just under 90,000. You can find tons of live music any night of the week by looking in The Transistor, the free publication that lets you know everything that’s happening in the area. There’s 3 excellent universities between Duluth and its Wisconsin neighbor, Superior. The city is LOADED with beautiful parks and hiking trails. The Superior Hiking Trail goes right through town. In college I worked at Fitgers Brewhouse, one of the many breweries in the city putting Northern Minnesota beer on the map.

        Disclaimer: The new TV show Fargo is the worst representation I’ve ever seen of Duluth, and of Minnesota in general (and that includes Drop Dead Gorgeous). It’s not even filmed there.

        Duluth is chock full of beautiful old homes with lake views. The rental market is expensive for the area, but WAY cheaper than out here on the East Coast. I rented a large 2 bedroom apt with a lake view balcony for $645/month with all utilities included.

        The winters are brutal, but they’re a point of pride for locals. The summers are gorgeous and the Falls are beautiful. I would go back in a heartbeat.

        Here’s the Wiki:

    • Paul April 15, 2016, 5:48 am

      Just moved to St. Paul, MN from Green Bay, WI for work. I am really loving the bicycle centered mentality around the Twin Cities. Biking 36 miles round trip commute to work during the summer, due to motivation from reading this blog, building up some badassity. Can’t imagine not biking during the summer anymore. Looking forward to checking out the great farmers markets and other frugal gems the cities have to share.

      • 10Feetttall April 15, 2016, 9:47 pm

        Another plug for the Twin Cities. Minnesota routinely has 3-5 best-places-to-live in the top 25 each year; including #1 in 2010, #10 in 2011, #2 in 2012, #4 in 2013, #2 in 2014 and #7 in 2015. Another magazine ranked the Twin Cities as #2 best place for a healthy retirement, while Minnesota was recently named the #4 healthiest state in the nation.

        The public schools are outstanding. Crime rates are extremely low and overall quality of life very high. While the winters can be a bit, ah, difficult, we like to think they build character.

        17 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in Minnesota, as well as the largest privately-owned company in the US, so jobs are plentiful.

        And for the bike ridin’ Mustachians, Minneapolis was the only US city to make the top 20 bike-friendly cities in the world in a recent index. If you kayak or canoe, head north to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area where you’ll find over 190,000 acres of water in a million acre wilderness.

        So bring your bikes, canoes and running shoes (as well as bug spray and long johns) to beautiful Minnesota.

  • TomTX May 10, 2014, 9:18 am

    Other than the housing prices, it sounds great. Even with the recent 25% bump in value, my 3/2, 1700 sq foot house is only at $180k. I can walk/bike to the library, post office, schools, county annex, bank/credit unions, et cetera.

  • Tallgirl1204 May 10, 2014, 9:24 am

    We love in Flagstaff, population 65000, at 7000 feet in Northern Arizona. It has a university and is a great hub for many kinds of outdoor activities– a number of world class distance runners and bicyclists live and train here. Weather is slightly cooler than Longmont, due to the elevation. The combination of students and Grand Canyon tourists flooding seasonally through town creates a fairly vibrant artist and guide economy– two groups of people who live Mustachian lives through necessity. People are friendly and fun, and there are lots of free public celebrations and activities.

    That said, real estate is more expensive than Longmont. Houses in our neighborhood, 1200-1600 sf ranches built in the 1950s-60s, are being snapped up at $270k and up. Old town properties are way more. The biggest downside to Flagstaff life is the train, which stops traffic up to 100 times a day, and creates bottlenecks at the three (only) under/over passes. Lastly, the elevation is hard on older folks, and quite a few have to go on oxygen or move “down the hill” when their lungs age out. The town is rough around the edges– it’s cowboy, lumber, railway, and reservation blue collar roots did not create a beautiful layout. Employment is tight, and good jobs (defined here as ones with benefits) can be hard to find. A lot of people are Feds like me, work at the hospital, or work for The university. A lot of people patch together careers as guides/artists/writers/musicians.

    All this said, we are completely landlocked by glorious public lands, and I can be on a forest service trail within a ten minute run from my house. We love it here.

    • Tanne May 10, 2014, 11:49 pm

      Great summary on Flagstaff, AZ!

  • Eric May 10, 2014, 9:26 am

    We’ve lived in Minot, North Dakota for years. I won’t lie and say it’s a perfect town, but we like it. For years people left North Dakota because it was next to impossible to earn a decent paycheck, but that’s changed in the last 5-8 years with the oil boom here.

    We were fortunate – we bought our house in 2009 for $110k right before the housing market went nuts. For reference, we bought our first house in 2003 for $60k and it was recently on the market for $219k. DO NOT move to North Dakota without having housing lined up. Jobs are plenty (lowest unemployment in the U.S. If you don’t have a job you aren’t trying) but housing has skyrocketed.

    North Dakota recently was named the ‘happiest’ state by Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. My thought is we’ve always been a very content state, but drastically increased median income in recent years likely put our state over the top.

    I wouldn’t say our city is overly bike friendly, and there are no sports teams. If you can survive the winters (not that hard since homes are still heated up here!) it’s a great place to raise a family. We also have local family on both sides, which has it’s pros and cons ;)


    • T.L. May 12, 2014, 9:26 am

      Glad to see another North Dakotan! We’re living just North of the base in Glenburn. The changes to our state in recent years has been mind blowing, haven’t they!!!??

      • Eric May 12, 2014, 2:05 pm

        Yes, especially the Western part! I mention to my wife how pretty much our whole life people constantly left the area, now we have a huge influx of people. I also hear people complain about it all the time, which is unfortunate. Those are the people that will complain no matter what though!

  • Cath May 10, 2014, 10:32 am

    I want to retire to Prescott, AZ for many of these reasons. Currently live in Mesa, where 80-95°F is nice weather. (Under 80 and I need a sweater!)

  • Lewis May 10, 2014, 10:44 am

    I really appreciate this article as an urban planner and aspiring mustachian. You’ve touched on a lot of great issues: compactness (which helps keep taxes low and travel easy), multimodal transportation (bicycle-friendliness), public spaces (like parks free or cheap entertainment), community (your porch club), proximity to amenities (good shops in town, close to Rockys, Boulder, Denver).

    Many people who are active in the community are retirees, which usual means in their 60’s. You and other mustachians have a great opportunity. Thank you.

  • Rocketpj May 10, 2014, 10:52 am

    Gibsons, BC, Canada. Canadians will remember it from ‘The Beachcombers’, a long-running TV show many of us had to sit through before we could watch the Muppets as kids. Population about 8000, with another 12000 in the surrounding area.

