‘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.

  • JDB May 10, 2014, 3:56 pm

    El Sobrante, CA
    I live in the bay area and I am astounded that my little town has not been “discovered” yet. We are 20 miles from SF which you can ride your bike to the subway (bart) then train it into town in about an hour. We have the BEST wheather in the bay area (no need for AC in my poorly insulated house and probably little need for heating once we insulate properly. We are surrounded by state parks for hiking and nice roads to bike on. Best part is the price of real estate; the house across from me was a piece of crap rental which sold to a nice couple for $285k. It is unincorporated so taxes are ok and you can have any kind of farm animals on your property which is good for us urban farmers.

    Draw back for me is rare sidewalk or bike lanes and worst of all bad schools after the downturn. We have a 2 y.o. and are actualy considering moving or private school. Our short list for moving is Portland OR or Denver CO for our non-tech job opps and mustachian lifestyle.

    • LaNostalgie May 19, 2014, 10:41 pm

      My childhood home! Man, I miss that place…

  • Trish May 10, 2014, 4:10 pm

    I haven’t been reading this blog very long, and at times get discouraged by the role diy skills seem to play in a mustachian lifestyle (my husband and I are definitely not skilled in this area). I am a bit stunned by how much MMM’s house is worth, holy cow!!! I would love to love someplace a little cooler than where we are – the great thing here is that we are out in the country with NO neighbors. But home prices are very low, relative to Longmont. We have been considering a move for retirement – in about 8 years, but I have no wish to take on a mortgage.

  • Steve May 10, 2014, 4:20 pm

    We live in the SF Bay Area (28 miles south) and like it a lot. But it is uber expensive (duh!). I had spoken with my wife a few months ago and talked about pulling the rip cord and moving to either Longmont or suburban Seattle. I think I could handle the gloom better than the snow and cold. But was still open to Longmont. And then….

    You had to write this freakin’ post! Now prices will skyrocket. So Washington State it might be at some point.

    • VZ May 10, 2014, 4:57 pm

      another bay area vote…except I’m in Novato, Marin County. Town of about 50k, has a small town feel with a cute little downtown, and close to San Francisco. Biking, hiking, great schools, fantastic weather. Housing is expensive, but more like 500-600k instead of the 1 million plus in other places in the bay area.

    • LH Gervais May 14, 2014, 12:07 pm

      You can find a great “small town” atmosphere in a few of the suburbs of Seattle. I live in a neighborhood called Lake Hills that is just off I-90, 20 minutes from downtown Seattle in off-peak traffic. I’m an even shorter distance to hiking trails in the foothills of the cascades (including Cougar Mountain). The neighborhood has relatively affordable housing for the area, low crime rates, 50s-era efficient homes on large lots with plenty of evergreen trees (yielding a favorable car-to-tree ratio and good air quality), and over 100 acres of greenbelt and forest less than a mile from my house (Weowna park & Lake Hills Greenbelt). I am only 3 miles from work (so riding the bus and cycling are both an option), and only two blocks from a King County Library (one of the best library systems in the world). Sales taxes are high (less of a problem for the frugal!), but income taxes are non-existent in Washington State. And, my property taxes are 1/2 what they would be if I lived inside the city limits.

      The nearby Crossroads area is, according to the US census, one of the more diverse areas in the Seattle metro area. It has been an INS resettlement area for several years, so it has a large number of immigrants from across the world who bring their culinary traditions with them (resulting in some very authentic but inexpensive restaurants). Crossroads has free music nights, where you can often see acts that charge big bucks for tickets when they perform in Seattle the following night. At least twice I have seen acts there that would have required a $30 ticket if I attended the show “in town”.

      The downside? Lake Hills is pretty down-to-earth, but it was annexed by a city (Bellevue, WA) that has a few materialistic and pushy pe0ple who give it a bad name. The folks who account for this reputation generally live between I405 and Lake Washington (the lake that separates Bellevue from Seattle). The other side of the city, east of I405 (where we live), is actually quite diverse, and accounts for the fact that Bellevue is actually more diverse than Seattle: http://blogs.seattletimes.com/fyi-guy/2014/03/17/bellevue-defies-its-blah-vue-image/. Of course, perceptions often lag reality, so the other downside of living where I live is that Seattleites rarely run out of snarky things to say about Bellevue. As a lifelong resident of the area (who was born in Seattle and attended university there), I let this sort of thing roll off my back. The really snarky folks are mostly new arrivals trying to prove that they are “true Seattleites”.

  • Annamal May 10, 2014, 4:59 pm

    Wellington, New Zealand.

    New Zealand in general is pretty high cost of living and low wage but Wellington mitigates that by being very walkable, having relatively decent public transport and a lot of tech firms (and of course Peter Jackson and lord of the rings).

    The city council and volunteer groups have put in more than 300km of mountain bike tracks, some of them duel use (which is great for me as a walker).

    I live 30 minutes walk from the centre of town but also 30 minutes from high lonely hills and from a paddock of horses. I also live one hill over from a fenced in wildlife sanctuary (since Birds are the predominant native species here, it makes sense to give them a predator free environment) and our house is constantly dive bombed by talkative parrots.

    Every Sunday morning a group of farmers shows up and sells the produce that is not pretty enough for a supermarket or export cheaply and I can buy all the fruit and vegetables I could possibly want for a week for under $25.

    There’s also earthquakes and high winds but you get used to both.

    • Rinz May 11, 2014, 1:47 am

      I second Wellington! We are originally from Auckland, New Zealand, plus lived in the States for about 5 years so we were totally immersed in the West Coast lifestyle for a while (Los Angeles). We’ve been in Wellington about 4 years and love how walkable / bikeable it is. Depending on where you live (and there are huge variances in wind, shelter, sun due to stunning hilly harbour location), it can be a wind swept, unpleasant experience or sunny, temperate and sheltered. We live in Mt Victoria, 5 minutes walk to the centre of the city amenities, 5 minutes wall to the town belt / great forest park with playgrounds and awesome mountain biking. 10 minutes walk to the ocean and pedestrian waterfront with museums, cafes, galleries, markets, restaurants…great city for little kids too (we have 2).
      Cost of living much more affordable than Auckland, and the salaries are on average higher. We walk or bike to work in the centre of town. Being the capital city of New Zealand, there is a noticeable social awareness, general acceptance of different cultures / ethnicities / beliefs, and the locals are pretty friendly.

  • Bob Derek May 10, 2014, 5:32 pm

    I need to be near the ocean and I like to be near NYC just for the health care alone. Being stuck in the middle of the country would make me nuts, so it’s a personal choice. I hate Californta and I hate Florida, nothing personal, And I am lucky to have two places one in the very NE corner of NJ and one oin a sound in Wilmington NC.

    Real Estate taxes are not low where I lkive in NJ, but I feel I get what I pay for in this small town. So I think it’s not so much what you pay but what yo get. There are retirement guides that list the NYC Metro area near the top becaue of Health Care and K – 12 Education. For everyone I’ve know with any kind of serious problem one of the top three hospitals in the world is righthere. There’s enough money in this economy to pay dictors so they stay round. I do not live in the City, but there must be some reason why real estate prices three have held up so well. There a bicycles everwhere.

    Wilmington is just where you want to be if the edge of the subtropical zone appeals to you. There are almost four seasons and there is a laid back coastal lifestyle. No snow here and once in five years when there’s a few inches the whole place shuts down. Amenties are cheap as are the real estate taxes, but unfortunately you get what you pay for there as well. If you need a job you can cross WIlmington of your list, the same goes if you have kids in school. Neither of these apply to me. I’ve never seen so many types of water — ocean, river, waterway, sounds, streams. If you like boats you’ll like WIlmington. The beach, acytuallin in the town of Wrightsville beach, is eautiful and seldom crowded. This city also has an unusually long and deep history. Still it is a southern city.

    So for me it’s the duality of my existence that matters. I have the best of both worlds , inh my view, and I can leave one whenever I want to get to the other. It’s just that in the very unlikely event that I had to sell a home it would not be the one in New Jersey. There’s just too much culture and too much natural beauty right in my back yeard. Whistler’s mother was from WIlmington, but somehow I feel I fit the stroy about him when I’m home in NJ.

  • Leigh May 10, 2014, 6:10 pm

    If you don’t mind a good solid winter and a hot, humid summer, Ann Arbor, MI is a pretty nice place to live. The median house price is $200k, and you can get that within 2.5 miles of downtown. It’s fairly bike-friendly, and becoming more so over time – bike lanes and pedestrian safety is always a key part of new roadwork. (Still, it is Michigan, and with the cold winters most people don’t bike. And it’s almost impossible to convey how much Michiganders like cars; but Ann Arborites are not quite to attached to theirs.) With the university, there’s always great entertainment and good food, compared to other cities its size. And there’s a lot of diversity, both economic and racial/ethnic. Taxes are high (roughly 2.5% of our house value), but we do have great parks, great libraries, good public transportation, and a safe community.
    The downsides, other than the climate (although I don’t mind it – I’m a farmer’s daughter, so dry climates make me tense), are that Ann Arborites are way too liberal and the rest of the state is way too conservative. Although I suppose that’s subjective. ;) And we’re famously arrogant, but it’s hard not to be when you’re the leaders and the best.

    • Travis May 12, 2014, 12:45 pm

      I just moved away from the Ann arbor area after 11 years there so i could be near my family in Oregon. While I think Ann arbor is great I found Dexter which is a couple miles west to be the perfect place to live.

      It is a small town with only a few thousand people yet the schools are great, it has an active downtown with music on Friday nights in the summer, parades and celebrations such as Apple Daze, and Dexter Daze, as well as 4th of July and Memorial day. You can easily bike all over town and you’re close enough to Ann arbor to take advantage of their summer festivals, restaurants and employers like Google, and University of Michigan.

      House in Dexter is quite affordable and we recently sold our 3 bed home (~2,050 SqFt not including basement) for $193,500 which was about average. It was new home built in 2003.

      Winters can be rough but you’re far enough away from the lakes to not get to much lake affect snow. Summers are great, and the fall is absolutely perfect in my opinion. Compared to where we are in Oregon it was much cheaper to live in terms of food and housing. If not for family being 2,400 miles away with failing health we would have stayed indefinitely.

      • Travis May 12, 2014, 2:09 pm

        Since I still work for my company in Michigan I just received a Tornado worning e-mail asking everyone to come to the center of the building so yea besides the harsh winters you need to be prepared to deal with Tornados or at least the possibility of such. In 2012 one bounced through Dexter causing a lot of Damage.

    • Ellie May 14, 2014, 11:29 am

      I lived in A2 for seven years while in school at UofM and was devastated when I had to leave. Like so many others before and after me. It literally took me a decade to get over it. It is not the real world, and there is nothing wrong with that. :)

  • Jane May 10, 2014, 6:14 pm

    I love living in the Palo Alto/Menlo Park area in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you can afford a house here, the living is great.

    I bike commute to my job (chose to live close to work, or chose a job close to where I live).
    There are plenty of jobs.
    I love to garden and get to do it year-round so have fresh veggies all year. If gardening not for you, then there are farmer’s markets year round.
    Stanford/college town environment ensures that there’s something cultural, musical, sporty, intellectual any night of the week.
    Tolerant, diverse and interesting population.
    Great biking with tons of road and mountain bike rides for recreation and can do most of the day-to-day shopping by bike.
    Yes, the weather.
    Awesome, multitudinous and varied restaurants.
    Exciting place to be with a start-up being formed at every other table at any coffee shop.
    Fantastic schools.

    Biggest con:
    Housing prices are ridiculous! And, maybe more ridiculous, so many (high tech) folks can afford them. I bought my house in 1983, but could never afford to buy or rent a house here now.

    Basically, the San Francisco peninsula a great place to live, but don’t know how you can move here from somewhere else unless you are one of the youngsters cashing in their tech stock and driving up the housing prices for “normal” people.

    • Untamed Primate May 13, 2014, 6:36 pm

      I live in Santa Barbara, CA which has similar crazy house prices. I love it here–it’s incredibly walkable and actually not very expensive aside from housing. But housing is a doozy. Unless you bought before 1990 or have a big-paying tech or finance job, you basically can’t afford a house.

      I do wish MMM would touch on housing affordability, which is the function of housing prices versus incomes. And incomes aren’t totally defined by geography — there are a whole lot of careers that actually just pay fairly low in terms of the macro structure of the economy. Basically, if you want to retire early/have financial independence, your choices are very limited if you don’t work in a field nearer the top of the economic structure. My girlfriend and I have a cumulative household of about $95K. We are relatively early in our careers still, but because of the non-tech, non-finance, non-CEO nature of our work, we likely won’t ever rise about $150-$180K in household income.

      Now, even our $93K of current income would be more than enough to be happy and retire early in an area with sane housing prices. And we could squeeze and save up for a house in California, but then there’s the issue of job density — i.e., are there enough well-paying jobs in your field that you could continue to build your career even if you lost your current job? The answer in Santa Barbara for us is “no.”

      So three things — housing prices, average wages in your field, and job density. If you’re not in a highly paid field, you can certainly live the Mustachian life, but you need to do it where land and houses are very cheap and might have to make some tough choices between culture, climate and financial freedom.

