green acres

Green acres is the place for me.
Farm livin’ is the life for me.
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

from “Green Acres” by Vic Mizzy


This past weekend I took the Brip Blap crew (myself, Bubelah, Little Buddy and almost-out-and-about baby #2) on a drive over to Queens to a birthday party for the daughter of Bubelah’s friend. This couple recently purchased a nice house in a nice neighborhood with nice schools and near to the epicenter of their ethnic community. The house was a fixer-upper when they bought it, so they had to put in some substantial money to fixing it up. They have not yet finished doing so, and the total cost, to date, is over $1 million. Although that is in the almost-worthless-US-dollar, it is still a substantial amount of moolah.

Switch to a couple of days before that. Out of curiousity, I looked on Ye Olde Internet for real estate in a small town in Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia that Bubelah and I have visited and really like. A house, finished in grand style similar to our friends’ house but far bigger with a substantially larger yard was listed for about $500,000. Bigger house, bigger yard, all finished (no fixing up really necessary) for half as much – and probably half the property taxes, too.

Switch to years earlier and swoop down South to the ancestral estates of the Brip Blap family, sprawling across 3 acres of land in the Deep South.
My parents have vacated their home in the South to move closer to my brother’s family (and closer to mine, as well). Their Deep South house – which I am sure they will not mind me referring to as “stylistically dated” (but a very nice home) – is a little smaller than the Pennsylvania and Queens houses, but on a huge lot with practically no property taxes. It is probably selling for about 15% of the cost of the Queens house.

So where do you draw the line? I know I could move to Kansas (no offense, Kansanians, I pick on Kansas because of the free land being offered there) and build Neverland II for what a decent-sized single family house would cost in Queens OR a 650-sq foot studio in Manhattan. Bubelah and I have often toyed with the idea of moving to Florida, a place we both like a lot, as well, and I am sure real estate on the beach is a lot more affordable today than it was two years ago. I used to joke about moving to Portugal, but I suspect with the dollar’s value where it is that wouldn’t be much of a bargain.

I think it says something about your core values if you choose to spend big on a place to live.
I know there is a point at which we all draw the line, because I don’t see huge numbers of bloggers from the Soft Coasts moving to the heartland, nor vice-versa. Our friends in Queens spent big because they feel THAT IS IT. The home is in the midst of their community, near family, good neighborhood, schools, etc. etc. They have planted their flag, and staked their financial future to it; they will not have financial freedom in the next 10 years (or 30). But they are happy with that decision.

My point? I know financial freedom is not my #1 goal when I analyze it in this context. Bubelah and I could move to my parents’ home in the South and neither of us would need to work at a day job, starting tomorrow. With our various side-income producing ventures, given a little growth, we could probably support most of our needs. The schools are fine (I is a product of them, and I can haz edgercation). But we won’t do it: family, climate, etc. enter into it but the kicker is really that neither of us can imagine living in a small town anymore. But this does mean, then, that our number one value is not financial freedom, as I often like to say it is. Our number one value may be family, or a more liberal big-city atmosphere, or the ability to eat Turkish cuisine frequently (best.food.ever) – but whatever our #1 value is, it is not financial freedom. So for now, no green acres!

Creative Commons License photo credit: joiseyshowaa

8 comments

  • I’ll add to the list – shovel snow, deal with traffic, remain in a bad personal or family situation, change of scenery, you name it. It does no good to live independently of work if you can’t enjoy the benefits that it brings. My goal is to actually move to a higher-cost area in a few years, while also not having the stress of continuing to make a six-figure income. That higher-cost area, of course, has substantial other advantages that I desire.

  • I think family is the biggest appeal of living in CA for me. My in-laws, parents, siblings, and cousins are here. I might not interact with them much, but just being only a couple hours of driving from them makes me feel connected. I would hate to have to spend my vacation just visiting family throughout the year. And when I get annoyed with my parents I can just go home. When do parents stop telling you how to live your life?