    Very close to Vancouver (utterly beautiful city but home of the absurdly priced real estate market).

    Why BC? Well, I grew up in Alberta and froze my knickers off, but moved to the coast at 20. Few people ever move the other way (though there is a stream of people moving to Fort McMisery (aka Fort Money aka Fort McMurray – epicentre of the tar sands) to make big bucks and have a horrible life while wrecking the planet on an industrial scale).

    On the coast I can ride my bike every day. Once or twice every couple years we might get a bit of snow that makes it impractically dangerous, but for the most part it is either sun or rain – both of which are manageable on a bike.

    Why Gibsons? Close to Vancouver. Many of us commute to the city on the ferry, though few can manage it full time. Protected from the worst of ‘big city’ life by a giant moat of beautiful ocean. Truly epic hiking, mountain biking, beaches and forests. House prices are less than half of what they are in Vancouver. We currently live in a modest house 1/2 block from a wonderful little beach. A house like that in Vancouver would be over $1Million, here is is about $350-400K.

    Many, many people here have little mini-farm activities and gardens on the side. Sometimes people get a bit crazy about it ($4 for an organic onion is crazy IMO, I don’t care how tasty you think it is). We have really excellent water quality, and the weather is consistently gorgeous most of the year. My kids have free range in the neighbourhood (my 9 year old has a very wide range), which would not have been possible in Vancouver or any city really. We don’t lock our doors, nobody does – a big change from repeated break-ins while in the city.

    Biggest Pro: A wide mix of people. I have been able to build a business with people I might never have even met in the city. My kids are friends with ‘rich kids’ and very poor kids, all within the same neighbourhood.

    Those of us who commute spend a lot of time commuting. The ferry (walk on) is infinitely better than driving – I ride my bike to the ferry and on the other side as well. I only commute 3 times in 2 weeks, but some do it 5 days/week, which would be horrid.

    House prices are still high compared to other communities. Another 100 km up the coast my house would be <$200K.

    Rain. Lots of it, for lots of the winter. It doesn't put a crimp on commuter cycling or even most other riding, but it can be oppressive after a few months. Nicely balanced by gorgeous Spring, Summer and Fall.

    High materials cost. Because of the ferry, the price of lumber or other building materials is relatively high. The main local hardware/building shop has a captive market and knows it, and isn't above charging a premium for certain basic supplies (offset somewhat by a discount for contractors).

    The ferry. Walk-on it is $11 round trip. Driving on with the family can be $70 round trip. So trips to the city don't happen very often, and when they do we try to get 40 things done at the same time. Many of our neighbours spend far too much money on the ferry (part of the car cost blindness thing I guess).

    Why Gibsons

    • Patty May 10, 2014, 4:27 pm

      Gibsons sounds lovely.
      Great to hear about another Canadian location for those of us Canadians who may want to stay in the country. My husband and I live just south of Calgary and after the past brutal winter (may not be over yet…) we have been looking longingly online at properties in BC but figured most of BC was probably too expensive. You mentioned “another 100 km up the coast” as being cheaper. Do you mind sharing the name of the area?
      I am hoping to hear about more Canadian locations, preferably ones that have milder winters, as more readers respond.

      • Rocketpj May 11, 2014, 2:16 am

        The region is called the ‘Sunshine Coast’ and is much overlooked in BC. The property prices are inversely proportional to the distance from the ferry terminal.

        So in Gibsons – my front driveway is exactly 5 km from the ferry loading ramp – mid-range 3 bedroom house in a great neighbourhood is about $400K. Houses can range from $200k to absurd if you want a ridiculous mansion. The economy is a mix of a pulp mill, tourism, some fishing & other resource stuff, and about 1600 people who commute to the city on the ferry (which runs 8 times/day each direction).

        There is a chain of communities all the way up the Sunshine Coast, some of them richer than others. The next ‘community’ up the coast is Roberts Creek – where most houses face directly on the beach and they have a great community feel. Somewhat more expensive than Gibsons, but the properties are really gorgeous.

        Next up is ‘Davis Bay’ which is a combination of a gorgeous beach, a single minimall, a (hidden) industrial area and a few streets of houses. Mostly working class homes, definitely more affordable. Behind Davis Bay is an incredible mountain area with x-country skiing, snowshoeing and mountain biking galore. Our house might be about $325k there with a similar lot. But you must drive to access most amenities other than the grocery store or coffee shop.

        Then comes Sechelt – truly a gorgeous town. My parents actually sold their farm in Alberta and moved to Sechelt a couple years ago, and couldn’t be happier (routine access to grandchildren probably helps). Very bike accessible with abundant lakes and ocean all around. Houses range from $150k up, and our house would be $300K (and have a larger lot). If you pick the right neighbourhood this is a walkable town, and it is definitely bikeable.

        Another 15K takes you to Halfmoon Bay. Very beautiful place, affordable but you will drive for most everything you need (usually to Sechelt).

        Then comes Pender Harbour, which is mostly retirees and rich people. Beautful lakes and ocean, endless waterfront, but not much actual town.

        Another ferry then takes you to Powell River. This is a very mustachian town. About 25000 people, very cheap housing (my house would be maybe $125k at most). If you are independently wealthy or can bring your job with you this is a great place (if you don’t mind the city being really far away). Tons of recreation – there is a loop of about 8 lakes right behind the town which can be canoed – all the lakes are warm, full of fish and there is NOBODY on them. My wife and I once did the loop on the August long weekend and aside from a troop of scouts saw nobody for 8 days of glorious paddling and camping.

        All of the Sunshine Coast (and also the Southern Half of Vancouver Island – which is more expensive) have quite mild winters. A week of below zero weather here is seen as something of an affront to our sensibilities (and might threaten the winter veggies in the garden). I like trout fishing and it is available any day I choose (though I tend to be a bit lazy if it is raining hard).

        • Patty May 11, 2014, 10:58 am

          Sounds better and better! Thank you for the very detailed description of the areas around there.
          My husband and I love the wilderness aspect but must admit the rainyness is a drawback.
          Even so, definitely much to be drawn to.

          • Rocketpj May 11, 2014, 4:12 pm

            Well, there are a few communities on the East Coast of Vancouver Island that have little microclimates with very little rain. I think Parksville is technically a desert (surrounded by temperate rain forest), which may be why it is full of golfing retirees.

