Un-cool living to get more from life #Budget#Neighbors & Hoods#money#suburban March 31 | Guest post by Kate It's hard to feel cool in the 'burbs. But it's cool to feel like you're getting more from life. (Photo by: Bryan Olson – CC BY 2.0) I live in the 'burbs. Not the trendy 'burbs with Chipotles and Jamba Juices, but on the fringe of Atlanta, where the city meets real Georgia in a mess of demographics, politics, and package stores. My husband and I are both native Californians and under 35; most of our neighbors have lived on our street since the 1960s. One has a six-foot-tall painting of Grant and Lee shaking hands at Appomattox in his garage, and carries a pistol. Another is named Butch. Though my husband and I stick out, we find plenty to enjoy here. There's lovely hiking nearby, lightning bugs, and genuine Southern charm. But that's not why I live here. We live here because it's cheap. We have a plan for our lives — a plan to save as much money as possible, so we can become financially independent in the next ten years, and then do whatever we want with the rest of our lives. You could call us Mustachians or Early Retirement Extremists, but really we just like the idea of being able to decide how to spend our time without worrying about a paycheck. When the opportunity came up three years ago to buy a foreclosure at an amazing price, bringing financial independence closer, we leapt. And we landed here. Friends question why we live there, rather than somewhere cooler, nicer, more urban, and walkable. We could afford it. And, truthfully, I would love to have all those things. Related Post When is saving money more important than living in a great place? I live in the wonderfully offbeat city of Portland, right in the thick of things. I love where I live, like LOVE LOVE where I... Read more I've sometimes felt that I'm missing out in the name of frugality, that we should go ahead and spend twice or three times as much for an apartment in-town rather than a house out here. Isn't life for living, after all, not for overly-zealous budgeting? But, then I think about why we live our lives the way we do — so we can travel, spend more time with any future kids, devote ourselves to our passions, volunteer, or do any number of things that don't involve going to work. And I remember that it's worth it. Over the years, I've found ways to cope and find some beauty in the un-cool corner of Atlanta, while staying on course for financial independence. First, we picked somewhere outside the city — it isn't so far away from work and friends that it's cost and time-prohibitive to do anything fun. We carpool to work, which keeps costs down and makes commute time more enjoyable. A yard means we have room for a vegetable garden (and the bouncy castle we rented for our "Hey, we got married!" party). Guest rooms mean we've been able to have friends and family stay with us for extended periods of time. We've also explored a different side of the city than we would've otherwise. There's natural beauty — birds that chirp loudly in our trees as I drink my morning coffee (though I'm less crazy about the fire ants in the yard). We've discovered some amazing Southern and Ethiopian restaurants. Even the neighbors have taught me some things about lawn care, and how people very different than me see the world. Living here isn't for everyone, and I'm not sure how long we'll stay. But I'm glad we jumped into something that was right for us, even when others said it was a mistake. Join our community! Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Guest post written by Kate Kate's a Californian lost in the South, living with her awesome husband and drinking far too much coffee. http://postitnotepoetry.blogspot.com PREVIOUS How do I feature my childhood rocking horse in my grown-up home? NEXT Clothespins, sex, and cerebral palsy Show/Hide comments [ 53 ] I love Mr. Money Mustache! Financial independence is such a gift to yourself. When you invest in yourself early, you can then devote more time later on to the things you really care about. In fact, in part because of his philosophy, I am going to get a bicycle this summer and ride the 5 miles to work each way. My husband and I have already cut down from 2 cars to 1, and we carpool to work. 16 agree Reply Mustachian high-five! I would love to bike (saving money and the environment, and you get a workout?) , but the infrastructure (or lack thereof) makes it pretty dangerous. For now, we're sticking with carpooling, alas. 2 agree Reply I just want to second your dislike of fire ants. They're evil little bugs. 10 agree Reply We live in a residential, fairly blue collar neighborhood with few frills. Most of our friends are in grad school with my husband, and live near school in the trendy, hip areas. But, adding 2 miles to the commute allows us to have a yard, more space, and the ability to actually SAVE money off his stipend as opposed to just making ends meet. 7 agree Reply This was k ind of my goal, but the cheapest place we could find in our town still takes up half our money. Just half an hour away there's apartments as low as 1/3 the price we're living, but since my husband's a student, it makes more sense for us to live close to the campus. I'm hoping cheaper apartments open up over