Tell My Wife and Me About Where You Live, Please

Lately my wife Cat and I have been thinking about buying a home, because it looks like by the end of this year we’re going to have a little Actual Money, and enough with the renting already. The problem is that we can’t afford to buy a home in San Diego, where lawn mower shacks go for $350,000 — more if they have a window.

Check this out, for instance: Yesterday we went to painfully gorgeous downtown San Diego to check out condo prices. Typical of the places we looked was a 726 sq. foot, one-bedroom, one-bath, no laundry, no view condo for $490,000–PLUS $660 per month homeowners association fees.

Seven hundred twenty-six square feet is small. Moving there would mean only one of us could ever be home at the same time. So forget it. And, as I say, that unit was typical of the condos we looked at down there. And that’s after housing prices have been dropping in San Diego for a while.

San Diego has the best weather in the history of beach towels. We love it here. But it’s crazy expensive.  Neither of us has ever lived outside of California, though, so when we try to think of where else in the country we might like to live, sort of nothing comes to mind. We just don’t have any experience anywhere else.

“Ask your readers for their input!” said Cat this morning. “Ask people to tell you about where they live — how much houses are, what the weather’s like, what it’s like living in whatever weather they do. Maybe we should move to the Midwest! Maybe the Northwest! Maybe Tupelo, Mississippi! You’ve got up to four regular readers! Ask them if they’d recommend where they live, and why!”

Four readers. She thinks she’s so funny.

She knows I have five.

Anyway, if you’re inclined to share with us stuff about where you live, and whether or not you think we might like to live there, we’d sure appreciate the input. Thanks!

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  • Oh, this is unbelievably perfect. Impossibly enough, I have ALWAYS wanted to live in Missouri, because that's where Mark Twain's from, and I am a complete MT freak. And my wife's Entire Life was in every last way postively impacted by the great science fiction writer, Robert Heinlein, who is also from Missouri. AND Springfield is where the Simpsons are from, so … so that's settles it. We're moving there.

    I actually called my wife when I got your note, and she at work and I at home both went online to, like, the Official Springfield, MO web site. We were totally checking it out. I found the "Museums/Historical Attractions available in Springfield to be most excellent. I would particularly like to see the "Jefferson Avenue Footbridge." I love a good footbridge. I HATE kneebridges. And I think all elbowbridges should be burned.

    Seriously: I could really see this for us. Thanks so very much for writing.

    P.S. Thanks also for the kind words about my blob.

    P.S.S. You don't mind if we come live with you for a few months just while we get a feel for the area, do you? You don't? GREAT! What day shall we arrive?

  • OK, I was on line and my husband has crosswalk as our home page. I never have blogged before. I was actually looking to begin networking on line for the ministry we live and serve/work at, so I was poking around cross walk first. I saw where you asked for readers to write in and tell you where you should live, but before I did, I thought I might find out more about you. I see you hail from San Diego and we have a couple about your age serving here who sold their house and moved here. Here is New Hampshire. As I read more about you and came across your fathers day article and I see your Dad is on the east coast as well. I am glad you have restored that relationship. We moved up here from CT three years ago when my husband took the position of director of counseling at the ministry. Our two daughters are out of the house, we sold our (retirement) home, invested the money and live in housing here. I was moved by your writing concerning the lives of some people you wrote about in your fathers day article. They are the exact type of young adults who come here for help. Bad roots produce bad fruit even if one knows the Lord. It is a working farm, growing our own food and live stock and we take in men and women 18 -35 who have been abused, neglected, suffer from addictions of all kinds, and need healing, love and support in a loving Christian community. They work 3 days a week, have therapy, christian classes and a lot of fun. The ministry has been around for 35 years. As you can see by my website and e-mail I work from here and serve as well teaching our inner healing class, run the sewing/craft room, mentor and tend the flower gardens. We are in serious need of someone who would dive in and bring our ministries web site into the 21st century with blogging, on-line networking, writing etc. Our founder Stan Farmer knows just about every Christian out there and speaks all over the world. Please pray about this, visit the web site, e-me back with any questions and I will direct them to the best contact. New England is the best place on earth, I would live no where else. We don't get paid for our work here, we must raise our own support. But we do get housing and the young people receive help at virtually no cost to them! I hope to hear from you! gretchen

  • Taryn

    I live in a dorm room, that's for females only. So your wife could stay, and you could too….if you can scale a 4 story building in the middle of the night.

