K and I had a long talk over the weekend about where we'd like to be in five years. In sum, it all comes down to wishing for a slightly larger house--what we call a "grown up house," which in our minds equals a house with more than one bathroom and less scary neighbors. We would also really, really, really like to find a place to live where we could get cheaper (read, free) school tuition for our child. As Kelly commented, I'd love to be able to put some of the $800/month we're spending on tuition toward a larger mortgage instead.
As I've mentioned before, we briefly toyed with the idea of moving to Slidell about a year ago, namely due to the fact that we could buy a "grown up house" there and E could actually get a decent education at one of the public schools. Kenny brought up this idea again over the weekend--but I have to say, it really turns me off. Not because I have anything against Slidell--I just don't necessarily want to live there. If we could get a really nice house, right on the water, and have a boat and several hundred more dollars a month in disposable income? Sure--I'd be game for that. But otherwise, I'm not really interested in moving across the lake to trade free tuition for more commuting time, hassle, and gas money, wiht the only possible payoff being the chance for a slightly larger fixer-upper house.
If, by some minor miracle, we're able to get Emmeline into one of the Jefferson Parish magnet schools, I'll happily commit to living in Jefferson Parish indefinitely. You would have to drag me kicking and screaming to get me to move to Metairie or Kenner, but I'll stay right here in Old Jefferson, which to me feels more like New Orleans than the farther removed suburbs anyway (possibly due to the drug-related arrests we've had among our neighbors and the regular appearance of the police at the four-plex across the street).
We've pretty much given up on being able to afford to move back to New Orleans any time soon, but I'm wondering if we should revisit that idea. And so, the point of this post. What does it cost to live in the city these days? When we moved back into our house in Jefferson in March 2007, the last bill we received from Entergy New Orleans for the apartment we were living in was for $600. Granted, that was for the month of February, when it was quite cold, but $600 for electricity?
So I'm curious--is Entergy still screwing the residents of New Orleans? What do you pay for property taxes? For water? For gas? It seems to me that in the time since I first moved to New Orleans in 2001 until Katrina came along that the cost of living in New Orleans was comparable to the surrounding area. But then after Katrina, things got out of control.
In the spirit of sharing, here's approximately what we pay:
Electricity - Around $150-$175/month in the peak of summer when it's 800 degrees outside and the a/c is running constantly; around $80-$100/month the rest of the year.
Gas - $20/month (electric heat).
Water/trash - About $50/month in the peak of summer when my husband is watering the lawn constantly; about $34/month the rest of the year.
Property taxes - $650/year, after our homestead exemption.
Wind/hail insurance - $1,400 a year through LA Citizens FAIR (ha!) plan. And this doesn't allow for enough coverage if we have a total loss on our house; but for some reason, they won't insure our house any higher.
Hazard insurance - About $1,300 a year through Allstate, just to make sure our house doesn't burn down. It was $2,300 a year, but they recently reduced it, thank God.
Car insurance - about $275/month for two relatively new cars for full coverage.