summer, but I'm pretty sure we're at one of the cheaper complexes in town :/ Reply Yes, I feel priviledged to live in a place where this is even possible. It certainly isn't for everyone. Hoping you find something that meets your needs! Reply I'm pretty sure "un-cool" or "boring" is all in how you choose to perceive yourself. I've found that by trying to avoid spending money, I've discovered great new experiences and awesome people. (Free museum passes from the library and boxed wine/hiking/skiing parties FTW!) I've had friends ask why I'm still living like a graduate student. But really – getting rid of student loans, buying and paying off a house, working because I WANT to and not because I have to and creating awesome experiences all along the way sounds much more appealing to me than going out to eat and drink more often! 14 agree Reply Totally. I love our life and what we do. And, frugality can force creativity (and spending more time outdoors), which is another added benefit. I like being self-deprecating (another free hobby!). 4 agree Reply Not sure if you meant it that way, but the way you've put slashes there makes it look like you said boxed wine parties… and I just wanted to share a funny thing someone said to me once. She said "All our friends have fancy 'wine and cheese nights' but we're poor, so we decided to have a Goon and Coon night" Which absoloutly cracked me up. 3 agree Reply Hehe, spot the Aussie! And now I'm craving cheese… Reply I think you are making a wise decision. We couldn't afford to buy a house until we were in our late thirties, we are not going to have financial freedom for quite a long time. We chose to stay on the west coast and it is expensive to live on the coast but we live in Canada and we are both wimps when it comes to the cold, so the west coast is it, the rest of the country is just too damn cold. We will just have to keep our fingers crossed that at some point we will still be able to travel and enjoy financial freedom when we are older. Reply There's definitely a trade-off in location. This reminds me the recent OBH piece on paying more to live somewhere you love. It's all about understanding your preferences/values and living in a way that maximizes what you want. I do miss California. Hard. 7 agree Reply I feel you, the West Coast is insane. I grew up in Victoria, went to Ottawa to go to school, and tried to come back with my husband and our 2 (at the time) toddlers…it was crazy. The cost of living, crazy high housing prices, even higher food prices, and not being able to find work…we lasted 10 months, blew through our savings, maxed out our credit cards, and then gave up and moved back to Ontario. In the end, it worked out…my husband has gotten 2 promotions since coming back here, and we now live in a small city about 2 hours outside of Toronto. It's very conservative, definitely not "cool," and the downside is we haven't found many people that we have a lot in common with, but it's enabled us to buy a house, pay our bills, afford a third child, and start to make a dent in our massive student loans. Sometimes I would love to go back out west, or move back to Ottawa, but our house here would cost AT LEAST double in Ottawa, and about three times as much in Victoria…so we stay. There's definite trade-offs, but we wouldn't have been able to afford to buy a house without moving here, and to us, that was worth it. 1 agrees Reply I feel very lucky that we could finally afford to buy a house on Vancouver Island but we are really paying a premium to live here as well. There is no way we could afford Victoria, we live in Nanaimo so that we can afford to live here and our house is still very expensive compared to many other parts of Canada. You never know though there may be a time down the road when you can afford to come back to the Island. 1 agrees Reply I love hearing about the other side of the hip location vs. saving money debate! I live in the Bay Area, near San Francisco, and I don't think I need to tell anyone that it is so damn expensive here. My boyfriend and I have talked about where we might buy a house one day, and while it's maybe doable here, it would be a biiiig stretch to get everything we wanted in a living space. And it would hinge on both of us being steadily employed for a long time. But we have our huge friend network here, and access to tons of backpacking, windsurfing, snowboarding, wine country, countless music venues, and so on that are all pretty important to us. I think I'm going to be spending a while reading about early retirement and checking out Mr. Money Mustache, because I definitely want to hear more about the tradeoffs. 7 agree Reply I loved this post for all these same reasons! 3 agree Reply I think it would be nice to hear more about the renting vs buying debate. Currently, I'm on the "renting" side of this, and foresee doing so for possibly the next 5-10 years, maybe more. I like the flexibility of moving to suit my family & career needs. But I live in Michigan where housing is not a great investment, and cheap rental housing in walkable areas exists. 