  • Wow. Sounds like an awesome ministry. Fantastic. I'm not sure what I could do to actually help you there–and I'm not sure you were even inquiring about that–but it certainly sounds like you deserve all the help you can get. What a blessing you must be to the people lucky enough to come in contact with your program. (And I thought your web site looked good! I didn't poke around it all that much, but what I saw of it looked pretty sweet.)

  • Taryn: If you read my last Woody Woodpecker Saga installment (or maybe the one before that), you know I have a particular affinity for staying in dorm rooms I'm not supposed to be in….

  • Sam Burton

    That should read, 2,000 sq ft. One should always proof read a reply.

  • Oh, man, what a classic e-mail! TOO FUNNY! "Winter, Deep Winter, Mud and Bug." That is just … too perfect.

    That is some AMAZINGLY cheap real estate. Yikes. That's … way tempting.

    If your camera ever thaws out. Dude. You're hilarious.

  • snowhite197

    I live in Tallahassee, Florida. That's where FSU is. It's the capital of Fla. The weather here is like cali… no. No it most definitely isn't. It's wayyyy hotter and humid and it actually rains a lot, which upset me at first b/c isn't Florida supposed to be the freakin' sunshine state?!?

    I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas which is also very hot though not quite as humid as Florida… all the time… and actually I think it's hotter… but it almost never rains, and when it does, everything stops as if ponies had started falling from the sky (due to flooding, not just because we're crazy). Which is nice because school/work gets cancelled :). Oh and you can watch the Spurs play w00tw00t!!!

    Basically if you don't want to live somewhere a lot hotter than where you are now, definitely don't move east without also moving north. On the other hand, both Tallahassee and San Antonio are very low cost-of-living cities! If you don't mind very warm weather, I would definitely consider either one.

    Austin is also beautiful and a little more 'west coast' in mentality; I think Tallahassee may be a bit of a culture shock for someone from the west coast… though you don't originally hail from there, do you?

  • Taryn

    I’ve been reading you for about a month now and have laughed so much reading your thoughts. So I thought I’d pitch in and tell you about Missouri. I’ve chosen Springfield, since I live 30 min. from there. The lot is about 10890 sq. ft with 5 bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms. It has a basement, and all the bedrooms are on the main floor. There are 2 fireplaces and a 3 car garage. And there’s a community pool and fireplace. This is one of the most expensive houses. Most run between $100,000-$200,000 and are nice sizes.

    The weather is unpredictable. Like today for instance, it’ll rain for a few minutes, then the sun will come out 2 min. later. We sometimes have snow and ice in the winter, but never as bad as this past winter when we had a natural disaster. Tornadoes do tend to track through southern missouri, but your basement will be fine for that. Hope that helps!

  • Sam Burton

    My bride and I live in the N.E. corner of the most North East corner of these here United States. We live in Aroostook County, Maine. We have 4 seasons, Winter, Deep Winter, Mud and Bug. The coyotes are really big (I know that matters to you ) and the squirrels are really small. Moose play in our back yard. Yep, we have Rocky AND Bullwinkle.

    If all the Christians in our county came together in one place, there would be fewer people than in my home church back in Kentucky.

    But houses are cheap. We live in a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house (approx 2,0000 sq ft) on 10 beautiful acres that we bought 3 years ago for less than $100k. If my camera ever thaws out, I’ll send you a picture.

  • It’s the 10 acres part I can’t … fathom. Unless you meant 1. And even then. DO send me a pic, sometime. I’d love to see it. And build a little cabin on it. And live there. And never even tell you.

  • Tony

    Hey John! The best advice I can give you is DO NOT CONSIDER southern West Virginia. It can be nice and scenic, apart from the indigenous diaper trees, but very, very inconvenient. I would move my family from here in a heartbeat, if I could.

