Stop me if I'm rambling...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I'm moving out....

About two years ago, I remember reading with amazement that the Old Homestead Steakhouse in New York City was charging an eye-popping $41 for a hamburger. That's right, $41. Sure, they tried to justify the price by saying that the burger was made from 20 oz. of grade-A Japanese Kobe beef. But, come on, who would pay that much for a burger??? At the time, the $41 hamburger seemed like a distinctly Manhattan phenomenon. Here in Boston we certainly have our share of exorbitantly-priced restaurants but I always felt that a buck in Boston goes a lot further than it does in the Big Apple. New York City, of course, is where the annual incomes of Times Square panhandlers consistently outpace those of well-regarded surgeons in Topeka, where a well-situated cardboard box in a Lower East Side back alley would easily fetch a better re-sale price than a split-level in Tulsa. That's Manhattan, I said, and a $41 burger is understandable because EVERYTHING is overpriced there. Or so I thought. Recently, I was astonished to read that Boston beat out San Francisco, Washington D.C., LA, and yes, even NYC, to be named the most expensive city in the country
The report found that last year, a family of four living in the Boston area needed $64,656 to cover its basic needs. This was $6,000 more than in New York City, and about $7,000 more than in San Francisco. Living expenses, which include healthcare, child care, and other basic needs, were $44,000 or less in Austin, Texas; Chicago; Miami; and Raleigh, N.C. Housing prices, the report notes, are rising much more rapidly than wages. In 2004, there were only 27 Boston-area communities in which a household whose members made the median income could afford the median-priced home in that city or town. Furthermore, even renters are feeling the strain. The report notes that even though there were 34,000 fewer rental households in 2003 than in 2000, 19,000 more rental households were paying more than 50 percent of their incomes for rent in 2003 than in 2000. It seems that prices have come down slightly in the last year, probably due to people re-locating away from the area, and lately I've been wondering why I'm not joining them. Think about it: Sure, Boston has lots of history, educated folks, and those beloved Red Sox, but the weather stinks, people are rude, and taxes are too high. We drive on paved cowpaths that clearly can't accommodate the number of cars on the road; they want us to take the MBTA, but that sucks too. "Disabled train" is a term far too familiar to us daily T riders. So, I've made my decision; I'm moving to Winston-Salem, NC where the winters are warm, the living is cheap, and I can even see quality baseball for only $5.50 per game. And besides, their minor league team has a cool nickname (the Warthogs) and the team actually has a working general manager. Theo knew when to get out of town and I think I do too.


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