            It does rain a lot – but it is rarely raining so hard you can’t function or do things. A ‘rainy’ day can be a steady drizzle, or even just a bit of rain at one point and clouds the rest. We’ve had a month of sun in January some years (between 5 and fifteen degrees Celsius). It is very easy to get used to, and if you miss the snow it is a (fairly) short drive from the ferry to Whistler.

          • rocketpj May 12, 2014, 11:11 pm

            I will add one very special thing that is the norm on the West Coast of BC, as least in some parts of it.

            NO BUGS.

            Most of Canada is a buzzing nightmare for at least a few months each year. Here on the coast we don’t have screens on the windows, and I keep my patio doors open for weeks at a time in the summer.

            That is all.

            • RetiredAt63 May 19, 2014, 5:45 pm

              Hi RocketPJ

              I have been feeling restless lately, not sure I want to stay where I am although do like it here. This past winter did not help. I am retired, I can go anyplace I want to! If I moved closed to Whistler I would probably see almost as much of my daughter as I do now, she loves her snowboarding. Can I PM you for more info?

          • Kenoryn May 13, 2014, 6:22 pm

            For warm climate, also check out the Bay of Fundy/Annapolis Valley area in Nova Scotia. Mild winters without the rain, beautiful landscape, and very cheap. No big cities closer than Halifax though. Also the Niagara area in Ontario, a zone warmer than the rest of Ontario.

        • KwikPete May 13, 2014, 9:34 pm

          Wow, that was such a good introduction to Sunshine coast. We moved from Toronto to Coquitlam, BC 4 years ago and currently are looking to move to a smaller, quieter and cheaper town. We’re looking into Osoyoos, BC. The main reason is the winter rain, and unlimited days of grey in every months outside of July and August. Do you guys have more sunny days in “Sunshine coast” than Vancouver? How would you compare Sechelt to Osoyoos?

          • rocketpj May 13, 2014, 11:23 pm

            To be honest I don’t know Osoyoos very well except as a stop on the highway. I know it is extremely hot in the summer though. I couldn’t really compare them as I am not willing to live somewhere that doesn’t have ocean nearby.

            I believe we get more sunny days in Gibsons than in Vancouver, and much less than places like North Vancouver, which gets a ton of rain when other parts of the region are dry. Sechelt is a bit further up the Coast and seems to get still more sunny days (I suspect because it doesn’t have a mountain behind it to stop the clouds and cause rain).

  • Leslie May 10, 2014, 10:55 am

    Are there any Mustachians who live in Santa Fe or Abiquiú New Mexico? I am interested in what it would be like to move in as an outsider.

    We are semi-retired and are considering moving away from the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. I love the Southwest and the desert. We love the arts, and dabble in photography, so Santa Fe seemed like a reasonable choice. We have only visited once but plan on exploring the area more.

    • Luke May 10, 2014, 8:13 pm

      I grew up just outside of Santa Fe but don’t live there now. Thus, take everything I say with the caveat that I never lived there while doing my own budgeting or having to pay my own rent/utilities/property taxes/any grown up stuff:

      Santa Fe is an amazing environment to spend a lot of time in. Between the incredible outdoors and the ridiculous amount of amazing art, its probably the perfect environment based on the criteria described. However, the biggest downside is that its not a terribly bikeable or walkable city, unless you live downtown and want to spend pretty much all of your time downtown. And the problem with that is that the downtown housing prices are notoriously expensive. If you could afford a place downtown, and enjoy long walks, you can get to access a whole bunch of free entertainment (there are more art galleries in a 3-square-mile radius than in anywhere else in the world except for one neighborhood in Paris, and you don’t have to pay to get into any of them). Downtown Santa Fe is infamous for being an expensive tourist trap because of all the ritzy restaurants and hotels, but as a local, you’ll find all sorts of great free or very cheap things to do behind the scenes, especially once you start making connections within the community. But if you can’t find an affordable place within walking or biking distance of downtown, you’ll end up driving an anti-mustachian amount.

    • stephani February 3, 2015, 9:11 pm

      Abiquiu would be really hard to be Mustachian…too far away from any goods/services. It is beautiful though.

      Santa Fe – pretty high housing prices in the areas that are good for commuting on bike. Good bike trail system throughout most of town, great weather, beautiful seasons. The mayor just declared a plan to require bike lanes everywhere. When I lived in town before marrying my wife and moving to her owned property, I biked everywhere! Farmer’s market is great, lots of local artists. Not much of a night life scene, but doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re looking for. It’s definitely worth a look if you’re into the arts!! And it’s a great place for dogs.

      It’s a town of mixed cultures, lots of Spanish descendants, Native Americans and Mexican-Americans. There are a fair amount of rich, self-important folk who love to talk overly loud at expensive restaurants about some famous actress they hung out with the previous night. They are easily avoided once you know the type of places they frequent :) There are also a fair amount of hippies and art students, which I think is a lovely mix.

  • Dan May 10, 2014, 11:01 am

    Ogden, Utah

    Climate is about the same as Longmont: perfect mix of four seasons and low humidity.

    Housing is extremely affordable–much cheaper than Longmont. The unemployment rate is a little higher, but still low by national standards. High-paying job opportunities are nothing like Boulder County, but you can earn a living. There are lots of government jobs including IRS and Forest Service, and lots of good blue-collar jobs in construction and other industries. Several outdoor equipment companies have recently set up offices and warehouses here.

    No driving or biking needed to get to the mountains! Depending on where you live they can be right out your doorstep–and that’s true even for some houses under $150k. Mt. Ogden rises nearly 5000 vertical feet directly from the city limits. There’s hiking all year, mountain biking in the summer and fall, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. For those who insist on paying someone else an extravagant fee to carry them up the mountain, the lifts are half an hour away by car.

    We also have a lovely historic downtown (Ogden was a major western railroad hub for a hundred years), and an ever-expanding system of urban trails, especially along the Ogden and Weber rivers.

    Population within the city limits is about 80,000, consisting of a diverse mix of whites and Hispanics (mostly), white collar and blue collar, PhDs and high school drop-outs, Mormons and Gentiles. The size of the town is just right if you want to see friends by accident almost everywhere you go, but never run out of new interesting people to meet.

    Great (and inexpensive) restaurants downtown, and plenty of places to drink alcohol. Big university nestled in the foothills, mostly for commuters, offering a full range of 2-year and 4-year programs plus a few master’s degrees. Lots of cultural events, thanks to the university and the downtown boosters. For those who want even more culture, Salt Lake City is an hour away by car or by the luxurious new commuter train.