  • Matsad May 10, 2014, 6:15 pm

    Ogden, Utah. I moved here about a year and a half ago and bought a place 2 blocks from the trails at the foot of 9500 foot mountains for 160k. I lived in San Diego for 12 years before that and buying a place there was never gonna happen. People are nice and the weather is pretty interesting, especially if you ski. It gets pretty hot in the summer and it isn’t exactly cosmopolitan, but if you want a place where you can ski, hike, and ride mountain bikes right out your door, and still potentially have a job, you can do worse.

  • A.G. May 10, 2014, 6:35 pm

    I’m a little surprised there hasn’t been any mention of “rust-belt” areas yet. I’m currently in Cleveland but come from Grand Rapids, MI.

    Obviously, the job market is hit and miss throughout the midwest. But the cost of living is quite cheap – nice houses with a lot of character can be had in our neighborhood for under $150,000, and sometimes under $100,000. Both Cleveland and Grand Rapids have lots of trees, access to the Great Lakes, many craft breweries, and a growing infrastructure for biking within the city limits.

    • Spoonman. May 12, 2014, 7:06 pm

      Rust Belt is great, especially the pockets that have sustained themselves. Closing on a house in Emmaus, PA next week. $175k, walkable community, and safe schools.

      • Lisa May 13, 2014, 6:49 am

        West Michigan here! The downside here are the piles and piles of snow in the winter (take up a winter hobby and plan regular dinners with friends to make it through). And it tends to be a bit religious and conservative (we are neither), yet we have a beautiful life here. Miles of walking trails, parks, endless beaches. Lots of friendly neighbors. Cheap houses. Cheap taxes. Low unemployment. It’s a very nice place to live.

        • KEB May 30, 2014, 6:13 am

          I’m surprised it took so long for West Michigan to come up. One of the most beautiful places in the country. I’m currently plotting my escape from DC to Traverse City.

          • Amy K June 18, 2014, 8:06 am

            Traverse City is beautiful, Welcome!

            I grew up there, love visiting family, the wineries have really expanded and there’s a great food scene, great bike scene if you live in town.

            I still can’t get past the winters but hopefully you’re a skier! Enjoy!

            Oh, and 20 something finance had a blog post on the Grand Traverse area if anyone wants convincing to move there:

  • Sondra Rose May 10, 2014, 7:35 pm

    Beautiful Port Townsend, WA.

    This is my fourth time living here and I sure hope I am done with the rubber-band thang! For me, this is heaven on earth!

    Loving our sweet 600 sq ft, 50s cottage with an edible perennial garden right in the middle of everything. 10 min walk to the beach and downtown. Great neighbors, friends in walking distance, fab cafés (with some that are dog-friendly!) I am semi-retired and work from home as a life coach, so I am able to thrive in this small-town.

    Pros: On the gorgeous, rugged Olympic Peninsula. Walk to the beach. 30-45 min drive to mountain and river hikes. In the rainshadow (19″ inch rain yearly); sunny & mild maritime climate. Beautiful Victorian houses to look at (don’t buy!) Highly walkable if you live in Uptown or nearby. Sail, kayak or paddle-board year-round. Garden year-round. Fantastic ancestral foodie haven; Paleo & Primal folk take note! 2 Farmers Markets a week in the summer, with lots of local farms in 1/2 hour drive…even one in town I can walk to! No big box stores, many small businesses, lots of funky community and cultural events. Tourist destination means some great restaurants and several excellent pubs/breweries. A conference center with oodles of accommodation on 80 acres of waterfront state parkland: http://www.parks.wa.gov/511/Fort-Worden

    Community is great, but can take time to build.


    Cons: Two hours to Seattle and the SeaTac airport. Tourist town & associated businesses. Occasional long stretches of gray weather (not this year, though!). Hilly for biking. People tend to keep to themselves unless they are newcomers. No major employers (except the occasionally smelly paper mill.) Not good for folks who like it hot (doesn’t get much above 70 in the summer.)

  • SDREMNGR May 10, 2014, 7:47 pm

    I live I San Diego. I grew up in suburban D.C. In VA, went to school in N.E. then worked in San Francisco. I’ve visited all over the U.S. and many countries outside. I still haven’t found a better climate and overall place to live.

  • Prob8 May 10, 2014, 7:52 pm

    If any of you have found a utopia in Florida, I’d like to hear about it. I am planning to retire in 3-4 years and am looking for a warm climate with great schools, low taxes, lots of outdoor activities. Being able to walk or bike is very important as well. Longmont sounds near perfect except for the cold – which is a deal breaker for me. I’m going on my first scouting trip to Florida this summer. I plan to check out Sarasota, Palm Harbor and possibly Jacksonville over the next few years. Any thoughts?

    • LovinFl May 11, 2014, 5:38 pm

      We live in the Tampa Bay Area and as far as outside activities are concerned, we have them all! Today we rode our bikes from Tarpon Springs to Dunedin via the trail, ate lunch and rode back. Beautiful ride, friendly people, and great trails. They are extending the trail north to connect with the 40 mile suncoast trail. I would caution against riding on the road, many do it here, but we do have the highest fatality rate in the nation.

      Right now, housing is very affordable in the palm harbor area. Be careful of flood insurance and try to get something out of the flood zone because rates are going way up over the next 5 years. Taxes are very reasonable. Not great mass transit yet, but if you live off the trail you will have everything you will need. You can even ride to the beach on your bike via the trail.

      I am looking right now for a quaint house for my parents to live heRe 3 months a year. You may want to make sure you are okay with the very humid summers before committing.

    • Spoonman. May 12, 2014, 7:08 pm

      Try Corpus Christi, Texas for the criteria you list.

    • MandyM May 13, 2014, 6:56 am

      Sarasota isn’t too bad, but I lived there for a few years in my late 20’s, which was less than ideal as there isn’t a lot of nightlife. I do actually think about going back to the area, but I would look to Venice, which is just south of Sarasota.

      And I know that Florida as a whole gets a reputation of a (not early) retirement community, but Sarasota County is one of the most elderly in the Country. A few years ago it had the 4th highest median age. I think Charlotte County (Naples, FL) was 1st. This isn’t necessarily good or bad, just something to consider about the demographics.

    • WPB January 24, 2015, 2:19 pm

      West Palm Beach has come a long way. Downtown is very bikeable and walkable with plenty of things to do. Plus most downtown neighborhoods are only a few mile bike or run to the beach. Love to have more cyclists move here. We fill up our gas tank once every two months or so.

  • jason May 10, 2014, 8:04 pm

    Currently living in western michiganistan, in a home that is worth 50% less than i paid for it 7 years ago. Neither the politics nor climate is fit for civilized human habitation. My freedom day draws near, and like many of you, its the western u.s. for me. Give me mild climate and and a more positive local culture!

  • Jeff May 10, 2014, 8:12 pm

    Boise/Nampa, ID?
    My wife and I have been going through several different scenarios with this being such a long winter in Michigan this year. Currently we both commute 20-25 miles each way for work. We are debt free and own our house here and could sell for a nice profit as we built it ourselves with a ton of sweat equity. We thought Albuquerque, NM would be good but we visited for a week in April and while we liked a lot that we found there, there was stuff we didn’t like. I interviewed for a job there with the power company but after researching the company decided that company wasn’t a nice place to work.

    That had us looking at the next place: the Boise, ID area. I was on a motorcycle trip last Fall and I travelled through Boise and liked it. After looking up facts on Wikipedia it sounds very appealing. The sunshine and dryness in the winter sound lovely. The dry heat in the summer sounds fine too. We like that it has 4 seasons yet none of them seem too extreme.

    We’ve lived all over the US and in Bolivia, South America and Boise reminds us of some of our favorite places. Boise is trying to be bike friendly but one thing we’ve learned living where we do now is don’t live 25 miles from where you have to be everyday! From my trip there last year I think Idaho is one state that is very under-rated. It’s very beautiful!

    Are there any Mustachians that work for Idaho Power? If so, I’d love to talk with you about working there as I work for an electric utility here and have read some good reviews about Idaho Power.

    • Dan May 10, 2014, 8:46 pm

      I don’t live in Boise but I’ve visited several times and it is indeed quite lovely. If you want to walk and bike, I’d recommend the older neighborhoods near downtown and the university.

    • Katie May 10, 2014, 8:56 pm

      I live in Kuna, which is just in between Nampa and Boise and south. I know people that work for Idaho Power. They are pretty much the only power place in the area. Depending on what you do, look up Power Engineers. I am a mechanical engineer myself.

      Boise has been quite popular for several years now on the lists of places to move to, best to live in, etc. It is almost identical to Longmont, just bigger in population. I grew up in Kansas, had a stint in WA state, and am here, for now. It is a very nice area and if either of us where from here (or it was up to my husband) we would stay forever. Now that we have two little ones, I would like to move to Colorado as it is half way between my family and my in-laws. Coincidentally, the Longmont/Greeley area (I know they are not side by side, I am looking at a range of places though) are where I want us to move to.

    • Jen May 10, 2014, 11:17 pm

      Don’t live in Nampa if you are going to work in Boise. It’s the worst commute in Idaho, I’ve been told. House prices have risen in Boise, but they are still fairly reasonable as we are rebounding from a very deep decline as compared to other areas. The cost of living here is very reasonable, but wages are quite low compared to other states. Make sure you factor that in if you are not a retiree. There is a lot to do here, and it is just a short drive to the mountains. We love the weather-type climate, but the political climate is terrible. If you like your politicians yelling about wolves and abortion and fighting over who is the most conservative all of the time, then Idaho is for you. Unless you are from California. They hate Californians here.

      • Ryan May 11, 2014, 3:44 pm

        We relocated to Boise about two years ago and LOVE it!!

        The climate is very favorable. No humidity, cold but mostly snow free winters, hot summers but not uncomfortably so. We often have ZERO heating/cooling utility bills for about 6-7 months of the year. Outdoor recreation is fantastic. I can walk or bike to great fishing holes (and regularly do). The nearby foothill trails are fantastic. The greenbelt that follows the Boise river through town is beautiful. It may not be THE most bike friendly place but I have found bicycle commuting to be quite pleasant. Traffic is low in the morning and about 1/3 of my commute is on bicycle/pedestrian paths along the greenbelt. I have seen wild turkeys and deer on my morning bike commutes. The nearby Boise natl forest and Sawtooth mountains offer stellar backpacking, camping, mountain biking etc.

        The area is fairly conservative as far as politics, and we are mostly liberal…but whatever. People are generally very friendly and respectful. While the newspapers will go on about Obama and wolves etc. It really doesn’t bother us since we don’t have television and practice a mustachain information diet.

        Nampa offers a slightly lower cost housing market and smaller town feel, but as mentioned before the commute may kill you depending on what your line of work is. If you can find work in or close to Nampa then great, but many jobs will take you to Boise which is too far away.

        The cost of living in Idaho as a whole is low, but so are the wages. Of course this may not be an issue for you depending on your profession and how much money you bring with you. My fiance and I work in healthcare and finance respectively and have found jobs that allow us to live the good life.

        • Jeff May 26, 2014, 1:45 pm

          I appreciate the comments especially about the commutes, activities, work/pay, cost of living, etc. Being more of a libertarian/fiscal conservative/non-progressive that has already reached FI, I think I would have more in common with the locals there than some other areas mentioned here. I’ve actually been listening for a few months to KBOI to a few of their local talk/call-in shows via Iheartradio to pick up the vibe from the locals. My family and I would have no problem living there for those reasons.

          I find it quite interesting reading through the comments on how many think all of us are of the same political bent just because we are working towards the same financial goals: FI, save a stash, retire early. I am pretty sure we have quite a wide spectrum from extreme liberal to extreme conservative with everything in between. I guess I say that to just say don’t assume that if a place is more conservative that “you won’t like it” as for some of us we’d much rather live in a conservative area than a liberal one (although my ideal is a very libertarian area and Idaho seems to have some of that). I see first hand what liberal areas look like as just look at my nearby Detroit to see what 40-50 years of liberalism can do. BANKRUPT. I’ll leave it at that and not go on about it.

          We hope to visit the Boise area this August to get a better feel for it. In the mean time I keep an eye on the job board at Idaho Power and other sites.

          Any locals want to have a mini-mustachian get-together in August?

    • Mike May 12, 2014, 9:36 am

      Hey Jeff,

      I work at the power co in Albuquerque and am curious as to why you felt is wasn’t a nice place to work? I have never worked at another utility so I don’t really have anything to compare it to. As far as Albuquerque itself, I’ve lived here for a decade coming from northern New England and certainly won’t be going back. I do wish there were a bit more water here but that’s probably one of the reasons that it is as affordable as it is.

      • Jeff May 13, 2014, 8:15 am

        Hi Mike,
        Glad to hear from someone from PNM. At the time, glassdoor.com showed 10 reviews, 9 of which were pretty negative about the company. Sure, the whiners tend to leave reviews there but not 9 of 10. Also, JD Power rates the company 13th out of 13 in the medium sized utilities in the SW. It’s been that way at least the last 3 years in a row. When I asked about morale and customer opinions I was told “corporate was working on it.” If you ask most anyone at the utility where I work what are we doing to improve JD Power scores, most all of us can list off a bunch of things that WE are all doing. PNM made it sound like a corporate problem, not something everyone should be working on. All of that showed me many in the company don’t like it and the customers don’t like them either. Nobody appears to like the CEO yet the worst was nobody was taking ownership to actually fix any of it. Other than that, it was a decent area other than a bit dry and the police are out of control/trigger happy. :-)

        We haven’t ruled out the ABQ area. I drive older paid-for cars that may not pass your mandatory emission testing. That seemed a bit too Kalifornistan-ish for me. The weather there seems awesome.

