Secret shame

by L

We recently discussed the “Secret Shame” article; here is a response:

Opting Out of Coastal Madness to Live a Low-Overhead Life

Here is the original article:

The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans

Would Totebaggers consider moving to flyover country/a low COL area in order to cut down on overhead? If not, why not?


273 thoughts on “Secret shame

  1. I am from flyover country and would move back if my husband would agree. Not because of overhead costs, but just because I like it better than here and my family is there. Another city in flyover country? Maybe. Totally depends on the city.

  2. I’ve actually never been to flyover country but if we were to move anywhere it would be back to Massachusetts. Or you know, the exact opposite of living a low overhead life.:)

    My cousin e-mailed me over the weekend because she’s good friends with the GC at a bank up in Boston asking if DH would send her his resume for a position that may be opening up there. We have mixed feelings about moving back. We have loved Atlanta and love how easy life is here (and less expensive) but thinking about how much easier life would be with family around (even though we’d probably have to live in a crappy house) makes it somewhat appealing.

  3. I’m in flyover country. I would still find it tough to move to a lower COL area or rural area as I wouldn’t want to move far from my family and friends. It’d be hard to uproot the social connections. I think the tougher question is would I be willing to cut down on the overhead in my current lifestyle by moving to a cheaper house, cheaper cars, cheaper education options for my kids, etc. in the same city. I think the hardest one to give up would be private school for the kids. I love my house, but I would be willing to move into something cheaper, if needed.

  4. Atlanta – I would do it in a second. I think having family around is very valuable for everyone involved (assuming the family isn’t crazy, of course).

  5. I could see Columbus or Madison or Austin. I love those state capitol/college cities in flyover country. But a place like Rochester or Cincinnati? No, they are just too depressing.

  6. Kate – If the pay is at all comparable and DH got the job (and we’d be taking a pay cut anyway because of cost of living) I’m sure we would. My oldest is going into 4th grade so if we’re going to move I’d also like to do it before middle school. Family is only a little crazy but it would be great to have grandparents and cousins nearby and the thought of being able to zip to Cape Cod when I want to would seal the deal for me.

    Dh said we basically have to decide if being near family is more important than lifestyle which it probably is. Parents are getting older and my sister who lives in NY just found out she was pregnant so it just seems like it would be a good time to go back home.

  7. We were lucky enough to have bought our house 20 years ago when housing prices weren’t nearly as crazy in Seattle as they are now (our house is probably worth 3+ times what we paid for it 20 years ago) – so living here is still doable for us. And I’d be loathe to give up all my friends and the relationships I’ve built up here. For our kids though – it’s going to be a challenge for them to buy a house here. And if I end up with grandkids in another part of the country with a cheaper cost of living – hard to say what would happen. I don’t think I’d move but you never know.

  8. We would like to move back to where we are from, despite my opposition to the political environment. I miss being near family and life long friends, and it is a fraction of the size of Houston, so just an easier way of life. I won’t move, though, if my kids are still in Houston.

    My siblings in larger, more expensive locales have pitched the idea of us moving there. When currently living in a relatively low cost area, moving somewhere more expensive is a hard sell.

  9. I live in a moderate COL area (index ~1.2) and I don’t want to move back to the low COL area I grew up in. None of my siblings live in that state and nearly all my high school friends live out of state as well. If we move, it will be for job reasons and we’d live in the west or midwest.

  10. We already did this, but for a great professional opportunity for DH (and free college tuition) , not to lower our COL. We were pretty average in UMC Fairfax, especially compared to some of the families at the private school, but we weren’t trying to keep up with the Joneses so it was fine. There are real benefits to living around other Totebaggers that are not always apparent until you relocate. It can be uncomfortable to find yourself suddenly thrust into the 1% in a less affluent community. Our kids were embarrassed to invite school friends over after the first ones saw the house and announced that we were rich. I have the same feeling — we have been here 8 years and there are some friends I always meet in coffee shops because of the house. I no longer tell people that the boys school here was a two for the price of one bargain compared to their DC school, because I quickly discovered that even university families found $10k tuition too steep. And the restaurant options are mostly awful big portion chains. So we eat in most of the time even though we finally have the resources to eat out.

  11. We are fairly well rooted here, but, if the kids end up somewhere else, I could see getting a condo near them. We have no family nearby, I grew up without family nearby, but it really looks like having grandparents/parents/aunts and uncles/cousins nearby is really cool.

  12. We had no idea of how all would work. I has been a while now. We really wanted to leave and we’re glad we did before recession.

  13. We dealt with this by leaving Manhattan and moving to an outer-ring suburb so that we could afford the lifestyle we wanted for our kids and be close to family.

    We can’t move to real flyover country because DH’s industry is here. I have never lived elsewhere and can’t really imagine it, but by the time we retire I expect we will have few family ties here, so who knows.

  14. I saw MMM mentioned the Secret Shame of the Middle Class article in his latest post.

  15. @Rhett: Austin is not nearly in the same financial league as those other cities. The prices are flat-out ridiculous, at least to those of us who Remember When(TM).

    I did this 25 years ago. I completely wrote off NY because of the COL, and I chose Balt. over DC because of the livability. I do not regret it at all. Well, I regret it because of the timing — if we’d bought in NY or DC back then, our housing would be worth a ridiculous amount of $$ now. :-) But I don’t regret the lifestyle or the commute or the speed with which I was able to pay off my student loans and then start saving.

    I have lived in a number of places, and I have visited many many more, and I think I could be happy in a whole bunch of them. I feel particularly comfortable in small-to-mid-sized Midwestern college towns — I could likely move to just about anyplace Rhett mentioned and be comfortable there. The biggest drawback for me is weather (e.g., I love New Orleans but couldn’t live there because of the heat/humidity; not sure I could handle a NE winter any more; etc.). DH is much, much pickier and has more of a NE/city mentality, which really limits our options there. Of course, not that I have any intent to move — love having family here while kids are in the house, that was the best decision we could have made.

    Overall, I think Colorado Springs was the best place I’ve lived, in terms of balancing lifestyle, affordability, access to recreation, natural scenery, and weather. Too bad my job sucked and his went away.

  16. We live in an outer ring burb of a major city in midwest. We love it here, but its not as close to city as we would like. Also, its freaking cold here! Unfortunately we bought at the peak of housing boom and will loose money when we sell. at this point, we have decided to take the hit so that we can move to a lower COL area of east coast. Since we bought when DH was only one working and not making a lot, we have never felt the burden of mortgage payments.

  17. Our kids were embarrassed to invite school friends over after the first ones saw the house and announced that we were rich.

    Why is that embarrassing?

    Working in flyover country, what I’ve seen is rather than buying the nicest house in town for $500k people with good jobs will tend to buy an upper middle class house for $200k and then have a lake house, beach house, condo in Florida, etc.

  18. I would move north if I did anything, but probably downsize house-wise first before I moved far away. Scarlett, I am worried about the same thing with our kids’ friends from school – the move gets us 2x as much SF as our current house, and the house is definitely “fancy” right now. Our 8yo even asked if people were going to judge her based on the house! (Very perceptive, that one.)

  19. the move gets us 2x as much SF as our current house, and the house is definitely “fancy” right now.

    Would you consider getting something the same size as you have now and a vacation home?

  20. We are in an inland area of California and don’t currently have plans to move toward an urban area (like the Bay Area), but we do have the benefit of being close enough to take advantage of urban areas while enjoying the lower cost of living in the Central Valley. I do spend time in and appreciate the Bay Area, but the higher cost of living is a huge turnoff, especially in light of all the traffic.

  21. Rhett – no, my parents’ vacation home is all we need on that front. I can’t think of anything closer that would be better.

  22. As flyover goes, Denver is pretty nice. It’s nowhere near as cheap as Indianapolis, where my in-laws all live. (Actually they live in Carmel. Took me a long time to learn to say CARml instead of CarMELL.) We have lots of stuff, mountains and museums and sports and universities. The weather’s not bad.

  23. I was watching that “Good Bones” show on HGTV the other week and it’s a mother/daughter house flipping duo in Indianapolis. They were saying that they usually buy the houses they’re going to flip for like $25K.

  24. I’ll note that those places have been for sale for 380 and 772 days respectively. You could probably get a good deal.

  25. We are growing very quickly and whereas previously people left yo go elsewhere now kids can remain here. There are bigger and smaller cities within driving distance of us and lakes, mountains and beaches.

  26. it would be hard to find a lower COL place than where we are now and our families are here. Kindergarten orientation tonight! DS attended public preK so he will be at the same school, which is really good for him ( he has some anxiety about leaving preschool)

  27. Rhett, we thought about the lake house thing, because there are many nice summer communities within a very easy hour drive. But DH would just be working anyhow and cursing the wifi quality so instead we got the more expensive house here with an outdoor pool and indoor hot tub.

  28. But DH would just be working anyhow and cursing the wifi quality

    I see we’re married to the same guy!

  29. Rhett, that house is part of a trend in Carmel to tear down perfectly nice normal houses and replace with McMansions. My in-laws had a very nice, reasonable, 2,500 sq. ft. house on a half acre that will probably get torn down and McMansion-ized. For a long time the houses in their neighborhood were under $150K.

    Downtown Carmel has become all trendy and upscale too.

  30. We live in Carmel. It is very nice and the gross numbers for salary will work fine. The schools are good enough for Tiger Moms to send their kids to public school.

  31. “tend to buy an upper middle class house for $200k and then have a lake house”

    The Arkansas couple on Sunday’s Lakefront Bargain Hunt were buying lakefront for under $200k, and, at least according the script, stressing about whether a property listed for $170k had too many updating requirements to stay under budget.

    The funny part to me is that they already owned a relatively new boat that would cost at least $125k new.

