Why Do You Live Where You Live?

NYC skyline
Living in New York City can be expensive . It also can be stressful, and according to a new survey, New York City is ranked the second most stressful city in America. (Washington D.C. is ranked number one). Here are the factors which were used to determine the most stressed cities:

•Commute time
•Unemployment
•High cost of living
•Crime per 100,000 residents
•Hours worked
•Population density
•Percentage of income spent on rent

The average amount of time New Yorkers spend commuting to work is 48 minutes. My commute averages an hour. Cost of living is pretty high here, that’s for sure, but crime is pretty low compared to many other big cities. I work a 9 to 5 jobs, but I know many people who work very long hours . Population density…oh it’s dense here in NYC, that is undeniable. Commuters are cramped into subway cars like sardines, there is always traffic, and people live in apartments which are the size of a living room in some other areas of the country. The high cost of housing is probably one of the biggest concerns of most New York City dwellers. The amount that goes towards rent eats up a significant portion of your paycheck.

So why live in so a stressful city?

Well, the results of a different survey will tell you why. While Washington D.C and New York City rank first and second, respectively as being the most stressful city, they also rank first and second, as the best city to find jobs, especially entry-level jobs for college grads. There are a lot of job opportunities in this city in various fields and industries. The city also offers many people with the right skills a high income potential.

But when people choose where to live, they don’t look at studies to see which city is the least stressed or which one has the most job opportunities. Here are the main factors that I think are the most significant when deciding where you’ll live:

Family
I think this one is it for me. I grew up in New York City and my friends and family live here. My wife’s parents also live here. It makes sense for us to stay here, even though, financially it sometimes feels like it doesn’t make sense. When you’re starting a family, it’s nice to have family nearby to help out. And as parents get older, it’s good that children are close by so they can help out too. Many retirees decide to move to a lower cost area, but looking into the future, I don’t think I could do that as I’d still like to be close to family and friends if possible.

Job/Career
This is another big factor when deciding where to live. You need to find a place that has jobs, especially jobs in your field. Sometimes, the job you have requires you to relocate.

Weather
Some people just can’t tolerate snowstorms and the cold weather. After this winter, I think I can understand. I’ve heard many people who say they plan on moving down to Florida permanently, or at least become snowbirds.

Check out the list of most stressed cities below.

The 10 Most Stressed Out Cities In America By Movoto Real Estate

So why do you live where you live? And are you happy where you’re living?

70 thoughts on “Why Do You Live Where You Live?

  1. Mom @ Three is Plenty

    When your local talk radio has a “Commuter Idle” contest every year, you know there’s some serious commuting going on (http://www.wtop.com/?nid=1042&tag=commuter+idle). I would guess the high traffic is why DC is the most stressed. I live practically in the boonies (near Dulles airport), and even though I live less than 4 miles from work, the traffic lights and traffic cause it to take 15-20 minutes every morning and evening. We live here because we both work in computers, and there’s a lot of jobs for that here. Hubby also has a clearance, which helps him in the job hunting department.

    We want to move to a colder climate, but DC is close to my family and hubby’s family (but far enough that they don’t expect regular visits!), and there are good jobs here. It’s more of an inertial problem than anything :)
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted…Last student loan payment scheduledMy Profile

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      15 to 20 minutes isn’t too bad…I have heard bad things about traffic in the DC area. You want to move to colder climate? I think that’s the first time I’ve heard that. “Far enough that they don’t expect regular visits” Smart!

      Reply
      1. Mom @ Three is Plenty

        15-20 minutes is *my* commute – hubby commutes towards the district, and he goes 12 miles in anywhere from 45-90 minutes (it’s even bad on weekends!). We intentionally chose to live near my job because 1) I fly a lot, and we’re close to the major airport, and 2) when we had a kid, someone would be within 15-20 minutes of picking her up. Hubby has had jobs from inside the district (up to 2 hrs commute) to just on the beltway, to practically next door to my office.
        Colorado is on our short list for places to retire to, but that’s very far away from family (and we’ve got the only grandchild on either side, so there’s serious pressure for us to stay near by)
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        1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

          I can empathize with your husband…my commute really depends on the traffic/weather conditions. I’ve heard good things about Colorado (mainly from Mr. Money Mustache). It would be tough to move away from family, but you have to do what’s best for you and your family.

