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Q: Best Cities in South and Midwest ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Best Cities in South and Midwest
Category: Family and Home > Home
Asked by: johnster-ga
List Price: $75.00
Posted: 01 Apr 2005 17:03 PST
Expires: 01 May 2005 18:03 PDT
Question ID: 503869
Hey V.,

Dallas may be low in comparable housing costs, but we're very high in
property taxes, insurance rates ( car and house) and sales tax. (8 %).

In your previous report to me, you indicated a cost of living index,
but I'm sure didn't include these other "hidden categories".

Can you revise your COL index taking into account property taxes,
insurances, and Sales tax.



Clarification of Question by johnster-ga on 01 Apr 2005 17:06 PST

Please respond to this new question on the Cost of Living Index for
the major cities in the Midwest and South.



Clarification of Question by johnster-ga on 01 Apr 2005 17:07 PST
Hi V.,

can you also include Philadelphia area in the whole total matrix you
created on my original question.



Clarification of Question by johnster-ga on 07 Apr 2005 03:17 PDT
This question is open to anyone and I will tip you generously.

Request for Question Clarification by vercingatorix-ga on 07 Apr 2005 05:26 PDT
Sorry, I've been busy and haven't visited the site in a few days. I'm on it.

Subject: Re: Best Cities in South and Midwest
Answered By: vercingatorix-ga on 07 Apr 2005 07:50 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
I?m sure the original cost of living calculation took into account
property taxes and property insurance, as the represent key factors of
housing costs and are already used in most cost-of-living
calculations. I?d wager that auto-insurance costs are also reflected
in the COLI, though getting an answer out of Yahoo! is like trying to
pull a turtle?s teeth, so I won?t be able to verify that. As for
income taxes, I don?t know if they are included. So I scrapped the
existing numbers and derived new ones for all of the cities on the

I?ve revised the cost-of-living data to rank companies based on actual
living expenses (housing, food, health, transportation, entertainment,
etc.), and added another category that reflects sales taxes, income
taxes, and auto insurance. Most of the data is pulled from the Bureau
of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau.

Assuming that you make $50,000 a year, drive a midsize car, and spend
the 60.9% on retail goods, which represents the national average
spending level, the Taxes and Insurance column calculates how much of
that $50,000 will be needed to pay income taxes, sales taxes, and auto
insurance. Please keep in mind that many states (and some cities) have
graduated income taxes, so your rate could vary. Some states also do
not charge retail taxes on food, which I estimate represents between
10% and 20% of most people?s expenditures. As such, my tax numbers are
not exact. However, they are certainly close enough for comparison

If you'd like to calculate taxes for certain states or see if your
income qualifies you for a different tax rate, you can find the rates

While Dallas does have higher auto-insurance rates than the national
average, the lack of an income tax more than makes up for that. It
should come as no surprise that the cheapest cities as measured by
taxes and insurance are in Florida, Texas, and Tennessee, which have
no state income tax.

I don?t think Philadelphia makes your cut. It scores well for culture
and nightlife, but has cold winters, a high cost of living, a low gay
index, a place on the fattest list, and the highest average
auto-insurance costs of any city on the list. In fact, Philadelphia's
tax and insurance burden tops $7,600 a year, the highest of any city
except Washington, D.C., where taxes border on the obscene.

So I screened once more, starting by eliminating all cities with a
cost of living more than 10% above the national average, and those
with taxes and insurance costs more than 10% above the national
average. I then eliminated cities with a Culture Index less than 20%
higher than the national average and those with an average winter
temperature of less than 45 degrees. After that, I knocked out all
cities with a Gay Index substantially lower than the U.S. average.

That left me with the following cities:

Austin-Round Rock, TX
Orlando, FL
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Miami Beach, FL
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
Houston-Baytown-Sugar Land, TX
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ

All offer the amenities you seek. Houston and Phoenix have the worst
air quality, but I wouldn?t cut Houston and Phoenix from the list just
because of air quality. If you eliminate by cost, Miami and Phoenix
get cut first because of Miami?s high consumer prices and Phoenix?s
high taxes and insurance. If you want culture to be the deciding
factor, cut out Orlando, Tampa, and Austin, because they score the
lowest in the culture index. If you want to limit yourself to the most
gay-friendly cities, eliminate Houston, Phoenix, Dallas, and Tampa.

I have updated the spreadsheet at 


Request for Answer Clarification by johnster-ga on 07 Apr 2005 18:09 PDT
Hi V,

Where does the gay index come from and how do they form their conclusions.

I would question their marks with Dallas, which has a significant gay life
and a gay electorate.

I would also tend to disagree the with Philadelphia rating since they
have been courting gays through ads and various other means to say
they are very gay friendly.

Please advise.



Clarification of Answer by vercingatorix-ga on 07 Apr 2005 21:09 PDT
The Gay Index developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers
measures the number of gay residents as a percentage of the populace,
and ranks cities that way. It is the most commonly used measure of
gay-friendliness and the only one I've seen referenced in
professionally written stories as an authoritative source.

As far as trying to attract gay workers, there is a body of research
that suggests recruiting gays is a good way to build on a
technology-industry base, something Philadelphia and many other cities
are trying to do. Philadelphia has many fine attributes and is fun to
visit, but given your list of criteria, even if the Gay Index is wrong
and Philadelphia is very gay-friendly, it doesn't make the final cut.
Too expensive and too cold.


Clarification of Answer by vercingatorix-ga on 25 Apr 2006 11:22 PDT
Sorry, Johnster. I didn't find out about your latest question until
today. I've been swamped, and until recently hadn't visited the site
in months. If you're still interested, repost the question, and I'll
check it out.

johnster-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $50.00
Very well done.

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