    They ended up getting that house for $120k.

    Where we live is not in the same COL league as Kate and Moxie, so I have no complaints in that regard. It’s nice being able to get together with family for a day, or even just a dinner. Outside of those considerations, I wouldn’t mind living somewhere else. I like chain restaurants.

  32. Notice on photo 16 the conversation area in the master bedroom with seating for 4. Are you holding meetings there?

  33. In my 64 years I have only lived in two metro areas, DC and Boston, and the most significant road not taken in my life was my decision to stay in Cambridge for grad school instead of going to Bloomington. So I don’t normally get sticker shock at the cost of living, and I admit that even though I have had a fairly wide range of economic and social experiences here in the Northeast, I am regionally provincial and happy to live here. Many years ago I read an early book by Deborah Tannen on communication styles and it opened my eyes to regional behavioral differences. I adjusted my responses and to the extent I could my own behavior as if I were visiting a foreign country or entertaining a foreign visitor and did not want to give offense. But it is too exhausting to be on somebody else’s definition of best behavior 24-7, so any monetary benefit to relocation in the years when it would have significantly improved our standard of living would have never been worth it.

    Now I just want to be near family, and it is not that I don’t mind the weather, I actually like it most of the time. Today I got up at the crack of dawn and did preschool drop off because DIL had jury duty. She was dismissed before noon, so I don’t have to pick up. (In MA, for county court you are called for one day and if you are not needed your obligation is fulfilled for several years). DD1 has announced she is seeking work seriously in our area and will be living with us for a while, starting August or so. She wants to be part of the life of her little nieces, and to spend time with her 90 plus grandparents, too. DS and DIL relocated to be near family, but they had parlayed sweat equity and a paid off house into a 50% down payment so that they could afford a good school system and a spacious well maintained quirky house, although they did replace the HVAC and put solar panels on in year two.

    However, the price of a starter home or a townhouse around here is in objective terms mind boggling, and a renovated or new construction full sized home in a good school district or with private school add on is at luxury levels. I can understand completely why people would leave.

  34. Hi folks, I’ve been super busy lately and miss you guys! I just had to chime in today because my brother, SIL & 2-yo niece just moved to my (small, rural, college) town from Chicago. It’s funny, we’re having a hard time finding them a house to rent – their choices are affordable rent in student-heavy locations or $2000+/month in nice family neighborhoods where they could buy a 3BR/2BA house for $300K ($1500/month mortgage payment). But they’re still saddled with a house that never sold after their last move and really wary about buying again. If only they had made this move a year ago, I could have kept my big house and had them move in with me when ex-H wanted to move out! My brother has been here 3 weeks, with SIL & niece arriving just last weekend, and I am already loving having family nearby. There’s just something easier about asking my brother to come over to help me change a lightbulb than a neighbor or friend. (This time the bulb was stuck and we ended up having to take the fixture down, break the bulb, and pry the metal out of the fixture!) SIL is picking DD up after school today since my sitter just left town after graduation, and DD & I look forward to babysitting her cousin soon.

  35. We live less than an hour outside Boston (and have good public transportation into Boston when we want it), but it still feels like a different world up here than it would if we lived in the city or in one of the totebaggy, ultra-competitive close-in suburbs. Housing is cheaper up here. Most kids (even the affluent ones) go to the local public schools. I don’t know any kids who do Kumon, Russian School of Math, or the other after-school academic programs that seem so common for kids who live closer to Boston. You never really need to go on vacation, since there are beautiful beaches within a 10-15 minute drive, there is White Mountain hiking within an hour’s drive, you can enjoy city stuff in Boston, and our own little hometowns have a great old-New England charm to them, with good shopping, restaurants, etc. So I think even on the coasts, there is a lot of town-to-town variability regarding COL and general keeping-up-with-the-Jonses madness.

  36. Wow, Meme! Nice news about DD1. I can’t remember where she’s living now. She’s not the one in the DC area, is she?

    Atlanta, did you initially move south for a particular job? Were you reluctant at the time?

    I grew up in flyover country and have lived in several spots there before moving to the east coast. Like lfb, I could probably be happy living anywhere but don’t like cold weather. I have a preference for the southwest for the climate and the culture.

    My family is scattered all across the country, and although my kids think NYC area is THE place to be I could see that changing as they get older. We were in Charleston last month and they both commented about how it could be pleasant to live there. I like Charleston, but I don’t care for the humidity.

  37. As for being too well off, it is all a matter of being able to pass. The dented Toyotas in front of the starter/downsize townhouse and the fact that we DON’T have a second home at the beach or lake means that we are perceived as solidly middle class and right sized for the neighborhood. Nobody checks out the price tag on our occasional trips or could recognize a luxury watch at ten paces. Buying the former mansion, even if dilapidated, of a town’s late leading factory owner or buying the cheapest slab ranch in a rich bedroom community can equally result in social difficulties.

  38. I’ll ditto RMS on Denver. I love it here, although housing is a bit pricey. We got lucky. We bought on an upswing but we got the cheap house in the neighborhood.

    I am also curious as to what jobs you can’t find here.

  39. I would move to certain areas with a lower COL – Minneapolis, Madison, maybe Milwaukee. Maybe Denver/Boulder. I have gone so far as to interview for jobs in Minneapolis, but never pulled the trigger. DH is completely uninterested as he has lived in this city his entire life & loves it, warts and all. His family is here as well. I get it though – he’s a little like Meme. I can speak Minnesotan and Wisconsin, and he cannot or at least finds it exhausting to translate. He gets culture shock visiting some of these other places. I felt the same way about the South – it was so much WORK to try to fit in, and I’m not sure that I ever did.

  40. Meme, great news about your DD!

    Also, “But DH would just be working anyhow and cursing the wifi quality.” YES. This is my DH too – he brings his own handmade repeater to my parents’ vacation home so he can get wifi anywhere on the property, not just near the router. This is also part of why the new house, with its separate office building, is so appealing to him.

  41. I grew up in flyover country and have relatives there still. One of my relatives spent last evening in her PJs trying to scare off a man who was stealing flower pot hooks from her yard. Flower pot hooks??? Yes, she said, the drug addicts will steal anything metal they can sell for scrap. She lives in a middle class, heavilly evangelical town, one with a large Army base, in flyover country. It should be a safe place but instead people are so despairing they are stealing flower pot hooks. I think I will stay right where I am. No one steals anything from my yard.

  42. There are places that are technically in flyover country that I don’t really count as flyover, and some are mentioned here : Denver for example. I would add Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, Austin, and perhaps Atlanta. Those are all places that can be just as Totebaggy as anything on the coasts. In fact, I would say Chicago is far more Totebaggy than say Baltimore

  43. CoC – yes we moved here for DH’s job. He went to law school down south and so we just sort of ended up here and now 13 years later we’re still here. It’s total inertia on our part and we do like the lifestyle (hop in car and be at work in 15 minutes) but I guess we both still think of New England as home.

  44. Sorry, winemama, but when you look at what is going on in this country – the income gulf, the bubble thing, declining cities, opioid drug abuse – you can’t escape the reality that the big problems are in the Midwest and a good bit of the (non Atlanta) South. People are hurting in particular in those regions. That is why the COL is low – because the opportunities are not in those places. I grew up in flyover country and all my roots are there – but I am glad not to be living there. Maybe someday we will figure out how to equalize opportunity and places in the midwest will become appealing again.

  45. We’ve had this discussion a lot lately. My DH is finding that his work is mostly concentrated in certain cities, however, and those all seem to have a high cost of living. What little he’s seen in anything remotely “flyover” and contacted people, he’s been informed that yes, they have operations in _____ city, but the work he would do would be here in the Bay Area (or Los Angeles, apparently.) So… we could leave the Bay Area for something slightly less expensive (or equivalent with salary reduction) and I don’t see much gain there. It’s hard to stay here, and we’ve discussed moving, but we can’t figure out the destination! Our family is scattered all over the country. My DH just discussed a job in Boston with someone, and I just can’t see the logic for us. That’s definitely not flyover. Still expensive, no family nearby, lots of winter. The city itself has a lot going for it, but I feel like if we’re going to uproot our entire family, there ought to be some significant positive offset that improves things for all of us, y’know? We’ve been mulling this and I’m realizing that most people here who move are doing so to be near family. With our family scattered, this is a puzzle that’s become tricky to figure out.

  46. The heroin problem in parts of Massachusetts is really bad. I have had a few people I went to high school with in their 30s and 40s die from overdose over the past few years. One of the reasons I probably would not move back to my hometown.

  47. Rhett – In objective terms, I find 500K for a starter/young family home with one full bath and no AC and an outbuilding/ shed listed as a separate “2-car garage” as outrageous. The location means that this one is 1900 sq ft instead of 1200 sq ft, has 4 small bedrooms instead of 3 small bedroom, and the floors and appliances look in very good shape (counters are corian, I think, not granite, cabinets are old and solid but painted a nice white). I think that the family needs a lot more income than 100K to meet the 30 percent or the 28/36 rule (taking student debt into account), especially since even 10 percent down requires 50K in cash. This is not winemama’s area where you can put zero or at least less than 5% down on a 200K house with new everything.

  48. I feel less of income gap here and more a sense of diverse community. I worked with a lot of people born and brought up in New England and I felt hard yo break in. I got the impression that it would be hard for my kids as well.

  49. “There are places that are technically in flyover country that I don’t really count as flyover, and some are mentioned here : Denver for example. I would add Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, Austin, and perhaps Atlanta. Those are all places that can be just as Totebaggy as anything on the coasts”

    interesting list, I guess the rest of the midwest is just a bunch of hicks?

  50. Rhett – love the Duluth house. I think it would be hard to earn totebag salaries in Duluth though. I guess I could telecommute but DH wouldn’t be able to.

