Drive 95 miles per hour – Save 12 minutes

a highway sign in Texas showing the 85 mph speed limit

Texas will soon have the highest posted speed limit in the United States (heck, in the Western Hemisphere. Take that, Honduras.) – 85 miles per hour.

In November, Texas will open a new toll road on a heavily-used corridor between Austin and San Antonio, where the current highway (I-35) has a speed limit of 65 miles per hour. The higher speed limit is expected to appeal to drivers looking to shave some time off their drive. The new toll road will look especially attractive since the old highway’s speed limit will be reduced to 55 miles per hour. Pretty clever.

But how much time will drivers of the new toll road actually save? Not as much as you might think.

First, the new road is pretty short, only 41 miles long. Let’s assume that people will travel 10 miles per hour over each posted limit, not uncommon in Texas, and maybe even a bit conservative.

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America’s Coolest Cities

rock and roll musician Lou Reed

This July was the hottest on record in the U.S. and 2012 is on track to be our hottest year ever. You better believe Americans are cranking the A/C and heading for the swimming holes.

But when it comes to my “cool cities” study, I’m talking about the other kind of cool.  The sunglasses, Levi’s and t-shirt James Dean cool.

I worked with Forbes with their article to find where the youth of America are headed, where it’s “happening.”  Would you believe Houston comes out on top?  Last year H-town sported a vigorous 2.6% job growth while welcoming over 50,000 new residents to the area, many of them young professionals.

We looked at recreational opportunities, such as amount of green space, golfing and skiing, and pro and college sports teams.

We also used my Diversity Index, which measures the likelihood that someone you meet will be of different race or ethnicity.  Higher diversity translates to a greater number of cool stores, events, and eateries.

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Retiring on $100 a Day

senior citizens riding bikes together

Can you really retire in America and only spend $100 a day?  Turns out it’s a lot more possible than you might think.

When I started this recent study with AARP, I’d expected only about 20 or 30 U.S. cities would be this affordable.  But I was surprised to discover that most U.S. metro areas have a low enough combination of housing prices and property taxes to meet this criteria.

So what are the best cities for a $100/day retirement?

Based on things like arts and culture, rich community and great restaurants, here’s the Top 10:

City State Population
1 Spokane WA 471,221
2 Las Cruces NM 209,233
3 Eau Claire WI 161,151
4 Roanoke VA 308,707
5 Morgantown WV 129,709
6 Pittsburgh PA 2,356,285
7 San Antonio TX 2,142,508
8 Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA 865,350
9 Grand Junction CO 146,723
10 Gainesville FL 264,275

I’m assuming a 25% tax rate, which will reduce your yearly income of $36,500 to $27,375 spendable income.  That’s $2,281 per month.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics uses a percentage of 31.5% for the housing component of the Consumer Price Index.  That means that we have $719 per month for mortgage payments and property taxes.

I’m assuming a 20% down payment, which means that with current low interest rates, we can afford a house priced at $192,000.  Of course, putting up the nearly $40,000 (20% of $192,000) for the down payment may be challenging.

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“Military Retirement” study garners major media coverage

Our Best Cities for Military Retirement and Second Careers study is a making a big splash in the media.  The team at Fleishman-Hillard PR orchestrated a great campaign for our USAA-sponsored study.

A big front-page above-the-fold feature in USA Today:  Job-Seeking Veterans.

Forbes.com featured a two-page story and a slide show, and the American Morning show on CNN spent over four minutes discussing our results.

Articles on news sites across the country:

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Military Retirement – Second Careers

Coinciding with Veteran’s Day, we just completed an interesting study about the best places in the U.S. for military retirees to start a second career.  Since most veterans retire from service in their 30’s or 40’s, they have plenty of time to start a new professional chapter in their lives.

source: allamericanpatriots.com

So what are the best places to enter the civilian job sector?  To help us find out, we partnered with USAA (a financial services provider) and Military.com (the largest military and veteran membership organization).  We looked at factors such as affordability, unemployment rate, prevalence of military skill related jobs, and number of veteran-owned businesses.  But we didn’t stop there.

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Sleepless Cities

The results of our newest study were released today on the CBS show, Sunday Morning.  Louisville, KY earned the top spot of Most Sleepless City, and Honolulu residents got the best rest in our study of insomnia.
(see the video clip on CBS)

Our new study ranks the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, home to fully half of the U.S. population.  The Sperling study analyzes over 400,000 responses from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (the world’s largest telephone survey, conducted annually by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and also considers factors contributing to poor sleep,
such as joblessness, divorce, and lengthy commuting.

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