I have always prided myself on being smart with my money and always maximizing a dollar. So when shopping for a house, we have always strived to live on the edge of a really nice town. The cheaper edge that is. In Florida, it worked out perfectly, we lived on the border of Boca Raton, one of the nicest areas in south Florida. I was able to take advantage of all the great shopping, beautiful parks and great schools, without the high dollar zip code. I would sit in traffic jams surrounded by Jauguars, Mercedes and Porshes and chuckle to myself thinking about what they paid for thier cars.
When relocating to Atlanta, I did my research, I wanted the best schools and the lowest possible taxes, but also great sports, parks etc. We started looking in the "better" part of town and realized there were lots of fees and strict rules that come along with living there. We went just a mile down the road, found a much bigger house on a huge lot, with no rules and even lower fees. And just like before, we get to enjoy the assets of the affluent town.
There is only one drawback, who are my children friends with? Children who are handed a set of keys to a beautiful car on their 16th birthday, children who go on cruises for spring break and ski every winter, children who get the latest gadget the minute it debuts! And now children who can go to high-dollar colleges. As an adult I don't have trouble with the "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality, I know the full picture. But what ends up happening is as a parent it seems you can never measure up. I know it is better for my kids to learn fiscal lessons, earlier in life, that you can be happy with less and living on a budget is reality. But this time of year my mind is always blown by what some of their friends receive as gifts. I have a feeling these children will be surprised when they go out on their own someday.