Living Expenses

The Best Places to Raise a Family (Or Not)

If you have only yourself to consider, choosing where to live can be a walk in the park, or down the shore, or under an arch, or through some tar pits – whatever suits your fancy. If you shackle yourself, lovingly of course, to another human being, and the two of you with clear eyes and full hearts bring forth new life into the world, well, choosing where to live becomes more fraught. Values shift. Priorities adjust. Apartments that seemed cozy start to feel like “the hole” in The Shawshank Redemption.


Have You Been Suckered Into Aromatherapy Yet?

My resistance got a little bit futile-r when I read Pacific Standard this week, where Katie Heaney makes a great case for embracing the aromatherapy placebo (and your inner East Village witch):


MIT’s Living Wage Calculator

Here is a random fun — okay not “fun”, but interesting website that I, um, saw someone post on Reddit. The living wage calculator is a database of estimates for the minimum income necessary to meet your basic needs in different places in the U.S. You can look up your county, find the calculated living wage, and see it broken down my specific expenses.


A Life in Two Decades: In Brooklyn, in Massachusetts, in Hartford, Conn.

Where and how did you live, Josh?


Parents Are Unhappy? It’s the Economy, Stupid

Ross Douthat (“When I became a father, I expected to change in all the predictable ways … What I didn’t expect is that parenthood would make me such a whiner”) or Slate’s Ruth Graham (“My Facebook feed is an endless stream of blog posts and status updates depicting the messy, tedious, nightmarishly life-destroying aspects of parenting”). Raising kids in our contemporary world is, as Jennifer Senior’s new book puts it, All Joy and No Fun — and, as Lori Gottleib recently told us, no sex.


Let’s All Move to Vienna

Mercer’s annual survey of the top cities according to quality of living is out and the top five cities are as follows.


My SAD Lamp Has Made Me Marginally Less Sad: An Update

Last week I posted about giving in and buying a $99 SAD lamp despite my hesitations and dubiousness with regard to their efficacy. It’s not that I had done any real research or talked to a doctor or therapist about the issue — which you know, recommended! And it’s not that I didn’t think it totally worked for some people or that mental health issues are anything to really joke about.


What We Give Up to Live in the San Francisco Bay Area

Let’s start with this: San Francisco was just named the second-most expensive place to rent by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, beating out New York City. Just pause and reread that sentence one more time—here, I’ll help: beating out New York City. (Honolulu was No. 1.)


Can’t Afford to Buy, Can’t Afford to Rent

Is the rent too damn high? A Harvard study says yes, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.


My Family Has Forgotten the Lean Years, But I Haven’t

I see my father about once a year. The last time I saw him, at a family dinner, we talked about Millennials, and how he had spent his twenties.


Striking For Better Wages at McDonald’s

Fast food workers around the country are striking today, calling for the federal minimum wage to be increased to $15.


The San Francisco Squeeze

San Francisco has the least affordable housing in the nation, with just 14 percent of homes accessible to middle-class buyers, said Jed Kolko, chief economist at the real estate website Trulia. The median rent is also the highest in the country, at $3,250 a month for a two-bedroom apartment.

“Affordable housing projects are constructed, and the money set aside for that purpose is used, but the demand is just far greater than what can be supplied,” said Fred Brousseau of the city budget and legislative analyst’s office. Evictions under a provision of state law that allows landlords to evict rent-controlled tenants if they convert a building for sale have more than tripled in the past three years, just as they did during the first tech boom.

To Yelly Brandon, a 36-year-old hairstylist, and her boyfriend, Anthony Rocco, an archivist, the obstacles to finding housing became clear when they spent two months searching for an apartment. At open houses, they said, they were competing with young tech workers, who offered more than the asking price and cash up front.

“People were just throwing money in the air,” Ms. Brandon said.

In the Times, Erica Goode and Claire Cain Miller report about the “backlash by the bay”—how the middle- and working-classes are increasingly being pushed out by tech workers with big bank accounts. Neighborhoods like the Mission District, a once heavily Hispanic working-class neighborhood, has seen a dramatic change. But some of the changes are less about luxury apartment buildings and moneyed residents like Mark Zuckerberg buying homes in the area:

And they grumble about less tangible things: an insensitivity in interactions in stores and on the street, or a seeming disregard for neighborhood traditions. The annual Day of the Dead procession, meant to be solemn, has turned into a rowdy affair that many newcomers seem to view as a kind of Mexican Halloween.

Kevin Starr, professor of history and policy, planning and development at the University of Southern California describes the biggest problem with pushing middle and working class families out of the city: “You can’t have a city of just rich people. A city needs restaurant workers, a city needs schoolteachers, a city needs taxi drivers.”

Photo: Wikimedia Commons