3 agree Reply I don't about other areas, but when we bought, because financing was pretty hard to get, the rental market was *way* more expensive than the buying market. Having a house as an asset is nice, but I think renting is a good option in a lot of situations. Buying and selling a house are both expensive (agents, closing costs, etc), so I don't think it's always the right choice. 2 agree Reply My husband and I have the renting vs. buying debate ALL. THE. TIME. He's firmly in the "buy" camp; I'm firmly in the "rent" camp. I think a big factor is the generation gap. His generation was taught that land is a good investment and it has value. Mine was taught that land means you can never live anywhere else because good fucking luck selling it. Not to mention the other things like freedom to do what you want vs. a mostly maintenance-free home, etc. Reply Yeah, for us it's about more than just money, since I'm not actually sure whether it's more financially sound to rent or buy in my area–depending on what you're after, it's fairly expensive either way. Another confounding factor is the Bay Area housing market didn't crash along with the rest of the country, but that doesn't mean we're not in a second tech bubble right now too. The main issue for us, though, is the freedom that would come with having our own place. It's totally a landlord's market out here, so there's little incentive for them let their tenants have a pet. Cats are outright forbidden in our current house, and dogs are a tricky issue, but we still want one of each. It just doesn't seem feasible that we'll find a place to rent that allows that, without paying a big premium in either money or overall quality of living space. Reply My 2 cents on Renting v. Buying: My husband and I bought a home about 9 months ago, and there are definitely financial incentives (tax deductible mortgage interest, equity in a home, blah blah blah), but overall, I really just like having a home that feels like it's "mine". It's comforting to me in some ways. If I want to build shelves or paint a room or get new counter tops in the kitchen, then all I have to do is price it out and do the project. No permissions necessary! Of course, drawbacks about being responsible for everything that goes wrong are plentiful, but the way I think about it is this: I've had some crummy landlords in the past who wouldn't fix broken faucets, ballasts in the lights, etc. If there is a problem that needs fixed and it doesn't, I have no one to blame but myself (well, and my husband, I suppose.) 5 agree Reply From a purely financial perspective, I would rather be a renter. But options are just so limited, and people can sell your house out from under you. On the flip side, we have spent way more on upkeeping our house than we would have spent over the last few years if we'd been renting. And now we want to move and trying to figure out how to sell/rent our current house in order to buy the new one is definitely the largest headache of the whole process. If there were rentals in the neighborhood we're looking at, I would definitely consider a five year lease. 1 agrees Reply Actually renting here in Germany is more common than buying. So it is also a very cultural thing. http://qz.com/167887/germany-has-one-of-the-worlds-lowest-homeownership-rates/ Reply I love, love, love the Bay Area (I grew up not far away and got married on a beach by Half Moon Bay and dream about moving there all the time), but then there's the financial side…I'm glad to spread the word of the Mustache. He has a lot of great resources. This is his into post for the uninitiated: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/02/22/getting-rich-from-zero-to-hero-in-one-blog-post/ 1 agrees Reply Oh, your wedding must have been absolutely gorgeous! I didn't grow up here, but it's a hard area to think about leaving. I'm lucky to be a techie so my excuse for now is that the job market is better here than anywhere else. Thanks for the link! I suspect I'll be doing a lot of reading over the next few days. Reply Thank you for this post! It's hard to stick to your guns sometimes, and this is a nice reminder that this is a valid choice as well. The spouse and I are looking to make a major move in a year and a half, and this is something we are considering. I will also be applying to a variety of jobs with a variety of salaries, and I can't predict how long it will take me to find a job or what I will earn. Even just for simply our peace of mind, we decided to get a starter home in an affordable location based on his salary alone. Since this move is for his career, this will give me the flexibility I need to choose the right job for my career path, rather than the salary. Other people are moving to large cities or buying fancy houses, but since we do have the choice, this is what will help us achieve our other goals in life. 3 agree Reply I feel this. In addition to try to meet certain financial goals, there's just so much peace of mind in knowing that if one us loses our job, or wants to change careers, or be a stay-at-home parent (something my husband would seriously consider; me not so much), we'll be OK. 4 agree Reply My hubby and I ended up doing a similar thing. I'm from Cali, and he's from Florida yet we ended up in the country area of Woodstock rather than the trendy Atlanta section. Money wise, Im a lot like you. I really would rather have everything paid off quickly (lower house payments, no