Yahoo published a list of the 10 most affordable cities in the US, balancing the cost of housing against income. These are places where you can live affordably and at least theoretically spend more of your money on living and less on living quarters. Six of the ten are from the prairie regions, stretching from southeastern Minnesota and Iowa down to Oklahoma. Cass County, ND (home of Fargo) and Brown County, SD (home of Aberdeen) were #1 and #2 respectively.
It shouldn’t be totally surprising: today in the midday open thread of a blog in which I regularly participate, one commenter asked another why he would move from the coast to Des Moines, IA. (The commenter noted that his preference was to live on the coasts.) I nearly piped in that I had once clung to the coasts with similar fear, but since I had moved steadily toward the country’s center (from Oakland to Tucson to Denver to Minnesota), life has gotten better.
Then again, there’s no arguing that one. Most people look at the prairie and its lack of trees fills them with fear of dread. (Even before the wind starts blowing.) And maybe that’s all for the best. We often joke that were it not for its legendary winters, Minnesota would probably be overrun for its glorious summers. It’s our protection against becoming the next boom state. And why it’s so cheap.