    But things would be easier in another state, especially one where housing is cheaper. My husband and I talk about selling our house at retirement and downsize to something cheaper at another state, but I think it is just talk. Who wants to start shoveling snow for the first time in your 60s?

  • Yup, Queens is expensive. Small attached houses are ridiculously expensive. And you get to travel around an hour to Manahttan. We’ve considered Florida (we loved Miami) as well as out west (Portland). For now our place is paid for and we’re working on school for both my wife and I. After that who knows? Wanna rent out the place in Kansas?

    We’d miss the food variety too if we moved out of NYC.

  • You know… you could always move to the South and bring the doner and tzatziki sauce with you. Mmmm…. đŸ™‚

    Joking aside, I agree with you. My wife and I are considering a move to be closer to the rest of her family, even though it is substantially more expensive than where we currently reside. IMO, family is much more important than kiving as cheaply as possible. But that is our choice; others can choose whichever is best for them.

  • As a person who moved from Ventura County to Aiken, SC (yup, it IS as small as it sounds) I think I have the best of both worlds. At the moment I am working in Raleigh & going back & forth but before I took the position I’m in now (and I’m in it for a finite amount of time) I lived in Aiken working from home for almost 3 years and loved it. I like the friendliness of the small town, I’m within a 1/2 drive of Augusta (750K population) and about 2 – 2 1/2 hours from family in Atlanta – where I can get just about any kind of cuisine or anything else I need a big city to find.

    With the sale of my home in LA I bought my current home on 3 acres, & house is 2,900 sq ft for less than $225K, and had enough money left over to purchase several pieces of income producing real estate to support me when I do finally decide to retire. Most everything I need however I can find either on-line, at the big retailers in town (Target) or the specialty retailers (Pier 1, Hobby Lobby, Dillard’s) and Aiken actually has an amazing array of restaurants.

    Before I moved however, I did several months of research to find a town I wanted to live in presumably for the rest of my life. I was mid-50’s then and while I might never retire “officially” I wanted a place where I could experience life at a slower pace.

    All this said I have to admit I’ve been a nomad most of my life – the 6 years I spent living in CA was the longest I’ve lived anywhere since I graduated high school 40+ years ago and started moving up that proverbial career ladder – which accounted for several of my moves. I also have a small family (no siblings – Mom lives with us) and enjoy visiting family & getting to see new scenery. I also travel for business so boredom is not an issue either.

    I guess my point is work should not dictate where you live nor should the cost – Your happiness with where you are should.

    (though I have to admit to missing my jaunts to the Hollywood Bowl..)

  • Hey there Bripblap.

    I often view my #1 value as being totally financially free. Mobile in everyway shape and form when I want where I want. But as time goes on, I realized that I am not this economical monster machine bent on no-life in order to achieve no-debt. So I see what you’re saying.

    When I was growing up I wanted my eyebrow pierced and to dye my hair often. There is no reason to do this, I have great blond hair that not many people can get the shade of, but that is despite the fact of what I WANTED.

    Most of the things we want are not things we need. But if we listened to people saying not to get what we want and we ended up with everything we needed, what then? You’ve driven all life out of your existence. All you have is your debt-free reality and who knows how long that took you to get there?

    As I told my dad back then, “Let me be foolish and young!” and now as I say to myself, “Let me see the world and dream!”

    No point in doing anything for the world if you’ve never experienced it or dared to dream what could be if tried.

    Long comment sorry man! Your posts always make me think. Excellent.

    -Greg
    PS. I got my blog up. Tell me what you think? Working the kinks out… haha good thing didn’t try to learn html just this basic stuff throws me for a spin.

  • Thanks for the link Steve.
    For us moving to Portugal is not about financial freedom, its about changing our lifestyle, our working enviroment and if I’m honest getting some sunshine:)
    I will miss city life when I’m there but you can fly from Lisbon to NY, thats one of the first things I checked!

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