credit cards, etc), than to deal with debt and be in the cool area of town. Both of our cars are already paid off (from the 90's) but it's a good start. =) Yeah, our house is from the 80's but it comes in a very quiet and safe neighborhood. Also, it's HUGE for us (4 bedrooms, on an acre of property that backs up to a forest) yet still extremely affordable. If anything, I'm pretty excited at the idea of starting a garden and chicken coop with the extra money that we're saving. Not to mention, the various forest animals in the backyard (deer, possum, coyotes, etc) are pretty nifty too. Plus, who knows. Maybe someday our current areas will become the cool and trendy thing. =) 3 agree Reply I moved from the city to the FAR 'burbs (35 miles) two years ago. There was a lot of adjustment, but I found the silent "killer" was the adjustment to timing. I'm now 45 minutes from work and most of my friends on a good-weather day instead of 5. Running 10 minutes late out the door? If there's any traffic, it compounds a lot more over 35 miles than 3. You pointed out your neighbors, and I can't tell you how slowly it dawned on me that I'm a) actually MEETING my neighbors and b) that I'm meeting people that come from such a different background. I can't say enough how eye-opening this experience has been. The city was silently class-segregated, merely by where you could afford to live and play. This bedroom community is a mix of summer camps, converted camps, foreclosed homes, and new construction, allowing for a very eclectic blend of people. 3 agree Reply Silently cross segregated… Yep I live in Boise Id and I am an artist,crafter, Goth, joyfully strange person who helps promote and host bands and I live on the opposite side of the downtown area from the cool, hip, (hippy/hipster kind of hip) arty "north end" I live only 2 miles from the center of the downtown area but I live in a 2 bedroom house with huge garage and a lawn my landlord let's us xeroscape in the front (not water the weeds and cut them to the ground) and a huge fire pit in the fenced backyard. We live near my mom and before her death we were a house away from my grandmother, we live a mile from stores and in our little tucked away neighborhood no one cares about our yard and my husbands salary and my tiny disability stipend pay the bills. My friends keep moving to Seattle, well if we could both work and didn't mind not having a yard or living in a tiny place or bring 50 miles from town we could too bit the thing is I love this neighborhood Reply My wife and I love living just outside Detroit. We're right at the freeway apex in one of those areas that's described as "About 20 minutes from everything." We're 20 minutes from downtown Detroit, 20 minutes from more fashionable areas, 20 minutes from most of our friends. And our rent is so cheap for a gigantic place. It's afforded us the opportunity to do what we love (for the most part) and actually have money. We've been here exactly one year today and have no regrets. 3 agree Reply Ha. Yes, I need to steal the "20 minutes from everything" line. I swear the worst part of living where I do is trying to explain where the area is. "You know that one thing? Several miles from there." Unfortunately, this is a standard topic of conversation here (maybe most big cities?). Reply It sounds to me like you're doing the right thing for the both of you. We were at a point several years ago where we could either have moved to a "cooler" city, taking on a big mortgage or just being able to rent and probably working multiple jobs just to afford that, or choose to stay in the relative cultural armpit that is the city we were living in while being able to buy a cheap foreclosure that we could pay off. We chose the cheap house, in a neighborhood that we like, in a city we don't particularly enjoy. Doing so has given me the ability to run my own business instead of waiting tables, and we're hopeful that my husband can retire early next year so that we can both focus our energies completely on doing what we want to do. Sometimes it sucks to live here…but when we focus on the big picture (financial freedom sooner rather than later, time to enjoy travel and do things we love) it makes it all better. Also, living somewhere that isn't particularly "cool" I think causes you to stretch yourself as you reach for things to do that you like. We might not get to go to cool art galleries, we might not have access to great concerts…but we've learned about things that we probably wouldn't have discovered we were into if we had lots of ready-made fun distractions within driving distance. (Gardening, beekeeping, metalworking.) I read once, in some frugal living, self sufficiency sort of book, a phrase that has really stuck with me: "what are you willing to give up to get what you really want?" Every time I start to get annoyed by some fairly superficial aspect of the "uncoolness" of the city we live in, I imagine us having the freedom to travel whenever we want and enjoy our lives together, and that puts things into perspective. 