Is it cheaper to rent or buy?

 

Here is another interesting map of the United States, this one presented by Trulia real estate search.  This time the map indicates which major cities are cheaper to rent in and which major cities are cheaper to buy in.   Topping the list of cities that are cheaper to rent in should come as no surprise:  New York City is notoriously expensive to buy a home in.  On the other hand, major centers such as Phoenix and Miami are far better for buying a home (perhaps because housing prices fell so drastically in these cities?).    The numbers are bit more confusing than the colours and are the result of some complex calculation to determine what is cheaper.  But the main point is that the lower the number, the more it makes sense to buy within the city.

Are the Richest American Also the Best Educated?

 

There is a pretty common perception that the wealthiest Americans are also the ones with the highest level of education.  Yet, coming up with a way to measure this is obviously a bit difficult.  Recently, the U.S. Census’s American Community Survey was able to at least partially put this perception to the test.  The Survey was able to create a study that could be mapped on the county level and provide us some key information on high graduation rates, college graduation rates and median household incomes within these counties.

The colours on the map above are created by a combination of three shades.  These shades are described below:

Pink: Measurement of high school graduates.  The deeper the shade of pink, the higher the percentage of high school graduates.

Yellow: Measurement of college graduates.  The deeper the shade of yellow, the higher the percentage of college graduates.Blue: Measurement of the median household income.  The deeper the shade of blue, the higher the median household income.

When you combine these colours, you get a combined measurement of high school graduation rates, college graduation rates and median household income within a given county.  You may notice some counties are almost white in colour while others are almost black.  The white counties are ones that have a lo

w h
igh school graduation rates, a  low college graduation rates and a low median household incomes.  The black counties, on the flipside, have a high high school graduation rate, a high college graduation rate and a high median household income.

What is more interesting are the colours in between.  The blue-ish shades of green highlight a city with a high median household income yet a low college and high school graduation rate.  This would suggest a city that has a lot of highly educated transplants.

Anyways, take a good look at the map.  While it may not fully prove the title of this blog post, it is most certainly a very interesting stud

y.  And please visit this blog postcourtesy of Good.is for more information and a bigger map.

The Great Reset by Richard Florida

 

Any regular reader of the blog will know that i’m a big fan of the author Richard Florida.  Florida has written a number of outstanding books such as The Creative Classor Who’s Your City?.  Both books have a heavy urban focus and discuss why certain people decide on certain places to live or the new ways in which the current generations choose to live.

For his latest book, The Great Reset, Florida focuses on the recent recession and how it will change our economy and the way we live.  I have currently read half the book and am once again enthralled with the subject matter.  Florida relates our current recession to the last two economic crashes (The Great Depression and the Long Depression of the 1870′s) and discusses how these troubled times often brought about the greatest innovation that helped shape how people would live in the future.

As with any of his other books, Florida discusses a number of different urban issues.  He touches on the decline of the rust belt cities such as Detroit or Buffalo and the reasons for their decline.  Perhaps more intriguing is Florida’s focus on the decline of many of the sun belt cities such as Phoenix or Miami which were almost solely driven by real estate in the last decade.  Now that the recession has hit, property prices in these places have been decimated and unlike cities like San Francisco, Boston or Houston, they don’t have much else to rely on economically.

I will provide another post when I finish the book, but for the time being, I recommend anyone who is a fan of Richard Florida or a fan of social economics to pick up a copy of The Great Reset.

Highlight in Urban Planning: Beijing’s Outdoor Gyms

Photo courtesy of Alex Balfour, London

 

Here in North America, the concept of an outdoor gym is pretty foreign (I can only think of ‘Muscle Beach’ down in Los Angeles), yet in Beijing, China, outdoor gyms are a common sight.  Since 1998, the government has built approximately 4000 outdoor gyms throughout the city.  These gyms create a free and convenient alternative to the rather expensive and often-inconvenient indoor gyms.

The equipment at these outdoor gyms is rather simple: instead of each machine having it’s own weight stack, these machines use the individual’s own body weight to create resistance.  And apart from the look of the machines (they are generally in bright colours), they look quite similar to what you would find in a normal indoor gym.  You can read more about this excellent urban development here.