In February of 2015, my husband left his demanding job in a mortuary to work with me on our home-based business. All of a sudden, we went from having almost no freedom to having all the freedom in the world. This also meant that, for the first time in our lives, we could live anywhere we want.
We got a lot of questions from people at first. Now that we didn’t have to live in Central Indiana, would we move to the beach? Would we buy a hipster condo in a busy city? Would we become digital nomads and traverse the globe, living out of our suitcases?
In all honestly, I can say that none of these ideas ever crossed my mind. I don’t have to live in Noblesville, Ind., but I’m also fairly satisfied with the way things are. And I fully subscribe to the theory that, if something isn’t broke, you shouldn’t try to fix it.
Noblesville and Central Indiana in general offer a family-friendly place to raise kids, and our specific area has great public schools. We’re only 30 minutes from downtown Indianapolis, yet you can drive the other direction for 10 minutes and end up in a sea of farmland.
To me, Central Indiana offers the perfect combination of affluence and down-home country living. But, if there’s one thing about living here that keeps me here more than anything else, it’s the overall cost of living.
Simply put, where we live is C-H-E-A-P.
Why Living in Flyover Country Makes Our Lives Better
While we could pay more if we wanted to, the low cost of living in our area makes living below our means fairly easy. We paid around $187,000 for our 2,100-square-foot home in 2014, our annual property taxes are around $2,000, and the dues for our HOA are only $400 for year. Our kids are in school now, but we often paid less than $150 per week for two kids to be in full-time daycare. Plus, everything else about our lives – groceries, insurance, clothing, transportation, etc. – is outrageously cheap compared to other parts of the country.
So yeah, we live in flyover country, but the fact it’s so cheap to live here makes our lives better in so many ways. And even though we don’t have a beach or big-city amenities, we get so much more for staying put.
Here’s how cheap living gives us a better quality of life, and why we’ll never move somewhere “better.”
#1: We’ll be able to retire early.
One of the biggest benefits of living in a low-cost area is the fact we face fewer strains on our pocketbook. We don’t have to pay outrageous rents or mortgage payments that are the norm in big cities like San Francisco, New York, or Washington, D.C., nor do we have to fork over crazy sums for groceries or dining out.
Because we face lower expenses, we’re able to save a lot more money for retirement – so much that we should be able to retire before we reach our 50s. If we lived in an expensive area with high housing costs and taxes, I doubt we would have the privilege to save so much.
#2: We never deal with money stress.
Living in a low-cost area comes with benefits that extend far past our finances. Simply put, it makes living a lot less stressful.
Since our housing costs are low, we never have to worry about whether we’ll be able to pay our mortgage. We never stress over the cost of groceries or property taxes or getting a taxi.
And, even in the worst of times, we could get by. While we have a fairly nice house now, we could easily find a three-bedroom ranch nearby for less than $100,000 if we had to move due to job loss or some other unexpected issue.
If I’m being honest, I’m not sure I could live with myself if our housing costs or taxes were double, triple, or more what they are right now. But because we live in a low-cost area, I always sleep well at night.
#3: We have the freedom to take more chances and save for other goals.
While living cheap makes it easier to save for retirement, it makes it easier to save for other goals, too. One of our biggest goals as a family is to save up enough to pay for our children’s college education. Living inexpensively has allowed us to contribute to their college funds every month since they were babies, and now they each have five figures saved.
Another way cheap living has benefited us is simply by giving us the freedom to live life on our own terms. The fact that our living expenses are low is part of the reason my husband was able to quit his full-time job to work with me. If we had higher bills or more liabilities, I’m not sure we would have been able to make that choice.
#4: We’ll soon get to own our home.
While we took out a 15-year mortgage for our current home, we have overpaid our mortgage since the start. As a result, our 15-year-loan will actually be paid off next year, meaning we should never have to pay a mortgage payment again.
While this sounds like an unattainable goal, it wasn’t that hard to pay off our home early. After all, our house was not expensive and our property taxes and insurance are cheap overall.
At that rate, I probably wouldn’t even try – and we’d likely never own a home.
#5: We can afford to travel.
The final reason living in flyover country makes our lives better is the fact it leaves us money for fun. Because we’re not paying ridiculous taxes or a giant mortgage payment, we can save money for travel and experiences that make our lives worth living.
We can (and often do) take simple weekend trips with the kids, along with longer trips to various destinations we find interesting or enticing.
So, even though our home base (Indiana) isn’t particularly mind-blowing, the fact we can afford to travel means we don’t miss out on seeing and discovering new things. And if we get a hankering to see a big city or relax on a gorgeous beach, we can just plan it and go.
The Bottom Line
While living in a fancy big city or a trendy beach town might work fine for some people, I’m okay staying put where we’re at. Indiana may not be exciting, but it’s an affordable place to live and raise kids.
Beyond a low mortgage payment and cheap food, however, living I Indiana gives us something far more important; it gives us choices and the freedom to live life on our own terms.
That inherent freedom is something money can’t buy, but is worth its weight in gold.
- Nine Things We Look for in a Profitable Rental Property
- Seven Reasons to Love the House You Have
- Why You Should Buy Less House Than You Can Afford
Do you live somewhere cheap and love it? Please share in the comments below.