3 agree Reply Thanks for sharing your story! In the vain of "what are you willing to give up to get what you really want?", my husband (who is seriously math-brained) calculates how much time he will have to work (after-tax) to pay for any purchase. For example, "Do I want to work an entire day to buy a fancy dinner out?" Not usually (partially because we enjoy cooking). I'm less mathematical about it, but I do tend to view life as a cost-benefit analysis. And your choices to allow you have your own business and retire early sound awesome to me! 5 agree Reply Wow, I could have written this one myself! We were from the Seattle area and moved to a corner of the state with not a lot going on. We were not originally planning on staying long term, but it is just too cheap to leave. One thing I like is when we talk about cost of living with friends who live in the Seattle area, all are absolutely shocked by how little we pay. It makes me feel good when I hear my mortgage (for a 4br house on a half acre next to a park) costs less per month than a studio apartment in the city! That being said, something I worry about is raising future kids in such a small town that has a lot of poverty, drug use, homophobia, racism, sexism, the list goes on… 2 agree Reply I worry about that stuff too with kiddos. Does anyone have anything to say about that? I grew up in the middle of Manhattan and my man grew up in the big time Minnesota suburbs but now we're starting a family in San Antonio, and when we think about moving (we think about it OFTEN), I'm not sure about where would be best for raising a family on two lowish incomes, loys of graduate student loans, daycare costs…. what do you think some of the tradeoffs we should consider for our kids' sakes? I literally stay up nights about this. 2 agree Reply I would be really interested in seeing a post on that if anyone feels up to it 🙂 I'm thinking that from a financial perspective, it is best for us to just stay put and deal with the social issues as the arise. That being said, I don't think the social issues would matter much for pre-school aged children. What worries me is what will happen once they are enrolled in public school. I think I'll be much more up for moving to a bigger city at that point. 2 agree Reply I am raising my kiddo in the exact house I spent ages 7-13 in. The purchasing the house is another story (I think it was actually featured here..). Anyway. We're in the mountains east of Albuquerque, NM. Twenty minutes to a larger city, a lifetime for kids. I have friends from elementary school all over the world. I've moved away (ages 10, and 18-19) and come back – if you've seen Breaking Bad, you know the sky I craved when I was away. Even so close to a fairly large city, there are certain close issues that come up. If your kid gets in with a friend you are not a fan of, you pretty much have to deal with it (there's not a lot of option to avoid). Also, if he or she gets in with a good friend, but the parents suck… that's my least favorite thing because the friend is good and I'm the one trying to make some sort of small talk. I can't draw very well, but I'll try just to save myself from these parents by saying that I'm working on a portait (I've gotten much better with my art). Almost lastly, your kid looks to you. The town was right for you (hell, it was right for me, and my parents assured me that if I wanted to, I could go to the moon), but you have to just keep an eye on your kid, tell her she can be whatever she wants to be, live wherever she wants to, as long as she's willing to put in the effort for it. Doesn't hurt to push interests. Lastly, don't feel bad if the kiddo decides to stay. While I am living in my childhood home, my father treated me as any other buyer. I had a mortgage, etc, and was pretty stoked to be the person to buy the house. I've been all over the world, but my home is with the New Mexico skies. Reply I love Love LOVE this post! In fact, I submitted something very similar to this that is supposed to be published in the coming weeks. 🙂 It's great to hear from other cool young couples choosing to do the uncool thing in the name of getting more for your money. There is such a stigma to living in the suburbs, i.e. that you're not hip, that you're trying to escape the diversity of the city, etc. Really, we did it because we wanted some space to breathe and because we got a great house for a decent price. We were able to get a place with a decent sized yard (our inaugural vegetable garden last year netted us enough green beans to last us nearly through the winter) and we're pretty much on the edge of where the rural areas start, which is nice for biking, hiking, etc. I love to have bonfires in the summer and enjoy the stars at night. I miss life in the city, there's no denying that, but I can't say I wouldn't make the same choice again. 