To Pay Back Loans Faster, Go West, Young Man

Nearly three-quarters of college students borrow funds to pay for school these days and, as we know, it is not always easy — or possible — to pay those loans back. Well, it turns out one thing you might be able to do to help yourself succeed is move. Specifically, move west.

According to schools.com, four of the top five states for student loan repayment are on the Pacific side of things: Utah, Wyoming, Washington, and Nevada. (The fifth is Virginia so the Atlantic gets a brief nod.) California and Colorado also place in the top 10. But stop short of Cali: San Francisco is a luxury ghost town these days. (“On average, 39 percent of condos built since 2000 have absentee owners, and for newer buildings like One Rincon Hill, that number is 50 percent or above.”) Also there’s no water.

Why is the West such fertile ground for loan repayment? Low unemployment rates, low cost-of-living, and high incomes boost Utah and Wyoming. Washington State, Wyoming, and Nevada make things easier on residents by not charging income tax. Wait, what?

FYI, there are only seven states that don’t charge income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.  I can understand the small and the oil-rich not needing to profit off individuals but how on earth do huge states with significant populations of poors and olds like Texas and Florida get away with that? Texas makes up the difference via property taxes, “some of the highest in the nation.” New Jersey and New Hampshire are also expensive places to own property. And Florida … is there anything good to say about Florida?

Welcome to Primm, Nevada

I've always had the idle fantasy about running away from home—hiding out someplace where nobody knows me and I know no one, where I can be totally alone in a crowd. And this month, my fantasy came true, in a little place called Primm, Nevada.

How To: Barter! Featuring Chickens

Remember that Nevada Republican running for Senate who suggested we pay doctors with chickens? She was great. Or at least great for the headlines, and for her opponent Harry Reid, who went on to get reelected:

Phoebe Sweet, communications director for the Nevada State Democratic Party, and a few of her barnyard friends who shall remain nameless stopped by Lowden’s campaign headquarters. “I tried to trade this goat for some health care, and my doctor looked at me like I’m crazy,” Sweet told a receptionist as she carried the 25-pound goat into the headquarters with a local TV crew tracking her. “So I was just curious if you had any information on her barter plan.” “No, thank you,” the unidentified receptionist said politely.

Well, Chicken Lady Sue Lowden (R) may have gone away, but, as Esther Schindler details in this article, the idea of incorporating some bartering into our economy is still with us:

An accountant might do the tax-filing for a company that can redesign its website. Farmers can (and do) exchange tractors for cattle. A landscaping business can work out a maintenance services agreement with the lawyer who’ll do its incorporation papers.

What a fantastic plan! I’ll write you a limerick if you change my lightbulbs. Except, as Schindler goes on to note, assigning value to disparate tasks can present some challenges. Is an hour of legal advice equivalent to an hour of house painting? What if I need my lightbulbs changed immediately but you’re happy to wait a week for a perfect limerick? Who is the ultimate arbiter of what’s fair and what is worth what? I don’t want you dragging me into small claims court because you hate my rhymes and demand a do-over. You know Judge Judy would ultimately take my side, anyway.

The Logistics (And Cost) of Designing in London and Building in Nevada

From London to Nevada, blueprints in tow.