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Old 07-05-08, 08:11 AM   #1
solveg
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Signs of the times.... report here

Things are sure weird lately.

1. I was getting something signed by my neighbors which would allow me to butt a fence up to theirs...I live in a neighborhood where most people are long retired and have lived in the same homes since the 60's. What I found out is that out of the 6 houses that abutt my propery, 2 are just starting foreclosure and 1 is in a short sale. I was stunned... it seemed like the kind of neighborhood where the ratio would be much lower, so I can barely wrap my mind around what the rest of the city is like.

The short sale house is selling for $120k less than it was on the market for, which was $50k too high a year ago.

2. The public boat launch by my cabin was empty on 4th of July morning, when normally there would be boats lined up to get on the lake. I've asked avid boating friends in the cities if they're getting out on the lakes at all, and they say they stay on the lake where the boat is moored or they just anchor somewhere and sit.

3. The local "lux" grocery store chain, which has been open 24 hours a day since I can remember is now closed at midnight. Also, I had a list of stuff to buy which took me into a lot of stores I haven't been in for a few years, and the selection and amount of goods in these stores was much less. The Shelves were noticeably more airy, and there were few options for what I was looking for.

There are also some unexpected positive things that have happened, besides the LBSs being incredibly busy and more people riding bikes.

1. There are a ton more openings in child care. I think it's become more cost effective for people to not work lower paying jobs if they have to drive too far.

2. The whole boating thing is much easier on the environment. I'm a kayaker, so I don't know first hand, but my step mom said it can cost $300 to fill up a lot of these boats. That's a lot of gas being used that is purely recreational. Plus, it's so much nicer on the lakes without all the boats, and there's less pollution.

3. Some people I know are buying shares in organic farms, and each week they get a share of whatever produce was harvested. Some of it is typical produce, some of it I've never heard of, but it's the new "in" thing to do around here.
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Old 07-05-08, 08:15 AM   #2
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The traffic level on the roads is noticeably reduced, just about every time I go cycling!
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Old 07-05-08, 08:22 AM   #3
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I think this is true in a lot of places. I see a lot of for sale signs in areas near me where a house usually sold before the sign even made it up.

IMHO we are in for a long transition period where our standard of living goes down while the rest of the worlds goes up. It's not about the war, the price of gas - it's more about the internet. It is becoming a flat world and those countries on the top will get dragged down while those on the bottom lift themselves up. It happened in the 70s & 80s with Japan, in the 90s with Korea now it's Asia's time (and maybe Russia as well) - it will be a lot to swallow this time around and we may choke on it for quite awhile.
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Old 07-05-08, 08:45 AM   #4
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A lot of SUVs for sale.

Friends who own one are now saying that they have to keep it because they can't afford a new car because the trade in value of the SUV is so bad.
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Old 07-05-08, 08:49 AM   #5
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The other good to come out of this, at least in our area, is that young people are getting closer to being able to buy a house and stay in the towns where they grew up. That hasn't been true for a long, long time. IMO, it would be great if more women had the financial option to stay home and raise their own children. I was a letter carrier for many years, and it was always so sad to deliver mail to entire neighborhoods where no one was home during working hours. Blocks and blocks of empty neighborhoods. No small children, no mothers.
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Old 07-05-08, 08:55 AM   #6
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I agree, TruF! I'd love it if moms or dads were able to stay home with the young kids!

Here's another good thing, however small: couples are running errands together more. They say that they don't drive somewhere to pick up one thing they need if it isn't necessary. So they wait until they need something else, which ends up being a list. Then there's so many errands to run at one time in one place, that couples go together. I like that!
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Old 07-05-08, 08:59 AM   #7
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Positive note here: We've greatly expanded the vegetable garden. It is satisfying in every possible way.
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Old 07-05-08, 09:10 AM   #8
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That's some preety cool thoughts. I live in a bedroom community that's grown up over the last 40 years but it is right next to an old town with a real neighborhood, old smallish houses close together on beautiful tree lined streets with all the shops you need within walking distance. For me - I am 2 miles away from the center - it is not walking distance but riding distance and I have been contemplating a trailer so I can do the grocerys on the bike.

As far as the "stay at home" moms - it really depends on if our culture changes from "wanting more than your parents" to "quality of life and family". When we had our second child (17 years after the first) my wife stays home now and our second is so much happier, doing better in school. We don't have the discretionary income anymore, we have to watch every dollar but family life is so much better.

I hope you guys are right - this change will drive better/stronger families and communities.
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Old 07-05-08, 09:15 AM   #9
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Hi Solveg,

Are you still in Kansas? Or back in Minnesota?
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Old 07-05-08, 10:04 AM   #10
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I'm in MN right now. "Up Nort" as they say...I won't be going back to KS until the end of Sept. Kansas is really hurting, though. People are really curtailing their activities...but there seems to be more town activities, too. I saw an ad in the local paper that someone was trying to get together a "game day" where people in the town got together to play cards and board games. Nice.
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Old 07-05-08, 10:27 AM   #11
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I've been dreaming of having a second home someplace bike-friendly, inexpensive, and pleasant. With the intention of moving there and living on a modest retirement income. Room for fruit trees and a garden. Four real seasons, but not too much snow. Walk or bike into town. Coffee shops, bookstores. Maybe a small artist community just starting up. In a place where people won't look at my husband doing Tai Chi and think he's dangerous.