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  2. Dave @

    I would also add culture, for sure! NYC is like no place else. My parents live in the Boston area. I used to think Boston was a cool city. Then I got a taste of NY – man, the access to activities and food and nightlife and diverse people is unbelievable!
    Dave @ recently posted…What I’m Listening To: The Good LifeMy Profile

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Boston is a pretty cool city. I go pretty much every summer to visit my grandmother and other relatives. NYC is very unique though.

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  3. Shannon @ Financially Blonde

    I grew up in New York, but went to college in the Southeast and lived in the Southeast for 8 years after school. However, we specifically chose to move back to New York to raise my son, who was 2 when we moved back. Why? Well, people say they want to get out of New York and “get out of the rat race.” As my hubby likes to say, you will just find other rats. Things may be cheaper and commutes may be easier outside of New York; however, you also find a lot less culture and activities for kids and adults other than shopping and eating. We took our now 8 year old son to the Met not too long ago, and he loved it. He just had a field trip to the Museum of Natural History and the kids found out they could have a sleep over in the blue whale room. We took him to his first Broadway show last month and he was riveted by the production and wants to see another. We recently watched a program on Nova about the rebuilding of Ground Zero and then went to Ground Zero to see the memorial and museum. We went to a Yankees game for $20 thanks to Groupon to see Derek Jeter play his last season. Living in NY is stressful, it’s hard work, it’s expensive, but if you take back from the city what you are putting into it, you get an amazing return on your investment.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…What if your family is the Joneses?My Profile

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Love this comment Shannon! I go through periods where I am frustrated by the high cost of living in NYC…but you’re right. NYC may be expensive but it is also such a wonderful place to live and raise a family.

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  4. E.M.

    Family is really important, and sometimes it’s worth it to make the sacrifice. Especially, as you said, with little ones. My aunt has been visiting my cousins upstate every other weekend to see their baby! We decided to move to Charlotte because it’s a fast growing city, it’s not as expensive, and it’s closer to my parents. We thought there would be more opportunity for us here.
    E.M. recently posted…Are Student Loans Affecting Your Plans?My Profile

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Yes, I hope you guys are enjoying the new city. I’m sure the lower cost of living is a big plus…and of course being closer to family.

      Reply
  5. Tom

    I live in the cayman islands because:

    1) No taxes
    2) I have a 15 min bike ride to work
    3) I will never see snow here, ever
    4) I get serious angst if I cant get in the ocean at least a couple times a week (for any reason – swimming, freediving, paddleboarding, surfing)
    5) It’s a small place, yet I get to be fully immersed in different cultures meeting expats all over the world
    6) Did I mention no taxes?

    Reply
    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      So there are no taxes there? Haha, not having to pay tax is awesome. You’re living the life…15 min bike ride to work and being near the ocean with great weather. If you ever miss snow, you can always come up to NYC for a visit…we got plenty of snow this past winter.

      Reply
      1. Tom

        Nope, not a dime in taxes (even less than when I lived in Bermuda, which had a 4% income tax). Most of my family lives in the nyc area and I used to live on 69th and 3rd. I was actually back there a couple weekends ago for a visit. It’s nice to get off the island, but I don’t miss new york in the slightest haha.

        Reply
  6. Michelle

    I live in St. Louis, mainly because that’s where I grew up for the majority of my life – so all of my friends and family are here. I do like the STL area though, there are plenty of outdoorsy things to do here. However, we are thinking about moving to Florida possibly in the next few years!
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      I remember reading your post about STL…sounds like a great city. Why Florida? The warm weather? No state tax?

      Reply
  7. Kathy

    Right now we are staying in central Illinois because of my mom. She is nearly 89 and I am the only family she has. So I will not consider moving until she passes away. Hubby and I have thought about moving nearer our son in Cincinnati when the time is right, however, I think that will be when we are much older and going into assisted living or another senior community. Right now the tax situation here is better (for us as retirees) but with Illinois financial situation, that may change in the future. Plus for us currently, the traffic is better, our residential location is ideally situated with regard to doctors, shopping etc. As we age, we find it much more difficult to cope with the crazy traffic that comes with larger cities. So for the time being, central Illinois (in spite of our corrupt politics) is the place for us. Now, if our son ever moves to Alaska, that changes things completely!