        • Mike May 13, 2014, 2:48 pm

          Thanks for sharing your perspective, Jeff!

          I can’t say you’re completely off base on any of your observations, but I’d say the true story is fairly complex. I think PNM does have an image problem, and there are morale issues, but I think we are making improvements. Part of our image problem stems from the fact that for a long period we we’re able to be profitable without raising rates because we were exporting power. Times have changed, and since 2007 we have had to go in for rate increases 3 times (I think) which has not gone over well with our rate-payers.

          Like any other large-ish company, there are great jobs here and jobs you couldn’t pay me enough to take. I’m very satisfied with the one I have though. If you haven’t ruled out PNM yet I’d be happy to provide you with an insider perspective regarding the particular department you’d be working in.

          As far as emissions testing, I wouldn’t be too concerned as long as your car has a catalytic converter. This is not a rich city so there are plenty of “shitboxes” on the road.

          • jeff May 13, 2014, 4:21 pm

            Hi Mike, I’d love to chat. I can give you my phone number if you email me at a disposable address (because of bots). b5okocl30@use.startmail.com which is only good for a day. I’d love to talk shop about albuquerque and the electric biz. I work for consumers energy in michigan.

  • tim May 10, 2014, 8:34 pm

    sounds like many people here live in great places. i live in an over priced, over populated,over taxed boro of nyc but i have aging parents who need to me to keep an eye on them so maybe i’ll make a move someday too. however, what i took from the post and ll the comments though is much of what you have that is making you happy is what you carved out for yourself.
    i have a feeling MMM or any other posters who are happy with their situation and where they are would find that same happiness in a lot of places. you have made your own reality. you do what makes YOU happy without worrying about what anyone else is doing or thinking. and though you made longmont your own and other posters have made their places their own i’m willing to bet you would’ve had the same degree of satisfaction in a lot of places.
    in short you made your own happiness. thats the pinnacle of bad-assity.

    • Sera May 12, 2014, 9:37 am

      This is the best post in the comments section. Define your own happiness. Everybody has reasons for living in one place. Are these things important to everyone, absolutely not. We live in Minnesota, many people would never dream of living here (Reason #1, it’s cold). Those people might overlook things that might make them love it because someone told them, hey, you’d never want to live there when in fact, the place contains all of the things that would make life enjoyable.

      Define what is important to you and use those items to narrow your search.

  • Ross May 10, 2014, 8:56 pm

    We’re in Portland, Oregon

    It’s a very bike friendly city (car free for a decade now). Real estate has gone up a bit the last couple years, but you can still get something 200K (small place, a couple miles outside city)…300K(closer in to city)…350-400K(closer in and not a fixer). Very easy going place, good mass transit. Airport can be reached via mass transit (MAX light rail).Wages are lower than Seattle…so is the cost of living though. Well known for “Portland- where young people go to retire”. Pacific Ocean and skiing are about 1 hour away ,Columbia Gorge is amazing too. Lots of breweries, wineries, happy hours (I brew my own beer to help offset this cost). NBA, MLS team….otherwise Amtrak goes to Seattle in 3 hours from downtown PDX for MLB, NFL. The secret is starting to get out…this “large town” is starting to turn into a “small city”. Oh….grey skies from Oct – April…so folks normally do a vacay to somewhere sunny to help out….just being realistic. Come visit…I’ll show you around. Cheers.

    • KF September 7, 2014, 9:58 am

      Ross – I am sitting in Portland right now, reading this thread during my vacation and looking out the window wondering why I *shouldn’t* move here! I think the weather thing is the worst part from what my friends keep saying, but otherwise this seems like it hits a lot of the MMM bullet points…

  • Dave May 10, 2014, 9:38 pm

    As usual, I have to come in and try to defend NYC. Yes, housing is expensive (there are ways to combat this if you actually put in some effort), but New York gets a bad wrap. Instead of listing the reasons why New York (the underdog in the mustachian and personal finance world) is amazing, I’ll just give you a taste of an activity I like to do.

    Ferry Fridays:
    In the summer, when it does get a little hot and muggy, admittedly. A friday will roll around and one of my friends will send out an email to a group of 10 of us. These are friends that come from all over the United States and in some cases, other countries plus people who were born and raised in NYC.

    “Ferry Friday?” is all the email will say. The 10 people on the email chain will respond back if they can make the event. They’ll also add more and more people to the email chain. Meeting new people and making new friends in NYC couldn’t be easier.

    Now that we have a group of 15 people, let’s say. We all hop on the subway down to the southern tip of Manhattan, because nobody in their right mind owns a car in Manhattan, even the non-mustachians would think an auto was weird.

    With craft beer in hand, we board the FREE Staten Island ferry. Amongst commuters headed home, we claim our spot on the back deck of the ferry, letting the sun and sea breeze hit us. We pull away and see a magical view of the Manhattan skyline, my favorite view of it. As we drink our beers or other beverages of choice, we always look up to admire just how close we get to the Statue of Liberty and chuckle at the tourists who paid top dollar for the same view.

    Of course, the 20 minute ride isn’t enough, so we ride the ferry back and forth a few times – after all, we have to get through the beers that we brought!

    So for the price of a couple of beers from the grocery store, we make some of the best memories I have had in the city with amazing surroundings and amazing people.

    And if we plan ahead, sometimes we actually leave the ferry Station, walk 5 minutes, and catch a Staten Island Yankees minor league game where group tickets are $22 for admittance, a cap, free all you can eat stadium food (and soda), and a scoreboard shoutout to whatever silly name we want our group to be called that particular evening.

    I keep trying to tell people – New York doesn’t have to be about designer clothes and paying $15 for a cocktail at a club. There are so many unique and inspiring things you can do here if you take a moment to look for them.

    • Jabo May 11, 2014, 6:56 pm

      I’ve got to agree with you, I live in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, and aside from the wildly expensive housing, its a moustachian’s mecca if you practice at it.
      -The city is becoming very bike friendly (I have a 12 mile roundtrip with 60% bike path and the rest is on dedicated bike lanes in the street.
      -BJ’s and costco’s are popping up (I have one within 4 miles and another opening up a mile away!!
      -Van Courtlandt park, larger then Central park has over 20 miles of trails, 2 golf courses, pool, track, ball fields etc.
      -Property taxes are low. Well under 10k for a house (but be prepared to pay over 500k)
      -Good public elementary schools, but unfortunately private school is a necessity for a good education after that.

      • Erik Y May 12, 2014, 9:18 am

        I love how people make it happen in places that are “too expensive”. Allow me to offer a counter regarding needing private high school. Home education allows a lot of flexibility, especially in the high school years. Our oldest son (now 20) completed more than enough credits for an Associate degree at our local community college as the bulk of his high school education. This is a very affordable way to avoid a bad high school and get ahead on college credits. No need to even take the SAT since the student will be transferring to University as a college student rather than applying as a freshman. I guess my point is that the creative options for Mustachianism are almost endless.

    • ncb May 12, 2014, 8:29 am

      Amen! I’m often shocked at the anti-NYC and anti-East Coast bias on MMM. There’s so much to love about this part of the country. Having grown up in Austin (another town mentioned in the comments as having both positives and negatives), I’ve been a NYer for 16 years now, and I am constantly amazed at how much there is to do for free here. We have a great infrastructure (paid for by those high taxes) and a constant and dizzying array of free cultural and sports activities.

      I am lucky to have scored a rent stabilized apartment about 12 years ago, but some of my friends own or rent very cheaply in lovely areas like Astoria, Harlem, and Hamilton Heights. And my non-rent spending is about the same as MMM’s (adjusted to reflect the fact that I’m single and childless, of course).

      Thanks to the NYC set up that has allowed me to spend very little and save a lot, I’m getting ready to buy a “country house” in Easton, PA – another town I’ll plug here, as it’s very inexpensive, a cute college town with a farmer’s market and easy access to the cultural hubs of both NYC and Philly.

  • Dave May 10, 2014, 10:08 pm

    Hi, Dave here, new MMM follower from Haines Alaska, (pop 2000) which is in the mountainous fjord carved southeastern part of the state. I decided to write a little something about it as it is a very nice place to live, and after reading what Mr Money Mustache wrote in this blog which really rings true to me and my wife.

    “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.”

    My wife and I are both in the latter half of our 50’s, newly retired from workin for the man, and in the process of building our retirement home completely by ourselves. Been at it for a while, moved in but still more work to be done on it. We heat entirely with wood which all comes off our land and since we are keeping it relatively small (1400sq ft) with loads of insulation, heat is easy and property taxes are lower too because of the small footprint.

    Here in this part of Alaska there is lots of food that can be gotten from the land and sea including halibut, dungeness crab, shrimp, not to mention lots of fresh sockeye salmon to eat and fill the freezer. Also gardening is doable as well as lots of wild berries to be picked. There is a fall moose hunt and further south there is deer as well.

    Gasoline is expensive (4.20 per gal) so effort is made not to waste it too much needlessly. We like to stay active, mountain biking and hiking in the summer and snow shoeing in the winter helps keep us in shape. As for all the other things, quality of life etc, it probably isn’t for everyone here, but we sure love it and find it surprisingly affordable, largely due to the simple fact that it is easier as well as more socially acceptable to be resourceful, such as by building your own home out of pocket for example, afterwards having no mortgage. Also No state or local income tax, 5% city sales tax and property taxes which has been around $3000 a year and the real kicker, we get a dividend from the state every year (since 1980) that is basically an investment fund set up for residents of the state based on the states share of the oil removed.

    Winter here could be a bit much for most people, not that it is that cold in this part of the state but we really can get hammered with snow as well as wind some years. One winter a few years back we got 36 feet! Summers are mild, 60’s and 70’s being the norm, winters are usually 0 to +40F. It is a good life here, but not one you can go into without forethought and some preparation. Alaska in general can be tough on those who go out unprepared, but that is a big part of the allure for me I suppose.

  • Jack May 10, 2014, 11:35 pm

    At first glance, my area (Long Island) seems like MMM’s Room 101. Property taxes top out in he high 4, low 5-digit range annually and housing prices are absurd, even in the crappiest parts of the island. (A friend of mine is on the market for a house in Nassau and can’t find anything below $300k that isn’t effectively condemned). Given the geography of the area (120 miles east-west by 20 miles north-south) and being almost completely devoid of a centralized “downtown” area — rather like LA if it were a complete bottleneck, it seems pretty difficult to find too many good things about the area.

    But it can be done. For starters, even though winters (especially this one) can be miserable, with 12-18 inch snowstorms a common threat, and summers can be brutal (100 and high humidity), there are about 3 months when even the folks in Southern California would envy our weather. From early April until mid-May the temperatures are warm (60-70) and the humidity low. From Labor Day weekend through until about the middle of October, we get the same weather pattern. Although this year was different (we missed spring thanks to El Nino), last year we enjoyed a lengthy warm fall (I was sunbathing well into October).

    Then there is the beach. You’re never more than 13 miles from it at the island’s widest point. While they’e crowded as hell in the summer, they’re available all year round, and usually vacant (complainypants disease everywhere). Late October through November, the air is cool, but the water is still warm (upper 60s). This is when the stripers come out and can be caught from the shore for sizeable free dinners (well, $20 for the fishing license every year). During the winters, activities of questionable legality are very easy to do — beach camping, bonfires, firing off home-made potato cannons. Spring is probably the best time to start laying down a tan. Acclimation to teh harsh winter makes being shirtless in 60 degrees a piece of cake. And of course summers, when pick up games of beach frisbee and volleyball are easy (and a great way to meet people).

    Then there is the proximity to the Mecca of all things free and cultural. NYC is just a $25 round trip train ticket away (brutal, but nice to escape every month or two), and no matter what time of the year you go, you can find free entertainment and dirt cheap food if you know where to look. Many companies in the area also offer steep discounts on things like Broadway shows (my dad’s company got us 4 tickets to see Rent for $40 total) which are easy to take advantage of.

    The job market around these parts is not what it once was, during the high days of Grumman and the Cold War (a fair trade off in my young eyes), but jobs that are around pay extraordinarily well. It’s not quite NYC or the Bay Area, but start-up tech companies are offering interns $25/hr, with salaries starting in the 60-70k range.

    My personal favorite advantage to living on Long Island is the fact that there are only really 2 places where the cost of living is HIGHER — San Francisco and NYC. Moving LITERALLY ANYWHERE results in a lower cost of living on a whole. My job allows me to choose my home office, and will allow me to relocate after a year or so with the company. I also travel a lot for work, and as a result have seen a fair portion of this country. Some of my top picks:

    1. Seattle area. Living just north of the city in a town like Bothell or Kirkland can land me a sweet 1BR for $1000/mo less than 20 minutes to town by car and a short bikeride to my company’s office in Woodinville.

    2. Los Angeles — What is this guy joking? Nope. Small apartments can be found for roughly $1000-$1200/mo. Space is what you make of it. I would gladly take a 450 sq. ft. studio in a duplex in Torrance, where the ocean moderates the temperature to a range described by most experts as “room temperature” year round (imagine an electric bill that is the cost of a couple of CFLs and maybe a laptop computer and a phone charger). LA is not impossible without a car, and they recently committed $1bn to public transportation improvements, so it’s only getting better. Sure there will be tradeoffs, but living in flawless sunshine and warmth with fresh, Valley-grown produce available and only being a 10 minute walk to the beach? That’s all I need to be happy.

