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The next Boulder?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Colin Dunn, May 29, 2007.

  1. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    After vising Boulder, CO this past weekend, I was left to wonder: Is there a new up-and-coming area that offers some of the advantages of Boulder, but isn't so incredibly expensive?

    Boulder's housing costs are obscene. A small house (1,200 sq. ft.) can easily run over $300K. It costs about half a million to buy a decent-size single-family home. This is prohibitive for most dual-income professional couples; single people may as well forget it.

    It wasn't always this expensive. Growing up in Boulder in the 1970s, many of my neighbors were single-income families with two kids. They could comfortably afford a 2,000 sq. ft. house and raising a family on ONE engineer's / techie's salary.

    I'd read that Bozeman, MT was a similar up-and-coming area. But a quick check of realtor.com revealed that housing costs there are as high as Boulder! Might as well live in Boulder if you have $400K kicking around...

    Currently I'm living in Austin, TX - much more affordable than Boulder or Bozeman, and said to be like Boulder in a number of respects. But Austin is much bigger and has incredibly long, hot summers. The job market there also got crushed by the 2001-2004 IT bust, and is only barely springing to life again...

    Surely Austin isn't the only place where everybody who got priced out of Boulder went. What are other similar places that offer a progressive attitude, a good natural environment, tolerable weather, and good job prospects?

    So far, my research suggests that I can't do much better than Austin when it comes to duplicating that Boulder "magic" on a reasonable housing budget (
     
  2. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    I thought Boulder's real estate prices were plunging due to the real estate bubble popping? [​IMG] Can't you just wait a few years?

    If you want a town politically left-wing, avoid Boise. We are the capital of conservative/libertarian red-state America, which of course suits me just fine. Try Portland, Seattle, and the like.
     
  3. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Are you sure Bozeman is really that expensive? I find that hard to believe. FWIW, I know all these cities fairly well, and yes, Boulder is obscenely expensive, which is why most people live in other towns in the area such as Niwot (which has also gotten high now) or Johnstown, Longmont, etc. The main problem I see with Bozeman is that unless you are a professor, I'm not sure how much potential there is for a career. It is a tiny town compared to the others.

    If you are looking for a college town and were considering Bozeman, look into, and don't laugh at or just brush this off, but look into Laramie Wyoming. It is very similar to Bozeman, less remote and still is very cheap. The only real down side is that it gets pretty freaking windy there, but no more than Boulder does. They have clocked winds in excess of 100 mph in Boulder.

    I've lived all over the country, and this area has the nicest weather overall I have ever experienced. You just have to put up with the periodic snow, which is typically gone in no time. This past winter was the worst I have ever seen, by far, though.
     
  4. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Asheville, NC

    $250k will buy new construction 4 bed 2.5 bath. Always rated as one of the top places to live.
     
  5. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    That's not just in CO. Trying to find a house under $300K is pretty impossible these days...well, at least in any sort of non-rural area.
     
  6. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Actually it's quite easy if you don't live on the coast. All of upstate NY. Much of TN. Indiana. I believe all three have new construction homes for
     
  7. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    DaveF is right, once you get away from the coasts and certain "hot" areas, housing can be affordable. The real-estate bubble never happened in the "flyover" states.

    It is possible to get a 4,000 sq. ft. 2-story house for
     
  8. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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    Well, since we're speaking anecdotally anyway, I'm a single guy affording a 3100 sq ft house in Boulder on ONE engineer's salary. Adding a non-working wife and two hungry kids would probably unbalance that equation rather quickly, but I bought the home just over three years ago for ~$400k. I rented for many years saving up so I could pay 20% down and qualify to purchase a place that I'd want to live in long term. For tax purposes the assessor just sent me a letter telling me that it's worth $500k now, although the house two doors down has been sitting unsold for at least 6 months - probably hoping for a similar payday. I looked up the data for my neighborhood for the last three years and the average $/sqft for sales is $150 to $160. Unfortunately the assessor data only goes up to June '06 so I can't identify any recent trends. It's not a particularly bold statement to say that it won't be going below $100/sqft any time soon, in spite of whatever bubble doomsayers might promise. It will never get to $50 to $80/sq ft. The growth limitations imposed by the city council have pretty much guaranteed that property values will remain elevated due to the reduced supply. The sales data for Martin Acres for homes above 2000 sq ft shows an average of $110/sq ft over the past three years. These are not big new homes, but they're in the city limits. That's about as low as I suspect you'll find unless you want to live in a trailer park. [​IMG]

    I guessing that you aren't interested in living near Boulder in newer development areas like Superior, Erie, Broomfield, etc.? You'd still get the weather and proximity to the mountains, just not the left-leaning populace.

    Unfortunately, the same reasons that compel you to live in a place like Boulder will most likely keep the price above what you want to pay. It will never be as affordable as Texas because you get the obvious benefit of not having to live in Texas. [​IMG]

    Brad
     
  9. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Ay, there's the rub. Most left/lib places are crowded, on the coasts, and very expensive. The quiet, affordable places (in gross generality) tend to be red-state America.

    I moved from San Jose to Boise and got more-agreeable politics and a much improved standard of living. [​IMG]

    Have you considered Santa Fe NM?

