Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

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MrCastaway
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Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by MrCastaway » Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:06 pm

I'm curious of people's opinions/experiences with this and whether this is an appropriate justification. We are considering relocating to either Nashville or Charlotte from Phoenix metropolitan area. We've had one too many summers and would like to get back to the east coast. In looking at homes and possible employers it seems to maximize our salaries/job opportunities we would likely have to commute downtown for work in each city. From studying traffic maps I know both of these cities have heavy traffic getting into and out of downtown area during normal commute times.

We are currently out in southeast suburbs in Phoenix where we really only can consider 30% of possible jobs in Phoenix area due to our preference for manageable commutes (<30 mins max). I'd like to not have this situation if we relocate (<20 min commute) so my question is does anyone think its justifiable to spend more to live closer to city? Any opinions/experiences with doing this and having regrets? From my calculations we might be spending as much as 25% of our gross income on housing expenses. I know that most bogleheads would think that number is too high. Still would be maxing 2 401k, 2 roth ira and putting ~2000 a month into taxable investments/savings.

Thank you for reading.

KyleAAA
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by KyleAAA » Sat Sep 21, 2019 11:55 pm

It's justifiable to live wherever you want for any reason. 25% is nothing and minimizing commute time is great for QOL. I can't imagine who could argue with that.

BarDownHockey
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by BarDownHockey » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:17 am

I agree, minimizing your commute time and giving yourself more time to spend with family or doing things you enjoy doing is almost priceless.

Nowizard
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by Nowizard » Sun Sep 22, 2019 7:38 am

We have family in Nashville and a condo there, though we live three hours away. The traffic in Nashville is as you said, quite something. The city is definitely one of the "it" cities. Last week while driving downtown, I counted 17, tall cranes, those only used for multi-story buildings. One is going to be a local Amazon building that is going to add 5,000 employees to Nashville which is adding 90-100 people a day. All of this says it is a highly desireable area, but one experiencing growing pains. There is much to do. Many celebrities live there, and locals basically "let them be." There is much more than music such as an NFL team, an absolutely crazy fan base for it NHL team, a second tier pro soccer team and a top tier team next year. Excellent universities with Vanderbilt, Lipscomb and Belmont, a medical school, etc. Our condo is downtown and we go to the center almost daily when there. It takes us about twenty minutes to drive there, park, pick up a grandson and drive back to our condo which is about four miles away. A relative works downtown and does not complain about traffic once they found appropriate routes home. The climate is hot and muggy during Summers, not as hot as Phoenix, but feels at least that hot with the increased humidity. It is a liberal city politically, located in a conservative state, if that makes a difference. One of the benefits is great medical care at Vanderbilt, and another is the absence of a state income tax. It is definitely not a sleepy, southern city and has many people relocating daily from around the country. As with many other cities, it has a lot to offer, and you will decide if it is enough for you. Good luck and welcome to the South if you choose to move here!

Tim

tomd37
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by tomd37 » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:54 am

Have lived in Brentwood, just south of Nashville, since 1995 and commuted daily from 1995 to retirement in 2002. Commute back then was about 30 minutes for the 15 mile commute on an average day (no accidents). Now I would estimate it to be more like 45 minutes on a similar day and I am very thankful my days of commuting are over.

Lots to do in Nashville as previously mentioned and many people are moving into the Nashville metropolitan area which covers a radius of about 30 miles or so out.
Tom D.

stan1
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by stan1 » Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:15 am

Quality of life has value and is something people are willing to pay for, and I think younger generation feels different about what that means than their parents did. Short commutes, tree lined neighborhoods, both parents wanting to spend more time with kids, walkability are all more important now. At the same time new construction has spread out into exurbs where you can get a new house on a larger plot of land but at the cost of a longer (maybe much longer) commute. Right now I have a 12 minute commute (full speed all the way, 5 straight/left stoplights in AM, 4 straight/left stoplights and one T intersection with a slight backup in PM). A few right turn stoplights are free as there is no delay. It is wonderful and I would pay quite a bit to keep it. Some people really prefer open space due to personal preferences or family activities.

jpelder
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by jpelder » Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:37 am

Hi there, Charlotte-area resident here.