How do you like having two homes, Solveg? Do you work from home?
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Old 07-05-08, 10:35 AM   #12
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I've been dreaming of having a second home someplace bike-friendly, inexpensive, and pleasant. With the intention of moving there and living on a modest retirement income. Room for fruit trees and a garden. Four real seasons, but not too much snow. Walk or bike into town. Coffee shops, bookstores. Maybe a small artist community just starting up. In a place where people won't look at my husband doing Tai Chi and think he's dangerous.
Among the many options:

http://www.visitstaunton.com/attract...ttractions.htm

Great cycling, artistic and cultural but not too froo-froo, reasonable real estate prices, four seasons, but not too much snow.
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Old 07-05-08, 10:42 AM   #13
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Drive less. Cycle more. That's win/win for me.

I think there is less traffic on the roads around here. Cycling seems more fun with fewer cars buzzing by you.

Americans have enjoyed too high a standard of living, I think. There's nothing wrong with walking up to the grocery store instead of taking your Lexus SUV. And my family is putting off buying our IMac. It's brutal, I tell you, brutal, but we're coping just fine until our current computer bardk anmk,.aaaaaaaaaaa
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Old 07-05-08, 12:16 PM   #14
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Our neighborhood had its annual July 4th kiddies bicycle parade. ABout 100 kids riding everything you might imagine dress up their bikes, and the motorcycle police esort them through the neighborhood, sirens blasting and all.

This year we had far more than before, which I attribute to folks simply staying at home over the 4th of July instead of heading to the mountains.

However, this is really tough on the mountain tourist trade, and the ski areas are bracing for a difficult upcoming year with airline fares higher, and gas higher. I didn't know that the ski areas subsidized the airline flights, but they do, at least as reported by our local paper.

I LIKE the idea of doing more "in neighborhood" kinds of things.
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Old 07-05-08, 12:38 PM   #15
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We've noticed less traffic on the freeways even on weekend days; makes for a nicer commute across town. We've seen more scooters and small motorcycles. And more brand new small cars in driveways.
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Old 07-05-08, 12:55 PM   #16
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We hate to admit that other currencies are worth more . . . really the American $ is worth(less).
Folks been doing the house refi-thing, borrowing against home equity (hey, get an equity loan sez your friendly bank). For everything else there's visa or mastercard. 'Charge it' is the US motto; just refinance, pay off one credit card by borrowin' off another. No money down, not interest for 72 months on a car loan. Buy a new mattress: no money down and no interest 'til 2011? A mattress?!
Now some bikeshops are doing 'easy payments.'
Let's take some responibility for our own actions/inactions!
Pay-as-you-go may be a whole 'new' idea!
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Old 07-05-08, 01:19 PM   #17
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....Americans have enjoyed too high a standard of living, I think.
That came to my attention while watching some HGTV shows in which the typical American home buyer walks through a prospective home to buy and, rather than saying "ooooh, nice big kitchen!" they say "that's' outdated, will have to be replaced" about a perfectly fine (though "outdated" by American standards) counter top, cabinets, whatever. All the while some poor woman is sweeping her dirt floor in a village somewhere on the other side of the world..........
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Old 07-05-08, 01:32 PM   #18
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I have a hard time with the concept that the high gas prices are hurting recreational boat use. I mean, have you looked at the price of some of these (not too large, either) boats? I mean, if you can afford a $75,000 boat, you ought to be able to spring for the $300 to gas it up!

On the other hand, if all of the $75,000 boat that you could afford was the loan payment, then I guess I could see how you are in trouble.

And there, my friends, is the crux of the problem - money was way too easy to "rent", and a lot of folks over-consumed!

I saw this a lot in my neighborhood back about the time of dot com bust. Another big McMansion would go up, and a young couple would move in. Mom would have a big SUV, Dad would drive a 4x4 full-size extra-cab pickup truck, and the driveway would have a parking pad for a boat, a luxury camping trailer, and there would be a Harley in the garage for nice Sunday afternoons.

Next thing you know the Harley would be MIA, and for-sale signs would appear on the boat and the camper. Sad. The 4x4 would disappear, and somebody would be driving a Hyundai.

Sad.

But it's their own fault.

