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Are the suburbs outdated?   The Serious You: Politics

Started Jul-1 by Showtalk; 1976 views.

Gentrification drove a lot of the poor out of the middle cities, and often put out families who had lived in some neighborhoods for generations. It was awful in most cases.

We saw something like this during the oil boom but it was too short lived to fully run its course, and a lot of the gentrification crowd lost their butt when the boom went bust. Hopefully there will be a lot of formerly gentrified places on the auction block that go for a tiny fraction of what they'd speculate the market to, and normal ordinary people can move back in. And the fools trying to "keep up with the Joneses" learn a bitter lesson in Economics 101.

Gentrification often produces a bubble that sooner or later bursts, but like lemmings they continue to bid up prices well beyond what is sustainable and market forces eventually "correct" the situation.

Unfortunately a long debris trail of shattered lives tends to be left in the path while these things finally run their course.


From: Showtalk 


The idea in the city I read about was to take unused commercial properties in the heart of the city and turn them into condos.  I knew about it because a friend’s in-laws bought in the senior building when they were in their 50s.  Gradually more people moved into the commercial district.  It brough money and stores to the area which benefited everyone.  I lost track of the parents after a while.

The big if, is if it brings jobs that make such locations affordable. The coronavirus has likely flipped all of these business and economic models on their head, as if one can live, say 100 miles from a city center, go out in the mornings, feed the cats and the goats and chickens and dogs, go collect some eggs for breakfast sit down at the computer and start designing stuff, what point is there to live in a upscale, overpriced, downtown condo or apartment and write enormous checks for rent or mortgage while packed cheek by jowl with neighbors, any of who might have brought home virus from their office cubicles.

And if one is running a business, why pay top real estate prices for all that office space if most of it can be taken care of with a server farm 20 miles away where traffic isn't dense and parking isn't a huge premium. The price of a 150 foot microwave tower to bring high speed internet out is a lot cheaper than that building and parking hassle and all those extra offices, an your employees aren't sleep deprived and stressed out and wearing out cars and spending a good fraction of their income on gas..

Of course this isn't a new trend, just coronavirus really stomped on the gas pedal to accelerate trends that have been going on for a couple of decades. If the cities are now "radioactive" to live in, then why concentrate everything there when there are lower cost and lower stress ways to do so?

This of course means that truckers and warehousing and stores and such have to be more spread out as well. But many technological outfits had been moving their factories out into rural areas because land was cheaper and it pumped a lot into these towns.

The down side is, sleepy little towns end up getting the kind of traffic that overwhelms their former attractiveness if a lot of people have to be at these places. This is the dark side - some rural areas are very hard hit where there are facilities like meat processing plants where social distancing is not possible.

Finding the sweet spot will likely challenge the most brilliant urban and suburban planning minds, but the future likely belongs to decentralization. Now to solve the problem of so much wealth concentrated in the hands of so few that it squeezes all the mom and pop outfits out of business and herds their former workers into the stifling megacorp culture. We've got to solve that problem or rising inequalities of opportunity (as well as of condition) reaches the kind of flashpoint that ultimately got us things like the USSR, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba, among other "workers' paradises" that certainly did get equality - equal poverty and fear except among those elites running the government.


From: Showtalk 


Job location will be important.

and not only job location but a good fit between housing and other living costs versus pay scales. Otherwise there are horrible mis-matches where the service industry personnel can not afford to live anywhere near the job locations.

During the height of the oil boom, people were commuting from as far away as Ft Stockton, Sheffield, and even Balmorhea and Alpine to jobs in Odessa and Midland. There were others commuting from Lamesa, from O'Donnell, from Tahoka, and even Lubbock, from Brownfield, Wellman, etc. to Odessa-Midland. Some of these were more than 150 miles each way, because there was not affordable housing here.


From: Showtalk 


That is already happening.  This is a British article so the numbers are in metrics and apartments are called flats.

Still waiting for the page to load - but Silicon Valley cost of living is well beyond my pay grade.


From: Showtalk 


Here it is in simpler form. I hope this page loads.  Basically someone making $100,000 would pay more than their take home on rent. There are no accessible suburbs with cheaper prices because the commute is too far. 


Yep the first one finally loaded after I went and did a bunch of electrical wiring / lighting upgrades in my shop building today, and checked it 7 hours later. Essentially, yeah - the cost of living has over-shot well beyond the prevailing wages. I even said more than 30 years ago that I could live better on $20k right here than I could on $100k in Silicon Valley.

Once you factor in the higher federal income tax bracket you have to get into just to barely pay for housing, all of the onerous regulatory compliance costs baked into the costs of everything from gasoline and groceries, special models of cars that are much more expensive, plus the incredibly high state and local tax bite on top of all of the other stuff, the true base pay needs to be more like 5x what it is in semi-rural Texas.

The tax bite in a high cost of living area is exponential rather than linear until nearly half of your income is in the highest marginal tax bracket. Then with those jaw dropping costs of living, you need to be in one of the top brackets to just barely survive.

While out here, where there is no state income tax. If one does a lot of things on the cheap, it is possible to enjoy a fairly comfortable lifestyle on much lower income. This means that each dollar you earn, you keep more of it, and what fraction you get to keep, will go a lot further.

And coronavirus is probably going to turn out to be the ultimate depth charge that sinks the San Francisco area gentrification for good, as many people realize that if they have to socially isolate and work from home, they can do that just as well from Billings, Montana or North Platte, Nebraska asthey can from Silicon Valley.



From: Showtalk 


Housing costs are ridiculous.  You are right about cost of living. I don’t have a way to locate it now but I remember reading an article online about three years ago that in the OC in California, middle class income is around $100,000 a year combined family income.  That would be almost wealthy in some other places.