Your housing costs will vary based on where you want to live, of course. If you have "banker salary" (Charlotte is a banking town), that is, household income in the $100k-$150k range, there are lots of housing options within a 10-minute commute of Uptown (that's what we call the Center City here), and there are lots of places to work that aren't in the Uptown area. South End, Ballantyne, and University City are three big business centers outside of Downtown.

For specific geography in the suburbs, the Gaston County (West) and Lake Norman (due North) suburbs have the worst commuting traffic, due to the limited number of roads to get into town. The Gaston County suburbs are the worst for this, as they are across the Catawba river, which only has two bridges that are direct routes (and only 6 in the whole metro area). I live in Concord, which is Northeast of the city, and the commute traffic isn't so bad. I also work on the Northeast side of town (near Highland Creek, if you want to look exactly),which makes my drive easy. There is also light rail transit running from Northeast to due South, which may ease your commute. Feel free to ask me more Charlotte-related questions!

cherijoh
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by cherijoh » Mon Sep 23, 2019 7:49 am

MrCastaway wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:06 pm
I'm curious of people's opinions/experiences with this and whether this is an appropriate justification. We are considering relocating to either Nashville or Charlotte from Phoenix metropolitan area. We've had one too many summers and would like to get back to the east coast. In looking at homes and possible employers it seems to maximize our salaries/job opportunities we would likely have to commute downtown for work in each city. From studying traffic maps I know both of these cities have heavy traffic getting into and out of downtown area during normal commute times.

We are currently out in southeast suburbs in Phoenix where we really only can consider 30% of possible jobs in Phoenix area due to our preference for manageable commutes (<30 mins max). I'd like to not have this situation if we relocate (<20 min commute) so my question is does anyone think its justifiable to spend more to live closer to city? Any opinions/experiences with doing this and having regrets? From my calculations we might be spending as much as 25% of our gross income on housing expenses. I know that most bogleheads would think that number is too high. Still would be maxing 2 401k, 2 roth ira and putting ~2000 a month into taxable investments/savings.

Thank you for reading.
I live in Charlotte and trying to get a commute to uptown under 20 minutes during rush hour will be a real challenge. There may be something on the north side of town on the recently-opened light rail line extension that fits the bill. Close-in, established neighborhoods like Dilworth or Plaza Midwood are very pricy for what you get.

I'm ~19 miles from the the center of town (on the south side near Ballantyne) and drive time ranged from 30 minutes if I left the house before 7 am to 45 minutes if I left at 7:30 am. (And that assumes no accidents). I never tested it later than that, since start time was 8:30 am. Returning home typical ranged from 45 min - 1hr 15 min due to the need to exit the parking deck. Fortunately, I had a flexible work arrangement the last few years I worked before retirement and only needed to hit the office once or twice a week.

You would have better luck with a short commute if you could find a job in the Ballantyne area (south of town) or one of the university office parks (north of town). Many of the larger employers have satellite offices in one or the other area.

Feel free to PM me with any specific questions about Charlotte or its neighborhoods.

Notgreg
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by Notgreg » Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:40 am

We live on the east side of Nashville, and have resisted moving to the suburbs in order to avoid the commute. Getting downtown in less than 30 minutes during rush hour more or less requires living in the city. Depending on the neighborhood you choose and your square footage needs, you’ll definitely pay a notable premium for proximity here. For us (we have one kid under 3) for now, it’s worth it.

I suspect that the trade offs here between the city and suburbs are similar to other mid-size to large cities: vastly better cultural opportunities, food, and entertainment than the suburbs but worse schools and (depending on your neighborhood) higher crime.