2 agree Reply I really do like this post, and the Mr. Money Moustache viewpoint, but as a relationship-oriented question, how do you reconcile it when one person feels that debt is a sad reality of this modern life, and accepts debt as just something that happens, and the other person is more in line with the "DEBT IS AN EMERGENCY" kinda deal? We're cool with a lot of things, but in certain arenas we just don't line up. Couple that with the fact that the career path for both of us isn't identical – and for one of us, it's a work-for-life kinda thing, so "retirement at 50 or less" isn't even a goal – which makes it hard to shoot for? Also, it's been made a priority for the both of us that we never live more than 15 minutes from where we work, unless there's some sort of horrible barrier to that ever happening – which isn't always conducive to saving money. I'm just curious how people reconcile different attitudes toward saving money by doing "uncool" things – how you negotiate it in your own relationships? How you navigate the compromises about what you want in life (mindfully – not mindlessly) in tune with financial ability and personal differences (and hopefully come out with a happy home)? Reply This is tricky. I'm actually the less frugal one of the two of us, and it took (and takes) a lot of discussion at times. As we were deciding to get married, we had a lot of in depth conversations about what we wanted and, of course, money was part of that. But, a lot has changed since then in what we want (we've trended toward more frugality), so we have to renegotiate. On big things, where there's a difference of opinion, we both try to really understand the other person's point of view. And, usually, if it's really important to one person, we figure out how to do it (example: we took a big international trip last year, but we went to a pretty budget-friendly locale). On the smaller day-to-day stuff, we just let the other person satisfy their wants (me: coffee and concerts; he: books and puzzles) and assume it comes out even in the end (it doesn't; I spend more). We're both happy enough with our financial situation that we don't feel a need to police it. Getting the house was actually the biggest disagreement we've had. He was sold on doing it; I wasn't. We talked for a long time, and eventually we'd try it, and if we didn't like it we could sell. We've liked it, but getting here wasn't seamless. 2 agree Reply Such a great question. I don't have answers, but it's a really wonderful question. 3 agree Reply I'm not great with money, but I made a good decision to do a lease to own in 2007 (not the perfect house, parts of it are 120 years old and the last remodel was 1970) for $80K. It's a house and we paid it off last year. I was always a rural gal, so being 30 minutes away from the city was old news for me. My husband, when he moved in, dealt with the change. It takes more effort for him to see friends now, and cabs are not an option should we imbibe too much on a night out. But we have a fully fenced half an acre for the dogs and the kid and for the minimum mortgage payment, we could have managed a sort of decent studio apartment in a bad part of the city (I paid 3-4 times the mortgage every month to get it done and over with… I do miss that job). Perhaps being away from the pulse of a city can be "boring"… but I can tell you from experience that as you get older and have the kid… man, it's nice to have hiking close. It's great to see the child running around your yard. Having the space to simply exist, even if sometimes you need to exist away from the other members of your family. I'm glad you're embracing the decision to move to the "un-cool" area… if it's anything like mine, in 7 years there will be destination restaurants, amenities, and the worth of your place will be through the roof — even if it's ancient. 2 agree Reply This article definitely resonates with me… My husband and I bought a house in a commuter town/large village, near(ish) the city we used to live in. We had spent nearly 4 years trying to sell our old flat and it had been a very traumatic time, but it had allowed us to save lots of money while we were still paying the very cheap mortgage. Our house now is much larger than we ever could have hoped for, and in a lovely street with lovely neighbours (even if they are all at least 20 years older than us). It's certainly not a 'cool' place to live, and some folks have questioned why we chose to live here, but we can afford the space we want here and love that it's so quiet compared to the city-centre flat. It has allowed me to start my own business from home (wedding floristry- messy and takes up a lot of space!) and though my husband used to walk to work and now has to drive, and it takes longer to go and see friends, it was definitely the right choice for us. We feel like we now have a home we could live in forever and we're working on paying the mortgage off as quickly as possible! (It's probably also worth mentioning that as well as the older people in the neighbourhood, there are lots of families with young kids too- though we don't fit into that category either as we don't plan on having children. We are very much the odd-ones-out in our street!) Reply Thanks for this. My husband and I are also suburban Atlanta dwellers, and we were just talking about how we'd love to live in Virginia Highlands, or near downtown Decatur (mainly for all the restaurants), but it's so very expensive. We ended up with a house in Duluth, and being able to sit in our beautiful, private, wooded yard with a crisp wine on summer evenings is hard to beat. Plus, we're close to Honey Pig, so there's that. Man, Atlanta has great food. 1 agrees Reply It's really all about perspective and finding the good stuff wherever you are, isn't it? I love your positive attitude and find your goals inspiring. I live in the decidedly un-cool town of Amherst, MA. I wish I could say we saved a lot of money living here, but no. It's ridiculously expensive compared to where I lived in Phoenix, AZ. Even in a town that I find depressing and lonely a lot of the time, I am finding ways to seek out the good stuff and focus (almost) entirely on them, rather than what I don't like. May you have a most excellent early retirement and many years of hip and fun. 