    I would, however, suggest Charlotte, NC. I lived there for several years and it still has a place in my heart. It has pro football, pro basketball, minor league baseball, a nice sized amusement park, pro hockey just a short drive away, auto racing, and several lakes in the vicinity. There's a major airport hub and a drive to the East coast or to the mountains to the northwest are both only about a four hour drive.

    Weather is nice, granted not San Diego nice, but the summers are pretty hot and the winters are usually fairly mild.

    Real estate is not too bad. You can usually find something pretty nice starting around 135-150k. With that, you will probably only have like 1/4 of an acre of property, but the house would be nice. Lots and lots of housing developments to choose from too.

    If I were to move again, Charlotte would definitely be one of the first places I looked at.

  • Wow. I can't believe the Total Quality Input I'm getting here.

    Snow: Austin! Excellent possibility! Everyone I know who knows Austin likes it. And for some reason Cat keeps talking about Florida: She's a humidity freak; she loves it. So I'll tell her what you've said. I totally forgot about Austin, though. It's supposed to be such a great city–especially for music, yeah? So, that really works for us: We're big on many places to see music.(Also, that's the first time I've ever seen typed "wootwoot!" I am soooo going to steal that.)

    Eudokia: Hmm. Good point. I wonder if God wants us to buy a house in San Diego? Well, let's see …. well, I KNOW he's generally not too keen on people having a LOT more money than anyone really should have, so … that'd be a no.

    Tony: Yeah, Charlotte! I think I've BEEN through there, and it was beautiful! No, wait. I've been to Charleston. Which was beautiful. Wait: We've been to Charlotte. I do seem to recall our being in Charlotte, and Cat going, "This place is lovely. I wonder if they have a hockey team?" When she finds out there's pro hockey just a SHORT DRIVE AWAY, she'll probably start packing on the spot.

    No, but I KNOW she'll go online to look at Charlotte. North Carolina generally is just such a beautiful state. And for some reason I think we … love Charlotte. I'll have to ask her. But thank you. Seriously. "Charlotte." It's such a cool NAME, right off.

  • Sam: I've been looking at places in Aroostook County, Maine.

    Other people: check out this FIFTY-EIGHT ACRE place, for less than it costs to buy a broom closet in San Diego:

    Unbelievable. And DANG, it's … north.

  • I think you miscounted. I am number six. I read you once in awhile. Maybe you are approaching the subject in the wrong way. If you and Cat love to live in San Diego, have good friends the both of you do not wish to leave, than look for opportunities that God places in your path that will make it possible to buy a home there. Now if you can’t stand the place. That is okay too because there is 49 other states to choose from. This is a lot of choices!

    Take care.

  • Betsy Thraves

    What about the Atlanta area? OK, it's hot and humid in summer and the traffic is terrible, but if you don't mind that and the occasional Palmetto bug (since you're from CA, that's a very large flying cockroach), Atlanta has a lot to offer. The metro area just hit the 5 million mark, so it's big, but not like LA. There's plenty of both pop and high culture here. It's hip and cosmopolitan, yet with a lingering touch of southern charm and hospitality. You're 4.5 hours from the beach, 1.5-2 hours from the mountains, and close to a major airport (world's busiest) that can get you almost anywhere with a nonstop flight. There is both revolutionary and civil war history all around you. We have 5 pro sports teams, and the world's largest aquarium. In the heart of the Bible belt, there's a lot of religiosity here, but there's also a lot of real Christianity happening as well.

    Best of all, real estate here is reasonable. If you choose an outlying suburb, say 20 miles from downtown ATL, you can still get a 4-bedroom, 3.5 bath house for $245,000-$500,000 in a good neighborhood. If you prefer a condo, 3 BRs and 2.5 baths for say $137,000 to $375,000.

    Think about it.

  • Wow. What a Completely Informative response. You have GOT to work for, like, the "Go Atlanta!" corporation, no? Some sort of … city PR job? If not, you should DEFINITELY apply for that sort of job.

    This is a great statement: "In the heart of the Bible belt, there’s a lot of religiosity here, but there’s also a lot of real Christianity happening as well." Perfect.

    This is good information. We've always been attracted to Atlanta. Thanks for reminding us.