    Reply
    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      I can understand not moving away from your mom since you’re the only family she has. Central Illinois to Cincinnati isn’t too far away right? That’s great you’re in a location which is convenient to doctors and shopping. My parents have the same set-up…and here in NYC, the public transportation is great. My dad doesn’t like to drive much now that he’s getting older. Short trips are okay so having a conveniently situated location is important. If your son moves to Alaska, you can go to the Northwest…some great places there! I wouldn’t move to Alaska either…though my sister went there recently on a cruise and says it’s lovely when the weather is nice.

      Reply
  8. DC @ Young Adult Money

    I live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and the biggest reason I live here is probably because I grew up here, my family and friends are here, and my wife also grew up here and has family and friends here. Beyond that, both of us went to college in the cities and my wife will be getting her masters at a University here (at my alma mater, actually!). There is also a TON of job opportunities here and I love the fact that there are many Fortune 500 companies that are either based here or have offices here. There’s more but I’ll stop before someone reading this thinks this is an advertisement 😉
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Hey nothing wrong with advertising the place you live…seems like you like it there. That’s always a good thing. I didn’t know that there were a lot of Fortune 500 companies there. You guys did consider moving to Hawaii at one point though right? Will you consider it again after your trip there?

      Reply
  9. John @ Wise Dollar

    I have a younger brother who moved to D.C. right after college for a job and I can attest to the stress level. He’s fairly high strung as it is so it hasn’t helped him in that area. That said, he loves the culture and opportunities so it’s a trade off as many other things are I guess. We have lived in Omaha for about 12 years and don’t see us moving, at least for now. It’s big enough and without the congestion not to mention being relatively cheap. But, it’s still Omaha. 😉 We can get to pretty much anywhere we want, though the cost of living and being in the Midwest is what keeps us here. Our family is pretty spread out with parents in California, Florida & Montana so staying near family isn’t a real option though we do have nice places to visit. :)
    John @ Wise Dollar recently posted…How to Pay Off Debt QuicklyMy Profile

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      It’s definitely a trade-off. And I think the stress is fine when you’re younger…probably want more balance once you start a family. How did you end up in Omaha in the first place? I remember you said your wife is from California.

      Reply
  10. Even Steven

    I’ve lived in Miami and Chicago on the list and I think many times it’s what you make of it. Yes my commute is an hour long, but I listen to podcasts or read on the train, my stress level is pretty low. I certainly understand when I’m driving, I try to keep my unkind words to a minimum.e
    Even Steven recently posted…Are Your Parents Rich-Small Town LifeMy Profile

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      I’d prefer to take public transportation too. You can just zone out and read or listen to music whereas you have to pay attention while driving. Though the subways can be very packed in NYC and I’m probably just saying I like it better because the grass is greener.

      Reply
  11. Emily @ evolvingPF

    We live where we do because this is where our grad school is. :) I chose the school because of the advisor I could work with, the reputation of the program, and that my BF (now husband) already was enrolled there. We actually really love our city, but we will move because, no matter how great it is, it’s still not in California.
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  12. Income Surfer

    Choosing where to live is no simple matter. Most people live where they do because it’s been the path of least resistance…….I know that has often been my case. I intend to be more intention in the future. I really enjoy where we live (west central Florida), but wish it wasn’t year round. I think I was born to be a snow bird :)
    -Bryan
    Income Surfer recently posted…Business Update: This WeekMy Profile

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  13. Joshua Rodriguez @ CNAFinance.com

    Ana and I came to Oregon a few years back for an anniversary vacation. We loved it here. Coming from Florida, just driving down the road feels like I’m driving through a painting. It’s amazing here. Hiking, snow, bike riding, rafting, there’s just so much to do! Also, cost of living is relatively low. I currently live in a 4 bedroom, 3k square foot house and I pay $1600 a month…it’s not too shabby at all!
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Pretty cool story…why did you decide to go to Oregon for an anniversary vacation? Didn’t know you were from Florida…those states seem to be pretty different, at least weather wise. I think it’s a great choice, but not many people go somewhere, fall in love with it and move there. Maybe more people should though.