    And yet a lot of folks don’t like it here!

    Some don’t like the diversity, preferring to associate only with people of the same skin color or educational level or religion. There really is too little interaction and understanding among the different groups. This tension plays out in the public school system, which a lot of folks complain about if they don’t want their kids spending too much time other kids who look different or talk different or think different. And it plays out in the politics, like the current fight between public libraries and public gun ranges.

    For Mustachians, Ogden offers its share of challenges. It’s hilly, so biking around town requires effort–and extra care in the winter. (Even so, our mayor is setting an example by biking to work every day this year!) Some of the most bike-friendly neighborhoods are also the most run-down, in need of a major infusion of Mustachian attention. Mr. Money Mustache himself would probably feel less comfortable here, because fewer of his neighbors would enjoy fermented ciders and we’re a long way from becoming a Badass Utopia.

    Ogden’s biggest challenge is the same one that most older American towns have faced for the last 60 years: car clown disease. Our city is now surrounded on three sides by suburbs full of car clowns, who have even encroached on much of the city itself (including the university) with their enormous parking lots and bike-hostile suburban design. Twenty-five years ago it looked as if these forces would overrun the whole city and turn it into yet another suburb–an outcome that some residents and government officials still seem to prefer. But many good people have worked hard to keep the car clowns at bay, and I’m optimistic for Ogden’s future. I hope more Mustachians will come join us!

    • Madison May 13, 2014, 3:58 pm

      My parents live just north of there in Pleasant View. I personally like SLC more than Ogden, but I can see why they like it so much.

  • David May 10, 2014, 11:11 am

    Arlington, Virginia

    The county is devoted to making the place more bike friendly. We also have access to the subway here and more lines are being created. All the museums downtown in DC are free. It’s very walkable here. The only downside is that housing is quite expensive. There is no need at all to own a car here. We have ZipCar (hourly rental cars that are parked nearby on local street parking).

    Easy access to good doctors, too. Plenty of places to walk and get close to nature if you know where to look. I miss not having a small town feel, though. Other than that, it’s pretty nice if one is willing to say the first hello.

    • Jo May 10, 2014, 4:11 pm

      I couldn’t disagree more about Arlington, VA. Homes are some of the most expensive in the country, and taxes are very high. Northern Arlington, where homes are the most expensive in Arlington county, is the only part of the county that is on the metro line. Central and southern Arlington require a bus trip to the metro. If you have to transfer to a 2d metro on top of that, you’re looking at at least an hour commute–not to mention the fact that the metro is now very expensive and incredibly crowded. You probably do need a car if you don’t live in north Arlington. The only good thing about the county is that the salaries tend to be very high, so if you can figure out how to live on the cheap, you can stash the cash and get the hell out of dodge ASAP.

    • Matt May 10, 2014, 8:04 pm

      Lived in Arlington for a year; not mustachian at all. Not even close!!!

      • Meghan May 10, 2014, 8:22 pm

        I hate to say that I agree, but I’m paying $1685 a month for an apartment that was built in 1941 to be military barracks and for that price I have had mice, mold, and a bad ant problem. I was sick for months before I figured out I was reacting to the mold, and am about to move and will pay almost $400 more! Housing prices alone knock this out as a contender for a Mustachian place to live. I can’t leave right now, but am trying. The only way I’ll be able to save towards FI is to slash other spending to the bone and/or move at the earliest opportunity.
        The second thing that knocks Arlington out for me is that there don’t seem to be any other frugal people around for miles .

        If you can make it work, that’s awesome though! If you can save towards FI here or live on close to $25,000 a year, you could make it anywhere!

        • Matt May 11, 2014, 5:45 am

          I lived in similar housing..I was in the area in the not-quite-downtown part of Ballston. It’s about as good as you can do if you want to be in walking distance to the night life but not actually in it.

          Very much agree on Arlington (and NoVA in general) not having many frugal people. The area is an east coast California; full or consumer whores.

          The other problem with the area is jobs, although it is somewhat unique to me. I grew up in NoVA, and very much wanted to return to be close to family and for the good weather and fun-ness of the area. However, I and my wife have advanced degrees in chemistry, and getting jobs in the area for both of us is somewhat hard. Additionally, the jobs that are there are just not so great. We ended up moving to small midwestern town where the cost of living is fairly low, incomes are high, although the weather is terrible. Acceptable sacrifice until we can retire and live wherever we want.

  • insourcelife May 10, 2014, 12:55 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you got contacted by the Colorado Tourism Office to pump up the state as a place to visit as well. Longmont sure sounds like a great place to live especially for a frugal-nature-loving-bike-riding family. There are a lot of similarities with where we live in the Mid-Atlantic but the lack of biking infrastructure is infuriating. When we visited Milwaukee last summer we were blown away with how bikeable the city was with bike paths and trails that got us from the suburb right downtown after a leisurely 25-30 minute bike ride. After we came home we were pretty upset about the current state of biking affairs here but not enough to uproot and move somewhere else. Apparently the idea of a bikeable city here involves painting bicycles on the asphalt in a couple of car lanes “to raise driver awareness”. Those are called “bike lanes” even though you are riding in the car lane and if you take the whole lane there is a traffic backup and a lot of cursing behind you. Of course you just end up riding on the side trying not to get doored from the right or hit from the back. What a joke.

  • robin simpson May 10, 2014, 12:56 pm

    Mustachian Towns Near Portland, OR?

    My husband and I are looking to move to Portland, OR. We want something closer to work than Hood River. Would appreciate any recommendations! We’re open to living in the city, but would like a patch of land (maybe .5 acres) for quality of life (garden, chickens, bees, small greenhouse, etc). We’re looking in the $400k range. We currently homeschool, but would like decent schools so that we have the option of putting our kids back in public school.

    • Amy May 10, 2014, 11:26 pm

      If you can stand the wind, one of the best high schools in the nation is located in Corbett, OR. (It’s been in the top four for several years.) Corbett is a 20-mile freeway trip west into downtown Portland. You have to buy more than half an acre though, because of the zoning. Troutdale is nearby and close enough that you can put your kids in Corbett schools. Still windy though. You could do really well for $400k there, and there are some large lots approaching half an acre. Either way, you would be surrounded by homeschoolers. It’s big in East Multnomah County.