One thing to consider about Nashville: while a transit referendum focused on light rail and dedicated bus lanes failed by a pretty wide margin a couple of years back, there is some optimism that another referendum planned for sometime in the very near future will meet with success. Though I’m sure others in this area would disagree mightily with my optimism here.

Foredeck
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by Foredeck » Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:57 am

My wife and I decided to do exactly this back in 2010. The thoughts of $4 per gallon gas was still fresh in our minds.

We opted to buy a house in a large-ish city. We specifically looked to be on a transit line. In our case we're near a light-rail system which takes us to our day jobs downtown. It typically takes about 15 to 20 minutes. The only real driving we do is to the station and back home. We're driving maybe about 3 miles per day. What we've forgone is having a newer built home with more space, but we like the higher quality of life having less commuting stress. Plus less money we have to spend buying gas, less wear on our car, and most times we can get by with just one car.

sleepwell
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by sleepwell » Mon Sep 23, 2019 9:29 pm

Hello from another Charlotte-area resident. As others have already remarked, growth in Charlotte is exploding. There is construction almost everywhere you drive and traffic getting in and out of the uptown area during peak travel times can be onerous. However, if you can be flexible with your hours, you might be able to avoid the worst congestion.

If you are willing to move farther out, into Union, Gaston, or Cabarrus County, you will have lower property taxes, which is something to consider. Mecklenburg County (which includes Charlotte and the smaller towns of Matthews and Mint Hill) just finished its property re-valuation and many people are appealing their new tax values. On my street, all the homes almost doubled in value for tax purposes, so beware the Great State of Mecklenburg if you decide to re-locate here. Just across the state line into South Carolina, the towns of Rock Hill and Fort Mill are growing as more people move there and work in Charlotte. At the moment SC taxes are lower than those in NC.

On a more positive note, we have lived here for nearly 30 years and have been happy. This is a pretty area in which to live. The climate is decent although the humidity in the summer can be awful. You are a couple of hours from the coast in one direction and a few hours from the mountains in the other direction. Charlotte is home to several sports teams, including the Carolina Panthers NFL team, the Charlotte Hornets NBA team, the Charlotte Checkers AHL hockey team, and the Charlotte Knights baseball team. There are several institutions of higher learning here, numerous parks, an extensive greenway system, and a fabulous library system. Charlotte has a symphony and an opera company and several amateur theater groups. There are two large healthcare systems in the city, Novant Health and Atrium Health. The Whitewater Center is just across the river to the west as is the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. The Charlotte Douglas airport continues to grow and provides convenient access for travelers. Many very large corporations have a presence here, which means that jobs are fairly plentiful, and historically those same corporations have been active supporters of philanthropic endeavors in the community. And those are merely a few quick things I can think to mention.

Good luck with your decision!

Sleepwell

mbnc
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by mbnc » Tue Sep 24, 2019 8:06 am

Short answer - yes, it absolutely is justifiable to pay more to live closer, especially if you want to live in a walkable neighborhood.

The hard part is finding the tipping point where the cost of doing so becomes too much to make it worthwhile. What that number is, is a question that only you can answer for yourself. I'd say rent a house for a year to see if you like the job and the area. If so, then you pick your target neighborhood(s), then you pick the house.

I'm back in my hometown of Raleigh now, but I lived in Charlotte for a few years after the financial crisis, right on the border between South End and Dilworth. In those days, South End was starting to be torn down and rebuilt, and quite a few Dilworth houses were renovated. My rent was $880 in a brand new building. These days, they're charging about 60% more for that floor plan and the building is 10 years old. House prices in those neighborhoods have gone up by about the same proportion as well.

If I were 5-10 years further along in my career than I was (and looking to stay in Charlotte), I probably would have jumped on one of those houses. These days, no thanks - the values have moved past my tipping point. For me, there's a big difference between $500k-600k and $800k-900k. If I had to buy a house in Charlotte today, I would go to a place like Pineville, where I could get a better deal and still have access to the light rail line. Your numbers are probably different from mine - you'll have to do your own math once you get a feel for the town.

