find myself a city to live in
August 3, 2012 12:20 PM   Subscribe

In what medium to large city (or any place with a medical hub) could I buy the cheapest 1br or studio condo? Snowflake details inside.

I am disabled and my marriage is shaky. I'm a planner; so is my probably exspouse. If we split, I think I would probably need to look at condo ownership with my chunk of the marital assets and help from families (I can't maintain a house; it's a really debilitating physical disability). If my family helps me with rent or my ex pays me alimony to help with rent, I'll be ineligible for services. But I don't make enough money from disability to pay market rent anywhere. Social services doesn't, however, count a home you live in and own.

Thus, our collective rationale. (Also, my parents reallllly don't want me to move back in.)

It may seem strange to leave geography so open. I've been a pretty rootless person for awhile, in academic diaspora. Family? Meh. Prior to becoming disabled I went to undergrad away from home in the Midwest. Grad school on the east coast. Have been living all over the west coast from the mid-twenties to early 30's, with a brief stay at the Mayo Clinic for a few months. I settled in Portland and it's my home, and the cheapest studios there go for $85k. I am OK with trying somewhere new, though I'd love to go back, because that's where my network is. Seattle is the place I moved for my husband's job a year and a half ago. Because the Seattle Freeze is real, I'm unhappy and miss my friends.

Important! I need to be in a state that has generous services for disabled people like homecare, expanded Medicaid (I'm dual eligible when I'm not with my computer programmer husband), paratransit, etc. This means blue states, largely, and wealthier states. Washington and Oregon, for example, are excellent. (Washington is horrendously expensive.) This probably cancels out The Cheapest Places to buy a condo. I also need to be near a medical hub -- I have a rare genetic disorder. At least a well regarded university hospital. Again, this cancels out The Cheapest Condos in America. Realtors (or others who have a handle on the market), where do you think the best market might be for me?

Is there considerably more room to bargain on condos when buying with cash or conventional than on houses these days because of FHA loans, as an aside?

Sorry if this sounds cold. The feelings part has long been worked out over years. I'm just trying to plot this out.
posted by sweltering to Work & Money (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Consider Durham, NC.
posted by superfille at 12:29 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Check out Cleveland, Research Triangle (greater Raleigh-Durham) or Louisville.
posted by carmicha at 12:29 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

St. Louis will meet at least some of your requirements - I'm not as up on the disabled services portion but the hospitals there are fantastic.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 12:31 PM on August 3, 2012

I'd say Pittsburgh -- 1br property search turns up places in decent areas for $65k -- but there's no decision on medicaid expansion at the moment. The local university health system (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) pretty much owns the local market. Rental is also cheap here -- I rented a 2br half a duplex after college for $800 a month in a phenomenal neighborhood.
posted by bfranklin at 12:33 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about Florida?

The bottom has fallen out of the market there for housing and many, many condos are on the market dirt cheap.

Now, foreclosed condos have their own issues, so you'll have to do due dilligence to insure that the condo association is solid, but I bought a condo in Florida in the Ft. Lauderdale Metro area, a 2/2 in Coral Springs, in a 20 unit building, for $40K. (admittedly awhile ago, but it's something to explore.)

Due to the population's age down there, there are LOTS of services for those on Medicare/Medicaid.

University of Miami is well regarded, and I believe there's a Cleaveland Clinic as well.

Good luck to you!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:39 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Cleveland has great hospitals and very low housing costs.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:41 PM on August 3, 2012

Best answer: Rochester, Minnesota has condos starting at about 40k. As you know, it is home to the Mayo Clinic. It's also a two hour drive from the Twin Cities.

From looking at this, they seem to cover home care but I am not an expert in this regard.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:13 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Houston and the surrounding suburbs are generally cheap and near a medical center.
posted by asphericalcow at 1:36 PM on August 3, 2012

Although Texas generally is stingy, there are better services and assistance programs specifically in Houston & Harris County. My partner, who is disabled, and I live just outside (Brazoria County) and he is not eligible for some of those. The Texas Medical Center is truly world-class and can certainly provide the type of care you need. I am constantly amazed at the level of care he gets there.

Otherwise, yes, the housing costs and general cost of living is much less expensive here than on the East or West coasts.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:49 PM on August 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I live in Nashville, which has several major hospital systems. I cant speak to the medicare/tenncare situation, but the cost of living is fairly low and there are paratransit services.

Never been there, but i would imagine if you can tolerate the winters, madison, wiscnsin, seems like the kind of place that would treat you right.
posted by elizeh at 9:29 PM on August 3, 2012

You might also want to look at lower cost cities with academic medical centers, which are usually better for rarer cnditions.
posted by elizeh at 9:32 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I also need to be near a medical hub -- I have a rare genetic disorder. At least a well regarded university hospital.

I'd consider being near a medical hub that has a specialist (or team) that works on your rare genetic disorder. Your current physician is a good person to advise on this, as would be a webforum for people with your condition.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:04 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Atlanta. Condos are going for almost nothing here.
posted by pearlybob at 6:45 AM on August 4, 2012

Best answer: Rochester, NY is a major medical hub and NY State is pretty generous. Agree on Cleveland, too.
posted by cushie at 10:51 AM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Baltimore is one of the best cities for my condition. I see some good prospects for the market there, but I wonder about whether it would be a good place for me. Do you have any advice, anybody still on the thread?

Oh! And re: Medicaid Expansion. I don't mean the Affordable Care Act. There are already states who give services in excess of the federal minimum of Medicaid -- some are better for seniors and some are better for the disabled (of course, some are great for both). My credit is predictably shot (and I mean shot to hell; I can't get an FHA loan) from being on Medicare and being sick in the US, but if you know of grants/mortgage programs for disabled people in such an area, that's also good information. Many do underwrite the unique situations of disabled people, reportedly. I just have yet to find one.

Thanks for the well wishes. The end of a relationship always comes as a surprise. A big part of me just wants to go back to Portland and to my network, even if it is possibly not practical to own there, even if I may have to cobble together the help I need. I've been doing OK without home help since my spouse left me -- maybe it doesn't have to be the deciding factor. (A friend pointed out that I would become eligible for Medicaid if the ACA is still standing in 2014.)
posted by sweltering at 12:45 AM on August 5, 2012

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