    • Cyndy May 10, 2014, 11:42 pm

      I live in the city, but if I were to move to the suburbs, I would go south into Clackamas county: Milwaukie, Gladstone, Oregon City. They are currently building a light rail line into Milwaukie, so if you do have to commute to downtown, that might be a good choice, but I can’t speak to schools having never lived in these areas.

      • Dimitri May 11, 2014, 9:20 am

        I live in Milwaukie, OR and can recommend it for being an easy commute to Portland and very close to a really neat Portland neighborhood in SE called Sellwood. We lived in Sellwood for 10 years and loved it but rented there. The housing prices were/are crazy (we thought anyway) and we couldn’t bring ourselves to buy there. The downside to Milwaukie is that it is not as walking/biking friendly but is close to all the great bike paths in the Portland area- we ride them all the time. Upside is that there are many houses in your price range that also have decent size yards. Closer in areas like Sellwood ( about 1.5 miles from where we live in Milwaukie so we bike over there on a regular basis) are undergoing extreme in-fill construction, aka high density housing. A regular lot size is 5000 sq ft, and rapidly dwindling from there. Check out the northern part of Milwaukie like the Ardenwald neighborhood- lots of houses on larger lots and still many with .25 to .5 acres. It is literally blocks outside the Multnomah county line but for now retains a countryish feel. We are big gardeners and could never grow as much food in our older ( but much more walkable) neighborhood. Clackamas county taxes are lower than Multnomah’s but people here tend to vote no on pretty much any tax hike, and the population is much less “progressive” than Portland.

        • Erik Y May 12, 2014, 8:23 am

          We recently moved to the Portland area and currently rent in Milwaukie. It is pretty nice and much more affordable than inner Portland. Living near the “downtown” area of Milwaukie would be a good option if one doesn’t want the big yard. Easy biking and public transit to Portland as well as being right next to the Willamette river with it’s bike paths too.

    • MarciaB May 12, 2014, 8:48 pm

      Consider Yamhill County and the cities of Newberg or McMinnville. Don’t know where the working person will actually work (don’t commute from these places!) but if the worker is home-based or working close by, the home-schooling would be lovely in that county. Rural, agri-friendly, it has lots going for it.

  • Stacey May 10, 2014, 1:11 pm

    A timely post! My family and I are just closing down a year-long journey around the US to explore and find a new home. We checked out tons of places – many of the ones mentioned in the comments already – in the hopes of finding a new home that’s more in line with our values. A badass utopia, indeed! What we found were tons of great places, no perfect places (there’s a lesson in that – there are no perfect places by themselves, you have to make them your perfect places), and plenty of places we wouldn’t consider living. That being said, we surprised ourselves again and again with the places we liked and the places we didn’t. Moral of the story – keep an open mind. Unlike MMM, we’re looking for a more rural area, but may wind up living in a small city for a while to work on getting to FI. Nothing is nailed down yet, but we’re currently staying in Western Massachusetts. Other places (including cities) we really liked? Central Kentucky(Lexington area), Bozeman & Missoula areas, Bend, OR, Albuquerque & Taos, NM, lots of the small mountain towns in CO, Southern Vermont, and many more…

    • Tanne May 10, 2014, 11:58 pm

      I drove through Bozeman and Missoula one summer moving from Seattle to Dallas. That was a beautiful part of the country. Though not sure I could deal with the cold weather in the winter.

    • Erik Y May 12, 2014, 8:50 am

      My parents retired to Bend in 2005 and they absolutely love it. Lot’s to do especially if you enjoy the outdoors. The city has a great feel to it. Lots of sunshine, but still distinct seasons. I’m not too sure what the employment situation is like there, but every time we visit I’ve never had any reason to believe that it’s particularly dire. There are a lot of retirees, but it doesn’t appear overwhelmingly so.

    • Kristin May 13, 2014, 2:04 pm

      I live in Lexington, KY, and it’s pretty fantastic. Affordable food & housing, pretty bike-friendly, laid back. Just enough fun, casual restaurants and breweries to keep me entertained when I feel like going out (plus the West Sixth Running Club on Tuesdays, which is free and you get a free pretzel!). And (important for me), within a 5-hour drive of my family. Beautiful horse farms and country roads close by for long bike rides. I just wish we had more nature close to town–the Red River Gorge is awesome but is an hour’s drive.

    • Mr. FI May 19, 2014, 2:37 pm

      I lived in Bozeman for a year (and live 2 hours away now) and have been to both Missoula and Bozeman frequently. Both are obviously quite cold in the winter, but if you like winter sports like skiing, both places are awesome. The summers are beautiful and both towns have lots to do despite their smaller sizes.

      Missoula is bigger in population but they are in love with biking. Bozeman less so, but also very pedestrian/biker friendly. Requirements to live in either place: drive a Subaru hatchback, own a retriever dog, own a bike.

  • Vince May 10, 2014, 1:26 pm

    Melbourne & Viera, FL

    * Located in east central Florida and close to everything (St Augustine, The Keys, Orlando, Georgia …) Lots to do and see
    * No state income tax
    * Low property tax and homeowners insurance (some direct beachfront homeowners will disagree, but we will be paying around $1000 each on our new 1,500 sq ft town home, valued at @ $200k and 7-8 miles from the beach)
    * Major employers (Harris, Northrop, Boeing, NASA …)
    * Low COL
    * Home prices from $50K to well into the millions, $50K homestead exemption
    * Lots to do outdoors (the beach, fishing, biking, hiking, kayaking, festivals, Brevard Zoo, Space Center, theme parks, state parks, national forests, the springs …)
    * Beautiful weather year round (summer is a little sticky but the spring, fall and winter are perfect)
    * Bike friendly Viera has every neighborhood and business linked together with 6′ sidewalks

    We love it here in Florida, but some would argue the things that I have listed. It seems like FL is a “love it or hate it” state. We personally had a period where we wanted something different around 11 years ago, but we hung in there, started our family and now you couldn’t pay us to leave. We document our adventures in central Florida at http://www.HavingFunInFlorida.com and hope that anyone visiting / moving to the area loves it here as much as we do.

    • Vicki May 11, 2014, 10:15 pm

      Yes! Viera is a nice area. I’ve lived in Boynton Beach (in Palm Beach County) for over 15 years and we love it. I see more and more people biking around town, although I would never consider riding a bike or motorcycle in South Florida due to a very high population of older people who generally seem to have poor vision and slow response times….not exactly the best combination. I could start my own blog with all the stories!

