Lucky To Live In the Bay Area
Flying back from an unexpected trip to the state of Georgia, I began comparing the quality of life and the cost of housing.
It was a pleasure to stay with my brother and his family in their lovely home outside of Atlanta. He and his wife built their home on an acre about 10 years for a total of around $210,000.00. Since then they have increased their investment to around $300,000 by a large family room, patios, screened porches, landscaping and decks. The living area of the home is now around 3300 sq ft with an additional 1500 sq feet of finished basement and a 2-car garage. The value is about $450,000.00.
In our Coastal corridor area, this would cost at least $1,400,000.00, and probably more, if you could find a similar home and setting. These seem like very big differences. They are, and the biggest difference is the quality, diversity and permanence of jobs. Other areas of consideration quickly follow such as the weather, educational and cultural amenities. While the price differences may seem worth it, think about things you should consider if you move to other parts of our USA:
1. The property tax base in other states
In my father’s depressed Illinois farming community, he pays double the property taxes that I pay on the Coastside for a home 3 times the size and 10 times the value. Also, Illinois has no cap or ceiling on the property taxes as we have under prop 13 that allows us security, knowing the cost and the ceiling on our property taxes.
2. The topography and orientation
Even within California, like my daughter’s Mammoth Lakes home, picking a home involves much more thought than we need here on the Coast.
Is the driveway and entry level and/or south facing? This makes a tremendous difference in the winter snow with faster, easier, less costly snow clearing. Here, as long as we don’t mind negotiating it, we think little of a steep driveway.
3. Utility use and costs
Our coastal community locations don’t need air conditioning, or even a high level of heating for any length of time. When I visited my sister in a rural Georgia area, I found she only turns on the air conditioning after the temperature exceeds 80 degrees. While this is frugal and admirable, it is not particularly comfortable, and the reverse is true of winter heating, it is impossible to live in her area without continual use of heating or cooling. These utilities come with cost, which is ongoing and continually escalating. These costs obviously increase the so-called reasonable cost of home ownership.
4. Screens, insects, bugs and outdoor living
In many other parts of the country, it may be warm enough to want to sit outside, but will probably require a screened porch and lots of insect repellant, since the insects love the warm days and evenings as we do.
5. Insulation and energy precautions
Yes, everywhere needs attention to these matters, however, the more extreme and varied the weather the more effort must be put into all areas of energy conservation and protection from the elements.
So I’m on my way home and even though I could purchase a lot more home for a lot less money elsewhere, I feel lucky and thankful to live in the bay area, and particularly on our Coastside with it’s mild, consistant weather, interesting and varied terrain, lack of bugs and just minutes from a large, diverse job market.