  • snowhite197

    We have palmetto bugs here in Tallahassee too… which culturally is more like Georgia than the rest of Florida. Palmetto bugs are terrifying. Especially when they survive vacuuming and crawl out of your vacuum to terrorize you.

  • Um. Ew.

    Proof once again that you should, ever do housework.

  • Ronald

    For $490,000 you can live in the best home in Jackson Tennessee. You would be considered a wealthy person with a house costing that much. Jackson has a minor league baseball team called the Diamond Jaxxs with a nearly new field. Jackson is a very fast growing city with 61,000 people. Jackson has 5 colleges and a technical school, and several private Christian schools. Tennessee is home of the Tittians football team. Jackson is only 75 miles from Memphis TN, and only 126 miles from Nashville TN. The cost of living in Jackson is not bad at all. The weather can be unpredictable tho; tornadoes have been a problem in the past years. Snow and ice in the winter usually has not been a problem in the winter; we have mild winters, but yes it does get below freezing. Jackson has a lot of history to it; the cival war was fought on this soil. If you want some cheap living and afordable housing come to Jackson Tennessee.

  • 61,000 people–and FIVE colleges?? But that's … let's see … 61,000 divided by 5 … 5 goes into 6 once, with one left over, so then that's 5 into 11,000, which is 2, with 1 left over again … so then it's 5 into 111,000….

    Well, the point is, that's a lot of schools. That's not really a big deal for me, though, as I personally am not much in need of an education.

    This IS a lot of schools, though. What's up with that?

    Thanks for the tip, Jackson. It sounds good. I'm a freak for minor league baseball.

  • Esther

    Hi John,

    You may want to consider Seattle WA and/or suburbs. It has many of the same things you like about San Diego without all the hassles and about 20 degrees cooler. You like water, we are surrounded by it, the Sound on one side, Lake Washington on the other. It's got beautiful mountains nearby and tons of parks. We also have rain, but not as much as everything thinks. Hmmm, global warming? The city is cosmopolitan and upbeat, while the suburbs are relaxed and have lots of quirky charms. I would highly recommend it to you!

  • You know, we've been thinking about Seattle, because virtually EVERYONE we know who's ever been or lived there absolutely loves it. People are REALLY loyal to that city. People say it rains a LOT, though–like, crazy rain. But you're saying not so much? (I'm not even sure it matters; Cat loooooves the rain. Drives me crazy. It starts to rain, and she runs outside. I'm always, like, "Um. Honey, see how everyone else is going INSIDE??")

  • snowhite197

    There is a really cool (really big) church in Seattle called Mars Hill. Anyone heard of it? If you move to Seattle you should look into it.

  • Ah, do consider Fort Collins, CO, which has CSU, high tech such as HP, mild winters, relatively mild summers (hot but dry), near the foothills of the Rockies, an Old Town area, walking paths through town, good schools, and culture… We've made so many first lists that it wouldn't take much research to start seeing this is really a dream town.

  • We're all over it. Thank you. It just KEEPS seeming about CO. We'll totally look at Fort Collins. It sounds ideal. Home prices, though?

  • GRBerry

    I live in Boston, MA. A nice place to live if you don't want to own a car, and want four seasons. Not a good place to live if you like wildlife. Not that much less expensive than San Diego; decent condos can run in the mid 200Ks and upwards. Very few single family homes in the city proper, as most of the old stock has been converted to multi-apartment rental. (A few hundred thousand college students in town create some real rental demand.)

    My brother now lives and works in Washington County, Maine. Prices there are similar to those in Aroostook County. He says the only real drawback to owning a home there is the typical sale time of 1-2 years once you decide to sell the property. (Due to the fact that the local economy has pretty much died.) If you get into coastal Maine, the seasons will instead be Winter, Mud, Tourist, and Fall.

    My other grandparents live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There is a significant Amish/Mennonite presence in the county and significantly more Christian churches than any place I'm aware of in New England, but it is about an hour (on a good day) outside Philadelphia, and has been getting a goodly number of commuters commuting to the city, creating population pressure. I don't know current housing prices, but they looked a lot better than Boston a few years ago.