    3. San Luis Obispo — same deal as LA, although the beach is a hefty bike ride away. SLO is a bit small for my tastes, but there is literally no place on Earth more beautiful. Nature hikes abound, and a world-class university offers all the entertainment I could possibly need.

    4. Hallendale Beach/Hollywood, FL — There is some shockingly cheap housing in SoFlo, and while neighborhoods go from dangerous to great back to dangerous over the course of a mile, condos can be had for as little as $30k in some spots. There doesn’t seem to be too much logic behind the pricing, either. Some perfectly safe neighborhoods less than 5 miles from the beach and within biking distance of an industrial park are renting 2BR condos for $900/mo. SoFlo’s weather isn’t fun, but the people down there are.

    5. Salt Lake City — This place has grown on me. When I first landed I found the city freakishly clean…it was unsettling. The people there do take some time to warm up to, but the open roads, beautiful mountain landscapes and MY GOD that place is clean make it really not that terrible a place. I wouldn’t complain too bitterly about relocating there if I had to.

    • Jacob May 12, 2014, 11:27 am

      I’m in Bothell, WA, and absolutely love it here. You can definitely get a 1BR for MUCH less than $1,000, biking is PERFECT for a job in Woodinville, and the weather is amazing (despite all the rain, our summers are the BEST in the country).

      Housing is on the uptick, but there are still great buys out there for those interested in home ownership. There’s also LAND, which is kinda crazy these days in the Seattle area :)

      The schools are top notch in the Northshore district, the town is growing, and it is very bike-friendly around here. Also, people are nice, which is awesome.

      I have 100 reasons why Bothell is the PERFECT place to live, but don’t have the time to write them all here. So just count this as VOTE #2 for Bothell, WA.

    • Weston May 13, 2014, 2:35 pm

      “SoFlo’s weather isn’t fun, but the people down there are.”

      I’ve lived in South Florida for over 35 years. I’m a transplant from NJ who went to school in Central New York. Yes it gets pretty hot in summer but I’ll take a Florida summer over a Northeast winter any time. South Florida’s weather is what draws millions of people here from all over the world.

      I’ve showed all 4 of my kids the exact spot in a nearby park where I spent a few hours playing softball and then sat down on the grass to drink a beer and watch my friends finish the game. Suddenly it occurred to me…”Holy Sh*t. I’m hanging out in the sunshine drinking a beer, and it’s the first week of February. I’m never moving back north again” That was in 1978.

      The lack of a state income tax and very reasonable housing costs (particularly compared to what MMM mentions about the 2 houses in his post) don’t hurt either.

  • Secret Stashe LA May 11, 2014, 12:40 am

    Oooooook this might be a long shot, but I’m going to take a crack at advocating for Los Angeles even though its reputation is far afield from mustachian doctrine. I’m an aspiring early-retiree who decided to see if he could retire in Los Angeles in his 30’s through a combination of frugal living, passive rental income, and reading of classical philosophy to stay focused on the big picture. I am 5 years into a 9 year plan and am terribly sick of being this self-disciplined, but am looking forward a life of modest leisure and creative work (hopefully I won’t be the only mustachian in LA by then).

    Why LA? – The things people hate about LA (traffic, smog and self-obsessed people) tend to stay on one side of town. The beach and the mountains are accessible each day. There is a tech revolution on the beach side of town, and an arts renaissance downtown, and the City is prepping for a mass transit system and bike plan that will start connecting everything next year (no car required). With NY and SF too expensive and no where to expand, artists and creatives are heading to LA’s more affordable housing in droves, yielding an energized culture of young creative types which helps me stay inspired.

    Climate – Average day is 70 and sunny. 80 in Summer, 60 in Winter. You can snowboard and read on the beach in the same day.

    Employment – Plenty and diverse like any big city. Silicon Beach is what they call the start-up and tech community of young entrepreneurs taking a more laid-back approach to innovation.

    Housing – You can get a house for $300k in emerging neighborhoods. If you’re looking for multi-unit housing, LA has the highest percentage of renters of any city, and you can get a regular 10%+ return.

    Culture – Varies by neighborhood, but you can find whatever you like. LA is like 10 small cities next to each other. The beach neighborhoods are friendly/laid-back/weird, downtown is urban/artsy, Hollywood/Beverly Hills is well…. , and the east-side is cool and indie, and there are neighborhoods where each ethnic group predominates if you’re looking for that. All this is layered under the laid-back SoCal vibe and a great food scene (birthplace of the gourmet food-truck).

    Flaws – Pick the wrong neighborhoods and you’re subject to traffic, superficial people, and the usual big city stuff. If you’re nervous about emerging neighborhoods, housing can get expensive.

    • Monica May 12, 2014, 4:37 pm

      I’m 40, live in an ’emerging neighborhood’ called Highland Park 7 miles NE of the downtown core (bought a small house 10 yrs ago) and am looking to retire between 2-6 years from now. If I choose to quit my career in 2 yrs, I’ll most likely need to relocate somewhere less expensive which I’m open too. If I hang in there for another 6, I’ll be able to pay off the house and stay.

      Being a born and raised Angelena (native), I can say that what a lot of people don’t realize about this city is that there is a plethora of opportunities to be frugal (apart from housing which is, agreed, nightmare inspiring). But, the weather is perfect for supplying the majority of your (organic!!) fruit and veg needs nearly year round provided you dont mind a bit of gardening. There are wonderful!!! and cheap!!! foods available from a dizzying array of cultures. You could be a tourist in this town every day of the week by just choosing an ethnicity that you want to be immersed in: obv. Mexican is super widely available EVERYWHERE but, I’m half Korean and, our K-Town rocks it outta the park, other half is German and we have some GREAT German places as well (woo hoo Red Lion Tavern!!!) Little Tokyo = fun, festive and YUM!, Chinatown is limping along yet still worthwhile but San Gabriel Valley = asian food from micro-cultures the world over! I work in Pasadena and we have lovely Himalayan, Afghan and Malaysian restaurants a block away. Thai Town is INSANE if you haven’t been there. There are places you’d swear are straight outta Bangkok! I mean, Lebanese, Persian, the Indian corridor, it just goes on and on and lit. on.

      Back to housing, it is super pricey. I paid $380k for a small (1300 sq/ft) spanish cottage 10 yrs ago that was a COMPLETE mess of a fixer. 10 years (and $50k in rennos) later, it’s valued at $550k. But, renting IS doable. So is buying if you get creative or have the $$.

      LA is like family to me, I didn’t choose it but I love it and most of its quirks. Like surfing, you just gotta get a lil zen about things and go with the flow instead of against it. Spending my weekends at the beaches up and down the coast while van camping is nirvana and surreal. You really do bump into actors all over the place if you swing by posh areas. A couple weeks ago, while buying a roll to go with my homemade egg salad, I bumped into Ed Norton in a crazy, alien lookin’ Ferrari at a tiny cafe in Malibu. I’m not into any of what most people mover here for (ego, lavish spending, narcissism) but it’s still fun to see others do it from time to time. Like family, the experience of LA is what you make of it. For me, it’s a lot of fun even while living frugally.

  • Reagan Shaw May 11, 2014, 1:00 am

    I need to show my love for Logan, Utah. Maybe if MMM wrote this in January (we get some pretty bad air quality issues due to inversion) I wouldn’t be so quick to express my admiration for this place, but this time of year it is absolutely gorgeous. Logan is a college town, so plenty of culture comes through. We have a FREE transit system that can connect you anywhere in the valley (you can throw your bike on the bus). The campus bike collective, Aggie Blue Bikes, is a model program that accomplishes their objective of getting more people on bikes more often with excellence (I think only the college students have access to these services free of cost, but if I remember correctly, citizens can purchase a membership for a nominal fee). Mountains are in your back yard, gardener’s markets are at your parks, and artists in the various theaters.
    Your $’s go a long way in home purchase power. I will be moving to Salt Lake for employment now that I just graduated and everything seems to be AT LEAST 1.5-2x higher. The University really is the biggest employer, there are definitely other jobs, but don’t know any statistics off the top of my head. I just know that the student workforce supply drives down entry level wages in skill-based jobs and there are several factory-type industries that constitute a lot of the lower-wage positions, but I don’t think a typical “mustachian” is concerned about that type of competition. I think anyone who takes a so-called “pay-cut” to live in Logan is actually getting a great bargain most of the time.
    I’m just super nostalgic because I know I am going to miss this place and won’t be sad if my family and I find our way back here in the future.

  • Spaarwalvis May 11, 2014, 7:07 am

    Speaking for myself, I’m slightly concerned that no one has chimed in about the Spokane, WA area, other places in NE Washington (Colville, Newport, Republic . . .) or northern Idaho. We’ve only been there a couple times, but liked it enough that they are at they are at the top of our list for post-FIRE destinations or even before then if a good job opportunity comes along. Am I missing something?

    Background – arable land and a reasonable amount of rain are big priorities for us (keen gardeners), we are big into hiking, like to bike when others think it’s foolish, and big city stuff matters little as long as we can get there once in a while. 2 small kids, more almost certainly on the way, so crime and schools matter. We do want modest real estate prices, which doesn’t seem to apply to most of the spots posted about thus far, especially CA and east coast (where we are now) – by “modest,” I mean no more than let’s say 300k for a not-necessarily-large house with acerage. Comments welcome . . .

    • JMG May 11, 2014, 2:18 pm

      I live within a ten minure drive of Colville, WA. We have just under 20 acers with a very small house and a garden. Our property borders state land and is within a couple of miles of a wildlife reserve with lots of bike trails, etc. We paid less than 150 thousand for our place a couple of years ago. I grew up in the area and moved away for several years before returning. We live close enough to town that my husband can bike to work in decent weather which is a nice option. I grew up in the area in a much more isolated location (over 20 miles out of town) which I do not recommend, especially if you have kids going to school. We had to walk over a mile just to get to the bus stop and then ride the school bus for an hour. Afterschool activities don’t really work out with that sort of situation.
      The pros: lots of outdoor recreation without crowds, a low cost of living, being in a community of people that value simple living, gardening, living off-grid,etc. Within a resonable distance to Spokane for Costco, dining out, and the airport. There is lots of resonably priced acerage available with existing homes, or raw land if you are a ambitious sort. The schools are ok though we are planning on homeschooling our small children. Washington has no state taxes.
      The cons: Very isolated and long, cold winters with too many cloudy days. I know many people that make it a priority to travel somewhere south for a least a couple of weeks during late winter. The Republic area is even colder and more isolated. There is lots of poverty and high unemployment, and many of the available jobs are low paying. The most stable jobs in the area seem to be with the school system or the local hospital. The area has its share of dodgy people, though the crime doesn’t seem bad here. I feel safe though we keep our car and house locked. We never locked anything when I was growing up here, so that has changed, though I’m sure many people in other places would say the same. The town of Colville has very limited dining opportunities. There is limited shopping and a large Walmart (yuck).
      In short, Colville is paradise for my husband, and not so much for me. I lived in both Boise, Id and Fort Collins, Co and foavored both those places because of weather, lifestyle, and vibrancy. Colville is just a little too rural and isolated for me. It is by no means a horrible place, though, and for many people who live here it is their first choice and they couldn’t be happier.

    • Vee May 12, 2014, 11:35 am

      I lived in Spokane for 5 years (2.5 years to finish up college, 2.5 after graduation). I moved there from Western Washington. I loved it while it lasted but that may have been partly due to an abundance of college friends who stayed in the area. I still have friends there and try to visit once a year. Housing is cheaper than Portland or Seattle, which is a plus. Traffic is not too bad, public transport is a little sparse from what I remember, depending on where you need to go. By car, you can get almost anywhere within 15-20 minutes within the city. It seems like there are bike lanes on many of the main roads, but I didn’t ride a bike so can’t really speak to that.

      Lots of my college friends from sunnier climates thought the weather was too dark and grey. I didn’t know what they were talking about since I’m from Western Washington and was used to darker, grayer, drizzly days 10 months out of the year! From my perspective, it hardly ever rains and we got plenty of sunny days even in the winter. However, after 5 years I got tired of the cold. I was used to lows of 40’s (F) even at night in the winter. Spokane gets 3-4 months where the HIGH is 20 and the lows at night are closer to 0F. After 5 years I decided I’d rather live in the rain than the cold! People from colder climates will probably find Spokane fairly mild (it’s all about your perspective!) Summers were hot and pleasant, sometimes getting over 100F but usually more like 80’s or 90’s. I did enjoy the summers. Portland has lovely summers but I tend to get cold easily and once the sun goes down I get chilly here.

      Spokane tends to be fairly conservative as a whole. Lots of Republican political signs in yards during election season. There is a small sub-culture of more liberal minded people, however, so there are options. Again, for some people this conservative culture would be a plus, for me it was a negative. I moved to Portland, OR, which is pretty much the exact opposite of Spokane in terms of politics. I now live in Vancouver, WA which is less expensive with all the benefits of being close to Portland.

