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Opportunity CostLet me ask you a question: What’s it like where you live? Does where you live inspire you? Why are why not?

I thought about this when I heard Steven Chou from MyWifeQuitHerJob.com talking about helping his audience make an extra $1000. “There’s a lot of people out there in the US where $1000 a month makes a huge difference,” he explained. He went on to say, “Not here in Silicon Valley where $1000 doesn’t do anything…”

First of all, it’s great that Steven Chou helps people increase their incomes by $1000 per month and I definitely need to look into his website and check out his articles.

Now, we all know that pay and cost of living is relative. And we all have been told that the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence, but how green can the grass possibly be in Silicon Valley or New York City? Some people get paid a lot for almost nothing and some people get paid little in exchange for too much but most of us get just what we deserve the question is how to get the most bang for your buck. Certain places are more expensive because of perceived desirability, but there’s got to be a balance, right? But, I’ve just got to ask: You say a $1000 doesn’t do anything where you live? That seems to me like living in a place with an oxygen shortage.

Stag Beer, Belleville ILIf you’re lamenting that you live in a place where your money is just being stripped away from you, then I have to ask you why you haven’t moved the hell out of there? Do you enjoy throwing money away?

Maybe you’ve thought about it, about going someplace simpler about simplifying, but you don’t know where to start. Maybe you’re afraid that you will be somehow living with scarcity. As with most places, when people come here they often share comments that it’s fun and surprising. Because there is a such thing as being too close to something, every now and then it’s nice when someone from outside affirms what you’ve already been thinking.

Belleville, IL: It’s Got A Nice Energy

Belleville Illinois WebsiteI really do love this place so much that I wanted to share it in a way that was genuine. Where we live provides the raw materials of our life so it’s important to be accurate about the qualities that make Belleville great.

So, I started writing about this place and I found myself sounding a little like a salesman. All rah rah rah when let’s face it, Belleville isn’t a simple place. It’s as full of complexity as much as simplicity. We have equal parts darkness and light here, but somehow the mixture is pleasing. The aftertaste lingers just long enough for it to be pleasant.

Like the Stag beer billboard says: It’s not for beginners. Maybe this is the way I feel about this town. It’s not for everybody. But for some, they can find here a genuine flavor of outgoing culture and closed up anonymity.  And somehow the energy of this place works.

So, how do you convey this without sounding like a slick pamphlet? My answer this week is to let the voices of Belleville speak for themselves on the site.

And if, like Steven Chou, you’re talking about places where a dollar goes far, you’d be crazy or just unaware of the possibilities of this place if you missed the opportunities here. It’s possible to spend more time living because you can spend less time earning a buck.

Land in a Flyover State and Get Out and Look Around

Illinois is heaped into that pile of what people from the coasts refer to as a Flyover State. Whatever. It’s shallow to believe that places that aren’t the backdrop for your favorite sitcom are empty of meaning. You’ve heard the term, Get down off your high horse. Well, that’s a left over from the days of the “Trot Over States.”

I live in a ridiculously-inexpensive house, in a very undervalued neighborhood, outside a fairly large city repeatedly denigrated for its crime statistics in Belleville, IL. But it ain’t about how much you pay for your lifestyle, it’s the actual value of your interactions. I imagine the insular attitude from compressed cabin altitude is that those midwest towns must be devoid of anything of value, but the real fear is more likely what would we do down there? I would go so far as to guess that you are about as likely to get cornered into a conversation about Nascar or Hunting at the water cooler in Silicon Valley as you would in the town that I’m speaking of. It only happens if you want it to.

I love my modestly-sized brick 1870 German Street House with it’s beautiful quarter-acre back yard (landscaped by yours truly.) I love my neighbors and thoroughly enjoy working from home in the Summer when the neighborhood children race in the front door and out the back screaming and laughing with joy. What’s that worth?

I really enjoy living in Belleville, Illinois where I can walk to our beautiful downtown to have a cup of coffee, a drink at night, see a movie at our Vaudeville-era theatre. No matter how long you live here you will find lifelong friendships where you buy each other reasonably-priced drinks until the bars close. And then we can stumble home down cobblestone streets to our warm home. What’s that worth?

I just want to create a place that welcomes the world to this little place that I like so much. I want it to meet you at the airport or guide you in along the highway and bring you right downtown. I want it to show you how you can easily walk from the MetroLink light rail system that brings you home from St Louis, takes you out on the town and puts you up in a comfortable place for the night.

Look, I’ve walked through cities and towns across the globe and what I’ve found is that place doesn’t make you better. (Well, maybe Idaho Springs Colorado does. I always feel really, really good there. But even Idaho Springs is reasonably-priced by Colorado standards.)

Value A Place Where You Can Be You

There’s a little story about a man who walks in to a town’s Chamber of Commerce and asks what the town is like. The receptionist asks him what the town he’s from is like. He responds it’s great! She tells him, I think you’ll find this town the same.  Another man walks in and asks her what the town is like and she asks him the same question. It sucks, he declares. She wisely responds, I think you’ll find this town the same.

In Belleville you can have an extra $1000 but you won’t need an extra $1000.