  • Well, I'm partial to mid-century homes (1950's and 1960's), hence I write about them (a lot) on my local newspaper's web site (since they haven't kicked me off yet). When you can get a midcentury home for +/- $200,000, live in an urban area that's also like a small town, live in an older housing development with NO homeowner fees, live in a town which has a university, a community college, great micro-brews, great Mexican food, great Thai food (and a little of everything else), is close to recreation, you're able to get to the Denver airport in 1½ hours and park at a $6/day commuter lot (and still find your car in one opiece when you return), get decent air fares to both coasts and Mexico, what's not to like?

    On a different note…

    When folks were grousing about assessments, I had this to say on another discussion "bored" on the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

    Robert Heinlein proposed the "owner sets his own tax value but has to sell for certain percentage over that if a buyer comes along" method in his book, The Number of the Beast, back in 1986… Just one more of the lovely things to look forward to when you dive into purchasing that "first house" …

    Good luck with your decision mayking…

    DisneyWorld's "Carousel of Progress" suggests that "There's a great BIG beautiful tomorrow waiting at the end of every day…"

  • Hey, GR: Thanks for all that quality input. I mean, really outstanding. Gives us stuff to think about, for sure. We love Boston.

    Again: Thanks so much for taking the time to share all that with us.

  • FC really does sound great. We’ve been spending quite a bit time looking at its city website. It really seems great. We’ve found some great photos of it. It looks … idyllic, really.

  • nisperos

    Hey John, by chance, you or your wife have at least one of the following skills?

    Web Developer, IT network admin, communications, teaching experience

    Well (and it's an open invitation to others as well), ELIC is coming to Fort Collins!!!

    Frankly, I don't know which positions will be moved here, but you can read about their move from San Dimas, CA to Fort Collins , CO in our local paper here:

    Here's what one of the posters on the paper's forum says about them:

    "ELIC is an Christian organization that places individuals or couples in Asian countries to teach English. The restrictions of the countries – China in particular – do not allow the preaching of Christianity. The individuals that go – go to teach English, and if the opportunity arises to share (by word or life style) their faith on a personal level. The governments of the countries that the individuals travel to allow you in to teach English, if you violate the laws – ELIC and the individual are at risk. Each individual is responsible for raising their own funds and support for their time overseas. Myself and my wife almost went overseas with this group, and find it a good addition to the community. When a good company brings jobs and a good reputation to the community it is always a good thing." posted by History

    (They post most recent comments right after an article, so if you want to read all comments in order posted, you have to click on "view all comments")

    Here's the link on the ELIC's employment opportunities:

  • nisperos

    My town just keeps on getting noticed:

    Today’s [Fort Collins] Coloradoan (July 10, 2007):

    “Fort Collins has another notable recognition to add to its list. Fast Company magazine recently named Fort Collins as one of the 30 Fastest Cities to Work, Live and Play. The list includes cities from all over the world that are leading the way in business and technology innovation. The newest designation ranks Fort Collins up with world business leaders such as Toronto, London and Shanghai. The magazine, based out of New York, defines a Fast City as one that “attracts fast companies … the most creative, smartest, effective and innovative…”

    Check out the article at Fast Company:

  • nisperos

    I wonder where Skerrib lives? Anyway, they have Avogadro's Number here in Fort Collins: and I think the sandwiches on the menu, — yes, some of them have avocados…

    Love your blog Kerri! I didn't take HS Chem, so now I've been enlightened. Nerds are certainly welcome in this town! I think anyone who knows what colorants are — gee, I could use a little help with picking out colors for my wall…

    Well, and that post from Lark news… ROFLAO! I so need that group too ; – )

  • Awww, thanks nisperos! Originally from Phoenix, currently in New England (military husband). I'd love to be in Colorado though–beautiful place!

    Oh and John, we spent a few years in southern Ohio and fell in love with it. Probably along the same vein as what you loved about Indiana. New England has so many wonderful things about it, but the winters are pretty harsh…Ohio has winter, but it's more bearable.

    Those are my 2 cents anyway…

  • nisperos

    Are we having fun yet?

    The original 'The Lark' was published at the end of the century — not the one which first comes to mind, but San Francisco of the 1890's.

