Saturday, 26 February 2011

America's Happiest Metros? and Business Journal has conducted 2010 Quality Of Life Index on major metropolitan area based on 24 different criteria.

Here are the ranking of 67 metropolitan areas.

 Rank   Metro area   Score 
1 Raleigh        17.23
2 Washington        16.10
3 Minneapolis-St. Paul        15.59
4 Bridgeport-Stamford, Conn.        15.33
5 Salt Lake City        11.57
6 Denver        10.94
7 Seattle        10.65
8 Boston        10.63
9 Austin          9.84
10 San Jose          9.52
11 Atlanta          8.68
12 Portland, Ore.          8.64
13 Omaha          8.36
14 Hartford          8.11
15 Baltimore          7.36
16 Charlotte          7.22
17 San Francisco-Oakland          6.99
18 Albany          6.97
19 Worcester, Mass.          6.39
20 Richmond          6.36
21 Kansas City          6.02
22 Nashville          5.68
23 Columbus          4.67
24 Indianapolis          4.57
25 Philadelphia          4.37
26 Allentown-Bethlehem, Pa.          4.06
27 Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, Calif.          4.01
28 Phoenix          3.48
29 Dallas-Fort Worth          2.93
30 New Haven, Conn.          2.62
31 Virginia Beach-Norfolk          2.59
32 Cincinnati          2.50
33 Sacramento          2.35
34 Rochester, N.Y.          2.29
35 San Diego          2.20
36 Albuquerque          2.14
37 Grand Rapids          2.10
38 Chicago          1.92
39 NewYork City          1.73
40 St. Louis          1.60
41 Honolulu          1.20
42 Orlando          0.87
43 Milwaukee          0.50
44 Jacksonville        (0.27)
45 Louisville        (0.46)
46 Birmingham        (0.52)
47 Houston        (0.68)
48 Pittsburgh        (0.78)
49 Oklahoma City        (1.29)
50 Tucson        (1.63)
51 Tulsa        (1.75)
52 Providence        (2.09)
53 San Antonio        (2.69)
54 Buffalo        (3.04)
55 LasVegas        (3.15)
56 Baton Rouge, La.        (3.23)
57 Detroit        (3.52)
58 Tampa-St. Petersburg        (3.52)
59 Cleveland        (3.86)
60 Dayton        (4.12)
61 Los Angeles        (4.44)
62 Miami-Fort Lauderdale        (4.52)
63 Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.        (5.66)
64 Memphis        (7.41)
65 New Orleans      (10.92)
66 Fresno, Calif.      (13.85)
67 Bakersfield, Calif.      (14.40)

Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is also good indicator.

Here is the latest results on most and worst Well-Being Cities among large metropolitan area.

There seems to be surprising similarity to Portfolio's top 20 metro! 

Hope it helps!

Why Invest in Austin Tx Real Estate Market

This is my answer to the following question: "How are things in Austin real estate wise? I've been told it is a great city that has seen some growth within the real estate market?"

Austin Tx enjoyed one of the most stable during Great Recession and is one of the few metropolitan area where economy has been growing. http://alteredstatesofrealty.blo...

Austin's real estate market is quite steady and is one of the least affected market on real estate bubble burst. Here are recent data from FHFA and NAR on Single Family Housing median price.

- FHFA Q4 2010 report, Austin housing appreciated by18.78, but down -1.05% over last 1 year.
- NAR: 2008=188.6 Vs. Q42010=190.3. But down from Q32010=205.0

Having said that, at the peak of real estate boom at around 2007, approx. 20% Austin Tx real estate purchase was by the investors (mostly out of states like Californian). This has pushed up investment properties' value (say Duplex, Triplex and Fourplex) much higher compared to rental income. For example, in prime central Austin location, at the peak of market, gross rental yield is around 6-7% of purchase price (Cap rate of 4-5%). Since recent purchase of investment properties are primarily driven by cash-flow hungry experienced investors, you can get similar property at 10% gross yield or 8% in cap rate. Since mortgage rate is very low, you can enjoy very good cash flow (say 15-20% cash on cash return on 20% down payment).