      Overall, I’d say Spokane is a great place to live with lots of the benefits of a city while maintaining the benefits of a smaller town. The South Hill has an abundance of gorgeous old homes for high-ish prices (though probably less than an equivalent house in Portland). The North Side and Spokane Valley have newer homes at lower prices. The smaller towns and communities outside of the city should have even lower prices, though I’ve never researched it. If you want a fixer project, there are older neighborhoods where once-grand homes have fallen into disrepair and there should be good deals there. I can’t remember the name of the neighborhoods now, but the area west of downtown and just across the river from downtown has a lot of houses that could be cool fixer projects.

      Mostly to live in the Spokane area I’d say you would need to be ok with cold weather and a drier climate. Real summer only lasts about 2 months, July and August, just like in Western WA. Temperatures can stay cool through June and start to cool down again in late Sept. I personally missed the lush green environment of Western WA (the trade off for / result of all that rain we are famous for!) Inside the city limits of Spokane there are lots of green spaces, but once you drive out into the country it is brown, brown, brown everywhere!

      I also missed being near the ocean – Portland is 1-1.5 hours from the beach, Spokane is about 8. Again, for most of the country this would not be a big deal. I admit I am spoiled growing up over here in Western WA!

    • Peppers May 13, 2014, 3:19 pm

      I too was about to talk up the Inland Northwest (we live in Olympia, but will be headed back home to Spokane/Coeur d’Alene where we were born and raised in a few years). Spokane gets a bad rap, I think.
      It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens in Spokane in the next several years. Things are definitely getting more interesting/mustachian there, it seems. We visit a lot and I keep tabs on the place. Improved bike commuting, great parks and nearby recreation, you can raft, mountain bike or hike right from downtown. Don’t know about the public transit, think it’s fairly lacking. love that WA doesn’t have state income tax (high sales tax though, and lots of other hidden taxes!). You can still buy a house for $100,000 (although there are some neighborhoods I’d avoid). There are also some cool, cheap, walkable (up and coming?) neighborhoods like Garland and South Perry.
      Definitely conservative, especially over the border in Idaho
      Not a lot of job opportunities in the area.

    • Ryan May 14, 2014, 10:50 am

      Lived in Spokane, WA most of my life. Keep coming back for many of the aforementioned reasons. Incredible outdoor mecca, if that’s your thing. The one website I reference when I see discussions like these (or consider a job elswhere) is a cost of living comparison like this one: http://www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/spokane-wa/longmont-co/80000

      This (and other similar sites) illustrate the biggest pro for Spokane – very low cost of living, especially for housing. The biggest con was previously mentioned – very conservative area.


  • JayP May 11, 2014, 7:57 am

    We live in Bentonville, Arkansas. Hometown of Walmart. There’s good in bad in a small town with one major industry. The Walmart family heirs provide a world class museum(free), great biking trails(all professionally maintained) etc. Its a great place for families, low COL, and little crime. Charming downtown. Very beautiful here with MTNs and lakes nearby. The down side is that is very homogenous and not too much to do. Also everyone commutes EVERYWHERE. Bike trails are good but its difficult to actually get places like the store if you want to bike there. Taxes are high on state income and sales tax, lower in property tax but its not nearly as good as TN where we were before. If you don’t like the concept of Walmart I wouldn’t move here! Not too many Mustachian minded folks, lots of consumerism and 9-5’ers with big fuel inefficient cars and commutes. We live on a mountain side with all kinds of animals, privacy, a steady breeze and low humidity – can’t complain much about the weather.

  • Michael May 11, 2014, 7:57 am

    Continue the discussion on the MMM message board:

    StashTown, USA: Where is your amazing place to live?


  • Jef Miles May 11, 2014, 8:17 am

    Hey MMM,

    Your home town looks pretty sweet, what are the drawbacks and how do I move there ;)..

    Having said this Sydney, Australia is a pretty sweet place as well :)


    • Lukim May 11, 2014, 6:23 pm

      I was born and grew up in Sydney but left there long ago to work overseas. I still have real estate in Sydney.

      Sydney is an amazing city, the harbour is spectacular and I always enjoy spending time near the beach and harbour in Sydney.

      Having said that, I now find Sydney to be incredibly expensive (over $1.5 million for a house in the suburb I grew up in) and even worse, very crowded and congested.

      Probably a sign of growing old but Sydney today is not how I remember it when I was young.

      I always enjoy visiting Sydney (will be there later this month for a week) and I am happy watching my Sydney real estate go up in value, I don’t think I could ever be tempted to move back there.

      • Jef May 13, 2014, 7:20 am

        Hey Luke,

        If you don’t mind me asking which suburb are you from in Sydney (originally) and where are you living now?

        I love the fact that we have a growing city, where I work everyday yet my parents still live at a place out near Penrith where you can have a decent sized backyard close to the foot of the mountains :)

        If you are interested and have time would love to catch a beer and chat about Mustachianism, business etc :)

    • hikergirl May 12, 2014, 8:06 am


      I couldn’t agree more about sydney, australia. I lived in sydney for a year in college and it is one of my favorite cities in the world: diverse, beautiful, wonderful friendly people and great hiking. The only negative is that the word on sydney has gotten out because on a recent visit there, prices were expensive there. But if one can afford to live there, I think it is such a perfect city.

      • Jef May 13, 2014, 7:23 am

        Hey Hiker Girl,

        Yes Australia and Sydney has some awesome hiking around here.. Where abouts did you go to school/college? I went to the university of Western Sydney (UWS)..

        Where about’s are you from originally too? Yes I agree it is quite pricey but our wages are quite a bit higher then the rest of the world I’d also say :)



        • Carter May 14, 2014, 8:05 pm

          Hi to all Sydney commenters,

          I am coming to Sydney from the US for a 6-month work stint. My company is providing me autonomy to decide where I would like to live for this period. I would like to be somewhere highly walkable, as I will not have a car. However, I recognize that walking to work will likely not be feasible, as my office will be in the Central Business District. I would like to be close to outdoor options, restaurants, grocery, etc without being too far from work. I don’t want to spend half my life commuting just to live somewhere perfectly walkable after all. While “buzz” is great, I also hope to be somewhere reasonably quiet; I can’t stand being woken up at night.

          My boss simply told me to find a place on http://www.stayz.com.au. He mentioned neighborhoods across the map from Bondi Beach to Surry Hills to Rose Bay to some of the western suburbs. My boss believes Bondi Beach to be my best option with Surry Hills a close second. Can anyone help me figure this out by offering some confirming or alternative opinions? I would much appreciate the help!



          • adrian downing May 14, 2014, 9:18 pm

            Hi Carter. I live on Sydney’s North Shore, about 5 train-stops out from the city. Many overseas visitors stay around the North Shore, in places like Kirribilli, Mossman and the like. The North Shore has some very pretty places and has the train to the city. You can also walk or bike across the bridge, which is fun. Many choose Bondi because of the fabulous beach, but the only public transport is the bus. The situation is pretty much the same for all the areas on the south side of the harbour, however the train does go part-way to Bondi. Surry Hills is a contemporary arty funky inner city place. I wouldn’t live there, but it depends what you like. Many do, and obviously enjoy it. It’s walking distance to the city (if you’re fit). Cheers, Adrian

          • Daniel May 15, 2014, 8:54 am

            Hi Carter,

            Depending on how much you’re prepared to walk and where your office is, Surry Hills is the closest out of the 3; Bondi is a bit far, though you can take a bus or bus/train into the city. Rose Bay is serviced by buses.

            I would say Rose Bay would be the quietest as it’s more family-oriented, whereas Bondi and Surry Hills have proportionally higher backpacker/young professional ratios, and the pubs and bars that go with them.

            I lived in Darlinghurst for close to a year, and for being smack-bang in the middle of the action (between Oxford St and King’s Cross), it was surprising quiet where I stayed, and within easy walking distance to the CBD, supermarkets and restaurants. It’s also within jogging distance to Hyde Park, the Domain, Rushcutter’s Bay and Moore Park, for your outdoor fix.

            You probably already know how crazy the RE costs are down here, so I would say your budget would probably dictate where you end up… unless your company is sorting all that out for you, in which case hurray for you :)

            Given there’s a handful of posters here from Sydney (or soon to be), we should all catch up over a coffee, say hi, and talk Mustachian!

            • Jef Miles May 16, 2014, 8:03 pm

              Definitely agree with most of what you’ve said there Daniel, especially with the real estate costs.. I also find it interesting the lack of inner west suggestions i.e. your Marrackvilles, Ashfield, Summer Hill, MacDonaldtown (these places are close and decent) although don’t give you much of the lifestyle things that you may want..

              Yep should organise a catch-up, although I admit I am not as Mustachian as I could be :O ha

          • Jef Miles May 16, 2014, 7:59 pm

            Hey Carter,

            Our public transport system is pretty decent, you can get to the city from a place like Ashfield, Summer Hill or MacDonaldtown in about 15 – 20 mins..
            Even a place where I am in Flemington about 25 kms from the city it takes 30 mins train commute.. They are quite packed though

            It’s really a catch 22 because to have somewhere reasonably close to shops, restaurants etc in Sydney you have to live somewhere where there is buzz.. I enjoy where I am living, reasonably quiet and a decent commute.. As I said though your Summer Hill, Macdonaldtown, Ashfield or even Marrackville are decent places to check out..

            Let us know when you hit, I work in the CBD (Martin Place) and can catch up for a beer on a Thursday or Friday night, will be heading to South America all of July though..

            Looking forward to catching up


            • Carter May 16, 2014, 8:44 pm

              That would be great Jef. Thanks to all three of you for the help. This is very helpful info and contrasts nicely with other opinions from my coworkers in Sydney. I would love to meet up once I make it down there.

            • Carter August 17, 2014, 1:52 am

              Any of you still up for a Sydney meeting?

            • Jef Miles August 17, 2014, 8:24 am

              Hi Carter,

              Apologies must have missed ticking the notify me of follow up comments previously.. Yes I would be interested although the rest of August is tough for me..

              Where about’s did you end up situating yourself? I’m at Martin Place in the Sydney CBD and am pretty central for work but live in Flemmington about 30 mins train ride from the city.. Send me a text on 0401572258 or send an email to jefmiles@hotmail.com :). We’ll see what we can organise

            • Daniel August 26, 2014, 6:20 am

              Hey Carter and Jef,

              I am up for a drink and a chat still. A bit busy this week, but am available next Mon – Thur night, what do you reckon?

  • Spoonman. May 11, 2014, 9:32 am

    My wife, my 6-month-old, and I are selling our Big Fancy Suburban House near Philadelphia and moving to Emmaus, Pennsylvania, where we have gotten a completely refurbished twin house in an extraordinarily walkable neighborhood, with kitchen and bathrooms from 2011, for $175k – less than $100 a square foot for a house that’s basically new except for the shell. It’s very close to her family, and they are very helpful with the baby. The reduced costs also mean that my wife only goes into work once a week (she doesn’t have to work at all, but she enjoys the social aspect) and that our savings rate will be around 70%. The school district provides a wealth of opportunities, and the elementary school is a five-minute walk from our house.

    Have to thank MMM for inspiring us to reduce our expenses in order to be wealthier in what’s most important, spending time with our daughter.

  • Kurt May 11, 2014, 9:44 am

    I’m an American living on the east coast of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, off Canada’s west coast. As the license plate says, B.C. may be “The Best Place on Earth.” With respect to physical beauty and wildness, BC is amazing. We have mountains, ocean, BIG trees, wildlife galore, and nearby isolation when one feels the need. City amenities are not far in Vancouver (on the mainland–no, Vancouver is not on Vancouver Island), Victoria, and Seattle. The only bit of a negative is the largely sunless winter. But we get very little snow (except at elevation of course) and mostly moderate temps. And it all comes with guaranteed, affordable health insurance to boot!

    • Kevin May 16, 2014, 7:21 am

      Kurt, are Americans allowed to live in Canada with a long-term visa or work permit, or do you have those for a job or marriage for example? I am interested, but unsure of the laws when it comes to immigrating. Thanks!

  • brkr12002 May 11, 2014, 10:21 am

    Should be retiring within the next year at age 35 or 36, depending on the how long the bank takes during the short sale process, in Green Valley/Sahuarita AZ. Close to parents and Tucson, but not too close. Cheap housing, cost of living, lower taxes, quiet, lots of biking lanes, and great weather 3/4 of the year. Until then just building more FU money in cubicle hell, and thinking about moving into the new home (fingers crossed).

  • ArizonaMike May 11, 2014, 10:35 am

    SUN, SUN, SUN!
    Tucson, AZ – bike friendly desert wonderland.

    A child of the 60’s / 70’s, growing up here was awesome. “See ya Mom. I’ll be back before dark.” And so it still goes for me. I love the outdoors and, of all the places I’ve been, Tucson ranks near the top for enjoying them. Mountains all around offer excellent hiking and biking, both road and mountain. Sure there are a couple of “warm” months, haha. During those times, we shift our outdoor activities to early morning and after dark. (Nighttime cycling is killer fun. I’ve experienced every imaginable desert creature including, coyotes, javelina, lots of snakes (the big Diamondbacks are very exciting -heheh), Gila Monsters, tons of bat species, kangaroo rats, bobcats and my favorite – the mountain lion. I’ve seen five of these spectacular creatures while out biking – scary, exciting and beautiful all at the same time.)

