We are trying to reduce our expenses as a family. We also would like to be able to buy property. My question is, how would we find out about areas of the country that have lower cost of living and housing expenses?
There is an excellent book called Places Rated Almanac: Your Guide to Finding the Best Places to Live in North America
by David Savageau & Geoffrey Loftus. It's a large paperback you can buy or find at the library in the reference section. It has all 351 metropolitan areas ranked and compared for living costs, job outlook, transportation, higher education, health care, crime, the arts, recreation, and climate. You basically decide which of these areas are important to you to find the cities that best meet your needs. We used the book to decide where to settle down after my husband graduated from nursing school several years ago. We are extremely happy with our choice because it has everything we found to be important. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's extremely comprehensive.
At the above website, www.bestplaces.net/html/citycompare.asp, click on "Best Place Finder" (full version) and then answer several pages of questions such as how important on a scale of 1-10 is low cost of living, high job growth, low employment rate, low crime rate, climate etc. Then it will bring up a host of cities in the USA that meet your criteria.
Here are some suggestions for research:
Go to your public library reference department and ask for a book on living expenses for different areas of the country. They should have several resources. Ask for the Statistical Abstract.
I used to work for my local chamber of commerce. They all have papers to send interested callers on the cost of living in the area. I would suggest that you pick a few areas that you might be interested in living in and call the local chamber about them. You can get any chamber of commerce's phone number from your local chamber of commerce office. It has been my experience to find that almost anyplace in this country has it's upscale and lower scale areas and the jobs in the areas of a lower cost of living pay less than in an area of a higher cost of living.
There are several places to obtain cost of living comparisons. The one I've used most in the past is http://homefair.com/index.html. We have been asked to move by our company three times in six years. We started with Homefair and the resources there. Then followed up by visiting sites for the locations we were investigating such as the Chamber of Commerce, tax department, and home pages for the cities we were asked to moved to. All three times, the cost of living calculators and follow up research helped us decide that the cities we were asked to consider were all too expensive for the compensation offered. Also there are number of magazines that offer cost of living surveys every year that could be tracked down through a search engine.
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