As for the location of the investment, I would strongly prefer the so called central Austin In below MLS map, I would recommend Area 6, 7 DT, UT, 3, 1B and 4. My rationale is that 1) Austin is quite centralized --- key economic engine such as UT Austin, State Capital and culturally unique neighborhood are located in Central Austin, 2) Central Austin has strong restriction on new development (like rest of Texas, suburb are sprawling). 

As you can see from above link regarding Austin economy, Austin Tx will be continuously one of the fastest growing metropolitan area in terms of GDP and population growth. Therefore , purchasing property in prime central Austin market, I believe, is great short- and long-term investment.

Austin Tx --- real estate / economy related news

While Austin is mid size metropolitan area with 1.6 million in population, the population growth between 2007 and 2009 is the highest in USA.

Chef at Globe Restaurant in San Francisco is leaving for Austin Tx --- REASONS: affordable cost and high quality of living and 2) wanting to own his own restaurant.
Austin Leads Country in Job Growth:  CBS news feature on brisk economy in Austin Tx.

Austin succeeded to bring in 27 out-of-state companies in 2010. Short list is Hanger Orthopedic Group, Facebook, LegalZoom and SunPower.  Tax/regulation heavy California is major target.

Austin apartment rental market is recovering steadily.  Vacancy rate has increast by 3.5 points to 6.5%.  Monthly rent has increased by 2.4% to $805.  Total supply of new units are 3027 while # of households increased by 9340.

Racial mix of Austin neighborhoods between 2005 and 2009.  It is evident that blacks and his panics have been pushed away from  Central Austin including East Austin to exurb.

Austin is ranked No.1 by.Forbes Best Cities for Young Adults
Austin ranked No.7 in highest concentration of Tech Workers.  San Jose 29%, Huntsville 23%, Boulder 22%, Washington DC 13%, Boston 11%, SD11%, Austin 11%, Seattle 10%, San Francisco 10%.

Austin's Tech employee average salary ($93K)
Austin is considered one of the small housing inventory by CoreLogics

Travis County (Austin metro) is ranked 57th most liberal counties in USA.

CNBC ranks Austin 5th as metropolitan area to move to;.

Austin ranked 5th as the best cities for movie making by MovieMagazine.
Austin ranked No.1 as the metropolitan area with the most brisk economy.
Austin ranked No.3 by Forbes best place to invest in real estate.

Austin chosen as one of the 10 cities to move by Kiplinger Magazine. CNCBs Marias interview on Kiplinger Magazine.
Austin’s per-capita consumption power is the highest in USA by Bundle.
Heartland - Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations TravelGuide
Austin is chosen as the metropolitan area where economy is about to recover.  Austin enjoys migration from large US metros such as NYC, LA and SF.
Fastest growing North American Metropolitan Area by National Geographics,

Thursday, 3 February 2011

What are some good ways to compare cost of living between cities?

One way to find out the cost of living is to use the calculator(see below). This is good way to start COL comparison on 2 cities you are looking at.


Then, please take a look at detail of ACCRA Cost of Living Index (COLI) You see that expesive housing is the key reason for high cost of living in so-called high cost metro such as San Francisco and New York. SF Housing index 273 Vs Houston's 80.

Therefore, I pay special attentions to housing cost by checking out website such as:


Then 2nd largest factors you should look at the tax. If you make $100K+, you have to pay approx. 10% on state tax in high cost states such as California and New York. And, on top of it, because of progressive tax system, you end up paying more on federal income tax if you move to high cost (but high salary state such as CA/NY. 

Lastly, I find below link very useful on studying COL. 

- Kiplinger's ranking of cost of living by 367 metropolitan area. You can also compare with creative class workforce, median household income and income growth.

- Portfolio's 2010 Quality of Life: Major Markets. You can study the cities by 20 different criterias!