      I can’t believe there haven’t been more people mention Florida…there is an insane amount of fun things to do if you are retired. BEACH. BOATING. SURFING. TREASURE HUNTING in the treasure coast. KAYAKING. SKIMBOARDING. SWIMMING. SNORKELING. DIVING. FISHING. I could go on. If you love to be warm and hate snow and ice (me! me! me!) it is nirvana.

      I am also going to throw out another suggestion, although for many years it has been a top 10 best places to live choice so it might be overdone: the suburbs of Kansas City — specifically in Johnson County. The largest towns are Overland Park and Olathe, KS. Just overall a really nice place in all categories, except they have crappy weather in the winter.

  • Beth May 10, 2014, 1:44 pm

    Newburyport, MA

    As an unreformed Easterner, this is my suggestion for anyone who loves New England and/or the East coast. Newburyport is a small city (2nd smallest in Massachusetts) of a little over 17,000 people in the northeast corner of the state. we are a 5 mile bike ride to the beach, a 3 mile bike ride to one of the loveliest state parks you’ll ever see (Maudsley, on the banks of the Merrimack River) and within walking distance to excellent local schools, restaurants, galleries, a local theater/arts center, ice rink, and a local hospital. There is an ever-expanding network of bike trails, and we are close to skiing in Mass and NH, as well as the Maine coast.) we have city amenities in a classic small-town, postcard-perfect New England setting.

    The town is a good mix of been-here-forever locals, ex-pats from around the world, and transplants (of which I am one). The community is a great place to raise kids who can walk to school, join local sports teams, and get involved in lots of community theater opportunities. We’ve also been happy with the school’s focus on social justice projects, which is an important antidote to one of the few drawbacks–a lack of racial/cultural diversity (this is slowly changing, though).

    My husband and I are teacher and nurse, so the local job scene suits us just fine–plenty of education and healthcare in the area, as well as tech people who work from home and plenty of small businesses. Also a great place for an aspiring farmer, as Essex county has experienced a farming renaissance of late, with lots of CSAs and organic farms re-greening the area. (As a semi-self-sufficient gardener, I love the moderate coastal climate–well, moderate for New England, anyway. We can maintain fresh food with the help of some hoop houses for about 10 months of the year.)

    Newburyport is an hour by commuter rail into Boston, which is an amazing city (and obviously far better than New York). Along the commuter rail line are also Ipswich and Salem, two small New England towns with a lot to offer for a change of pace (and you can bring your bike on the train, too–the train station is linked by bike trails to other parts of town).

    The drawbacks? Well, if you don’t like winter, I can’t really help you. It’s dark and cold here for several months, and spring can be slow to arrive. On the other hand, the ocean moderates the worst of the cold and the worst of the heat, and in the summer we enjoy a sea breeze that keeps the worst of the East coast humidity at bay for most of the time. I think we use our little bedroom window A/C for about a week’s worth of summer evenings, typically, but that’s it.

    The other drawback is cost of living, as it is all over the megalopolis. The average home value here is $418,000, though there are plenty of deals to be had for Mustachians looking to live in a place smaller than 2000 sq. ft. The homes are historic and charming–not many McMansions to ruin the view here. Our property taxes are $14 per mil, which could be a lot worse. Sales tax is 6.25% (though not on food), but we are just 10 minutes from NH, where there is no sales tax at all, so we take advantage. So as far as the East goes, Newburyport is pretty affordable, considering what you get–and in Massachusetts, you get a LOT of services. It’s a liberal Democratic utopia, if that suits you (as it does me).

    • dude May 14, 2014, 10:36 am

      Yes, Beth! As a Boston area (Somerville) resident who frequents Plum Island and Crane Beach, I LOVE Newburyport! I’ve even suggested to my wife that I want to sell our place in Somerville and move to NBPT when I retire. Very cool little town, plenty of amenities, great location for outdoor recreation. I love Somerville as a current worker bee, but as a retiree, I’d much prefer to be in NBPT.

      • Kim May 16, 2014, 5:22 am

        Can you tell me more about Somerville? I’m an IT major nearing graduation, and the Boston startups look pretty appealing.

        • Mr. Frugalwoods May 16, 2014, 10:04 am

          I live in Cambridge, just across the line from Somerville.

          Somerville has good parts and bad parts. First of all, if you care about quality schools then you should look elsewhere. Somerville hasn’t gentrified enough to fix the school district and it’s a mess. But there are some great neighborhoods.

          Davis Square is nice but just as pricey as Cambridge. It has a T stop.

          Union Square is a great area, I would highly recommend. It’s cheaper because transit isn’t as convenient, but if you bike that’s not a problem. Plus you are really close to the Kendall Square tech scene.

          Inman Square is also a high recommendation. It’s half in Cambridge, half in Somerville. A bit pricer than Union, but closer to everything. It’s a 4 minute bike commute from Kendall Square too…

          Ball and Teele squares are nice but a bit removed from the action.

          Winter Hill is a great residential neighborhood, and your bike commute is guaranteed to be downhill on the way to work!

          Feel free to hit me up via email with specific questions, happy to help!

          • Kim May 17, 2014, 1:55 am

            Thanks! :D I may take you up on that once I know more specifically what I’m looking for.

            • Kristin November 26, 2014, 9:11 pm

              I lived near Porter Square, Inman Square, and Winter Hill. Winter Hill was cheap, but there wasn’t much within walking distance. It’s also a hilly area, which wouldn’t be so much fun for biking. I liked Porter and Inman for my location, but a lot depends on where you’re working or studying.

              This advice is pretty late, but I would wait until I knew exactly where I was working and then try to find a place less than a mile away so as to walk or take very short bike rides. The Boston area is a pain when it comes to driving, parking, and probably biking, too.

              A lot of young professionals split apartments in Somerville, Cambridge, and anywhere else there is convenient public transportation. Living alone is something of an extravagance here, and anyway, it’s nice to get to know people. Craigslist or some sort of email list through your company, university, church, etc. can help for finding roommates. Padmapper is helpful, too.

              The other thing some people do is buy an apartment with more bedrooms than they need and then rent out the other room(s). If you know you’ll be there awhile, that could be a good way to help your mortgage along.

  • Chris May 10, 2014, 2:14 pm

    Madison, Wisconsin!

    It’s consistently named to all those silly “best places to live” lists, but it’s warranted. What I like is that it is one of the most bikeable cities in the US (if you live in the city you can get anywhere on a bike), people are active, it has beautiful lakes, a strong sense of community, a world-class food scene and farmer’s market (and craft beer scene, too), and it has low-unemployment at 4.7%.