  51. tcmama,

    You could swing the mortgage but the heating bill would be the real killer.

  52. Interesting to read all the comments, since as you all know, we’re trying to figure out whether to stay or move.

    I’d be hard put to find a job in Denver, but DH would be fine.

    My brother is moving to Colorado once he retires. Already bought a home there and is renting it out in the meantime.

  53. we would love to live close to the ocean or mountains some day but for now, we like that DS is close to his grandparents and cousins

  54. People steal things from my yard! Someone stole my metal butterfly sculpture. It made me quite sad. And one of our neighbor’s had racial slurs spray painted on their driveway.

  55. “But a place like Rochester”

    Assuming you mean NY…I resemble that remark!!!

    We’ve lived here 25.5 years (this week, actually). No, that was not the plan. Came here on a corporate relo; got an offer to move again with them on the timetable we had talked about…8yrs, but by then we had 2 kids, had crafted a support structure (no family within 350 miles) and liked living here. Besides, the offer to move was to a much more expensive place and, like Atlanta says “we’d have to live in a crappy house” AND I’d have a longer commute AND, honestly, the financials would not have worked (i.e. the company wasn’t going to bump my comp extra to keep COL comparable just because I had/have a wife who works).

    So I turned down the relo. And for the next 5 years everything was hunky-dory. Then I got laid off; fortunately between unemployment, severance, some in-the-money options, a short but lucrative gig with a startup, and some consulting work we were ok* until I landed with this employer 4 years later.

    And, over the last 8.5 years, it’s been pretty great living in a nice house, in a low-cost (except for property taxes) area where we have lots of friends, our kids went to good/great schools. My job pays very well for the area and I work a pretty regular 830-530, short commute, few (1 of our kids ends up settling here with his family. We have nothing to hold us here, the property taxes are killer, and I could do with a shorter winter.

    *because we cut back on a bunch of optional lifestyle things and also college- and retirement- savings went to zero until I started here. But at least we kept those accounts in tact, and continued to pay the mortgage every month.

  56. Rhett – That is really far from downtown, so it is not targeted at people who work there. As NoB said, that may be part of the metro area, but it is very different from something closer in. And down route 3 is a lot different from up route 3.

    Louise – Year by year there are increasing numbers of South Asians around me buying homes, and I see more and more in positions of influence in the finance and corporate world. New England banking was, and perhaps still is, a particularly closed industry.

  57. “And the restaurant options are mostly awful big portion chains.”

    Thankfully we have plenty of good dining options here; many more places with interesting and innovative food preparation than we have time or money to eat at.

    PTM – Not just garbage plates
    ATM – or wings, either!

  58. @winemama I know a couple of people who moved to your city from mine, and they are very happy there. It is only 5 hours away, so not terrible for driving home for visits. The COL is much lower, and they have great houses for the money. I enjoyed visiting your area – the scenery is gorgeous & we ate at a couple of really good restaurants too. DS loved visiting the Lousiville Slugger factory. It seems like it is getting to be a popular destination for “boys weekends” with the Bourbon Trail, Churchhill Downs,MiLB, etc.

    tcmama gets to one of the issues – I would never make my salary in a comparable job in Des Moines or Duluth. Louisville or Nashville? Maybe. Minneapolis or Denver? Probably, but the COL isn’t THAT much lower.

  59. I hear you Wine- I grew up in flyover country (and may still live there depending on the definition) and it used to really bother me when people were shocked that I was so…totebaggy. Like, I remember the first time I spent a summer in Boston toward the end of HS and people were shocked that, for instance, they were not the first Jew I had ever met. And I think I told the story on here before about how my Ivy League interviewer made comments about my supposedly weak high school when in actuality I attended one of the best in the country according to certain rankings. Imagine that, there are Totebaggers outside of the coasts- even in places like Lincoln, Tulsa, and Knoxville! Now I see the irony in it and find it more amusing than insulting.

  60. NoB – I am hoping the less-pressured town you describe also applies to our new town. :)

  61. People steal stuff here too. The kids next door have gotten their bikes stolen twice. We live in the city proper but for all intents and purposes it’s the suburbs. I think house break ins (when you’re not home), car break ins and other petty theft are just a fact of life in the southern cities. Most of the neighborhoods around us employ off duty police officers to patrol for a few hours every day. Home invasions are relatively rare, but there was a string of them last year in a far ritzier area of Buckhead than where we live (although the guys were caught).

  62. On the original topic, I have totally converted my husband to the virtues of flyover country and it would take an enormous salary increase to get us to consider moving to someplace like NYC or SF. The amount we’d have to make to enjoy a comparable commute, neighborhood, etc. would be staggering. What’s the point of living in an awesome city if you can’t afford to enjoy the restaurants, entertainment, etc?

    Also, my absolute last choice would be someplace like the ritzy New England town where my DH grew up- if I’m going to deal with that COL I’d better have great big city amentities.

  63. wine – That first listing has some serious trimwork. The write-up is endearingly folksy:

    …The guest suite even has its own sitting area. Master office- yes we have that but it could be another bedroom if needed. Almost forgot the bonuses -Theater room with stadium setting, wet bar, exercise room and a private half bath on the second floor. I tell you what- if you’re still reading this- call me and I will buy you a Venti Starbucks coffee

    I love “I tell you what.”

  64. My neighbors benches are fine and I feel like napping on the fluffy cushions.

  65. Also – I think it’s easy to get a great non-chain meal in a whole lot of places, especially small cities.

    Fred – there was a bakery in Rochester that I loved when we were out there a few years ago. Village Bakery maybe? It was in a small suburban downtown area.

  66. Also – I think it’s easy to get a great non-chain meal in a whole lot of places, especially small cities.

    I haven’t found that to be the case. You can find them, maybe, but it’s not easy and while good it’s not great.

  67. “I would never make my salary in a comparable job in Des Moines or Duluth.”

    That’s the problem: usually the two go hand-in-hand. You really need to either look for or luck into some salary arbitrage (this is what I have going now: I get what is basically a DC salary but live on Baltimore prices).

    This also gets to Fred’s two-income point: many smaller towns might be awesome for particular fields, but offer very little beyond that. So even if you can get one awesome job there, the other spouse will probably take a hit, both financially and in career progression. At least, that’s what happened to us in CO — DH got an equivalent job, but the best job I could find involved (1) an immediate 35% paycut, and (2) a standard corporate “3% raise/minimal bonus” track, which was a big loss of future opportunities compared to being a year away from partnership at a firm. Sure, the COL was lower, but it wasn’t *that* much lower. Of course, since the alternative was for DH’s income to go all the way to 0, we still took it and were damn happy to have it.

    Which really means that major metropolitan areas are still great places for two-career couples, because they likely provide the most dual-career flexibility and best combined pay package. OTOH, if you want to have one parent stay home, “move to flyover country and lower your expenses” would be a great way to accomplish that, because you only need to find that one great job in your particular field.

  68. ATM,
    well you left and went east for college and then kept going until you got where you are, so I figure you have a pretty good reason to stay away.

    I honestly only know what I read in the papers about Buffalo. Yeah, I’ve been there many, many times for hockey, baseball, the zoo (much better than ours), art museum, Walden Galleria before things got better here but I don’t know the place/its burbs.

  69. Also – I think it’s easy to get a great non-chain meal in a whole lot of places, especially small cities.

    smaller cities have been hit or miss for us finding good restaurants, some have wonderful restaurants and some, not so much

  70. “Village Bakery, maybe?”

    Was it kind of behind a Starbucks? If so, 2 miles from my house. Yes, it’s a great place.

  71. “It seems like it is getting to be a popular destination for “boys weekends” with the Bourbon Trail, Churchhill Downs,MiLB, etc.”

    yes, if you are a foodie and/or like bourbon, come on down!

  72. Yeah – I guess the problem for me with small cities is that there aren’t a LOT of good restaurants, so you would be going to the same place every date night. We’ve found good places to eat everywhere we’ve gone though. Although it’s been a long time since I’ve been to Duluth…

    I think the worst place I’ve traveled for food is SW Florida. So much mediocre seafood right next to the ocean. So many overpriced and truly mediocre restaurants with bad food. I’d rather go out to eat in Cleveland or Louisville anytime over Naples/Ft Myers/Marco Island.

  73. “Was it kind of behind a Starbucks? If so, 2 miles from my house. Yes, it’s a great place.”

    That sounds right. Small parking lot. Cute little downtown area. We went back a few times over the long weekend because we liked it & they had good coffee too.

    Dinosaur BBQ was also a lot better than I expected when I heard that we were going to a BBQ restaurant in Upstate NY! The one they just opened here is not as good as the original.

  74. @Rhett – No, but I have been to the one here. It’s good, not great, as you say. I may seek it out next time I am down there though – I never noticed it before.

  75. This seems relevant to today’s topic —

    Re: food: many smaller southern cities especially seem to be flourishing with the fresh/local/organic food trend (or maybe it’s just because they have so many fresh/local options). Birmingham seems to have quite a few nice options, for one. Even around here (which, as Mooshi notes, is still less totebaggy than many other places), the food is infinitely better (not to mention hipper) than it was when I was growing up.

  76. I like the Roy’s in Baltimore. I have had good seafood in Bonita Springs, but at hole in the wall places. Cleveland does have excellent Italian food. As does Baltimore. Ours is sad.

  77. “Also – I think it’s easy to get a great non-chain meal in a whole lot of places, especially small cities.”

    I’ve never found it easy to get a great meal east of the Mississippi. Granted, it has been a number of years since I’ve traveled to the east coast, but I was absolutely shocked at how hard it was to find good, fresh food. When I went with the kids on the 8th grade Washington trip, granted it was low budget, but still, we didn’t get anything decent until we got to an airport in Texas on the way back.