    Gelett Burgess, one of it's editors gave the world the famous quatrain on 'The Purple Cow':

    'I never saw a Purple Cow,

    I never hope to see one.

    But I can tell you anyhow,

    I'd rather see than be one.'

    And, somewhat later, produced a sequel:

    'Ah, yes, I wrote "the Purple Cow" —

    I'm sorry now I wrote it,

    But I can tell you anyhow,

    I'll kill you if you quote it.'

    Source: (published on the East Coast about a city on the West Coast) Neville, Amelia Ransome. The Fantastic City. 1932: Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    published on the web here:

    (In 1905, Amelia Neville left San Francisco after it had been her home for nearly fifty years — a number which kinda makes you think of John for some reason…)

  • nisperos

    Well, hi…

    But really, penguins should be part of the rozerum dream rather than sominex…

    Of course, I like to tout Fort Collins, but you should check out what 168,000 will get you in Des Moines, Iowa:

    (no fake ficus trees in this groovy pad, but Austin Powers would be right at home…)

  • Listen to the Colorado folks, John. I lived most of my life in Oklahoma City before finally get to move to Denver a couple of years ago. I’ve ended up in north Thorton, close to my son, but I’d much prefer being farther west, with quick access to the muntains, or north up to Boulder or Longmont. The mountains are the draw here. Never think otherwise. Certainly more expensive that Oklahoma City. Denver is very busy, up and coming. Lots of cultural sites and events. OKC is much less sophisticated. Very reasonable cost of living, large area, nice neighborhood north and northwest. It’s pretty flat country and hot and dry in the summer. You have to consider how you feel about such thingsl Visitors always rave about how nice OKC folks are.

  • Amy W

    First time reading your blog and I’m really enjoying it. I live on Cape Cod… yep, the Cape cod of the Kennedy’s and Clinton’s. I did not grow up here (I grew up on the “mainland” in Plymouth MA which I loved). We moved here to be closer to my husbands base (Otis Air Force Base). I must say that I like our town (Sandwich, MA) which is VERY cape cod and country and beautiful. It is the oldest town on the cape and the seasons are wonderful here (usually not too much snow). As it is a lesser known/traveled town on the cape, our tourist season isn’t too bad. And being only two exist over the bridge, we don’t hit much traffic either (well that might be because we avoid going off cape on Fridays, Sundays or Mondays during the summer!). I love having four seasons though the winter cold is definitely harder on me the older I get. I love living near the ocean as well.

    We bought our house in 2005 for $317,000 which was a bargain back then. It is a 3 bed, 2 bath cape on 1/3 acre in a nice cul de sac. Considering the 2 bed 1.5 bath ranch two doors down went for $328,000 a week later, I count us lucky. The house is about 1400 sf and it was perfect for us – we truly love it. I do wish I could pick it up and put it in Plymouth (which still feels more like home to me) but it’s a great place to raise a family. Good luck with your looking!

    PS – not a huge Christian population in MA… very liberal state but you can find some good churches and good people.

  • arlywn

    um… lets go for NC!!!!!!!! Its a nifty state, lots of history. We fought with the SOuth in the confederate war. Very culturally mixed. Lots of colleges to pick from. We have Winston- Salem, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Durham… You know the awesome thing about Durham? It has Duke University. It has like the absolute coolest medical hospital there (Duke) and NC is right there in that whole medical feild. We have lots of pretty Scenery, and…. bad drivers. SO if you like to vent, well get in your car, and about 20 minutes from then you’ll vent. Lots of words. lol.

    What else? If you are interested in Assisted Suicide, I’d go to Oregon, cause its legal there. If you arent… then NC is perfect!

    And your dad lives in NC!!!!!!!!! ( Hah! I pay attention!)

  • Matthew Schwab

    Check out Jacksonville, NC. I live in an expensive part of the world too. If my wife didn’t want to own our residence … I would put a big chunk of my real estate portfolio in Jacksonville NC. We own just one house there purchased for $120K. Rent exceeds mortgage P&I + Taxes + insurance + management fee by about $200 per month.

  • Sweet! My dad lives in NC! So I should totally check out your suggestion. Thanks for it!