Perspective on Real Estate

March 9, 2005

March 16, 2005

March 23, 2005

Quality and affordability

As more people find it impossible to buy an affordable home in Southern California, many have begun to move away. Ironically, older people have been doing just this for many years, though about 85 percent of them preferred to remain living within the county in which they were either born or have lived for many years.

Actually, we have reached the point of irony in which too many people cannot afford to live in their own homes. Not only are Southern California homes priced out of reach, but the cost of living makes it even tougher. While we are preoccupied with how many jobs are formed nationally, we appear not to have the same sense of urgency to find the solution to this problem.

So, I've studied good places for people to shop for their new lifestyle, in places in which I've found excellent quality of life and affordability. I share some of these with you, in no particular order of preference. My suggestion is to familiarize yourselves with them, visit them on vacation or long weekend trips and make up your own choices and preferences.

Warren Bland's new book, "Retire in Style" ranks 60 places and I agree with each of his stated preferences. He likes college towns, as I have mentioned in several columns over the years. Also, Joel Kotkin's book, "The New Geography," states the same premise, only as places to which jobs will flock.

So I'll begin with where I'll be lecturing this spring: in Ithaca, N.Y., at Cornell University; Madison, Wis.; Austin, Texas (the prettiest part of the state); Boulder, Colo., where my kids moved from the Silicon Valley and love.

The northwest has a number of places, such as Eugene and wonderful Portland, Ore. In fact there are several parts of Oregon that I find lovely, like Ashland, Corvallis or even Medford for quieter lifestyles, where parks are high priority, and rain brings them to bloom. In Washington are Olympia and Bellingham, just by the Canadian border and rich with sustained greenery.

And my favorite in Canada, Victoria, named for a great queen of England but with no pretensions at all, just beauty and affordability.

Arizona is clogged with places that are the same except for less rain and more desert, but some views of Mother Nature that form a special environment, like Sedona -- one of most enchanting spots on this globe -- and Tucson with its small-town with affordable bargains in homes and quality of life.

Even California has its spots, such as San Luis Obispo, where my granddaughter goes to college; Chico, a village-type place; and Santa Cruz.

Also out West is Reno, Nev., which has a small town appeal without the crowds of Las Vegas.

Other parts of the country that are not without quality and affordability include college towns such as Lawrence, Kan.; Charleston, S.C., (a special place and lifestyle); Burlington, Vt., (especially if you love a great lake and a geology that transcends millennia); and Columbia, Mo.

If you have a special interest in any of them and have patience, write me and I'll send you some stats, but remember, do not expect them by return e-mail.

Goodkin has been a business ethicist and housing analyst since 1956. He may be reached at Comments may be published as Letters to the Editor.

March 9, 2005

March 16, 2005

March 23, 2005