    How hard do you think it would be to adjust to food preferences/availability in other parts of the country? Is that also a part of talking Wisconsin, or the regional behavior differences that Meme referenced?

  78. Ivy – you might be surprised at salaries in the Twin Cities. When we moved from Chicago I found a comparable job making 20%. And although state income tax is higher here than in IL, the rest of the taxes are so low (and no toll roads) that my DH and I really stepped up in the disposable income category.

    Duluth has wonderful restaurants, including my favorite sandwich shop –

    And yes, Ft. Myers has terrible restaurants for what one would expect of a city on the ocean.

  79. Cordelia,

    I think SF is a close second but I’ve never been anyplace that had more consistently excellent food than NYC. I think it may be an infrastructure thing. The demand and volume are so high in New York that purveyors exist to provide super high quality ingredients. I also think the competition is so fierce that anything that isn’t good soon goes out of business.

  80. We live in California, but in an area that most Californians would consider the flyover part of the state – not on the coast and not in one of the major metro areas. We didn’t move here specifically for the cost of living, but our COL is much lower than it would be for a comparable quality of life in a coastal city or town in this state. That has allowed us to save pretty aggressively. We moved here for our jobs and are happy with that choice, but we’d move for the right opportunity, and we’re planning to retire on the coast.

    Regarding the articles, the “secret shame” sounds like a cash flow problem that spirals out of control to the point that people can’t get out of it. One of the things I am starting to teach my 6 yo DS is how to manage his cashflow. The bigger kids at his school have been selling popsicles after school as a fund raiser for something. They are $0.25 each. When DS started asking for popsicle money, I gave him $0.50 and told him that was his money for the week. He could spend it however he wanted, but that was all he got. The next day I asked him if he bought a popsicle, he said he had bought two popsicles. This week, I gave him $0.50, and hasn’t bought any popsicles yet. Not sure if he learned some self discipline or if he forgot that he has the $0.50. We’ll see how it goes.

  81. Cordelia – the DC food scene is sad compared to a lot of other cities. I think because it is so transient. No Little Italy. Chinatown is tiny. No real regional cuisine.

  82. We usually seem to get OK, but not spectacular food in NYC, despite all the hype. Maybe we’re not getting reservations months in advance to the right places. Charleston is much better, imo.

    I’ve been to Roy’s in Baltimore, Chicago, and Kauai.

    For some reason, my favorite and most memorable restaurants tend to be in smaller towns and rural areas. While DW and I stayed at a nearby bed and breakfast, we liked this place:

  83. I didn’t realize you guys were talking about THE Roy’s until I saw Milo’s comment, and then went back to click Rhett’s link. I didn’t realize it had spread its tentacles so far!

  84. “the “secret shame” sounds like a cash flow problem that spirals out of control to the point that people can’t get out of it.”

    That moron could probably put his house on VRBO and net $40k in rental income just from the summer while he and his DW live in a tiny cabin in the remote Adirondacks. Enjoy the solitude and write. But he won’t do that.

  85. Maybe we’re not getting reservations months in advance to the right places

    We usually just ask the concierge where to go and it’s always been amazing. Even when we just ask, “What’s good for lunch withing 2 or 3 blocks?”

  86. Would the difficulty of finding familiar foods, either in the grocery store or in restaurants affect your choice of moving to a lower cost area?

    I’ve talked to people who lived in the midwest for a while and one of the constant comments was about how the difficulty of finding, I guess, comfort food, was wearing.

  87. “We usually just ask the concierge where to go and it’s always been amazing.”

    That’s often what we do, and it’s fine, but it’s nothing to write home about.

  88. Worst food IME: Cincinnati.

    Rhett, I agree about NYC. Even on a student budget there the food was always GREAT. I remember going to this place on Mott St that had amazing Vietnamese noodles for $4.

  89. Worst food IME: Cincinnati.

    When I was there, I was taken out for the local specialty, spaghetti with chili on top. What is that? Who thought that was a good idea?

  90. Oh, it’s nice enough. I mean, it’s been around for a while, so it’s not what you would think of as one of the new buzzy places, but if you live out Hawaii Kai way it makes for a solid date night restaurant. You notice it’s Alan Wong’s that the Obamas are always eating at when they’re here, not Roy’s. And the ones that are getting noticed in national food magazines and that sort of thing are more the trendy places in Chinatown (like Pig and the Lady) or Kaimuku (like Mud Hen Water, which I haven’t tried yet).

  91. Oh god. Someone once made me eat Cincinnati chili. So gross. It tasted cinnamony with tons of cheese and over-cooked, limp spaghetti. Nasty.

  92. San Francisco has the best food, NYC was great, but Louisville is just as good

    there was a news story about how the UPS hub gets fresh seafood ingredients that are shipped from the coast to here

  93. @Lemon – that deli looks fantastic! Some year we will do a North Shore vacation with some friends. I figure I could probably make about the same in MSP, but not Duluth. And DH would have no trouble finding a job either. I think that ship has sailed unless something big changes, but in a parallel universe, I may be living in SW Minneapolis! Which is as Totebaggy as you can get, I suppose. It is nothing like Huntington, IN.

    “How hard do you think it would be to adjust to food preferences/availability in other parts of the country? Is that also a part of talking Wisconsin, or the regional behavior differences that Meme referenced?”

    I think it can probably be very hard. When I first moved to the East Coast, I was absolutely floored that you could not get bratwurst at the grocery store and that Italian sausage came in patty form like a burger. I had also never seen fried clams or a lobster roll before, but I learned to love those along with the local pizza and big meatball grinders from local delis. I think if you are from California, it would be really hard to get used to the produce available in the rest of the country in the winter.

  94. “How hard do you think it would be to adjust to food preferences/availability in other parts of the country?”

    I think this is a huge part of it. I like everything from Michelin 3-star to trendy small plates to greasy spoon; I like ethnic and I like Americana and everything in-between. As a result, I have almost never had any problem finding very good food anywhere I went — you just go with the local specialty (in terms of ingredients, style of cooking, and high-or-lowbrow). When I go to NC, I get pulled pork with coleslaw on top and hush puppies from the little brick building that has been serving the exact same thing for @ 60 years, and it is awesome. When I go to NYC, I go to Del Posto or something ethnic I can’t get here, and in either case it is awesome. When I go to either NYC or Chicago, I want pizza, and I’m good with both. (And I have had equal/better pizza than both at Hersh’s in S. Baltimore, btw — they’re right up there.).

    OTOH, if you think BBQ means brisket and sweet-tomatoey sauce (or spare ribs with a dry rub), or think that pizza isn’t really pizza unless you can fold it, or are looking for trendy or fine dining, there are going to be a lot of places where the food just doesn’t meet your standards.

    And btw, I grew up with Cincinnati chili. :-) Not my favorite (I do think TX does it best), but my mom adores it.

  95. “and that Italian sausage came in patty form like a burger”

    When was this??? My mom was slicing up Italian sausage links into spaghetti at least back in the ’80s.

  96. I remember when I went to NYC that I was very disappointed you couldn’t buy brown bread in a can, nor could I find baked beans. And here you (still) can’t buy decent black and white cookies!

  97. PS — when y’all talk about Roy’s, I think of this place — — I didn’t realize that it had closed, and that makes me extremely sad. They had a sandwich with, I think, roast beef, braunschweiger, bacon, cheese, coleslaw, and Russian dressing that was just out of this world. Of course, I can’t eat stuff like that more than maybe once a year now anyway. . . .

  98. I thought Roy’s was part of the Marriott chain. I didn’t realize it was an independent place, but I do like the food.

    I lived in flyover country for temporary work assignments. The longest was 7 months. I enjoyed how easy my commute was, and I really enjoyed the lower COL. I even considered one permanent job, but I couldn’t do it for two reasons. The first was the food. I enjoyed the chains at the beginning. This was 15 – 20 years ago, and NY didn’t have as many chains as it does today. FREE ice tea and soda refills. I didn’t even know this existed until i started going to these chains.
    I did miss all of the ethnic foods that I could get in NY. I was still living in the city, so I always met my friends at tiny ethnic places. We were eating in the east village and other parts of the city that weren’t gentrified the way everything is today. There were always tiny, inexpensive places to get great meals.

    Plus, most of my friends and family were still in NY metro, and I really missed them on weekends. I was happy to come back even with the lack of closets and higher COL.

    I might be able to make the adjustment now because my life has changed. I still go to those great NYC restaurants with DH/friends, but it has to be planned unless it is in the summer. DD is definitely more comfortable with the predictable menu in a chain restaurant, and she could be very happy in flyover country for many reasons. The primary factor that keeps us here is still family. We are so fortunate that everyone is in NY metro, and we are not willing to give that up for a lower COL.

  99. +1 to LFB’s food finding philosophy. That’s been my experience as well. You can also often find good ethnic food in small cities- just find places run by recent immigrants; they’re often just as good as what you would get in a bigger city, and much cheaper.

  100. My problem is that I got fond of the local specialties in places I lived and now I can’t get them. But when I was off living elsewhere I missed the things that were hard to find outside Hawaii. So I’ll always have something I miss, but on the other hand, I’ll always have something I appreciate being able to find!

  101. “I also think the competition is so fierce that anything that isn’t good soon goes out of business.”

    Totally agree. DH and I were just talking about this last night.

    If you’re looking for straight up, plain old American (excluding pizza), restaurants in Manhattan/Brooklyn are just OK (although a few good BBQ places have opened up recently near me – yay! ) If you’re looking for any kind of ethnic anything, 1) you can find it and 2) the food is fantastic.