On another note, as others have said, don't expect much relief from the heat here. :D Even though I'm a NC native, I get pretty lethargic in the summer. The actual temperatures are lower than they are in the southwest (mid 90s are the standard basically from Memorial Day to Labor Day), but because of the humidity, the heat index regularly comes in at about 105-110.

jabroni
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by jabroni » Tue Sep 24, 2019 9:32 am

Nashville's full, sorry. Please try again later.

In all honesty, the summers here aren't any better than Phoenix. The temperature is lower, but the humidity makes up for it.

I live in Lebanon, about 25 miles from where I work. Outside of rush hour, it's a ~40 minute commute. During normal rush hour, it can be 1-1.5 hours. I take the train, which is no faster, but I save a lot of money and can use the time on the train to read, sleep, etc.

I don't know if I'd be willing to pay what it costs to live closer. I'd much rather not have to work downtown at all.

Valuethinker
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Re: Suburbs or more expensive home closer to city center to maximize job opportunities (Nashville/Charlotte)

Post by Valuethinker » Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:42 am

MrCastaway wrote:
Sat Sep 21, 2019 10:06 pm
I'm curious of people's opinions/experiences with this and whether this is an appropriate justification. We are considering relocating to either Nashville or Charlotte from Phoenix metropolitan area. We've had one too many summers and would like to get back to the east coast. In looking at homes and possible employers it seems to maximize our salaries/job opportunities we would likely have to commute downtown for work in each city. From studying traffic maps I know both of these cities have heavy traffic getting into and out of downtown area during normal commute times.

We are currently out in southeast suburbs in Phoenix where we really only can consider 30% of possible jobs in Phoenix area due to our preference for manageable commutes (<30 mins max). I'd like to not have this situation if we relocate (<20 min commute) so my question is does anyone think its justifiable to spend more to live closer to city? Any opinions/experiences with doing this and having regrets? From my calculations we might be spending as much as 25% of our gross income on housing expenses. I know that most bogleheads would think that number is too high. Still would be maxing 2 401k, 2 roth ira and putting ~2000 a month into taxable investments/savings.

Thank you for reading.
It is always tradeoff.

To my mind the biggest tradeoff with a more central location, besides cost, can be crime. If that's not an issue then it's simply about doing with a smaller house, smaller yard but more access to amenities. Most of us are probably overhoused (if we live in North America and we've owned a house for a decade or more) -- people in the rest of the world don't expect to live in such square footages.

Being assaulted did not in fact drive me out of my old 'hood - I lived there for another 10 years. On the other hand assaults here are very seldom shootings. But a desire for a garden and a bit more peace and quiet (plus an experience of an alcoholic neighbour downstairs) did.

The other tradeoff is noise and that just depends. In the era of air conditioning you don't need to have your windows open at night. But traffic noise + "urban vibrance" (read that as anything from kids assing around through to drug dealing through to endless ringing car and house alarms) can make life hell. So can sharing walls with the wrong kind of neighbours (the rambunctious 2 young boys next door on the other side of one wall are not an issue, the couple arguing on the other wall *are* - it's funny what one is/ is not sensitive to). I live in horror of the day when we live next to a spousal abuse situation.

25% of gross income on house-related expenses is not excessive. Maybe it's not how many here would live, and their argument is sensible, but life is for the living.

You have to live someplace you like, or at least are OK with. Commuting time/ distance is a big part of that. If that costs more and you can swing it, you swing it.

Note the studies seem to say that whilst life satisfaction is inversely correlated with commuting time, the effect is attenuated for those who commute by public transport*. Probably because public transport is still "you time" whereas driving is not.

* I somehow doubt these surveyors ever commuted by New York subways in rush hour (or London commuter rail or Tube). Just a guess there.

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