    The crummy parts? The long and snowy winter, it could use a better public bus system, and high property taxes.


    • Rachel May 11, 2014, 3:28 pm

      I grew up in Madison and I sure do miss a lot of the aspects you mentioned. The bike paths and bike lanes are awesome! Plus its relatively safe and there’s tons of free stuff to do year round (ice skating, zoo, watch the Ironman, Concerts on the Square, etc…)

      • Mr. 1500 May 12, 2014, 6:28 am

        I’ll third the Madison suggestion. Winters and taxes are brutal, but just thinking about the Farmers’ Market around the capitol building makes me smile. The whole state is beautiful too.

        • Jason May 13, 2014, 12:59 pm

          Winter isn’t even that bad. We had a historically cold winter this year (like much of the country), and I still bike commuted all but 10 days last year, including the coldest days (3 days around -25F).

          It’s a great place to live.

    • Jennifer May 13, 2014, 8:27 am

      I live in a suburb of Madison and I would have to agree that it is a great place to live. The taxes are high, however, the schools are excellent here.

  • Debbie M May 10, 2014, 2:48 pm

    From age 0 to 12, I moved an average of 3 times every 2 years, so I have a different sense of place than most:
    * Every place has its good and bad points–look around and you have a pretty good chance of finding good places and good people somewhere.
    * The people you’re with can make or break a place–good friends can make it okay to live in a prison-like dorm or in the woods in the middle of nowhere.

    But I also know some things about myself:
    * I like a housemate. This way you get free socializing without having to set up appointments. Normal grown-ups get this from jobs, spouses, and kids.
    * I do not like the cold.
    * I am not good with foreign languages.

    I live in Austin, like many of your readers, I’m sure. Of course it has good and bad points. I like:
    * Friends–I’m one of those people: I came for grad school and stayed.
    * Warm weather (except I’m getting sick of it by the end of our crazy hot summers, but this helps me look forward to fall instead of dreading it). I am a person who feels chilled when it’s 76 degrees inside–crazy, I know.
    * Big enough to have everything you could ever want from a city except good museums and sports teams. I don’t really care about those things. I appreciate our huge variety of grocery stores, movie theatres, restaurants, colleges, a just groups that do things in general. Healthcare is also good (if you can afford it). We used to have the second-biggest college library in the country (I think other colleges have passed us since then, but it’s still good).
    * College town – people value thinking, and big libraries, etc. are available.
    * Tech hub – means we attract brainy people, which is who I like to be friends with (even though I do not want a tech job myself).
    * Casual atmosphere – I don’t have to wear make up and high heels ever, not even to go to the fanciest restaurant.
    * I can pay extra to make sure my electricity is generated via solar power (or at least to ensure that the amount of energy I used is purchased as solar power). My city is big on helping people weatherize their houses and use low-water faucets and toilets.
    * No earthquakes; hurricanes don’t generally make it this far west except as rain; tornadoes don’t generally make it this far south.
    * It doesn’t rain much, but when it does, it’s pretty exciting. Supposedly we get the same amount of rain as Seattle. (But apparently we get it all in only three days!)
    * Wildlfowers; I really missed wildflowers living in Boston (at least they had dandelions) and Atlanta (I only saw three kinds)–we have amazing springs.
    * No income tax; sales taxes are not significantly higher to make up for it.
    * My neighborhood does not have an HOA, though we do have a neighborhood association with meetings and some activities. And my neighborhood is old enough (mid 1950s) so that the houses don’t look the same anymore. One guy outlines his garden beds with bowling balls. Another dresses up a dead tree–it’s been Gumby, a witch burning at the stake, and the grinch.
    * I don’t care as much about biking as you, but I do like that I can bike to my favorite grocery store and the local library. I can also walk to those places as well as many other stores. But some of my favorite parts of the city do lure me into driving.
    * My house has just been appraised at 181K. When I bought it, it was 61.5K, and the median price was 100K. Yet I’m still near the center of town (I ride a bus to work at the state university, and I don’t have to care if my friends move north or south because they are both the same to me).
    * A nice hike and bike trail right near me.

    Also good to some people:
    * Texas supposedly has loads of jobs but they all suck. Public and private, people work too hard and stress too much.
    * We have a river (dammed up to form a “lake”), so boating is in.

    I don’t like:
    * Everything is over-air-conditioned. I got used to the heat working at a summer camp in Conroe, Texas (a bit north of Houston in the woods); but here there is too much concrete and not enough trees here, plus every time you go inside you need a sweater.
    * Internet oligopolies – but Google fiber is coming soon.
    * Bad traffic control such as poorly timed traffic lights. Other bad planning–we’re growing fast, but that doesn’t explain everything. The city rips out roads (!?) and people say things like “My road needs speed bumps.” No. If people won’t slow down, let the road develop potholes for free–don’t use tax money to create speed bumps.
    * Mass transportation stinks–we have a spoke-based bus system, so unless your destination is on the same spoke as your starting point, you have to ride (at least) two buses. They don’t run very often, and they don’t run very late at night. I loved the subways in Boston, Brussels, and London. And the way you can take trains to other nearish cities. The only train going through our city is on a north-south route. Great for getting to Chicago, but not much else.
    * Abundance of grackles–the grackle is a beautiful black bird (brown-black females and blue-black males) that makes horrible, if interesting, sounds but too much of a good thing makes some parts of town feel like you are at the bottom of a giant grackle toilet.
    * Too many people for the water, especially with all these droughts (not as bad as Phoenix, though).
    * Crazy hot summers, hail, flash floods.
    * Autumn color is quite subtle.
    * High property taxes. (With the homestead exemption, mine are expected to be ~4K for this year = 337/month.) Supposedly a lot of companies don’t want to provide Texans with homeowner’s insurance, but it’s still waaay cheaper than the taxes. (Just don’t get a house with a history of mold–insurers freak.)
    * We don’t have real trees–they’re basically stunted. We can grow nice bald cypress along the creeks, and after several centuries, the live oaks can get quite large. But I do miss having wooded trails (except for the mosquitos).
    * The entire rest of the state and even the suburbs are way too conservative for my tastes. By which I mean racist, sexist, and all the bad parts of being conservative. And it’s not as bad as the deep south, but some people still are angry about losing the Civil War. (My city has some of the bad parts about being liberal like people believing in crystals and drugs and other forms of magic.)