    Housing here is not as affordable as some areas but you can still buy a fixer for under $150k in a decent neighborhood. I bought before the boom / crash, paying $225k for a historic 2200sf mid-century modern atomic ranch on a half-acre lot near everything I want and need. Being historic, my property taxes are half what they are for everyone else, a little over $1400 per year. Paid it off three years ago and enjoy a total monthly housing expense of about $400 including taxes, insurance and utilities. I often long to build my own smaller, highly efficient home but can’t justify the INCREASE in my housing expense (mainly due to the property tax issue.)

    Nearby family, excellent weather, low crime (at least in my zip code), culture, relatively affordable housing and bountiful outdoor living keep us planted here for now. Tucson is the place for us, unless we decide to move to Kauai to live in a treehouse. :)

    If any of you Mustachians are ever in the area and want to sample what Tucson has to offer, including killer singletrack, look me up. This includes you MMM.

  • JK May 11, 2014, 11:21 am

    If you enjoy people and urban diversity more than wilderness and hiking trails, I recommend West Haven/New Haven, Connecticut. The home of free fun. West Haven is a small city, a beach town with a great boardwalk, free concerts and events all summer, walkable grid downtown, train station to New York and New Haven (10 min. ride), couple of colleges. The streets are lively because everyone is outside all of the time, kids on skateboards and bikes, families from all over the world taking picnics to the beach. It’s cheap, slightly old-fashioned, and maybe a little goofy, but a great community.

  • Emily May 11, 2014, 11:42 am

    Northwest Indiana has a very bad reputation, mostly from the notorious city of Gary, but Munster, IN, I feel, is a hidden gem. We have the quickest drive to downtown Chicago and its cultural offerings of similarly far suburbs at 30 minutes, a commuter train nearby, the fiscal health and low taxes of Indiana (when compared to Illinois), a fantastic bike trail system that connects the south suburbs of Illinois and the eastern part of Indiana, a small community feel, excellent schools that keep property values high, a large population of doctors from the large hospital and surrounding medical clinics in the center of town, and a city council bent on continuous improvement.

    Also doesn’t hurt that it’s home of Three Floyds, the famous brewery and host of the annual Dark Lords event. It’s filled with really unique homes built in the 60s unlike anything you see now days. I bought a Frank Lloyd Wright style 1650 square foot house that needed some work on almost an acre in the middle of a great area for $150,000 with $2500/year taxes. I think it’s the Chicago area’s most well kept secret.

  • Donnine May 11, 2014, 12:44 pm

    Eugene, OR

    We moved to Eugene over 10 years ago from CA. Eugene is routinely voted one of the most bike friendly cities in the US. Population around 150,000, but with all the little towns around it, around 250,000. You can live in the city with everything within biking or public transportation, or you can live in the south hills (as I do) and enjoy the unbelievable beauty out your own windows. If you want a little piece of land reasonable, you can get that in many of the nearby towns. Depending on what you want, you can easily find homes around $150K, in some areas less, and in some areas much more. You can find many places with large lots or small pieces of property with a small home or mobile home on it for very reasonable prices. You can even find property for under $50K and have a stick built home put on it for under $100K.

    Aside from that Eugene has wonderful parks, bike paths, walking trails, the University of Oregon that provides all kinds of entertainment and great sports teams (Go Ducks!!). The “back to the land” movement of the 70’s brought many people here. All kinds of cottage industries. We have a Saturday Market where they sell their wares and great Farmer’s Market open twice a week. Eugene is just the right size, not too small, but not too big! The ocean is only a little over an hour away, and the Cascades and all the activities associated with mountains is also only about an hour away. We have the beautiful Willamette River and McKenzie rivers that go through town. Eugene is on the south end of the Willamette Valley, has an airport and Amtrak. We have tons of entertainment with the Hult Center, and several others, a minor league baseball team in addition to the college teams. It is about 2 hours to Portland and an international airport.

    Oregon has no sales tax, and the income tax is reasonable. Property taxes are not too bad in Eugene (our $250k home in Eugene runs around 3,000 yr), but they are much lower in the county surrounding it.

    I could go on and on about all the good things I love about this area. So what is the catch? The winters can be a bit dreary, and it did take me a couple of years to get used to the cloudier winters. We do get snow once or twice a year (although occasionally we don’t get any). Rainfall is around 30-40 inches a year. Our spring is partly sunny and partly cloudy with many showers that feed our glorious green and colorful spring! Even after 10 years I marvel at the lush vegetation, rhododendrons and azaleas. The temp is mild and the Spring (avg temps 55-65), Summer (avg temps 75-85) and fall (avg temps 60-75) are absolutely wonderful! We have wonderful fall color as well. Winter will drop in the 20’s (sometimes lower) with daytime temps in the 30’s – 40’s.

    Eugene, and frankly much of Oregon, has it all. People from other areas think it rains too much, but it really isn’t usually that bad at all even for this ex Californian! The benefits far outweigh the gloomy winter skies. That is the time of year you just cuddle up in a nice chair with a good book and a cup of coffee.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 11, 2014, 4:31 pm

      Oh yeah, I remember visiting (and biking in) Eugene and loving that town. Beautiful scenery, an educated young populace that looked like a bunch of Attractive Librarians, and houses looked pretty affordable too. Even for solar-powered individuals like myself, it would be an ideal home base, to be combined with spending the winters somewhere that is sunny during those months (like on Carpentourism trips to New Zealand, Hawaii, Australia, etc.

  • LeisureFreak Tommy May 11, 2014, 3:39 pm

    I have had some very enjoyable times in Longmont and certainly can agree with you, MMM. I happen to think my town of Castle Rock, Co also rates up there for many of the same reasons. We embrace the small town charm of downtown Castle Rock, with all of its activities and abundance of non-chain business and think its a perfect place to be retired early in. Minutes from hiking and Mountain Biking trails. In fact they are right within town limits. Although I wouldn’t say there is an umbandance of high paying jobs here, there are many service oriented positions and high Tech opportunites are about 10 to 14 miles north still within Castle Rocks Castle Rock is also listed numerous times in various Best Places to Live articles. I think the biggest reason we continue to call it home in our early retirement is because its close to our kids and grand kids. For us, staying close to family was considered when choosing that perfect place. We have seen many places in Utah to California ( including as commented on Logan UT and Torrance CA) that we would consider but we choose to stay here when looking at everything Castle Rock has to offer.

  • LeisureFreak Tommy May 11, 2014, 3:58 pm

    I have had some very enjoyable times in Longmont and certainly can agree with you, MMM. I happen to think my town of Castle Rock, Co also rates up there for many of the same reasons. We embrace the small town charm of downtown Castle Rock, with all of its activities and outdoors lifestyle and think its a perfect place to be retired early in. Minutes from hiking and Mountain Biking trails. In fact they are right within town limits. Although I wouldn’t say there is an abundance of high paying jobs here, there are many service oriented positions in town and many high paying opportunities are about 10 to 14 miles north still within Castle Rock’s Douglas County or near by Tech Center. Castle Rock is also listed numerous times in various Best Places to Live articles. I think the biggest reason we continue to call it home in our early retirement is because its close to our kids and now grand kids. For us, staying close to family was considered when choosing that perfect place. We have seen many places in Colorado and from Utah to California that we would consider but we choose to stay here when looking at everything Castle Rock has to offer. Here is an url for anyone interested in learning more. http://www.crgov.com/index.aspx?NID=31

  • BTown Fan May 11, 2014, 4:33 pm

    I currently live in Bloomington Indiana (pop. 70,000), which is a wonderful and quite Mustachian place to live.
    Basic Facts: Bloomington is about one hour south of Indianapolis and is home to Indiana University (40,000 students). It has a somewhat mild 4 seasons with an average high in the 30s in January and an average high in the 80s in July.

    The Advantages:
    Very Bikable: The town has many bike lanes & trails, bicyclists, and drivers friendly towards bicyclists. With the exception of the big box stores, just about everything you could need is in the center of town and no more than a 20 minute bike ride from anywhere else. On the rare occasion you need to drive, it only takes 15 minutes to get clear from one side of town to the other.
    Culture: Primarily because of IU and its top-notch music school, Bloomington has many, many shows and concerts. The music school puts on roughly three performances a day on its own, and the university hosts famous speakers, artists, and theatre shows often. There are also community clubs and activities that welcome newcomers for every interest: archery, craft and dancing clubs of all stripes, and community sports leagues are among my favorites.
    Food: I don’t believe there is a better place for food in the Midwest. Dozens of great independent restaurants have spoiled me for life. Despite the quality, eating out is still quite cheap. There is also a great Farmer’s Market twice a week and at least seven different grocery store chains in town, including two local.
    Housing: Housing is relatively cheap, although not particularly so for the Midwest. Relatively nice houses with yards in middle of town sell in the upper 100s/low 200s, and 3-bedroom houses rent in the low 1000s in very central neighborhoods. Housing prices are even less the farther from the center of town one goes, and the town is not large enough to ever have a bad commute.
    Atmosphere: Indiana University dominates the life of the town, but mostly in a good way. Other than certain downtown bars & neighborhoods, the town is very relaxed and peaceful with many city parks. Most people are very friendly, smart, and not interested in a high-stress or consumerist lifestyle.
    Natural Surroundings: Hiking, mountain biking, and lake activities can all be found within a 10-15 minute drive (or longer bike ride) out of town into the region’s rolling hills and forests.In addition, the name Bloomington is no misnomer: the town is absolutely filled with flowers during spring. There are many deer and rabbits to be found in town as well.

    Disadvantages: There are no mountains or beaches nearby. The main employers in town are Indiana University, Cook Pharmaceuticals, the hospitals, and a small handful of tech firms. (There is also a medieval armor welding shop if you are into that kind of thing.) Consequently, it is not easy to find jobs.

    I, unfortunately, will be moving to the far less Mustachian-friendly city of Washington DC this summer. Nonetheless I hope to imitate the many retirees in Bloomington and return when I reach FI.

  • Kay May 11, 2014, 4:43 pm

    Longmont sounds wonderful. There are not many communities like that in NY that I know of (although Ithaca is a great spot). We’ll have to visit and see if it works for these Mustachians.

  • Kat May 11, 2014, 4:47 pm

    Dunedin, FL

    Why FL? It is warm (ok, sometimes it’s very hot), beautiful, and no state income tax. I was born in FL and only moved an hour away from my hometown.

    Why Dunedin? I actually live in Clearwater but, if I knew then what I know now, I would live in Dunedin. The Pinellas Trail (paved bike/walking path) runs through it. From the Pinellas Trail, you can bike from the downtown area full of restaurants and breweries to the parks, golfcourse/driving range, disc golf course, playgrounds, public pool, grocery store (Publix = the BEST grocery store), farmer’s market (seasonal), library, the Toronto Blue Jays spring training stadium, the Dunedin Causeway or the pristine beaches on Honeymoon Island.

    The “important” parts of the city that I am referring to in the above paragraph are all within 6 miles of each other. While everything else you could possibly need can be found within Dunedin/Palm Harbor/Clearwater/Tampa/St Petersburg. There are currently projects underway to connect all the bike paths in Pinellas County and they have also recently completed a bike bridge to Tampa.

    The population of Dunedin was 35,000 in 2010, it is a relatively small part of Pinellas County. Employment would most likely need to be found in a neighboring city. Mease Dunedin Hospital is just east of downtown.

    My unofficial take on the climate is that it is chilly 2 months, perfect 5 months, and too hot (90-95*) 5 months out of the year.

    Housing and taxes would require research. I feel that the houses are inexpensive but, as with anywhere in FL, property taxes and homeowners insurance are high.

    The culture is influenced by the Scottish roots. It is also a beach town with a liberal vibe (think gluten free restaurants and organic produce). People are friendly and social.

    Kids: I don’t know about the schools in Dunedin since I live in Clearwater but I believe Countryside/Palm Harbor/East Lake offer more highly rated schools. Dunedin has lots of events for kids and families though. There is a sprayground (a playground of water features) that is free, free movie nights in the park, free bands in a different park, free events at the library, and a handful of regular playgrounds spread throughout the area.

    Recreation: just to name a few – fishing, kayaking, boating, laying on the beach, golf, disc golf, biking, and baseball (in addition to the Blue Jays, the Phillies train in Clearwater).

    I dream of a modest house along the Pinellas Trail or Edgewater Park so I can bike to all of these wonderful amenities. As for now, it would be moving farther from work so it isn’t in the cards.

    • Jeff March 20, 2018, 12:12 am

      I lived in Largo FL for about a year and a half, and I always liked the Dunedin and Tarpon Springs areas. I agree Dunedin is a good candidate if you are look for a secluded small town feel within that greater metro area. The only warning I would give about the greater metro area there is the really bad traffic. It is bad enough to be a constant downer.

  • Jordan Read May 11, 2014, 5:41 pm

    I’ve got to put in another good word for CO. I’m about 100 miles south of MMM and Longmont, in Colorado Springs. It’s pretty similar to Longmont, and almost everything that MMM mentions applies here. A couple of notable differences, though.

    Colorado Springs is a hell of a lot bigger. We currently have a population of almost half a million.
    We also have the unfortunate honor of being the home of Focus on the Family, and a relatively (to the rest of CO) high population of religious conservatives (P.S. no issue with conservatives…). However, with the exception of occasional people on a corner with ignorant signs, it’s not very noticeable. Plus, they don’t hang out on the bike paths.