  102. Forgot to say: I do agree with the issue about the variety of food options. Our first trip to Italy, I probably had the single-best three-week stretch of food of my life — we’re talking @60 straight meals without a clunker or a “meh” in the bunch. And yet on the way home, DH and I were dying for Chinese and cheeseburgers. It would be hard to live permanently somewhere that didn’t offer the kind of variety that we are used to.

  103. And yet on the way home, DH and I were dying for Chinese and cheeseburgers.

    I get that way on the road. If I end up going to too many amazing places in a row I start craving The Cheesecake Factory or Chili’s.

  104. An interesting thing I’ve noticed recently here is that we’re getting some Australian-style places opening up, most notably a branch of Bill’s Sydney. You can see that the influences going into the food are very similar to what we have here, but it comes out different, like it’s from an alternative-universe version of Hawaii.

  105. This is what they always had in New England. No links. This would have been late 90’s.

    Where in New England? In Boston and the suburbs it’s been links for +30 years. RI is heavy Italian so it can’t be there. VT or NH maybe?

  106. Ivy – you would like the grocery stores in Buffalo/Rochester. Heavily settled by Polish, German and Italians – lots of sausage, wursts, bolognas and other meat products. In HS I worked very briefly in a deli section – I couldn’t believe how many different kinds of sausage-like meats there were.

  107. Ivy – I think you must have just missed the section with the links. There’s no way they weren’t available at just about every mainstream grocery store.

  108. Connecticut

    I could see that. I always think of CT as the epitome of WASPyness. They like in bland in Darien.

  109. thinking about going to the coast for vacation or a good beach

    love Clearwater, Oregon coast, Bay area and Lake Tahoe

    so doesn’t have to be “warm”

    would go in late June (if we go)

  110. “I could see that. I always think of CT as the epitome of WASPyness. They like in bland in Darien.”

    I can guarantee that the Stop and Shops and Stew Leonard’s had Italian sausage links.

  111. “And here you (still) can’t buy decent black and white cookies!”

    No Oreos?

  112. “I see we’re married to the same guy!”

    RMS, I have long suspected that we were raised by the same parents but in an alternative universe. Like Spock with a beard.

  113. Maybe they did have links somewhere, but the Big Y was definitely heavy on patties. I also distinctly remember going to a BBQ at my boss’ house and taking a bite of a “burger” and finding out it was hot Italian sausage. Which was fine, just unexpected.

  114. I can guarantee that the Stop and Shops and Stew Leonard’s had Italian sausage links.

    I agree. There is no way there weren’t available.

  115. “the Big Y”

    ohhh yeah, that’s a name I forgot.

    “I always think of CT as the epitome of WASPyness.”

    Then you’re only thinking of the Southwestern corner.

  116. ” taking a bite of a “burger” and finding out it was hot Italian sausage”

    The one time I was in Chicago, we went to a pizza place that covered the entire pizza with one huge slice of sausage.

  117. Ditto Honolulu. I love to try different “specialties” anywhere that we travel. At different stages in our lives we’ve lived in cities where we’ve had certain regular things we would eat, and we miss those. So I can’t get my favorite pizza with vodka sauce from NY as easily here, etc. but there’s also a ton of good food here. I suspect anyone who moves a lot, who likes food, will always have some sort of homesickness for the food of places where they’ve spent their time.

  118. “I would never make my salary in a comparable job in Des Moines or Duluth.”

    Which becomes irrelevant in retirement.

    I’ll see what happens in the next 10 years or so. By then, kids will be out of college (at least undergrad), and have more of an idea of what they want to do and where they want to live. A lot of that would depend on whether they’ve found SOs.

    If both kids ended up, say, going to school in the Boston area and staying there, I would definitely check out NoB’s neck of the woods.

  119. Wow, that’s a beautiful house. But in pictures #6 and #9, did they hang two copies of the same print?

    I was going to show you Captain’s Pizza in New London, but it looks like they were foreclosed on.

  120. Ivy – come be my neighbor!

    Lemon – I love that sandwich shop in Duluth.

    Does anyone have restaurant suggestions for Naples? We struggled to find something interesting that wasn’t a chain when we were there. I was surprised given how much money is in the area.

    All the talk of food makes me think of my favorite restaurants. Have we done a post on that? Where would you recommend in your city or cities you’ve been to?

    Best meals I’ve had over the years –
    Minneapolis – Piccolo
    New Orleans – Bayonna’s (the sweetbread was the single best thing I ever have had to this day)
    New York – Aquavit

  121. “he brings his own handmade repeater to my parents’ vacation home so he can get wifi anywhere on the property, not just near the router.”

    That is something DH would totally do if he ever thought a few minutes about it, so I hope he never does. We spent time with his mom in her temporary assisted living place and he could not believe that none of the weekend staff knew the wifi password.

  122. I’ve been to the original Roy’s a few times and really liked it.

    However, my impression was that it wasn’t necessarily what I would consider fine dining. While the food was excellent, it didn’t have that ambiance. It was bright, crowded, and not quiet; it had more of a family vibe. albeit a high-end family vibe (a totebaggy family restaurant?).

    I’ve only been to Alan Wong’s once, and that was a fine dining experience.

  123. But in pictures #6 and #9, did they hang two copies of the same print?

    Those are TVs showing some sort of yachting event. Most likely they have some sort of system to either display that image or photoshop it in. I assume it’s because it looks better than a sea of black.

  124. That is one small corner of CT. You are taking a typical NYer view of CT even though you’re closer to the bulk of the real CT. A bunch of my second cousins live in central CT. They’re all doctors and they need to be close to UConn and Hartford. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in that part of the state and it is definitely different than Fairfield county.

  125. Tcmama, mine would all be low-end food.

    New England – clam roll
    London – smoked haddock and chips from your neighborhood chippie
    Dublin – full Irish
    VA – BBQ and coleslaw sandwiches from local joint
    and when I was away from Hawaii, I was trying to recreate laulaus, chicken long rice, haupia, teri beef sticks, saimin, guava Dee-lite cake

  126. “if you want to have one parent stay home, “move to flyover country and lower your expenses” would be a great way to accomplish that, because you only need to find that one great job in your particular field.”

    A lot of my former SV coworkers did this. When they were ready to start families, or had just started families, they’d move to places like OR, CO, AZ, or NM, often had enough equity in their SV homes to be able to buy homes there, and lived very comfortably on single incomes.

  127. We have visited some amazing restaurants in very unlikely areas, but you have to work hard to find them. And they have a habit of disappearing after a few years because the locals in places like our current home really want a big plate of mediocre food at low prices. Hence, lines out the door at Golden Corral and Bob Evans, and no one at the creative little bistro in the strip mall that hosts a revolving door of creative little restaurants.

  128. Sorry to hijack, but the baby had a fussy day yesterday and I didn’t get a chance to post- you guys might remember my posts about our car hunt the other day, regarding wanting to get a second car and minimize cost per mile driven while maximizing safety and reliability. Ideally we want something a little bigger (our only car now is a compact) in case another baby or two comes along in the next 5 years or so. After researching the local market, it seems like used cars just aren’t a great deal right now. I’m hesitant to spend $12kish on a recently out of warranty car, or something approaching 100,000 miles. We make around the Totebag median IIRC but just used most of our savings putting 20% down on a house, and just had a baby, so DH is reluctant to pay $20k+ in cash due to liquidity concerns. We are usually Dave Ramsey types and never imagined taking on a loan for a car, but I’m wondering if it makes the most sense. I mean, a base model new CRV or CX-5 seems like the obvious choice, and the only thing stopping us is liquidity. But, we finally paid off all student loans and have no debt but the mortgage. If we buy new, I’ll need to talk DH into it, but I’m persuasive so I easily could. Do you guys think this is a good idea? Or should I calm my postpartum hormones telling me to drive the baby around in a bubble and get something a little older and cheaper?

  129. we like seafood so love the food in coastal California and the west coast in general. Boston and the New England coast was great too. We have a few stand alone good restaurants here that are consistently good. The rest even high end ones are chains. Some newer places are too hyped. I went to one, that claimed to be chef run but it had poor food. I was expecting the quality of the Boston/Cambridge award winning chefs. Even when those restaurants were new, the food was very good. I also like the neighborhood atmosphere of the New England restaurants.

  130. Sometimes I really want a big plate of mediocre food at a low price. I love Cracker Barrel and try to stop at one whenever we do a road trip.

  131. Rio – get the new one with cheap financing. Ramsey’s message is helpful to many, but there are those of us who can responsibly and prudently ignore it.

  132. I love Cracker Barrel and try to stop at one whenever we do a road trip.

    I love Cracker Barrel, they have the best biscuits. I also love the 99 which is a New England restaurant chain.

  133. Rio, you don’t want car reliability issues when driving with a baby / toddler.

  134. Rio – I would def. get a new car with a loan. We did a three year loan with the Oddyssey at .9% and I think the interest per month is about $8 now. At the high maybe it was $15. I’m all for having no debt but I wouldn’t worry about a car loan with such low rates.

    I’ve never been to a Cracker Barrel but the best biscuits are at Popeyes.:)

    If we moved to New England I would miss how easy it is to go to Chik-fil-A.

  135. Milo – I used to love the 99. DH and I went there a lot right out of college because they had that NTN trivia game.

  136. The biscuits are delicious. As are their chicken and noodles and their cinnamon apples.

  137. Cracker Barrel has really good country-fried steak. I tried making it at home once, pounding out the meat, dredging it through the multi-step breaking process, but the game just wasn’t worth the candle.

  138. Pittsburgh has much better restaurants than it did when we were growing up. But the natives are still unfathomably proud of delicacies like the sandwiches at Primanti Brothers — a mound of meat topped with coleslaw and fries on mushy white bread.

  139. Rio, how old is your DH’s car? How often do you need a car for yourself? I was guessing from your being housebound for some time that you don’t need the car on an everyday basis.