      Reply
  14. Stefanie @ thebrokeandbeautifullife

    I have a love/ hate relationship with NYC. It’s so stressful, the weather is far too extreme in the winter and summer, and it’s so incredibly dirty. But it’s also got everything. Food, culture, people, awesomeness. It’s also the theatre capital of the world. So as long as I’m persuing this, I’ll be here.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      I’m with you on the love/hate relationship, and I agree about the weather. It feels like there isn’t much of a spring or fall when the weather is much more enjoyable. You’re originally from around the area too right…do you think you’d leave if you weren’t pursuing a career in theater?

      Reply
  15. EL @ Moneywatch101

    I live in NJ because it’s where I grew up and most of my family is in this area. It doesn’t make sense with the high rent, but in relation we get paid on average more here than in Florida or other lower cost of living areas. The only way I would move is if I achieve FI and the kids are out of the house. Until then I will try to manage my own stress in my own terms.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      For me, I think I’d be paid slightly less in a lower cost area, but the lower housing cost would more than make up for it. I’m not sure what I’d do in the future if I achieve FI. Not sure I’d want to leave an area where all my friends and family are. It’s a tough decision.

      Reply
  16. Tonya@Budget and the Beach

    I’m surprised LA wasn’t higher on the list considering traffic is a nightmare here. And of course high cost of living. I guess the nice weather makes up for it. The main reasons I live here are: weather, beach/ocean, job prospects. I also have good friends here now too, but that took over a period of 10 years.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Yea, I thought LA would be higher up too. I kind of remember you mentioning wanting to move to the Northwest. Weather might not be as nice, but cost of living is probably lower. Do you have friends up there?

      Reply
  17. anna

    Is your one hour commute one way or both ways? Mine averages an hour, as well, but for both ways. Still, I love the weather here, and the laidback attitude overall. It’s expensive to raise a family here, but I just love the culture and atmosphere here too much to move. We hope to have family here, but I think we can at least convince them to come over seasonally (B’s dad to avoid winters in Washington, my parents to avoid summers in Arizona).
    anna recently posted…Brief UpdateMy Profile

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      One hour each way…depending on traffic. I feel the same way about NYC…well not the laidback attitude part. While it’s expensive here, I do love the culture and atmosphere. Did you move there originally for a job?

      Reply
      1. anna

        I went to undergrad here and have stayed put ever since! I only lived a couple hours north (my parents relocated after college), but it was a world of difference. That’s great that you love NYC culture and atmosphere, too – it definitely makes a city in my book!
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  19. Bryce @ Save and Conquer

    Like others, we live where we live because it is close to many in our extended family. It also happens to be close to where I grew up. We also love the climate that is cooled by ocean breezes. Silicon Valley is nearly as expensive as any other high cost of living location in the US, but it is where we are happy.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Yep, that seems like that’s a significant reason why people live where they live. If you’re happy, then it’s worth it. While I sometimes complain about the high cost of living, in the end, I do love living here.

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  20. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer

    Great info here, Andrew. We live where we do mainly because of family, I suppose, but we do like the weather changes (we’re in the Midwest), even if winter is horrible, and we like the laid back aura of our particular part of the state. It’s mellow here, which fits in perfectly for us. I think I’d have a hard time moving too far away from family, too.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Yea, this past winter has been especially harsh. I also would have a hard time moving too far away from family.

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  21. jefferson

    i live in the midwest, and i do like it here.
    the long winters get to us at times, but i dont foresee us leaving anytime soon.

    the family friendly nature of life here, and the low cost of living, are the most important factors for us!
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Family friend and low cost of living…I need to check out the Midwest!

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      The high cost of living is mainly housing…and yea TX housing is so affordable when compared to high cost areas like LA and NYC.

      Reply
  22. Raquel@Practical Cents

    I live in New Jersey because this is where my mom brought us. I live a short time in Philadelphia when I was 5 to 11 years old but ended back in Jersey because my mom came back here. Anyway, I’ve stayed because I like the access to NYC, my mom is still here and other family members . My husband is from NYC born and raised but I dragged him out to Jersey when we got married. Ha! He loves it here now and he commuted to NYC everyday for work. That was stressful and ate up a lot of his time but (3 hrs everyday RT) now he works in Jersey and goes to NYC occasionally to visit family and friends.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Glad your husband was able to get a job which is closer to cut down on that commute! My wife was living in Brooklyn and I dragged her out to Queens =)

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      “Home is not home without family and friends!” So true. Vancouver is a beautiful city…how’s the winter there though?

