Discover more from Understandably by Bill Murphy Jr.
Location, location, location. And, 7 other things worth your time.
I wrote a week or so ago about why I chose the color blue for this newsletter. But that prompted a few replies from people telling me it’s not an optimal choice everywhere.
For one thing: The links can be hard to see. So, I’m trying a new design and color scheme today. Let me know what you think.
Recently, I wrote an article for Business Insider about Austin, Texas, which is absolutely booming in terms of real estate, transplants, and general popularity.
At least, that’s what I’m told. As I wrote very straightforwardly at the top of that article, I don’t think I’ve spent more than three days in Austin in my life.
My most recent visit was more than a decade ago.
That said, I enjoy a good game of “torture yourself by going on Zillow and Redfin to find out how much more you could get for your money somewhere else.”
So, I interviewed real estate agents, developers, long-term residents and recent transplants. I think my lack of familiarity turned into an advantage, actually, since I was writing with a view similar to someone who might be considering the place from the outside.
(You can read the article here, but be forewarned, I think you’re likely to hit a paywall.)
Anyway, Austin seems like a great place to visit, and I’d like to check it out again sometime soon.
But, the truth is, as much as I sometimes like to imagine my wife and daughter and me taking a giant map of the world and figuring out a new place to live for a while (truly, just give me a beach!), I think the odds are very good that we’ll stay put here in New Jersey.
We chose our town for a reason: basically that everything we read, saw and experienced told us that it would be a good place to raise a child.
Now, I’m going to turn this newsletter over to all of you in a moment. Because the vast majority of my readers are parents, and I suspect you’ll have some thoughts on this.
But, there’s a study that I read about — gosh, five years ago, now — that’s stuck with me, and it probably influenced some of the choices my wife and I made about where we live.
Entitled, “Inequality in Children’s Contexts: Income Segregation of Households With and Without Children,” it ran in the journal, American Sociological Review.
To summarize, just in case you forgot to renew your subscription to American Sociological Review, the study covered choices that wealthy families make in order to benefit their children—-given that theoretically, they could afford to make any choices they want.
The study was framed in a negative light: look how inequitable our society is, and what all these wealthy people are doing to benefit from it.
I must admit that I read it, nodded my head in pained agreement — and then thought to myself:
“You know, as long as we’re here … um, exactly what are these big choices that wealthy families make? Anything I should try to copy?”
The number-one, most far-reaching conclusion in the study was simple: The wealthiest people make sure to live within the same neighborhoods as other wealthy people.
This has significant ramifications. For one thing, since schools in the U.S. are generally funded on a local level, the kids in the neighborhoods of the better-to-do have access to the best public education money can buy.
Ann Owens, a sociologist at the University of Southern California and an author of the study, told The Washington Post:
"Buying a neighborhood is probably one of the most important things you can do for your kid. There's mixed evidence on whether buying all this other stuff matters too. But buying a neighborhood basically provides huge advantages."
Granted, this touches on much bigger questions about what kind of society we want to live in, at large.
And, there’s no way a thinking person can write about this and not mention that years of racial segregation, redlining, and many other less-enviable parts of our collective history might have something to do with how some neighborhoods became wealthy in the first place.
But, if you're making decisions on the basis of what's best for your children, it’s hard not to at least pay attention to how the people who could decide to live anywhere, choose to make their homes.
In short, the study also seems to suggest: If you’re not living in the smallest house in your neighborhood, maybe you should consider a smaller house in a nicer neighborhood.
I recognize the irony of writing about this study just one day after I wrote about how there are many different true definitions of wealth. But, that’s part of the point.
So now I turn it over to you. Did you choose where you live for this kind of reason? Or another? What advice to you have for others — especially young parents, just putting down roots? Please, let us know in the comments.
7 other things worth your time
Oh, this seems related to my story above: About 64 percent of millennials say they have at least one regret about purchasing their current home, according to a new poll. Compare that to 45 percent of Gen X and just 33 percent of baby boomers. (CNBC)
The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear a potentially groundbreaking abortion case, reviewing a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The decision “has energized activists on both sides of the long-running debate who are now girding to make abortion access a major issue in next year’s midterm elections.” (ABC News)
“Chipotle Mexican Grill, Target, CVS Health and Starbucks joined a growing list of retailers and restaurants that eased mask requirements on Monday for fully vaccinated customers, unless facial coverings are required by local or state law. Companies began changing their policies for wearing masks inside stores and cafes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that fully vaccinated people don't have to cover their faces indoors anymore.” (CNBC)
“Working long hours is killing hundreds of thousands of people a year through stroke and heart disease, according to the World Health Organization. In a global analysis of the link between loss of life and health and working long hours, WHO and the International Labour Organization estimated that in 2016, some 745,000 people died as a result of having worked at least 55 hours a week.” (CNN)
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill Monday to require death row inmates to choose between firing squad or the electric chair, as a lack of drugs for lethal injections has stalled executions, AP reports. (Axios)
President Joe Biden has released his tax returns. The release of his financial records, as well as those of Vice President Kamala Harris, marks the return of a White House tradition defied by former President Donald Trump during the 45th president's term in office. The Bidens jointly earned $607,336 in 2020; Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff had an adjusted gross income of $1,695,300.(NPR)
Americans are getting fatter. Since airlines need to calculate an aircraft’s weight and balance before it can fly — both because that makes sense, and because it’s the law — they’ve been using accepted assumptions for average passenger weight. Now, the FAA is worried those assumptions are outdated, and they’re weighing (heh-heh) requiring some airlines, when flying smaller aircraft, to start asking passengers to be voluntarily weighed before boarding. (View From the Wing)
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