L.A.’s Only Affordable
I write quite often about how I love living where we do…we are one block from the beach, the weather is nice 99% of the time, we were able to get rid of one of our cars because everything I need is within walking distance. I could go on and on. But living here has its downsides as well, as I will explain in a minute. So after much thought and discussion, I believe my wife and I have reached a final decision…we will be moving to Taos, NM in February or March or so. And as much as I will miss this place, I think we are making the right choice for us at this point in our life and are very much looking forward to the change. Moving will save us money, give us new options in our daily life, open up our eyes to a new way of life, and give us a place where we can feel comfortable raising our kids (when we have them).
As for where we live now, it will be hard to beat. To most people, our location is a top place to be, and our family (and friends, for that matter) cannot fathom why we would want to leave. But there are several reasons why, and here is my list as of today:
Cost of living – Living here we pay the equivalent of a decent sized mortgage…in rent. $1,949 every month for a place that we don’t even own and never will. If we left this apartment building and tried to move into another one in our neighborhood, that monthly bill would jump to about $2,500. Living by the beach has it’s price, that’s for sure. My old apartment cost $800 per month, and moving here added $1,000 to our rent. At first it was not easy, but we made the adjustment and have succeeded in making it work. But the longer we live here the more it hurts to write that rent check. Plus, we have no hope of ever buying anything here, as 2 bedroom condos go for over $1,000,000 in our neighborhood. It’s just not happening.
School System – The Los Angeles school system is not exactly known for being “good”. And as much as I understand that every school system in the country has problems, I think L.A. might have some of the worse. Along with the gang problem in some districts, the schools are overcrowded and underfunded. Add that to the problem that our kids will have with adjusting to the fact that some of these kids are driving brand new BMW’s to school and wearing $250 pairs of jeans, and we just don’t want to do that to them. Besides, who wants their kids to have to compete so strongly with the “cool” kids if they don’t have to?
Traffic – I have never lived or been anywhere that has traffic as bad as L.A. does. Ever. We have to carefully plan out our trips before leaving the house, taking into account the day of the week, the time of day, the best route to get there, etc.. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to be able to leave my house when I feel like it and be able to go do whatever it is that I want to do, without having to check the traffic websites before doing so.
My wife can stay home – This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is very important to us to have a parent take care of our child rather than daycare. What works for us might not work for others, but it is what we have decided we want to do. And since that’s the way we want to raise our kids, we would have to move anyway just because if we stayed in L.A., she would have to keep working full-time to help pay the bills.
The people – No, it does not pertain to everyone in L.A., but I will say that a lot of the people here are just plain silly. From the ridiculous fashions to the “VIP” clubs to the “Well, what do YOU drive?” club, I am tired of it and so is my wife. We are not those type of people and never will be. So a lot of times we feel like we are playing house in a video game and we are having trouble keeping up. It’s just not worth it.
As you can see, these few examples of life here in L.A. have become kind of unbearable for us and we need an escape. So how will moving to Taos make for a better suited lifestyle for us?
Cost of living – For the same price that I am paying for rent, we could either A. rent a 4 bedroom mansion in the mountains on acres and acres of land, or B. buy a big house with 5 acres of land. What do we want to do? Cut that expense even less so we don’t have to work so hard to make ends meet! When we first move there we will rent a small house for about $1,000 or so while we look at the areas to buy in. But even in buying, we don’t want to spend a fortune because it is just not worth having a huge mortgage if you have to work all the time to pay it!
Slower pace of life – I look forward to the day where my life does not feel like a non-stop merry-go-round. I cannot wait until I can step out on my front porch and check out the view without hearing the honking horns, the incessant drone of traffic and my neighbors playing bad music 24/7. Since Taos is a pretty nature-oriented town, we look forward to spending more time in the outdoors, exploring the Rio Grande, going horseback riding, river rafting, hiking, and maybe even skiing…all without the crowds that are present in L.A. no matter what you try to do.
No desire to keep up with the Joneses – Living here, it is hard to ignore what other people have and you don’t. We have gotten very good at doing so, but you still notice things and think to yourself “I wish we had that”. In Taos, there really isn’t anything like that…the people there live very simple lives, enjoying the outdoors, the free concerts in the park, getting involved in the community. And when we were there, I didn’t see one Ferrari…which is a daily (if not hourly) occurrence here. Not that a Ferrari is a sign of how a place is, but when you see Ferraris and Lamborghinis every day, you start to wonder what you are doing living here. The cars are regular cars, the clothes are regular clothes, and the people are some of the nicest we had ever met. Everyone seems to be on a level playing field.
Other stuff – Our kids can go to school and be on the same economic level as the other kids. The traffic is nowhere near what we experience here. We will finally get to experience the changing of the seasons. At night, there is no light pollution so you can see the stars (and even the Milky Way sometimes!). We won’t have to worry about money as much as we do here because our income won’t be stretched thin some months. For me, I can probably get even more work in Taos than I can here because the pool of people doing the same thing is way smaller there…and I have the benefit of having experience working for bigger companies. And on top of all this, people care about the environment there way more than they do here in L.A.. I am a big environmentalist and will welcome the opportunity to do more in my community.
Although there will be some changes that cost more (we will need another car, for example), we think the benefits hardily outweigh any negatives. And besides, I will make the same amount of money in Taos as I do here in L.A…and think about how much further that goes there! So thus, some of our reasons for moving. Two great articles you might to check out about how location can make or break your finances are over at Free Money Finance. But in the meantime, if you have any advice/comments/stories of your own about moving, I would love to hear them!