Sunday, February 18, 2007

In-migration, maps, crime, monorail, and housing affordability

Finishing off the small miscellaneous items I wasn't able to get to at the beginning of last week:
  • On an absolute numbers basis, Texas is attracting the second-highest inbound moving vans minus outbound moving vans according to United Van Lines, just behind North Carolina. They also look at inbound-to-outbound ratios, where we drop to #16. Most of the rankings made sense to me, with the exception of Florida, which somehow has slightly more outbound than inbound - not what I would expect in such a fast growing state. Might be a temporary reaction to the 2005 hurricane season.
  • Continuing on our popularity, I was surprised to find Houston in the top 8 most popular cities being researched at Sperling's Best Places, along with Portland, Austin, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, San Diego, and Phoenix. Surprised DFW wasn't there, but that may be more of a multi-municipality problem (people researching Dallas and Ft. Worth separately) that an actual lack of popularity.
  • Some very cool 3D maps of the world with mountain ranges/spikes based on economic activity. Houston has a very nice spike, although it's based on ancient 1990 data.
  • From the Grits for Breakfast blog, an interesting slide show on crime and the Texas justice system, with some intriguing maps of Houston starting on p.34.
  • A NY Times story on the collapsing ridership and rapidly deteriorating financial position of the privately-owned Las Vegas monorail. From the map, it looks like it runs on the same route where an older, slower monorail used to run when I was in Vegas many years ago. I remember it being incredibly inconvenient and painful to use, because it dropped you off at the back of each casino, and the casino has a strong incentive to trap you there, rather than giving any easy or clear route to the Strip. You could easily spend 10-15 minutes just trying to navigate through the casino. At that point, you probably would have just been better off with a front-door to front-door ride in a taxi, or even just walking the Strip. Their solution is to try and double-down by extending the line to the airport, which is considered very financially risky.
  • Demographia has released their 3rd Annual International Housing Affordability Survey. Their basic statistic is the median home price divided by the median income, with a healthy level being around 3. Houston has a very nice 2.9, and gets some praise in the report. Much of California is a crazy-high 8 to 11. England and Australia also have very high ratios. Definitely worth a browse. (thanks to Hugh for the heads up)


At 11:07 AM, February 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


When I was over in London last month, my counterparts told me over dinner one night that average housing costs in Britain have now reached 200,000 pounds ($395,000 at Feb 2007 exchange rates). I heard commentary that banks in the UK are now making home loans to people which are six times the amount of their annual salary.

Now here's the kicker. I have recently been looking into the matter of housing in Britain and France further, based on some commentary people whom I know have made. Guess what I found? The mean (average) home across much of Britain and France is about 85 square meters (915 square feet)! In Canada and the US, we are now getting to enjoy housing that is twice as large as our European friends and are not having to pay through the nose for it.

At 12:50 PM, February 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can also get a huge house in Laredo for cheap...but who wants to live there?

There is more to life than having the biggest house and more crap than the other guy. There are intangibles that affect quality of life (less pollution, less stress, less traffic, lower crime, better education system, better health care system, etc). In many of those respects, Europeans have it a lot better than we do.

At 4:24 PM, February 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

random thoughts,

Interesting you'd pick on Laredo. It was among the fastest growing metro areas in the U.S. in 1990-2000, and it's still growing very fast relative to the rest of the country or state. Evidently *someone* wants to live there.


At 1:27 AM, February 20, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


There are many fairly undesirable places people move for different reasons. And there is a drug war currently going on across the border so I think that would make Laredo pretty darn undesirable.

That being said, it is VERY cheap to live there and the trade with Mexico is booming despite the violence and danger. So some people will choose to move there despite the trade-offs. Some people even go to Iraq for work. All about priorities. To some money is everything. To others, quality of life issues rank higher.

At 6:44 AM, February 21, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be a ghoul, but perhaps the Florida out-migation of rental trucks is tied to the demographic of many people who move there?

When the parents retire to FL, they take one rental truck (or, more likely, hire movers, not captured in your statistic) to transport their heirlooms and more desirable furniture. When they die, often the heirs will fly in and drive a rental van one-way home with the heirlooms, probably to multiple destinations?

Thanks for the roundup of links. They will provide a lot reading.


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