    One thought is that you might still get another compact car, especially if your DH’s car is several years old. With just one kid, and even with a second, your entire family could still fit into a compact car. I used to put my entire family, with 2 kids, into a Corolla on a regular basis, and this was an older Corolla that is smaller than the current Corolla.

    Getting a compact car now will keep a lid on the purchase as well as operating costs of that car. If/when you need a larger car, likely at least a few years down the road, you could replace your DH’s car with a larger car that becomes the family car, and the compact car that you buy new now would become his commute car (or yours, depending on who has the longer commute and does more of drop-off/pick-up driving).

  140. My California children have culture shock when they return and see the limited selection of fresh produce (you can buy almost anything anytime for a price, which was not true when they were small, but it is still a fruit desert in winter and a lot of the stuff just isn’t that good when it is bred to be picked in and shipped from Chile). Of course, I can go to my favorite seafood place and order from an oyster menu with 8 to 16 varieties, depending on season.

    Rio – I think that purchasing a new CR-V with payments is perfectly okay in your circumstances. You don’t get much of a discount, if any, paying with cash, because the cost of borrowing is currently so low. The dealers usually get main office incentives to get you to take a loan with a small interest rate because the finance arm of the parent company is making money on the spread. Secured debt is different from unsecured debt.

    I prefer to pay cash up front for any large purchase, because at my age my planning is all about cash flow and keeping the monthly nut very small. So I have to make sure I have enough cash and bonds so that I can pay cash without having to incur cap gains taxes on a stock sale, or if the market tanks lose out on future appreciation by selling at a too low a point.

  141. I used to like Cracker Barrel when it was a novelty visit on the way to the beach. We even bought one of those peg IQ games as a souvenir because it kept DS so well occupied at lunch. But it’s much harder to eat there on the way home from church. More than once.

  142. Rio, something else to consider– I just read last night that automakers have been leasing a lot of cars recently. That means that in a few years, there will be a big bubble of cars with their leases ending, likely creating a glut and thus a buyer’s market (or is that a buyers’ market?) for fairly new used cars. That might be about the time you could be looking to replace your existing compact car with a bigger car.

  143. Kate, I can’t even look at them! They can’t be eaten without unhinging the jaw like a snake.

  144. Is it just me, or does the Darien, CT house look like the one in Eight is Enough (albeit with a smaller front yard)?

  145. Wow, best meals:

    Baltimore: Cinghiale. Mille foglie with parmesan wafer, goose liver ganache, fig paste, and truffle, and I think maybe a little balsamic? Lamb lasagna. Whatever their chicken is — the only place I will order the chicken breast on the menu. Sandrone 2007 cannubi boschis for wine. Also, Hersh’s for pizza.

    NY: single best dish probably ever was lamb ravioli at Babbo. Best overall meal Del Posto, though I can’t even tell you what I had, it’s all a delicious fog. (Note: DS would say his favorite meal was also in NY, at the Ninja Restaurant).

    Rome: I forget the name of the place, we tramped through Trastevere trying to find the place DH had been, but a pizza with taleggio and truffles and garlic. OMG good. Right up there for single-best dish.

    Germany: Hotel Bareiss, before it earned its 3rd Michelin star. Our first experience with *that* level of dining. Full cheese cart, homemade caramels and marshmallows (after the dessert course), fantastic white wine from Baden-Baden, veal 7 ways. Awesome. Best overall meal. 5 hours, 13-14 courses, many small plates.

    Austin: This is total sacrilege, but the thing I miss most is Texadelphia — cheesesteak, mayo and fried onions, plus chips and salsa. Yummmm. Also, Amy’s Ice Cream: Mexican vanilla, strawberries, hot fudge. Trudy’s huevos rancheros. Salt Lick BBQ sauce and sausage.

    NC: The White Swan BBQ outside of Smithfield. As described above.

    Northfield, MN: The Tavern — they used to have a steak sandwich that was an actual (small) steak and real fresh-brewed iced tea, back before anyone else did.

    Colorado Springs: There was this Nepalese restaurant downtown that was really awesome — they had a version of lo mein with more of what I think of as Indian spices that was fantastic. Also, the Briarhurst for a good old-fashioned romantic evening out with Beef Wellington. La Casita (Mi Casita?) for fajitas — our standard takeout.

    Generic chain food: Chili’s skillet queso.

    Taos: El Taoseno breakfast burrito with green chile and chorizo. Lambert’s green chile stew. Graham’s everything before they closed — mac and cheese with green chile, a skillet fig with goat cheese and balsamic, their breakfast yam biscuit with linguica(??), etc.

    Taco cabana: breakfast taco with chorizo and egg, topped with their dark red salsa. Yes, I am not kidding about this. I love them. Sosumi.

    ABQ: Little place called Mi Casita (or La Casita, if I have them switched), now long gone: Sopaipilla, stuffed with ground beef, beans, and potato, topped with cheese and green chile and a fried egg. (Note: the other place — whichever one this one is not — is in CoSpgs and makes awesome fajitas — that was our standard takeout).

    Sandwich: Roy’s, as described above.

    Dessert: The old Spike & Charlie’s chocolate tart; the new Woodberry Kitchen’s chocolate pudding; Family Meal’s banana pudding; Donna’s chocolate cream pie.

    Family Meal (Frederick): chicken pot pie fritters. OMG.

    Most of all: my Grandma’s macaroni and cheese casserole, with Colby cheese, topped with crushed saltines, butter, and more cheese. And my Granny’s green beans with bacon and chocolate chip cookies.

    I am getting way too hungry.

  146. Yes, Cracker Barrel is a one a year delicacy. Re: Primanti Brothers. Yinz must share with the kids. My kids thought the sandwiches looked crazy, but gobbled them up.

  147. I also love Cracker Barrel — love their green beans (closest I can find to Granny’s) and chicken and dumplings. But agree that Popeye’s has better biscuits — and clearly the best fried chicken.

    Which reminds me: Hyde Parke Café in Austin used to have battered fries that were delicious. And there was a café in St. Pete that used to make homemade potato chips with melted blue cheese as an appetizer, which was just, wow. But they went out of business.

  148. Finn,

    It sure looks like the Eight is Enough house is the same as the Father of the Bride house.

  149. “I was trying to recreate laulaus”

    I tried, as did some of my local friends. The hard part was finding luau leaf, or something to substitute for it. I remember a friend trying spinach, which is similar in having oxalic acid.

  150. DH drives an 8 year old car worth maybe 10k max, and has a shortish commute. We are not car people, obviously. So if we were to buy new, and say DH lost his job, would we be allowed to simply sell it and pay off most of the loan? Or would we take a big hit? Never financed before, it seems too good to be true and I feel like there’s some catch.

    As far as whether we need a car every day, obviously not in the sense of true need. But psychologically, I think I need to get out of the house most days, especially now that the baby isn’t a newborn anymore. There’s stuff I want to do around town with the baby- classes, volunteering, playgroups, parks, etc, and I don’t want to have to run all our errands on the weekend anymore. I don’t want to be a literal stay-at-home-mom. :)

  151. After much hemming and hawing, I took myself, kids and parents to Red Lobster for lobster. I discovered that none of the seafood places here have lobster even in the summer and I just long for a Kelly’s Lobster Roll. No proper lobster roll here either or clam chowder for that matter. Red Lobster had good lobster and nice biscuits.

  152. I use the term flyover to mean what I think the OP meant – non-Totebag. Nothing to do with hicks, unless that is what the OP means. And yeah, places like Louisville or St Louis are decidedly non-Totebag.

  153. Rio – I feel like the only way not to lose your mind as a stay-at-home mom is to leave your house every day. At least for me it is.

  154. . The hard part was finding luau leaf, or something to substitute for it. I remember a friend trying spinach, which is similar in having oxalic acid.

    Yeah, that’s what I used. And I got dried banana leaves from the Asian grocery 20 minutes’ drive away to use (reconstituted) as a ti leaf substitute. But I completely struck out on the butterfish — the seafood guy at my local grocery acted like my search for butterfish aka black cod was a crazy request for something that probably didn’t really exist.

  155. places like Louisville or St Louis are decidedly non-Totebag

    Sure, but they’re still going to have a more Totebaggy enclave somewhere or other, as most urban areas do. Honolulu is hardly a Totebag capital either but you still have your upper-middle-class professionals listening to public radio and hitting the farmer’s market and worrying about the kids’ education.

  156. Back to the original topic, I think the lower cost of living works areas works well for certain occupations – physician, teacher, nurse, police – people who don’t necessarily get hired based on market conditions (because they work in government, or somehow compensated related to government rules). I can actually make more money in Omaha than I can in a coastal urban area. In fact, I have a postcard on my desk trying to sell me on the merits of moving to Wyoming, including a 30% raise for working 20% less – which is more like a 50%. DH, alas, cannot make more, nor can he telecommute, and all of our family financial growth is based on his income.

    I also think that COL indices underestimate the differences for totebaggers. Perhaps because I am in a phase of life where I spend a tremendous amount on kid stuff, but it seems like my expenses are way more that 25% higher than the US average – for things like preschool, summer, camp, after school activities, etc.

  157. Although we’re certainly not a low-COL area, ha ha ha [bitter laughter].

  158. “DH drives an 8 year old car worth maybe 10k max”

    That fits in perfectly with my suggestion. It’ll be over 10 years old by the time you’re likely to need a larger car, which could be about time to start thinking about replacing it anyway.

    “As far as whether we need a car every day, obviously not in the sense of true need. But psychologically, I think I need to get out of the house most days, especially now that the baby isn’t a newborn anymore.”

    But occasionally you can be a literal SAHM, e.g., if the older car needs to be in the shop for a day or two. Which means you can trade off the convenience of two fairly new cars, expected to both require little time in the shop, against the lower costs of one car being older.