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Old 07-05-08, 01:39 PM   #19
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Can't say I've seen much difference in traffic. Wife is not participating in slow down. Other night she had 2 TV's on and 2 room AC units running. Hasn't stopped her driving. Neighborhood appears to have less then the normal amount of homes for sale, but suspect nobody wants to sell in the low price, no buyers market. Been looking at a nice flat, biker friendly, 55+ only, developement for next home, but unfortunately my home buying money is invested in Ford stock. So it looks like I'm staying here for now.
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Old 07-05-08, 02:18 PM   #20
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We have some rental property and two of my renters are having a very hard time paying rent. One is an old couple on a small fixed income. They have very few posessions and don't seem to mind, but with everything going up they are having a hard time paying $475 a month. Another is a home remodeler / drywaller who is now taking jobs doing yard work and landscaping at a golf course. His rent is $500 a month and he is staying about a month behind. He also has few posessions and normally lives pretty cheaply but he says that the few people he bids jobs to are telling him that others are working much cheaper. One of the things hurting this area is that the main industry the last few years has been homebuilding. Now there are a lot of new homes sitting empty. All other industry has moved over seas, and it's not just us that is getting hurt by this look at this http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/oc...stmas.shopping TWL is correct we are going to have to all learn to live differently, drive less, smaller cars. We are back to gardening like we did 20 years ago and my parents and grandparents did. It won't be bad once we get used to it.
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Old 07-05-08, 02:41 PM   #21
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Among the many options:

http://www.visitstaunton.com/attract...ttractions.htm

Great cycling, artistic and cultural but not too froo-froo, reasonable real estate prices, four seasons, but not too much snow.
Mmmm. Sounds and looks really nice, Jet. I checked out the area in Realestate.com, and although there isn't much available, I can't believe the lovely old (huge) houses you can get there for what is still considered low in the Bay Area. Do you live in Staunton? How are the politics? No offense, but Bay Area politics and I have been at serious odds with each other for years now. Not looking to go to the other extreme, however. I just want to live someplace where people make decisions based on what makes sense and will work for the long term, not what makes them feel good or self-righteous.

Political polarization is unfortunately another sign of the times.
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Old 07-05-08, 02:48 PM   #22
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On the homebuilding side- The Government over here decided about 4 years ago that we are about 2 million homes short for the Growing population. They have designated the areas where the houses are to go and a lot of them are in the South. Lots of plots of land have been sold to the developers and some of these have been developed. Problem is that what are required are Starter homes for people trying to get on the housing ladder and they cannot afford the 200,000 required to buy these houses. ($400,000) They have not looked at the market- have not provided the right types of housing and are now paying for being greedy. Couple this with the fact that you cannot get a Mortgage at present and the Building trade is in dire straits.

And on the gardening side- Home grown vegetables rock. Especially with the way all food has rocketed in the last 6 months. All I want to know now is how to grow a cow.
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Old 07-05-08, 03:07 PM   #23
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How do you like having two homes, Solveg? Do you work from home?
Ummmm. Jury is still out. It's actually 3, since I'm up at the cabin most of the summer. It's expensive in many unpredictable ways. I had figured out the utilities at each and chose things I could cancel with no fee when I wasn't there, but what surprised me was how many things I needed at each place that I wasn't going to haul there each time. And it's only natural to want to paint and decorate each one. I had a lot of hand me down furniture and kitchen stuff which I distributed to each place and my main house is really stripped down right now. But there's cleaning stuff, clothing, etc. You start out thinking you don't need to buy much, but then you discover you need it. Think on this line: 3 vacuums, 3 washers/dryers, 3 irons, 3 sets of pots and pans... and I went as cheap as I could on my KS washer and dryer only to find out it wears holes in my clothes! So now I'm afraid to bring any of my MN clothes down there.

And then you forget stuff you mean to haul with you, so you have to replace it. And then there's the maintenance cost of 3 places.

It's a lot of hassle, but it also keeps you out of ruts. You feel kind of fresh and rejuvenated each time you go to a different place. It's also a little disorienting, as you start to feel like you life is where you're at, and the rest of it seems a little dream-like. All in all, it takes a lot of organization, but I think it really pushes you to live life to the fullest.

Yes, I work from wherever I'm at.

Here's another thing to think about on the economy front. My step brother is a pilot. He left his job with an established airline to join a start-up airline which failed. He couldn't find a job and now they're going to China. China is paying him $18,000 a month to fly, and it's tax free if they stay over there a certain number of years. That says a lot about how China is growing faster than they can handle, and when you compare it to our economy, it's amazing.

BTW: Does anyone know why, if China is drilling for oil 50 miles offshore of the US, why we're not doing the same thing?
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Old 07-05-08, 04:02 PM   #24
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BTW: Does anyone know why, if China is drilling for oil 50 miles offshore of the US, why we're not doing the same thing?
Timely, that! I just signed the "Drill here, Drill now, Pay less" petition. What this country is paying to the Middle East for oil amounts to the largest redistribution of wealth in history.
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Old 07-05-08, 06:15 PM   #25
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Yesterday's 131 mile ride took me across Cedar Creek Lake, which is 60 to 80 miles from most of the DFW metroplex, and there were SUV's zooming too close past me, one after the other, and boats everywhere on the water. I think everyone here just watched their credit card balances rise, and kept on driving and boating.
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