Thursday, April 9, 2009

pgh for life?

In San Francisco, Kate and I talked with the owner of a boutique who was exploring new cities. She loves SF but, like many people there, can't afford to buy her own place. She read an article on Pittsburgh in a magazine, and thought it would be nice to live somewhere where the real estate is so affordable that you have extra income; in her words "I'd like to be able to afford a house and have money to do other things other than just stay in the house!"

Yes, this is the big reason (though not the only one) why we're still here in Pittsburgh. It is nice to visit San Francisco and dream of living there, but house prices are ridiculous. My house would easily go for well over $1 million in SF (I searched on Realtor for similar size houses, and looks like the going rate is between $2 and $3 million). So the fact that we were able to buy such a great house for so little--with a mortgage payment easily affordable even if one of us loses our jobs--makes Pittsburgh so attractive. The result is that you can live pretty large on not a huge salary.

And yet. Every time I visit a new place, I want to move there. I think I would be happy living just about anywhere (except Baltimore, DC, Florida, Texas, the South, the Southwest, or the Midwest) but I really want to live in Norway! You know what socialized healthcare policies get you in Norway? A year's paid maternity leave, a free car if you have trouble getting around on public transportation, and a government paid two-week tropical vacation if you feel a little ill, just to name a few perks. Sure the taxes are higher, but people are pretty happy in Norway. Watch this video about Norway from Michael Moore's Sicko movie and you'll see why!

Just this week I asked Dave if he wanted to move to Norway. After reminding me that it's dark and terribly cold for a good portion of the year, he said he really has no desire to move. And truth is, neither do I. After the fantasies of living somewhere else die down, I'm pretty happy here in the Burgh. And not just because of the cost of living--it's a beautiful city with so much to offer and to do. After living here most of my life, I still find new places to explore and enjoy. I will still dream of Norway though...