🙂 Reply Oh man, I feel this so much! I live in rural Florida, about 45 minutes from Tampa and it presents a ton of challenges for a liberal feminist writer and her oddball family. We've learned to travel more (for perspective), spend more time in nature (for appreciating where we live) and forget about age when it comes to making friends (most of the like-minded people around here are 20 years my senior). 1 agrees Reply I live in a small state. (Vermont) Our biggest city can only be called a city by relation to the towns around it. This article is timely, as I am just coming around to the idea that to buy a home in this state we're going to have to move to one of the small blue collar bedroom communities where there is no town center or walkable areas, only a diner and a couple of strip malls. For the same price or less we can get as much at three times the square footage and an acre or two of land. I'm trying to focus on the positives. I'll finally be able to get a dog, which is something I desperately want. I'll be surrounded by woods and fields I can explore with said dog. I'll be able to have a garden, which is unlikely if we buy a condo in town. It's hard though. I won't be able to bike to work in the summer anymore, and I fear I'll never see my friends, because I'll be 30 minutes outside of town. Reply So, for those of us who live in the area, where OTP did you end up? We're currently looking to move from East Atlanta to Doraville. I'm not thrilled about the neighborhood switch, but tripling our square footage should be nice. Reply The hubster and I ended up in Woodstock, and so far we really like it. The downtown area is pretty nice with a cool strip of ma and pop style shops, and the overall area is clean. Plus, easy access to a lake, woot! Prior to that, I lived in Kennesaw for a little bit, but the city started going downhill pretty fast. It's to the point where I don't feel comfortable shopping by myself there now. I haven't been to Doraville yet though. Maybe drive through the city a bit to explore it? Reply I too, am wrestling moving back to Providence RI but Im now a single mom and the schools in that city are eh. We currently live 40 minutes away in a crummy run down mill city renting a great apartment but its pricey (over 1200 bucks a month and no utilities included) which is average for a nice 2 bedroom apt in this region . I was on the buying a home bandwagon but after seeing my parents and other homeowners spend much of their savings and free time on weekends doing house repairs Im rethinking buying and may just be a renter. I know its a good time to buy but as a single mom it seems too stressful to maintain an old home by myself. Many homes here were built in the early 1900's. I grew up in the inner city so I dont mind living in close proximity to my neighbors. In Providence there are triple decker apartments converted to condos with new baths and kitchens and a fair amount of square footage, original woodwork and floors and in a cool locationfor much less $$. Anyone have condo experience? Reply I'm glad you found a place you like in the suburbs! I live in the city of Atlanta Atlanta, and my husband and I were lucky enough to be able afford to buy our place in small neighborhood some still call transitional. I know where we come from there is a lot of Inside vs Outside the Perimeter machismo. But I hope as more socially conscious people choose to live in the greater Metro area, our public transit system will improve throughout the region as well. With more investment and planning our city could combat urban sprawl and everyone would benefit. You'd be able to buy a house you can afford and be just a train ride away from the intown spots you'd like to visit! Reply I suspect the author lives kinda near me. But since this describes everywhere outside the perimeter (almost) I can't be sure. I too live in this kind of area for financial reasons (in my case, because I'm a single mom trying to finish a degree so living in my parents basement is the best option at the moment). I too am bothered by the lack of cool, even though I know it's the best choice in the long run. Even though it's not a killer drive to get to cool stuff I find I'm less motivated to get to it than I have been in situations where I was just a quick bus ride from the center of where ever I was living (I used to move around a lot). I've been here a while and the perks are no longer out weighing the drawbacks for me…so it's a good thing I'm nearly done with this degree, I guess. Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Participate in this conversation via emailGet only replies to your comment, the best of the rest, as well as a daily recap of all comments on this post. No more than a few emails daily, which you can reply to/unsubscribe from directly from your inbox. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.