Understand Your Perspective

“That’s nothing!” My Dad’s friend said after I pointed out a Bentley sitting in VIP Parking at the Miami Open, a Tennis tournament my family attends every other year in South Florida. He jokingly called his brand new BMW a “poor man’s car” as we drove out of the parking lot onto the main road, surrounded by Porsches, Lamborghinis, and other exotic cars. In most places around the world, the thought of a BMW being a necessity is ludicrous. But this is Miami, one of the wealthiest cities on Earth.

Riding an economic boom from Latin and Asian money pouring into the real estate sector, Miami has grown drastically over the past decade. Downtown Miami now resembles a mini-Manhattan, but right in the middle of a tropical paradise. Construction cranes dominate the skyline, building condos that will be priced into the millions of dollars. New nightclubs sponsored by top celebrities are popping up on every block, and some restaurants in Miami rival the best eateries in places like New York City and London. And for many now living in this tropical paradise, all of these luxuries are considered a standard for the middle class.

But the crazy thing about all of this is that no reasonable or logical human being would think that a $100,000 Porsche and a $1,000,000 condo are required to live a happy and satisfying lifestyle.

Yes, if you’ve made an incredible amount of money and want to enjoy some of it, this kind of behavior is completely fine. But you will destroy yourself financially if you try to live a wild lifestyle on an average income.

When everyone and their dog gets a lease on a BMW, it seems like spending $500 a month on your car is a requirement for a happy life. If all of your friends have gone out to that new restaurant downtown, don’t you deserve to blow $200 on a night out? Well, if that night out can eliminate 20% of your savings, I wouldn’t recommend it.

The biggest lesson Miami taught me is that when it comes to spending, you have to understand your perspective and appreciate all that you have. Billions of people around the world would kill for the average American lifestyle. So if you think that you HAVE to have that new purse or SUV, think again! Be smart with your money and spend it for your own personal satisfaction, not to impress others and keep up with the joneses.
-Andrew

Low Cost-of-Living Florida, And Why The Best Places To Live Are Hidden In Plain Sight

Ah, Florida, the land of retirees, cocaine, and in the spring, drunk college students. All over the country, millions of Americans believe that only the old and the mentally ill call Florida home. And to a certain extent, they’re right. But Florida isn’t that bad of a place to live. In fact, it’s a great place to live, if you know where to look!

From sleepy towns on the Gulf Coast such as Pensacola, to large urban cities like Jacksonville, and the tropical Manhattan of downtown Miami, there’s a place for everyone in Florida! And to top it all off, there’s NO STATE INCOME TAX in Florida!

While I do love going down to Miami to check out the beautiful beaches, the expensive cars, and eat the mind-bogglingly delicious Cuban food, the cost of living is ridiculously high, and according to the “experts” at WalletHub, it’s one of the worst places to raise children in America.

However, there is one city that’s often overlooked…

Jacksonville, Florida.

“Wait, what?”

Yes. Jacksonville, Florida.

With a median home price of $132,000, and a cost of living in line with the national average, Jacksonville offers its residents an urban setting at a fraction of the cost of a place like New York City or San Francisco. And while Duval County, the largest school district in the country, has a bad reputation, the combination of hidden gems in the public school system and the numerous private schools gives your children a variety of educational options.

One drawback of living in Jacksonville is that you have to own a car, since it’s the largest city by geographic size in the continental US. However, you don’t have to deal with the intense traffic other major cities have, and you can make a trip from the west side of town to the beaches in 45 minutes. And if you live downtown, there’s a thriving nightlife and great restaurants to enjoy on foot.

I could tell you a lot more about Jacksonville and other cities and towns in Florida, but the main point of this article is to show you that the top 5 cities in the US aren’t the end-all, be-all of living an interesting life. If you’re willing to take the time to actually visit some out of the way places, you may find your own perfect slice of American life.

-Andrew