    That snarkiness aside, Colorado Springs is amazing. It’s big enough to make cycling from one side of the city to the other a pain in the ass, and a perfect example of voluntary discomfort. There are enough bike trails in the area to be able to travel safely from any one spot to any other spot. There is also a huge cycling community, and for the most part, the drivers on the road expect riders and respect them. We only rate 18th in the country according to Bicycling.com, but that is still pretty awesome. Lots of bike trails all over. On top of that, we are right at the Highway 24 junction, which is like having a high speed and bike friendly path to the amazing and free playground they like to call National Forests or Open Spaces. It’s big enough to have all of that stuff that people seem to like about big cities (not sure what that is, exactly, but I’m pretty sure it’s here). We are the closest city to a 14er, and as a hiker, I love that about this place. We are also walking distance (if you have enough time) to Manitou Springs, which is a pretty cool place to go for counter-culture space (even though it’s gotten more tourist oriented, lately).

    Currently, I live in one of the ghettos (as in low-income, high gang activity, occasional shootings, drugs, loud shitty music, and this super-annoying ice cream truck) of Colorado Springs. Even with all that being said, I still love it here. Most of the gang-members around here are fun, and know how to party. That’s just so that I can say, even living in one of the statistically worse areas of the city, I have a really good time. Maybe it is due to my bubbly misanthropic behavior, but I’ve managed to make friendly with a surprising amount of my neighbors. I do think that this is possible anywhere, but this was the first place I’ve tried it. It worked.

    As far as housing goes, I am in the market for a house with more land. We have a lot of different neighborhoods, each with their own unique culture. Some of them easily go over $500,000, while others stick to the median price of $195,000. I haven’t done too much comparison nationally, but with the job market here, it’s pretty reasonable.

  • Parker May 11, 2014, 8:18 pm

    I live in Albuquerque, NM (500k population). I have always enjoyed the weather and outdoor opportunities here. We have great breweries. Though in the past 5 years have longed for someplace smaller (50-100k population) and someplace it rains a bit more. Despite so many people saying you ‘have to’ own a car here, I have bike-commuted to work the past 7 years and find getting around pretty easy as the city is really a big grid. And is very walkable in the central parts of town. While I’m storing my stash here, I’ve been researching smaller towns (mostly in the west) that I can relocate and finish my working years (part-time of course). I’d like to eventually move someplace smaller but not too trendy (or on the path to trendy). Most likely this will be in Colorado or drier/warmer parts of Oregon. The mid-west has so many cool small towns, but I just couldn’t survive the winters there!

  • Mcsquarepants May 11, 2014, 9:54 pm

    Laramie, WY. No state taxes and great college town. Can still get a $ beer during happy hour, minutes from true wilderness areas.

  • doug May 11, 2014, 11:01 pm

    New Plymouth NZ

    Love it here. Moved up from our Capital city (Wellington) around 5 years ago for work reasons and have not looked back. The population is just shy of 70,000 and is NZ’s 15th largest district. Every part of our region is looked over by Mt Taranaki which is conical in shape and looks much like Mt Fuji in Japan.
    I tell people it’s like having a giant big brother always looking over your shoulder (in a good way). The economy here is pretty hot supported by natural gas, oil and dairy farming. These three industries presently helping our countries economy no end.

    Employment is strong (in these areas) but I understand in a recent period of growth we have taken on thousands of engineers and families etc which is swelling the population a little. The region is pretty proud and even have the slogan “Naki – Hard Core” to describe the attributes of the people and the land. Frankly I think it would be hard to justify not having work here.

    In terms of recreation there is no shortage. In a short part of a day you can be snow skiing and surfing on one of the many breaks that curve around the volcano (mountain). Two local surf clubs and black sand beaches give a border to hundreds of rarely explored valleys and dozens of more sedate bush tracks etc. The city coast has an eleven km (6mile) walkway which is shared by cyclists, walkers, runners, skateboarders which my wife and I love. The bike ride right along it and back takes you, on an early weekend morning from a busy port past the city’s centre, to a suburb called Bell Block to the North. Along the way there are surfers, fishers, wildlife, cows (you end up discecting a dairy farm) and you pass over an award winning pedestrian bridge. There are pop up temp cafe’s dotted – not dominating the track and two beach side camping grounds we ride through – for the short term visiters

    You can ascend the mountain in one day with a good level of fitness. One step forward slide back in the scree (2/3rds of a step back etc) but coming down is a sensational blast.Like running on the moon I expect. Sport is huge here and kids and adults are encouraged to play whatever they are into. I played a bit of cricket here and found myself getting distracted by the beauty of the parks we played in and the native birds etc… and I’m not really that into nature!

    There is a lot of hunting as before long in most directions you can find yourself alone in native bush. There are tracks and paths cut near the city but wild and rugged adventures never far for those inclined. One of the parks (at the end of my street) has a beautiful link of lakes and bush walks. It has 128 acres to explore and hosts numerous events – I went to see Lionel Richie there a couple of months ago in the Bowl of Brooklands. A natural grass amphitheater within the park. The city council is very proactive and throw many free events (Lionel was not one of them.) including a light show (loved throughout the country)

    Moving here meant a few changes – gone was the 25 min motor way commute to the centre of the city in Wellington. This was only if I left before 7am to miss the traffic. Now, in my mustacian way I ride to work each day – basically across a valley and I am there. This ride encompasses a great downhill each way and a 500 metre or so river track then an uphill for a couple of minutes. A total of around 7-8 minutes. If I were to ride to the further-est edge of any suburb from our place it would take 1/2 an hour max and you could incorporate the coolest tracks for walkers and bikers alike – in the trip. I no longer have access to the wild nightlife I used to enjoy occasionally in Wellington but the welcoming, down to earth “Naki” people host great bbq’s and other functions (as do we.)Leaving that life – the commute and the the wild nights is saving me a fortune.

    The climate is hard but not extreme. The winter brings snow to the mountain but generally not the coast based city and Summer means lots of time at one of the beaches – a short ride from my place.

    Two years ago we picked up a 3 bedroom house (pretty tidy) with no off street parking for 300k. From here we can wander into town, the port or the beaches as well or get there faster on a bike…

    We both have cars (my wife and I) but so far this year my car has paid me approx $50 dollars in fuel. I have managed this by driving economically and being paid (in vouchers) the same as other guzzlers on long road trips. I ride where ever I can around town on my bike and have needed to drive to work only twice this year so far – to cater to others needs not my own.

    The range of culture and population here is fairly broad. Having moved from Wellingtons Satellite city of Porirua though I must say there are less pacific islanders and probably more Maori as a proportion. The city council had a “welcome night” for new residents when we 1st moved here which was really enjoyable. Few formalities and a few free beers thrown in probably helped but I was interested and pleased to see the broad array of people settling here. These included folk from Australia to Eastern Europeans and re settlers from earthquake damaged Christchurch.

    44yo euro nzer with wife and one teenage son.

    As you can tell I really love it here and am even a bit reticent about pressing the “submit” button. God forbid I caused some sort of balance adjusting influx of people… I’m comfortable no matter how honest I am, my writing is not that influential.
    I imagine our immigration qualifications are tough so perhaps this post is really just a gloat…. about how good we have it.

    I have enjoyed reading about the other wonderful places around for retirement consideration… but the only two options I think I will seriously consider in mine, are here … and somewhere similar in NZ – there are a few smaller cities around for varied tastes. And there is so much about this place I haven’t mentioned.

    I think it is difficult to invest in Vangaurds and take advantage of the lower fees – from NZ, but I may be proven wrong. At the moment I invest in the local equivalent and am making good progress along with some properties that my wife and I share between ourselves…..with banks.

    So here it is – the best place to live/retire, probably in the world. New Plymouth

    • JT May 14, 2014, 4:27 am

      Hey Doug, We’ve visited the Naki quite a bit and always loved it too. Your description is bang on the head of the nail! So pleased to hear you’re enjoying it after Windy Wellington. A lucky escape!

  • JiminYork May 12, 2014, 1:17 am

    I’m surprised I’m the first from Great Britain to post a response here because we have one massive advantage in Moustachian living called the National Health Service. Suddenly had the misfortune to be struck down by a long-term, debilitating illness that your insurance company won’t cover? Knocked off your bike by a careless motorist, or taken a header over the handlebars on some woodland trail? No worries, mate, no worries at all. You’ll get free, world class treatment for life here in the UK.
    I live in York, a beautiful medieval town situated on the River Ouse in the north of England. Surrounded by the stunning countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, where centuries old brewers supply idyllic country pubs with regional ales that refresh many a cyclist out exploring car free backroads or ramblers using their “Right to Roam” across our countryside, I would like to nominate York as a place for Moustachian living. Where to begin? As a Brit, I must talk about the weather (I’ve been to Colorado in the Spring, by the way, and it was pretty damn cold!). We just don’t have extremes here and just about every day is “temperate”. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s warm, or cold, or the sun comes out, but it’s never so extreme that you can’’t bear either the heat or the freezing air. Snow? An occasional dusting.
    Housing? I can’t say it’s cheap to live here, but it’s a choice. It seems to me, anyway, that to live a Moustachian life you pretty much have to clear the mortgage as a starter for ten. So I’m going to make the assertion that you’ll find the house you need here in York. You don’t have to worry too much about crime and, as for being shot, well, Piers Morgan told you boys all you need to know about firearms. (Oh, and TV is more or less free here too, with the world class BBC and loads of other channels for $15 a month). We have fantastic libraries and copious bookshops to browse for inspiration. Our town is well served by a combination of supermarkets, discount retailers, local butchers and greengrocers plus the town centre hosts farmers markets, French markets, German markets and so on every weekend. Buying stuff there costs money, of course, but I tend just to walk through looking for inspiration because there’s almost nothing, no ingredient, needed for a dish that can’t be found in our local stores. And we’re a fantastic town for walking through, just to admire the scenery of our walled city with our world famous Minster and medieval streets. One such street, named The Shambles, was voted by Google Maps the prettiest street in Britain, not that they could drive their car down it. York city centre is the biggest pedestrianised area in Europe. Location-wise, we’re forty minutes from the coast if you need, like I do, an ozone inspired walk along the sea cliffs every now and again. Cycle out there and get the train home, your bike being given free passage while a few pints of coastal ale settle nicely in the stomach. If you’re not a fan of booze, we have coffee shops and cafes up the wazoo and more restaurants than you can shake a stick at. Okay, okay, we don’t have an IHOP, but we did invent the Full English breakfast and some places have made it an art.
    I could go on, but I hope fellow Moustachians get the picture. You make the most of what you have. I’ve just returned from another holiday in the States and I love America. I’d live there tomorrow, probably in Charleston, South Carolina, if I could. But home is where the heart is, and for now, York still captures mine!

    • JT May 14, 2014, 4:53 am

      York sounds lovely and tempting.

  • Ex-Sgt Pepper May 12, 2014, 2:10 am

    Me and the Mrs Sgt Pepper are currently on a quest for that ideal place, but in order to live a life of adventure and exploration we’re focusing on outside the USA. So far we’ve found three places that are highly mustachian-friendly, in Mexico, Colombia and S Africa (we’re in the latter now). We LOVED Sayulita Mexico, a small beach town north of Puerto Vallarta, it’s everything a beautiful beach town should be, but the downside is that it’s very hot & muggy for 6-7 months of the year (May-Nov). We moved to San Miguel de Allende in the central highlands of Mexico last summer, and it’s a beautiful colonial-style city of very friendly people and lots of music, culture, restaurants, etc., still at reasonable prices (compared to US prices) even though a lot of ex-pats live there. I still miss it…. We’ve been in S Africa for a few months now, and it’s AMAZING! Super-friendly people, inexpensive, one of the few places that the dollar still goes a long way. Cape Town is a beautiful city, with lots of ocean-front neighborhoods that remind me of La Jolla California, and incredible coastal stretches along the southern coast (west cape to east cape) that are like Big Sur. And the wildlife opportunities simply can’t be beat. Excellent national parks that are cheap and have everything from basic camping to near-luxury accommodations (still less than a hotel). We haven’t figured out the downside yet, unless it’s sheer distance from friends and relatives in the US. I made a short trip to Medellin Colombia in between Mexico and S Africa, where we invested in partial ownership of a new organic fair-trade coffee farm, and Medellin is an incredible city. Vibrant, modern, full of culture, restaurants, very bike-able, and cheap rent. Maybe that’s the next stop for a longer try. We’re committed to moving on until we find a place that just won’t let us go :). In the States, our hometown of Santa Cruz Calif is fantastic, but expensive. And we really liked our visit to Asheville NC, a liberal bastion in the conservative south. One other option for us to explore is Uruguay, we’ve heard many wonderful things about this country, and basic research shows it’s pretty inexpensive and very free. Finally, a shout-out to the woman above who mentioned Melbourne Australia — fantastic city! We loved it.

  • ChrisLansing May 12, 2014, 6:36 am

    We’re staying in the Lansing, MI. area.

    Like Helen and Scot Nearing, we like the buffeting of the winter months, and we like having 4 distinct seasons. We had a long winter but we came through it and it will make us appreciate spring/summer all the more. You don’t want too much comfort.

    Our retirement goal is 5 + acres and a house, for less than 100K. That’s doable around here, in small towns that surround Lansing. We’re starting to look for property now.

    Admittedly the job market is pretty tight in MI.

    The bike trails along the river are nice and they are being linked up to other trails.