    Also bad for some people:
    * allergens–I don’t have allergies yet and maybe I never will, but this place has allergens all year round.
    * big cockroaches–they are gross, but I found a commercial product that works for me.
    * No beach, though we do have some good water parks nearby. No mountains; just rolling hills in the west (the highest point in town has 103 steps to get to the top of it).
    * Segregation–my neighborhood is good with about 1/3 old retired white couples who worked for the state at bought these houses when they were new, 1/3 Hispanic families, and 1/3 gay couples. (I’m not any of those, but I fit in fine.) But overall, the city is pretty segregated. Schools near me are in bad shape (lots of the kids are still learning English; test scores were so low they almost shut down the high school). At least we talk big about equality, so things could be worse.

    I’m on the look-out for a back-up town in case ours gets too hot or too corrupt or all our friends move away (Google has lured away two sets in the past two years). Everything is cold! Right now I’m looking at Oklahoma City (the mayor wanted to raise the sales tax by 2% for 5 years to accomplish 5 projects such as building a river walk; and five years later, the extra taxes were removed and the 5 projects were built (the stadium was award winning)–I can’t imagine that happening here. The taxes would never be reduced and the projects would take longer than expected if they ever got finished–and they might or might not be decent.

    Maybe Porland, OR–didn’t really like Seattle when I visited, but I might like Portland better.

    Also thinking of something in the Raleigh/Durham area, but I haven’t been there yet and even Atlanta was colder than I like (scraping frost off the car windows every single morning for the entire winter).

    With internet, living in a big city doesn’t matter as much as when I was a kid (in the 1970s), but with small towns, the culture matters a lot more, especially when you don’t want to go to church.

    • Ana May 12, 2014, 10:38 am

      Can you kindly share your giant cockroach solution? I’m terrified of those large bugs and aside from killing them have never found a solution…

  • Redeyedtreefr0g May 10, 2014, 2:54 pm

    I’m one of those that coincidentally moved here to Longmont, but I’m not badass or awesome.
    Also I’m leaving.

    We’ve been here 2 great years, but Colorado isn’t for us. Mostly, I think it’s the cold. We’re from Florida, where you can go outside and pick up an automotive tool most of the year without having said tool be ice-cold to the touch and make your hands hurt within seconds. Where the nights don’t get so cold that laying on a concrete floor at 10am under a car feels like a form of punishment because it is still so cold (THIS morning!)

    Mostly it’s my husband wanting to leave, but I have to admit, this winter got to me too. I’m wondering how much of that is completely psychological due to me accepting a bus route at the far terminal, where I HAD to commute by car. If I’d stayed at the near terminal, with it’s much friendlier atmosphere and where I’d have biked everyday- would I still feel so ready to leave? I don’t know.

    Let’s see what my favorite things are that I can share.
    Longmont is pretty friendly, I think. If you aren’t a grumpy anti-social person which my husband is and I am not. There ARE lots of parks and public events to take part in, we have a great library and lots of neat schools. Bike night is something I am very excited for and will try to establish in whatever town we end up in in Florida. I like how everything IS close, but if you want something more, it’s still within reach- Denver Zoo and Museum, mountains and their nifty parks and hiking trails, Boulder (though WHY you’d want to go there I dunno). We do have many nice restaurants, though this part of the country doesn’t recognize what good salsa is, nor egg rolls. I recommend the northern Three Margharitas for mexican, and Ragazzi’s for italian. Oh my god Ragazzi’s, why didn’t we discover you and your homemade pasta sooner?!

    Anyway, we’ll be leaving as soon as school ends.
    If you know anyone with a good driving record, please point them at St Vrain Valley school district- we REALLY need more drivers!

  • Maverick May 10, 2014, 3:06 pm

    From the responses so far, it looks like there are positives and negatives to each location…even at what many folks consider the island paradise of Hawaii. I grew up in a suburb well outside the 5th largest US city and moved around within a 25 mile radius since birth. Close to everything (mountains in the winter and beach in the summer), yet far from it all. Yep, taxes suck, but I’m not interested in living in any “land-locked” area in the central states. Nor flood/flash-flood locations. I’m ruling out earthquake zones, hurricane zones, massive forest fire zones, and places where water must be piped in from land far away too. I enjoy four seasons, a large garden on the property and a house that has real wood floors and a basement that stays cool in the summer. Humm, I guess I must already be in my own little paradise…don’t tell anyone, ok?

    • LizinOregon May 10, 2014, 3:11 pm

      I can’t agree more about making low taxes too much of a priority. There is a fine line between reasonable taxes and inadequate community services which are part of quality of life for me. Here in Souther Oregon we are on the wrong side of that line IMHO with such strong anti-tax sentiment that our libraries are about the close again.

      Let us know when you find that perfect place!

      • Maverick May 10, 2014, 4:39 pm

        I’m already there…ahh!

  • Jeffrey C May 10, 2014, 3:45 pm

    19-year Indianapolis resident here about to give myself an early “retirement” at 50 and am contemplated where to take the next chapter of my life, so all of this info is great.

    If any readers are looking for a larger city vibe, let me make a bit of a pitch for my current hometown. Indy is a wonderful small town masquerading as a big city. I recommend the city without reservations for anyone looking for a very viable live/work urban living situation.

    I am in one of the older historic districts a few blocks off the center of downtown and adjacent to one of our major arts and culture centers. Walking a few blocks brings me to a plethora of restaurants, small theatres, and brewpubs, as well as a bike share station where I can hop on a bike for a quick ride along our Cultural Trail to one of the many other downtown neighborhoods it connects.

    I’m in a fully renovated 1890s 1000 square foot home (2 br/2bath) that would probably sell for $220,000-$250,000 given the popularity of my neighborhood and its walkability. It’s feels like a typical small-town front porch neighborhood with folks gathering at each others’ homes, regular neighborhood events, and a sense of community you wouldn’t expect to find in the heart of a major city.

    Indy has great arts (including one of the few working year-round symphonies), major sports (football, soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, and more), multiple universities in the city core, a rapidly expanding bike culture, and much more. Quick bus rides or drives to St Louis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Louisville, and Chicago if you want a little weekend getaway. Residential property taxes are capped at 1% of assessed value. We have multiple new loft and traditional apartment buildings about to open in the urban core, a car share program coming online within months, and more new restaurants and micro-brews opening than you can keep track of.

    If you don’t want to live in the urban core, I’m a bit less positive on the city experience as I don’t think it delivers the same ROI that a Mustachian might seek. You’re going to be shackled to your car because of our lack of adequate mass transit (it’s being worked on, but it will take time) and you really aren’t going to have a lot to show for it.


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