About Me
Column Archives:

August 23, 2007

It's been a hard couple months...I didn't write much of anything and obviously missed a couple posts. This month is kind a of dual post for July (Where to Live: part 2) and a brief collection of thoughts for August (On Old Age).

Where to Live: Part 2

Thanks for all the great feedback from my June article (Where to Live). Several people expressed interest in me completing the cost of living analysis for all the places in the survey so I have done that here. I took all the cities and fed them in to some online cost of living comparators and decided that had the best feedback. It lets you see the statistical percentage difference from the norm as opposed to most other sites that only compare one city to another. In the following table, 100 is the average score for the United States, anything under 100 is cheaper, over 100 is more expensive for the same item. Using the chart won't help you decide how much salary to ask for when moving to one of these cities unless you are also moving from one of these cities; for that reason, I have added Houston to the chart to accommodate at least two of the readers' requests. Feel free to email me if you want your home city included in the chart.

Please note that I not all the cities in my survey were in the database at (or anywhere I searched). Bahamas is on a different currency altogether and therefore has no data. One US Dollar is worth one Bahamian Dollar, but it being an island I imagine everything is expensive. Ithaca was the hardest to find actual data on because Syracuse is nothing at all like Ithaca, but it's geographically the closest city from the database. Myrtle Beach is a close approximation of Hilton Head, and Santa Rosa is not terribly far off from Arcata, CA, although the comparison is not great.

Overall Food Housing Utilities Transportation Health Misc $50,000 Salary
Ann Arbor, MI 95.3 103.4 87.1 94.3 100.6 103 98 $47,650
Eugene, OR 99.4 104.6 92.3 78.4 104.9 122.2 105.8 $49,700
Flagstaff, AZ 96.8 108.3 88.2 81.9 107.4 108 98.8 $48,400
Ithaca, NY (Syracuse) 87.6 107.5 52.1 142.7 105 100.8 97.8 $43,800
Lawrence, KS 88.9 95.3 71.7 111.6 97.2 91.5 98.8 $44,450
Melbourne, FL 105.7 99.6 114.8 100.7 103.7 101.6 99.3 $52,850
OKC, OK 82.2 91.2 55.5 107.1 94.7 93.5 100.5 $41,100
Santa Cruz, CA 198.3 119.9 336.1 129.8 122.1 156 108.1 $99,150
Souix Falls, SD 90.1 99.5 66 138.3 99.8 93.9 98.9 $45,050
Spokane, WA 92.7 103.7 76.1 75 100.1 118.7 106.9 $46,350
Arcata, CA (Santa Rosa) 178.5 120.6 272.6 142.6 128.4 168.1 110.3 $89,250
Boulder, CO 126.2 113.9 166 85.7 105.8 117.9 97.5 $63,100
Wilmington, NC 96.2 106.7 88.3 97.6 90.9 94.4 103.8 $48,100
Hilton Head, SC (Myrtle Beach) 96.8 103.2 93.4 90.3 94.4 96.7 101 $48,400
Houston, TX 87.2 93.9 68.3 95.7 103.2 106.5 96.3 $43,600

On Old Age

We're always told what to do to live longer: diet, stop smoking, drink red wine every day, eat chocolate, throw out the yolks, and all kinds of other stuff, but I realized this month that we don't live day to day to lengthen our life, but instead to avoid pain.

Long term thinking applies to lengthening your lifespan when you are young, but by the time you are old, and the end is near, those life adjustments don't mean as much. Instead you start seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. This is why it's a fun game to talk about what you would do if you knew you only had 6 months to live.

Tim McGraw has a song about it:
“I went skydiving
I went rocky mountain climbing
I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I'd been denyin'
And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin' “

It's a fun game, but in reality most people don't do these things because the situation only occurs when you're too sick to do any of them. I've just spent the last three weeks with my grandfather and it's been a hard time. Tim McGraw doesn't really help make things easier for me and, for now at least, neither does writing about it. Stay tuned to until the 15th of September to see how things work out, and in two months I'll be writing about the Annapolis Sail Boat Show. If you want to come with me Saturday October 6, send me an email and we'll rendezvous.