Promising Places?

Dennis Friedman

MY WIFE RAN INTO an old acquaintance at our local grocery store. I asked my wife if she was surprised to see her. “No, but she said she was surprised to see me. I asked why. She said she didn’t think I could afford to live here.”

Maybe that’s what most people would have thought, especially if they saw my wife in the neighborhood parking lot getting out of our 2007 Honda Fit.

It’s become extremely difficult for a middle-class family to own a house in California. The median price for a home in Los Angeles was $898,692 as of July 31. Where we live, it’s even higher. In addition, we have the nation’s highest state sales tax and gasoline tax, which makes life even more expensive.

We have no plans to move. But if I were 50 years younger and starting a new life, I’d move to another part of the country, where things were more affordable. Where to? A place that has many of the attributes that my younger self would have looked for:

  • Plenty of jobs for people from all walks of life.
  • Affordable housing—meaning a place where a machinist and manufacturing supervisor could own a home without having to commute two hours to work.
  • Affordable colleges. In 1978, you could work a minimum wage job and afford full-year tuition at a state university.

Maybe there’s no such place today. But it sure reminds me of the California I knew when I graduated college in the 1970s.

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