This is what bugs me about this study, and forgive me for saying this (again). California is rated one of the lowest in this study (44th) as far as bang for the buck. But consider this scenario:
Three and half years ago my husband and I decided to do two things: buy a cheap house with a lot of appreciation potential in a rapidly rising, expensive housing market. We also decided to put me through nursing school
We bought a house out in the desert for $150K which is nothing fancy but today is worth $320K, even with some of the recent market depreciation factored in (at the peak of the market our house was worth $335K).
If the market goes down even further ... with that much equity, who cares? We haven't borrowed on it and we'll still have at least $110-$120K in home equity even under the worst case scenario of 20 percent depreciation, which is what happened in the last real estate crash of '92.
As a new grad, RN wages in my area have gone up by at least 30 percent since I've been in school and, just in the last year, there are now some job opportunities where I'll be able to make $45 an hour with benefits, $50 an hour within two years.
And, since I've been in school, the ratio law took effect which started at 6 patients per nurse on med surg, tele, etc., now it's down to 5:1 and in 2008 the ratios will go down to 4:1.
So ... quite frankly ... I don't care what any study says. For me, at least, California is still the golden state. My pasture is pretty green ... and the working conditions and job opportunities are getting better all the time.
Now I ask you .... would I have these kind of job opportunities, working conditions and home equity elsewhere? I seriously doubt it ... having lived on both coasts and in the south.
Sometimes the COL is low because there's not much money there to begin with, and when there's not much money in the marketplace there's not much upside or income potential either.