  159. Come to think of it, now that we’ve got the bag ban in place, I guess we’ve all become literal totebaggers . . .

  160. I wonder what makes St. Louis non-totebag? It has expensive private schools, and parents that fret about Harvard (and Wash U) and AP classes? It has lots of totebag restaurants, and all kinds of enrichment activities for the young’uns.

  161. “certain occupations – physician”

    What do you think of a 7 year Bachelor to MD program? DS knows a kid who got accepted to one, but turned it down.

  162. I know the Louisville metro area fairly well – was just there last summer – and I know eastern KY pretty well too. And while the poverty rate is higher in say Harlan county, I have seen many of the same problems around Louisville – especially the smaller towns further out. Some of it is because people in eastern KY have migrated to the cities in KY, but some of it is endemic. And it seems to be getting worse. When I was in Louisville last summer, I was shocked by what I saw. At one point, while walking down the sidewalk through an area not far from our hotel, I saw a guy who looked pretty unstable walking around with a large knife. No one even seemed to notice. It was so weird. That just wouldn’t happen here and I don’t think it would have happened in the Louisville of old.
    There were some nice things too and we enjoyed our stay there. I saw some neighborhoods that seemed to be on the up and up. But overall, to me Louisville seemed in worse shape than what I remember.

    And I love, love, love Cincy chili, and can make a good version of it myself. I grew up on the stuff.

  163. “I guess we’ve all become literal totebaggers . . .”

    Not those of us who do our grocery shopping at Costco.

  164. There are nearly three million people in the St. Louis metro area. It’s not hicksville. Plenty of Totebaggers there.

  165. Sorry to have missed today’s conversation! I totally live in flyover country. However, it’s a big city so lots of jobs, cool restaurants, ballet, theater, etc. I spent a lot of time on the east coast, but I like it in Texas. I would love to relocate back to Dallas after the kids graduate from high school to be closer to family. We will see….

  166. I saw a guy who looked pretty unstable walking around with a large knife. No one even seemed to notice.

    If we’re going to say the presence of crazy homeless guys makes a place non-Totebaggy then no urban area will qualify. Not SF, not Portland, not NYC. (Not Honolulu either.)

  167. “Sure, but they’re still going to have a more Totebaggy enclave somewhere or other, as most urban areas do.”

    I would think any city that has an academically oriented private school will have a totebaggy community, although not necessarily a geographical enclave.

  168. “At one point, while walking down the sidewalk through an area not far from our hotel, I saw a guy who looked pretty unstable walking around with a large knife. No one even seemed to notice. It was so weird. That just wouldn’t happen here and I don’t think it would have happened in the Louisville of old.”

    A few months ago, I was in San Francisco and saw something similar. The unstable guy was bleeding, didn’t actually have a knife.

  169. Rio: I come to the same answer as everyone else, but for a different reason. Get the car that you want because you want it. You have been financially responsible, but sometimes you can have what you want.

  170. My concern with reliability isn’t having to spend a few days house-bound, it’s getting stranded with a baby or toddler on the other side of the city, or even out of state- I have relatives a couple hours away we like to visit.

    But yes, Finn’s solution also makes sense. Other than safety features possibly.

  171. My FIL lives outside of Pittsburgh and that city has come a long way. We visited in Feb. and had a lovely time. We did go to Primanti Brothers but it’s just too much going on in one sandwich for me. I ordered soup and cheese fries.

  172. “When I was in Louisville last summer, I was shocked by what I saw. At one point, while walking down the sidewalk through an area not far from our hotel, I saw a guy who looked pretty unstable walking around with a large knife. No one even seemed to notice. It was so weird. That just wouldn’t happen here and I don’t think it would have happened in the Louisville of old.”

    Unstable people, with or without knives, can be found anywhere. I could not believe the number of unstable guys I saw on the streets of San Francisco this past January, including the sidewalk right outside our pricey hotel. I saw a very shaky guy with a homemade sign begging down the street from the East Falls Metro Station in Arlington last month. That is prime Totebag territory, and people just drove on by.
    The plural of anecdote is not data.

  173. “The plural of anecdote is not data.”

    I thought we agreed on “anecdata.”

    But actually, an anecdote can be a datum, which would make multiple such anecdotes data. OTOH, an anecdote might not be a datum either.

    But I think we get Scarlett’s point. Even though multiple anecdotes might be data, a few data are often insufficient for drawing conclusions.

  174. It wasn’t the unstable guy with the knife per second, it was the fact that he was just strolling down the street and no one seemed to care

  175. It wasn’t the unstable guy with the knife per second, it was the fact that he was just strolling down the sidewalk and no one seemed to care.

  176. “The one time I was in Chicago, we went to a pizza place that covered the entire pizza with one huge slice of sausage.”

    Yeah, when you go to Lou Malnati’s, you have to ask for your sausage “crumbled” to avoid that if it is not your thing. It is not my thing. I don’t eat a lot of deep dish though. Tavern style pizza is actually much more common around here than deep dish. The cracker-thin crust cut into squares aka “party cut” like this:

    @tcmama – We LOVED Piccolo. Really fantastic. Also really impressed with the fancier restaurant at Surly, although the bar food in the regular area was pretty good too. I still want to try The Bachelor Farmer.

  177. “It wasn’t the unstable guy with the knife per second, it was the fact that he was just strolling down the street and no one seemed to care”

    Umm, what were they supposed to do, tackle the guy and wrest the knife from him? IME, the most common response to that kind of situation is to studiously ignore the guy and avoid eye contact at all costs. You have no clue how many people were on their cellphones reporting it to the cops as they pretended not to see anything.

  178. “I also think that COL indices underestimate the differences for totebaggers.”

    Yes! I still almost croak when some of you mention the costs of preschool, or sometimes camps.

  179. Mooshi, I am following the Humans of New York posts on Sloan Kettering, and they are profiling a girl who was saved by a discovery funded by the Band of Parents. Weren’t you a part of that group? I bought some of the cookies, and I thought I heard about it here. The stories are both heart breaking and amazing.

  180. Rio – you definitely need to get a car. We had a Civic when #2 was a baby and it was fine for carrying a 2yo and a baby around.

  181. To Ada’s point on people in certain fields being able to move to low COL areas, my parents’ orthopedic surgeon moved from a major metro area where he was probably one of a few well-respected guys, but in their metro area of around 1 million people, he is the top, and has months’ long waiting list. The rheumatologist my dad is trying to see had a 4+ month wait. Apparently he is the only show in town. I have only encountered that kind of wait down here once.

    Unfortunately, the fields we are in have been hemorrhaging employees, so no jobs for us.

  182. “it was the fact that he was just strolling down the street and no one seemed to care”

    Is it illegal to carry a knife?

  183. I grew up on Pittsburgh and never had one of those sandwiches. I do miss fresh pierogies though.
    And St Louis very definitely has its share of Totebaggers. Ladue, Creve Couer, sections of the Central West End. And more.

  184. And with DS leaving for college in the fall, we’ve begun the tour of his favorite restaurants to fit them all in one more time. Did one favorite after his Eagle Scout ceremony and will do another this weekend after graduation.

  185. Umm, what were they supposed to do, tackle the guy and wrest the knife from him?

    I saw something similar in Boston and though where are the cops? As I was thinking that thought two bicycle cops showed and began dealing with the situation.

    I was taking to a guy on the plane who thought that Boston was San Francisco without the homeless. We both credited a long hard winter.

  186. I was taking to a guy on the plane who thought that Boston was San Francisco without the homeless.

    Have they all moved on since my time there? The sidewalk ventilation grating is no longer a desirable winter residence?

  187. Have they all moved on since my time there.

    It’s 1/10 as bad as SF. I would think HI is closer to SF than Boston?

  188. DH was offered a job in St. Louis but circumstances changed for the company and he decided not to take it. Actually I had looked at a lot of houses online in St. Louis. After that I was wary of looking at a place before a job offer actually went through. Our whole move, selling our house, temp accommodation and new house purchase were on a timeline dictated by the company relocation program so everything moved at a very brisk pace.

  189. Louisville anecdote. A few years ago we were there for a few days playing bridge and touring distilleries and going to the Louisville slugger and the Ali museum – great and someplace with a collection of armor -one of my secret passions. One night we went to a downtown Old school elegant Italian restaurant. On a whim I asked if they could make us zabaglione not on the menu since it was our anniversary. The head chef came out and prepared it tableside. DH was related to Elaine of Elaine’s in NY and acquired a taste for it in the 60s, but almost no Italian restaurants prepare it any longer.

  190. Ivy – next time you are in town we should meet up. Surly when the weather is nice is great. The wait is long for the food, but the outdoor patio is a fabulous place to wait. My favorite restaurant here is Alma.

  191. The homeless problem is so serious in SF that the media decided to work together to highlight the critical situation, and propose solutions via TV, print, radio, blogs etc. All of the major news outlets in San Fran are working together to push the stories out at the end of June.

    Homelessness is still a problem in NY, and it has become visible again now that DeBlasio is mayor.

  192. Mémé, my neighborhood Italian place has zabaglione, should you ever be in this area.

  193. Just googled and as I suspected, its cousin restaurants also have zabaglione (a ‘progenitor’ restaurant spun off a bunch of similar restaurants opened by former staff). So you’ll have several locations to choose from!

  194. I did a Boston yelp search for zabaglione, and then a search within reviews for each hit, and Mémé, you are not even kidding. I went through the first 15 and the closest things I found were a “zabaglione” that’s actually made with prosecco instead of marsala and used as a sauce for mint and berries, or a chocolate thing with “zabaglione” filling, or “zabaglione” flavored gelato.