    Mustchian living can be done anywhere, if one is serious about it. It’s mainly about managing your finances wisely, then building a life you enjoy.

    As for mountains, meh. Those wide open spaces out west make the landscape look barren and uninhabitable. Give me trees.

  • David C May 12, 2014, 6:59 am

    Damn, you’re making me want to move to Colorado. I live in Owasso, OK, just north of Tulsa. It used to be a smallish town, until growth and sprawl have taken root. There used to be pastureland with grazing cattle a half a mile from my home, Now it is covered with McMansions and a huge shopping center. It is getting a bit too big and crowded for me these days. Add in the shooting at the alledged drug house on the next street and I am getting wanderlust even more. Once I get my son out on his own in a year or so, I think me and the cats will pack up and find someplace a little quieter.

  • Luke May 12, 2014, 7:28 am

    Rochester, Minnesota. Yes, I know – but hear me out.

    Population: 110,000 (up 27% from 2000)
    Median Age: 35
    Median income: $64,000
    Median home value: $164,000
    Unemployment: 4.7%

    Why Rochester:
    Nestled in SE Minnesota and home to Mayo Clinic, the once sleepy and extremely boring city is in the midst of renaissance and poised for an economic boom. A mash-up of healthcare, biotech, and service the city has always had a stable economy and remains a “great place to raise a family” while rapidly becoming a fantastic place for those 20-somethings. (I moved here as a 20-something and it was brutal at first; I envy the kids moving in now).

    Rochester has been on lists for the happiest/best/etc. places to live. Jobs, low crime, low cost of living, constant growth, stable economy, healthy people all contributing. One hour from Minneapolis/St. Paul; three hours from Duluth (Lake Superior); and close to many state parks in a state with a ton of state parks. We love our outdoors.

    Covering 55 sqmi, Rochester maintains 85 miles of paved trail – running/biking to work is a breeze – and over 3500 acres of parks.

    Mayo Clinic recently committed to investing over $3 billion into the practice over the next 20 years. Doubling its size and employee population (presently 35,000) in Rochester. This private investment is paired with an innovative public partnership where the state of Minnesota has dedicated 500 million over the 20 years to help Rochester and surrounding areas cope with the need for rapid public infrastructure improvements and additions. The growth is expected to attract an additional $2 billion in private investment. The city is already overwhelmed with developers and investors clamoring to start their projects now – restaurants, office buildings, high-end hotels, you name it – it’s really cool.

    DMC Initiative- http://dmc.mn/

    The local news says Rochester is in a “housing crisis” – not enough affordable homes and “high” rents. Single family homes range from below $100K to well over $1million and rents range from a few hundred to over a few thousand. I don’t know the proportion of each but in a city with a mix of very high incomes and service industry wages I’m guessing there could be an imbalance. Real estate is going like mad these days; homes are selling in days with a few stories of mere hours on the market.

    Yeah, it can suck. Frigid in the winter and hot in the summer. It weeds out the pansies. The weather can also be amazing. They say that if you don’t like it, just wait five minutes.

    The weather. The public transportation – though that is slowly improving. Too many cars.

  • victoria May 12, 2014, 8:51 am

    Mustachian pros & cons to Pittsburgh, PA:

    * Cheap housing. You can get something habitable in a reasonably safe area that’s got some amenities (groceries, public transit, parks, etc.) within walking distance in the 40K-60K range. You’d have a lot of housing options in a lot of neighborhoods for 120K-160K. At 300K-350K you can buy into virtually any neighborhood you’d like. Rent is not nearly as cheap compared to national averages, however.
    * Low unemployment. Wages vary pretty dramatically by field; certain fields pay competitively; others have pretty low pay.
    * Fantastic public library system! Huge selection of materials, great staff, lots of programming. We get so much use out of this.
    * Decent public transit, especially for a city of this size.
    * Very nice city parks.
    * Museums and cultural institutions that were built up when this was the among the richest cities in the world. Major universities & educated population.
    * Lots of outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking, etc.) in close proximity.


    * Fairly high property taxes relative to home values (which makes sense; the city isn’t any cheaper to run per person just because the houses are cheap).
    * Lots of snow. Some people like it; personally it’s not my thing. The city is not so great about snow clearance, though it’s been better under the new mayor.
    * Groceries are by and large more expensive than where I lived before (Atlanta). There are lots of CSAs available, however, and they’re pretty reasonably priced.
    * If you need/want to fly often, Pittsburgh Int’l is not well-connected.

  • Mike M May 12, 2014, 8:53 am

    Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, and University Heights, OH

    Cleveland, OH is not really the most Mustachian of cities. But we’d like to stay within a half-day’s drive of our hometown of Buffalo, NY for now, and this is the best we’ve found. Cleveland has a downtown core that has rejuvenated, and a thriving suburbia, but a lot of rot in-between. The sweet spot we’ve found so far are the inner suburbs – Cleveland Hts, University Hts, Shaker Hts, and Lakewood. I know Lakewood has a ton of pros, too – I just have personal experience with its eastern counterparts.

    * Short commutes. As a software developer preferring small companies, my jobs change every three years. University Circle and its hospitals are bike-able, as are jobs along the eastern 271 corridor. Shaker Heights is also a streetcar suburb, with light rail to downtown.
    * Surprisingly bike friendly! Despite no actual bike lanes, the lack of cul-de-sacs combined with four-lane, 35mph divided boulevards make for a rather pro-bicycle culture. One can also ride east out to the Chagrin River & beyond without issue, allowing an escape from the city.
    * Walkable. Denser neighborhoods mean proximity to grocery stores & schools, and the cities planned for pedestrians. This is where we first started to experience Mustachianism, realizing we were going several days in a row without driving. Plenty of parks, too.
    * Cheap Housing – Pretty nice houses available for $200k or less.
    * Leafy Neighborhoods – Old neighborhoods with big trees make me happy. Seriously, noticeably happy. And the Heights have these in abundance.
    * Employment – Cleveland is seriously underrated for white-collar employment. The tech & medical fields are booming. The inner Heights burbs are next door to the Cleveland Clinic & University Hospitals, and nestled between Case Western Reserve Univ and John Carroll Univ. Just above national average pay combined with cheap housing is great… but…

    * Taxes – OMG. The taxes. The Heights have property taxes ranging from 3.5-3.8% per year. Local and state income taxes total near 7%. That eats up much of the savings from the cheap housing. Taxes are cheaper in outer suburbia, but you pay for it with longer commutes & greater clown car culture. I’d rather pay the taxes.
    * Car Dependency – Hard to go 100% without a car. The Heights have only a few jobs themselves.
    * Sunshine – It’s great in late spring, summer, and fall. I don’t mind the winter snow & cold myself, but the lack of winter sun can definitely be a drag.

  • WageSlave May 12, 2014, 8:58 am

    A general question: it looks like a lot of people are comfortable moving away from where they were raised. That’s something my wife and I personally struggle with; we both grew up in the same town, both sets of parents (now grandparents) are there, along with the majority of our extended families. Due to a job opportunity, we’re now living about three hours (by car) away. The job opportunity puts us on the “easy” path to FIRE; but the flipside is, both of us grew up spending lots of time around our extended families, and it’s something we want for our kids. But with us living far away, our kids currently aren’t getting that.

    We do hope to hit our FIRE goals while our kids are still young, and the plan is to move back to our hometown. But, if it weren’t for our family roots, our hometown wouldn’t make our “top 10 list” of places we’d ideally like to live.

    We both struggle with this; we know there are towns that we’d likely enjoy more than our hometown, but at the expense of missing our families. On the flipside, keeping close to family puts us in a town that’s otherwise not our first (or second, third, …) pick.

    Just curious if other people out there are wrestling with this dilemma, and how did you work through it?

    • Julia May 12, 2014, 10:48 am

      My husband and I similarly thought through this when our kids were small. We lived in a neighborhood we really enjoyed that was an easy bike ride into downtown Minneapolis. My husband had a full-time engineering job making great money, and I had recently quit my lower-paying office job to be home with our daughter, but we had put a lot of money into paying down our mortgage over those years.

      Both sets of parents lived in our hometown, which was only 70 miles away, but still, a drive and a time commitment if we wanted to visit. When our second baby was on the way (and our oldest was 2), we chose to move back to our hometown so our kids could build some significant memories with their grandparents (the free childcare wasn’t bad either!).

      We sold our house in Minneapolis, paid off the mortgage, and bought a fixer-upper in our little hometown for cash. It was seven amazing years of our lives. While our kids were babies/toddlers/preschoolers, they pretty much always were in the care of mom or dad or a grandparent. And often both mom and dad. Days were spent renovating the house, playing with the kids, recording music (we dabble), and working part-time – he worked 20 hours/week, I worked 12 hours/week.

      But – the only significant draw for us to be in that town was being close to our parents. And after seven years, we were ready for a change.

      So last summer we moved again, this time far from all of our parents, to Colorado. Our kids are now ages 10 and 7, and we do miss our family, but we were ready to build a new life in a new place that we found exciting and beautiful, together as a family. (And now my husband is working full-time again – we chose “temporary semi-retirement” so we could be with our kids while they were small, rather than early retirement – although I think we may still be able to retire around age 50, and could definitely do semi-retirement again even earlier.)

      All that to say, this is how we wrestled with this question, and one thing we’ve learned is that nothing has to be permanent. We’ve had great fun hatching schemes, trying some of them out, and then moving on to something else if we want. There’s nothing wrong with trying something and then changing your mind about it.

    • Mike M May 12, 2014, 10:57 am

      Oh good golly, yes we wrestle with that. We’re wrestling with that *right now* as we make the choice to live in Cleveland, OH or Buffalo, NY. We were born & raised in Buffalo, NY and have all the extended family there. Or Cleveland, which is still within a three hour drive of Buffalo, but has better employment & some better walkable, bike-able neighborhoods.

      For me, part of the struggle is that our family is distinctly non-Mustachian. Wasteful. Drive a lot. Not active. Overweight. Bad eating habits. But the relationships are otherwise very selfless, loving, and generally & non-dysfunctional.

      So part of me wants to stay, while the other part wants to go – both because of family! But then we did find a very Mustachian family in Buffalo, too – some old friends from high school. So it’s very complicated. And the fact that we haven’t purchased a house in either place and made a choice (we’re currently renting) is a huge, huge emotional drain. I do recommend making your choice and not dwelling on it.

      After we’re FIRE & the kids are out of the house, my wife & I have pledged to move away entirely. Out west, or out of the country. Some place crazy. Because the world is too big to never leave where you grew up. But that doesn’t help your current predicament with where to raise children!

      The bottom line is – choice is hard, and having choices makes you grumpy on what you’re theoretically missing out on (seriously, go read about the paradox of choice). Realize that you will be happy in either place. Your children will grow up to be fine young individuals in either place. You can try & intellectually weigh earlier FIRE vs. easy access to family, but you’ll have to go with a gut feeling at some point. But whatever you do, don’t live someplace just because other people expect you to.

    • JT May 14, 2014, 4:48 am

      Yup! It’s tricky alright and I really feel for you.
      I moved away from family and friends for an improved salary/same country, then moved again for a big city experience/same country, then moved again to raise our son somewhere nice, and close to my ex’s family in a completely different country. My heart is still in the town where I grew up and I often get homesick and miss my very good friends. But, the experience in a different country is one that I’m proud of and will look back on fondly. NZ has a very special place in my heart, it’s touched my soul.
      We’ve stayed in touch with people we left via Viber and Skype and the relationship is just as good as if I was there cause we’re close and in regular contact. Also, home is only a three hour flight away. We get visitors cause people really like NZ and I LOVE having visitors! A full house is a happy house! The other big thing is retiring earlier is a distinct reality where we are now. And that has become hugely important because of my son.
      All the best with your decision.

    • victoria May 14, 2014, 11:26 am

      I don’t really have answers for you but we’re kind of in this boat too.

      My spouse doesn’t like the town where he was raised at all, and the industry he works in — which he enjoys very much, and which he’d probably want to do as a hobby even if we were FI! — doesn’t exist there. The nearest place he could do satisfying work would be about three hours away from his hometown. Currently we live about 12 hours away from spouse’s hometown and we love where we are now. We’re saving money, our kiddo loves her school, etc.

      Trouble is, spouse is basically his parent’s only family at this point. That parent is disabled, can’t travel, etc.

      There’s no good scenario that involves us being in the same city. We could move her up here, but she is very socially integrated where she lives now, is anxious about change and large cities (large being anything over about 40K), and hates snow with a deep and abiding passion (which we get pretty regularly through the winter here). We could move down there, but neither my spouse nor I like small town living in the slightest, neither of us would be likely to find satisfying work there, and we feel like our current situation is a much better environment for our kiddo.

      For now, she’s got a good living situation — she shares a duplex with a friend and has someone to do household tasks she’s not able to do, plus a driver to help with errands. But I worry about the future.

  • Brenton May 12, 2014, 9:00 am

    I currently live in Chandler, AZ, which is nice. Housing is cheap(mortgage is $860 a month for a 3bd 2ba with a pool and a garage in a nice neighborhood). Job prospects are great, I work from home 3 days a week, make a good wage. But the summers are so brutal, and school funding is a joke(along with our resident a-hole sheriff). We talked it over and decided that we are moving to San Diego, even if it costs twice as much. It is worth it to us.


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