      Reply
  23. Lauren

    I currently live right outside of Philly, which is where I grew up. I spent most of my 20s traveling and living in different places, and I just moved back to the US after 2 years abroad. This isn’t my ideal place, and I know that I’m going to move on at some point, but I’m here now because of family. That’s the hardest part about moving away, leaving loved ones.
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Yes, definitely…moving away from loved ones is tough. So why isn’t it your ideal place? The cost of living, job opportunities, etc.?

      Reply
  24. Brad @ RichmondSavers.com

    We moved to Richmond, VA after living our entire lives on Long Island. We’ve been here 8+ years and it has really been great.

    Sure, we miss our family (though we see them a lot), friends, the pizza, beaches, Fire Island, etc., but the move allowed us so much financial flexibility that we simply never would have had if we stayed on LI.

    The part of Richmond where we live is very similar to LI — the epitome of suburbia, just nicer, newer and much less expensive. It is hot here though, so that’s the only negative we’ve come up with so far…
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Yes, increasing financial flexibility is a great thing…LI can be expensive. But how did you choose Richmond? Did you find a job there or any other connections there?

      Reply
  25. A Frugal Family's Journey

    We live in California for the weather and to be close to family. We live in Orange County for the schools and well kept neighborhoods. I have to admit, we are paying a price to live where we do. I commute 45min to work each day and in addition to a mortgage, we also pay association dues and mello roos! But for my loving and supportive wife, and my kids future, it’s a trade off I’m willing to make. Cheers!
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      I think I know how you feel…I definitely feel like I’m paying a premium to live in NYC. It’s a trade off I’m willing to make too, but sometimes question whether I need to make that trade off. Other areas may provide the same benefits…though if family is where they are…that is pretty important.

      Reply
  26. Kim

    Where we live might be about as opposite from NYC as you an get and still be in this country. The only traffic delay I might experience aside from construction is getting caught in a cattle drive (happened many times) or getting stuck behind a tractor. We live here mainly because of the outdoor opportunities and because we have good incomes while in a low cost of living area. I grew up in a small town and hated it as a teen, but as a parent, I see the beauty of knowing our neighbors and all the kids in our schools. It’s very easy to develop the small town mentality, though, and be afraid of the rest of the world. I think the key is to take what our small town has to offer but not become small minded. We don’t have much as far as museums or diversity, so it’s up to us to show our daughter those things.

    Reply
    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      Traffic due to getting caught in a cattle drive! That put a smile on my face…no I have not experienced that here! Sometimes I wonder how it would be like to live in a small town, it would be nice and it has it’s benefits like the ones you mentioned, but I think I’m a city guy. Though I wouldn’t mind living in a lower cost big city!

      Reply
  27. NZ Muse

    I live in Auckland because I’ve been all around the world, to basically all the cities I’ve ever thought I might consider living in, and found them all lacking. Auckland has its faults (namely, it’s expensive) but in every other way it is awesome. Mild climate. Beautiful and with proximity to everything – beaches, bush, mountains, you name it. Nowhere near as multicultural as other larger cities around the world, but best in NZ. Good job prospects for me. Friends and family.
    NZ Muse recently posted…Auckland is good – but it could be greatMy Profile

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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      That’s such a great thing that you’ve been able to travel so much and experienced different cities where you would consider moving to. I’m pretty sure every city will have something that it’s lacking, but it sounds like you found a place tat fits you. I’ve heard that New Zealand is beautiful in general…would love to see it one day.

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  28. Shannon @ The Heavy Purse

    For many of the same reasons you choose to stay in New York are why we live in LA. This is where both Chris and I grew up. We do have some siblings that live elsewhere but the majority of our family is here. We did live in DC and Dallas before we came back to LA, so we have experience other cities. I’m glad we had a chance to live in those cities and I’m glad we had the opportunity to come back home and start a family here. LA is far from perfect but it is home. And my husband is a surfer, so he (and I) missed the beach. :)
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    1. livingrichcheaply@gmail.com Post author

      That’s cool that you’ve experienced other cities. I think I’ve only moved to a different city while in college, and even that wasn’t too far away. Family is pretty important though and I wouldn’t want to be too far away. And since your husband is a surfer, you’re in the perfect spot!

      Reply
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