  195. Checking in from West Yellowstone!
    Having an amazing time.

    On topic- can’t move from the coast- my job is tied to the ocean. Means I live in high COL areas. Oh well. I have a beach 20 min from my door!

    Speaking of that- whoever is thinking about coming to Block Island please do and look me up! You’re in my state!

    Tied to yesterday’s topic- we rented a 7 passenger SUV for this leg of our vacation. We have a Nissan Armada and while I’m not in love with the Armada I miss having a big car! My next vehicle will be a 7 passenger SUV. Or a Silverado. Depends on how many kids I end up with :)

  196. Wine- if you choose Block Island I’ll come to you. Rhett’s link is gorgeous!! :)

  197. I’m not a huge fan of the shorter programs. I have met a few graduates, and have never been particularly impressed – they don’t seem to be people who have used that extra few years to develop into better doctors or people – they just are quite young when they begin practicing by themselves. They tend to be the opposite of well-rounded, and well-read. On the other hand, that may say more about the kind of people I meet than the quality of those programs’ graduates.

    I feel like I didn’t have enough information to (somewhat irrevocably) choose medicine when I was 21, so I would not encourage someone to do so when they were 17. On the other hand, you do save 1-2 undergrad tuition. Also, the biggest barrier to becoming a doctor is admission to medical school – so if you prefer to “run” on your high school record instead of your college record, it can ensure a long and expensive education that most other students can only hope for. (This is sn important thing that perhaps is not well known – after admission to medical school, there are no meaningful barriers to practicing medicine, as long as you continue to move through the paces. Unlike law, there is no exam that prevents significant people from moving forward. Residency selection may keep you from practicing in a specialty you like, but will not keep you from practicing.)

  198. I just heard a TV pundit speculate that Bernie Sanders could possibly be our next president if he decided to spin off into an independent run and if a Republican like Sasse decides to do the same. Sanders is becoming more vocal about the D’s resistance to change and the unfairness of the process.

    U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday issued the following statement:

    “It is imperative that the Democratic leadership, both nationally and in the states, understand that the political world is changing and that millions of Americans are outraged at establishment politics and establishment economics. The people of this country want a government which represents all of us, not just the 1 percent, super PACs and wealthy campaign contributors.

    “The Democratic Party has a choice. It can open its doors and welcome into the party people who are prepared to fight for real economic and social change – people who are willing to take on Wall Street, corporate greed and a fossil fuel industry which is destroying this planet. Or the party can choose to maintain its status quo structure, remain dependent on big-money campaign contributions and be a party with limited participation and limited energy.

    “Within the last few days there have been a number of criticisms made against my campaign organization. Party leaders in Nevada, for example, claim that the Sanders campaign has a ‘penchant for violence.’ That is nonsense. …

  199. I have to post this LA Freeway written and sung by Guy Clark who died yesterday.

    ‘”LA Freeway” tells the familiar story of a young man from the heartland who moves to the West Coast and finds it lacking.’

    Pack up all your dishes.
    Make note of all good wishes.
    Say goodbye to the landlord for me.
    That son of a bitch has always bored me.
    Throw out them LA papers
    And that moldy box of vanilla wafers.
    Adios to all this concrete.
    Gonna get me some dirt road back street

    If I can just get off of this LA freeway
    Without getting killed or caught
    I’d be down that road in a cloud of smoke
    For some land that I ain’t bought bought bought …

  200. Is it even still possible to get on enough state ballots as a third-party at this point?

  201. I don’t think there is enough time to get on the state ballots – that’s what Mark Cuban was saying the other day about why he wouldn’t entertain a 3rd party run.

  202. He could try to get on the ballot through an existing party. Green Party, or any party that would take him and exists on the ballots of enough states.

    We just booked a last minute Memorial Day trip to Hershey. We’ve never been there, and I’m looking forward to the visit. I never had a chance to visit as a kid, and it will be nice to get out of town for a few days.

    No splurge on the Hershey Hotel. I could have stayed in a Four Seasons in NYC for less than they’re charging.

  203. F*** you, Bernie, and the super-entitled horse you rode in on. You’ve never done anything for the Democrats and now we’re supposed to kiss your ass? Forget it, and take your bullying Bernie bro thugs with you.

  204. Lauren – we went to Hershey Park a couple weeks before Christmas and liked it. I believe we stayed at the Homewood Suites that was about 10 minutes away; whatever it was, it was a real one-bedroom suite and had an indoor pool and free breakfast.

    We also toured Gettsyburg on the way home. They have quite a museum now. After doing all their exhibits, we had to rush to see some of the actual battlefield before dark.

  205. Milo – my old stomping grounds! I went to college 45 minutes from Hershey and never went. Will have to put that on my to do list next time I’m in that area. Dh goes up 3 times a year for meetings and I really need to figure out when the kids and I can tag along

  206. I could have stayed in a Four Seasons in NYC for less than they’re charging.

    That’s how I feel about Lenox, MA.

    Rooms starting at $875 and it’s not even high season.

  207. @Lauren — I love Hershey! I really hate amusement parks (do not enjoy roller coasters — the idea of “let’s make you feel like you’re going to fall off a cliff/fly off this track” is closer to “worst nightmare” than “fun”). But Hershey is smaller and less annoying (to me) than Disney and King’s Dominion and all that, and there are a few smaller rides that even I find fun. And they have s’mores! DH’s work has half-price weekends periodically (usually spring/fall, the weekend before/after the park opens/closes). My tip is to go in right when they open and go directly to any of the big/popular coasters you want to ride — those lines get crazy long as the day goes on. I hear they have started that Express Pass thing, too — we haven’t tried (it’s never that crowded on the days we go).

  208. “He could try to get on the ballot through an existing party. Green Party, or any party that would take him and exists on the ballots of enough states.”

    Isn’t that what Nader did? Or did he start earlier? I can’t remember.

    A MSP Totebag meetup would be fun! I’m not sure when I’ll be up there next – probably sometime this summer though.

  209. I love those Cthulhu stickers. They’ve been around for a decade or so now. I think they work better when there’s a picture of Cthulhu to go along with it.

  210. Ditto what RMS said at 8:32am. And I think she is being nice. I just have same feeling for Bernie’s campaign manage that I have for Cruz.

  211. we are planning our last minute memorial day getaway. I considered Hershey, but this time I want vacation to be just really for adults rather than being so completely kid-centric. Both DH and I need to decompress majorly. If I could take a babysitter or find one at the hotel during vacation, I would.

  212. “He could try to get on the ballot through an existing party. Green Party, or any party that would take him and exists on the ballots of enough states.”

    Hmmm. I could see him deciding that, at his age, he has nothing to lose. He has no loyalty to the Democratic Party, and as he often points out, he polls better against Trump than Hillary.

  213. If you don’t like Disney-type amusement parks, try the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Lots of rides, but the fact that it’s right on the beach gives it a much less claustrophobic feel. Disney World reminds me of Vegas casinos — there’s no way out. It’s like The Village in The Prisoner.

  214. Wow, Lenox has sure increased since I visited. Found a chain hotel for cheaper, lunches and nice dinners added up so it was one of our more expensive holidays pre kids.

  215. Dell – some hotels do have babysitters. I have a friend who has used them at Ritz-Carltons.

    DH called me last night to tell me his mother may have messed up when her vacation is. We had planned on going to RI the last week of June because that’s when she had off and we were planning on being with my family the following week on the Cape. My sisters and their families and two of my aunts had all rented houses near my dad’s house for the week of July 4th. Well MIL may have the 4th of July week off now but she’s not totally sure. I may need to seriously consider moving back home so I do not have to plan my vacations around extended family. It’s so aggravating.

  216. This morning in midtown Manhattan:

    Knife-wielding man shot and killed by police in midtown …

    It was about 8:20 a.m. when a 46-year-old man went into the Food Emporium at West 49th Street and Eighth Avenue, police said. He became “aggressive and belligerent,” Chief of Department James O’Neill said at a news conference Wednesday morning. He’d gone into the store to buy beer and started arguing with the cashier.

  217. “Knife-wielding man shot and killed by police in midtown …”

    Was he visiting from Louisville?

  218. There’s always an allowance in large cities for the “crazies”. With that many people gathered in one place, from so many different cultures, religions and backgrounds, there’s bound to be conflict. (It’s actually quite amazing there isn’t more.) But, at least in areas of NYC I’m familiar with, there is also a strong security presence, whether its the police, building security or informally. This may simply be my perception, I admit, but it rings true for me.

    I think what Mooshi is commenting on is a perceived lack of a security presence or feeling of security where she would have expected it and how this was different from days past. If I came across a knife wielding person in my mom’s neighborhood, for example, I’d be shocked. That would be a huge difference from the past. A knife wielding person in Brooklyn – I wouldn’t be as shocked but I’d expect police involvement soon.

    Note, even in the incident CoC mentioned the police were involved.

  219. Since we go to Tanglewood every year, I stay in a motel between Stockbridge and Great Barrington – The Briarcliff – not a fancy Lenox location, but a clean room, comfortable bed, excellent continental breakfast with good coffee and fresh baked goods, nationally top rated a few years back on TripAdvisor (run by English couple), so if you are used to Trip Advisor ratings that appeal to middle class Europeans you get the idea of what it has and what it doesn’t. It still has rooms available for some dates this summer. Less than 200 a night including tax and breakfast. And it accepts kids, and dogs, in some rooms. No pool, though.

  220. as others mentioned, Louisville has nothing on the homeless in San Fran.

    I’ve never come across someone with a knife in the city like that, and I’ve lived in this area my whole life.

  221. Rhode, will definitely let you know if we ever end up in your neck of the woods

  222. The author of the Secret Shame piece was on the NPR show The Takeaway, for anyone who’s interested.

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