Mid A asks:
[W]ould [you] want to live in paradise permanently, now that you have experienced it as a family? What income would you ideally generate to live a comfortable life (fancy cheese, travel to relatives, satisficing for keyboards, etc.)? Is the school environment more competitive and if so, what is your take on it?
Would we want to live here permanently? Well… if I could move my job here, sure. But I can’t. Or if we were idle rich and not Mr. Money Moustache definitions of rich– like actually rich and could afford to buy a reasonably nice (for paradise) house someplace reasonably nice with cash and pay taxes and so on. We knew we liked it here before living here as a family, though there are other paradises that we like more for some things and less for others. So, given that I can’t move my entire department here, we’re going to stay in our small town. If DH loses his telecommuting job, we will reconsider. But up until that point, we’re staying put. I honestly don’t know what I would do out here. There are some SLACs, but they’re small, so there’s no guarantee they’d even have openings in my field. Prestigious schools might have soft money openings. Non-prestigious schools sound like high teaching loads and low salaries. There’s not a ton of government or industry in my field of interest around here. So who knows.
5 years ago when rents weren’t so high (3k/mo instead of 5k/mo — we’re currently paying 4k/mo because we got a deal on this place), I sat down and made that calculation including the increased tax burden and came up with 120k/year as a renter. That includes high quality full-time daycare for one kid for a year but only one car. And it is possible to get deals on housing if you keep your eye out for lazy landlords, so there are still places if you move quickly and are attractive to lazy landlords where you can get even 2K/mo for a 1200 sq ft 2-bedroom, but you have to be fast and seem like you’re going to stay for a long time. We also have friends who bought at a good point and are paying less than 3K/mo on their mortgage. In addition to rent increases, inflation has also happened since then. So the answer would be something more than 120K/year if we’re renting and aren’t going to make a whole lot of sacrifices. I don’t know what the answer would be exactly, though I will probably do that calculation at some point after we’re done, maybe without dealing with the additional tax burden though because that’s a pain to figure out if you don’t have to.
The school environment we’re in isn’t very competitive. However, there are a lot of communities around here that have different levels of competition and different types of competition. We were limited in where we ended up by DC1 wanting to stay grade-skipped (which knocked out one reputationally very competitive district and several not at all competitive districts), our inability to afford an extremely expensive place, and most landlords at the top of our price range not wanting us as tenants (cats, kids, the one year thing). On top of that, within our district, many of the competitive parents send their kids to a lottery school that you can only get into by lotterying in the spring before kindergarten. So my answer to that: if you’re worried about too much competition, there’s a lot of heterogeneity across districts and within districts. The same is true of preschools. Here and in other paradises. (And if you *want* the competition you may have difficulty being allowed to compete since the most competitive places tend to require waitlists or lotteries.)
Have any of you done the “What income would I need to live comfortably in paradise” calculation (for your paradise)? Are you living in your paradise, why or why not?