    Although centered around discussions of the SF bay area market, this is an interesting site:
    http://patrick.net/housing/crash.html

    Many publications I've read state that the boomers are going to retire en masse to the Rockies.
     
  10. Brandon_T

    Brandon_T Screenwriter

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    Well, I live in Mid Michigan, a blue state if you will and in my town of Flushing, you can get 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath, two car attached garage, pool, 2817sq ft of main living space plus a full finished basement for 297k http://homes.realtor.com/search/list...rcnt=16#Detail

    That being said, good luck finding a decent job with the auto industry taking a dump and nobody here really having the motivation to work hard anymore it seems. My town Flushing is great, considered one of the upscale communities in our area, the downside is we are attached to Flint, the 3 most dangerous city in the country....
     
  11. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    This map may help to stimulate your thinking. It's by county for the entire lower 48. I may have been right....northern NM may be a place for you.


    [​IMG]
     
  12. Joe S.

    Joe S. Stunt Coordinator

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    I think you should decide where you want to live first, then scale into a place that fits into your budget there. What happens if you move to Flint, MI and it *never* turns into the next Boulder? What do you do then? If you want Boulder, live in Bouder or the nearby area. The city proper might be impossible financially, but surely you don't need to be at ground zero city limits?

    I just bought a farmhouse outside of Boulder (in Lafayette) that's 6500 ft (w/finished basement), sits on 7 acres, has 2.5 shares in irragation ditch that runs along property, and is about 4 miles from Boulder proper for ~$800k. If we pay the city $3k we can get it zoned for horses and it'll be worth $1mil+ instantly.

    Obviously that's not cheap but considering the location it's bargain basement. Had we wanted a place for say $250k we could have been just outside of Boulder (2 mi?) in a 2500 ft house with a little effort. It's just a matter of doing some searching and legwork to find the right spot for you. We wanted a farm not far from Boulder, so that's what we found (eventually.)
     
  13. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    Portland, OR (particularly the East side of town) is very left leaning (west side is engineers so mostly conservative). If you want to lean even more start heading south (Corvallis, Eugene, etc.).
     
  14. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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    Large portions of the blue area in northern NM are actually reservation land or are very sparsely populated, but Taos and Santa Fe are showing up mostly blue. They definitely attract a certain type. The red blob to their west is Los Alamos, which is red because they know which side the bread is buttered on and who butters it. [​IMG]

    The blue blob that stands out the most to my eye looks to be Rapid City, SD, although that may actually be the reservation (Oglala Sioux?) near the Badlands. How about that, Colin? Want to live at Wounded Knee?

    Brad
     
  15. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    I left out the part about the pyramids and crystal spheres....

    Please bear with me as I have a fondness for maps showing statistical data....
    [​IMG]
    This shows the dosage of radioactive iodine from pre-1962 activity at the Nevada test site. The map is courtesy of the US House of Representatives and gives another meaning to the red state vs. blue state distribution. Fortunately radioactive iodine has a very short half-life and you are "safe" if you move there now.
     
  16. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Another cost of living driver is the cost of electricity:
    [​IMG]

    I'm looking for a similar map of availability and cost of water but can't find one.
     
  17. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Another concern when relocating is the probability of natural disasters.
    [​IMG]

    Remind me never to move to Memphis.
     
  18. Chris Lockwood

    Chris Lockwood Producer

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    > Is there a new up-and-coming area that offers some of the advantages of Boulder, but isn't so incredibly expensive?

    Try Havana or Ho Chi Minh City.
     
  19. Joe S.

    Joe S. Stunt Coordinator

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    [​IMG]
     
  20. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    Brad Porter -

    To what extent do you think asking prices for houses are overinflated in Boulder? Your anecdote about the neighbors' house suggests that despite the city's property assessments, comparable homes to yours don't really command $500K, or someone would have bought it by now (especially in a 'desirable' area like Boulder).

    In Austin, most homes are selling for about 96% of the original listing price. Getting a home for 20% off the asking price seems unlikely unless the market is crashing, in which case time will be on my side. [​IMG]

    Joe S. -

    There are limits to which I can "scale into" a place in my price range, especially when we're talking about Boulder. It is nearly impossible to buy HT-friendly digs in that price range in Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, or Lafayette. Many condos/townhomes are listed above $300K in those areas, and home theaters don't mix well with multi-family housing.

    I left the Boulder/Denver area in 2000 because the property bubble there made it unaffordable for me to enjoy the standard of living I thought appropriate to my occupation and salary level. Since then I've been checking the market periodically to see if the bubble has burst. Hasn't yet. [​IMG]

    Remember, I grew up seeing technical professionals buy 2,000 sq. ft. houses in Boulder on one income; condos were occupied by college students and service-industry workers. Paying $300K for a condo (which requires a 6-figure income to qualify) seems ludicrous to me, unless it's a beachfront property in Hawaii...

    What would be so different about Boulder now as opposed to in the 1970s to justify tripling the cost of housing in real (inflation-adjusted) terms? If there is no fundamental difference, in the long run the prices should come back down to historical levels.
     

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