In real estate, there's a saying that when you buy a house it's all about location, location, location. Typically location means quality schools for your children, or making sure your home is attractive to future buyers of your home. That's why CNN's article on America's Great Opportunity Divide showing how where you live affects so many things, was a real eye opener.
The article has three interactive maps showing statistics for your congressional district (436 of them across the US). Being new to Arizona, this was a bit confusing as I'm still learning about where I live which I know is Maricopa county, but had to search for my congressional district.
- Life expectancy – ranges from 72.9 years in Kentucky, to 83.9 years in California.
- Median income – from $20,054 in California to $60,953 in New Jersey.
- Completed bachelor's degree – 8.3% in California to 69.2% in New Jersey.
Where You Live Affects Education & Quality of Life
What's more interesting is where the data comes from. Research is now being done to develop the American Human Development Index (HDI) to focus on people versus the economy. The first Human Development Index was created by the United Nations in 1990 (the US ranked 5th out of 185 countries in 2014).
Measure of America's mission is to find ways to measure progress in bettering the lives of people across the US. Their belief is “… economic growth is only valuable if it enables more people to live lives that are long, healthy, safe and free to realize their full potential, and to develop the capabilities that allow them to thrive rather than merely survive.”
The focus on thriving is fantastic, as today it still feels like many people remain in survival mode.
Tips for Picking Where You Live
If you roll the clocks back to the 1990s or earlier, most people lived:
- Where they (or significant other) grew up.
- Went to college, and didn't want to leave friends or the town.
- Where their jobs took them (why my company used to be called I've Been Moved (IBM).
The world is a different place now, and you've got to research potential towns before deciding where to live. This is uncharted territory and the information may not be easy to find. But a house is the biggest financial decision most people make, and it's really about investing in your life!
- Consider educational opportunities from pre-school through college. First consider choice of public and private schools through high school. Then look at state schools, both community colleges and universities, as they're great alternatives to private colleges with escalating costs.
- Look for breadth and depth in the job market, from entrepreneurial opportunities to multiple industries and government jobs, that today are more attractive than corporate opportunities. The reality is the old “one employer for life” commitment is gone and won't come back.
- Consider how long you'll live in your house/town. Will you migrate for career opportunities or remain and retire in the house you buy, possibly with a second home? Does the area have the weather, health care, cultural and educational opportunities as well as employment to be attractive to your children?
Lifestyles are changing. Take time to understand how your home will affect your lifestyle and make it the best financial decision you ever make.