The Kind of Voting That Really Matters

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on May 23, 2016 in Uncategorised

“A multitude of people and yet solitude.”
— Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Joel Bowman, writing today from London, England…

Today we leave behind the grubby world of politics and instead focus on the kind of voting that actually matters. That is, the votes you make with your feet…your wallet…and your precious, finite time.

More on that below, but first…

On an uncommonly sunny English morning, in a makeshift café office, we raise our head from our digital device to take a look at the scene around us. In a moment of quiet, solitary reverie, the whole world passes by. It’s sometimes hard to take it all in.

The locals in this part of town are trendy… well-heeled… cosmopolitan… (your interloping editor excluded). And they hail from all corners of the globe.

At the table next to us, a young mother with a stroller rocks her baby son to sleep. She wears a traditional hijab. Black cloth covering her head and chest, with pretty, delicate gold threading at the hems. Her husband has on a baseball cap and loafers.

Next to them, on the far side, sits a table of three women. Middle aged. Brunching. Chatting. Whittling away the carefree moments. An empty bottle of champagne rests, up turned, in an ice bucket on their table. Another is shortly on its way.

And to our left side, nearer the back of the restaurant, a single man sips a long cocktail (something clear with a cucumber garnish). He glances at his watch furtively. Waiting…waiting…waiting.

Eventually, his friend shows. A stocky gentleman of (we guess) Mediterranean descent. They embrace. The first man relaxes. The waiter brings another round of drinks.

We’re in the Bayswater neighborhood, a few blocks north of Kensington Gardens.

The buildings here stand as grand monuments of the Victorian era. Four and five stories high…uniform and faded white…elevated porticos leading up a half dozen stairs to the first floor…wrought iron gates either side of them…and a half dozen more steps down to the basement flats.

“As a rule of thumb,” our Airbnb host explained to us upon check-in, “the prices tend to increase 10% per floor. There’s more natural light the higher you go, of course, but you typically get less room…usually only one bedroom. Maybe two.”

Your editor decided on accommodations in the basement. His one-year old daughter enjoys the crawling space. His pocketbook enjoys the (albeit modest) discount.

It’s true that the area is delightful. But for the price? We peeked through the window of a local real estate agent to get a feel for the lay of the land. Within a few minutes’ walk were…

Ground floor. One bedroom. Communal garden. 556 square feet.

£1,000,000 (SOLD)

Loft-style, split level. One bedroom. Hidden, “open plan” kitchen. 710 square feet.

£1,000,000 (SOLD)

And this…

First floor. Eat-in kitchen. One bedroom. Heated towel rail. 706 square feet.

£1,075,000 (UNDER CONTRACT)

Gasp! We wonder how people can afford to live and work in such a place.

“They can’t,” a taxi driver later explained (we must’ve been thinking out loud).

“I’d reckon nine out of 10 Londoners can’t afford to live in the city these days. Not here in the center. They do the commute, you see. In and out on the Underground (trains).”

And so they do…millions of workers, pouring into the city daily. Like platelets, streaming through the body’s veins to plug a gaping wound, office workers flood in from the surrounding areas to populate desks, counters, bars, cubicles, stalls, booths, registers and salons.

They come in to fix the potholes in the roads…to conduct the Underground rail system…to trim hair and shine shoes and deliver furniture.

Then they turn around and head out again, retreating for the night to their homes an hour or more from the action.
According to Lloyds Bank, the largest mortgage lender in the U.K., worker bees can save up to £300,000 by living a “mere” 60 minutes outside the capital…and that’s after a £5,000 seasonal “ticket to ride” (the trains) every year…for 30years!

For the great majority of London workers, living within a casual stroll from the office is simply out of the question.

Prices for London homes rose almost 10% last year, roughly double the rate of increase seen across the rest of the country over the same period. Homes in zones one and two (the most central areas) now average just over £720,000.

That’s a million dollars and change. Enough to land you…

This seven-bedroom, six-and-a half-bathroom, 4,203-square-foot home in Peachtree Park, Atlanta…

This two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 1,332-square-foot condominium unit just off Chicago’s Magnificent Mile…

Or this four-bedroom, four-bathroom house in South Park, Charlotte. (With fireplace, wine cellar, and gourmet kitchen.)

OK, so you’re not five minutes’ walk from Hyde Park or the Criterion on Piccadilly…but you get the picture.

Where you choose to live…and where you don’t. What you eat…and what you avoid. What you do for work…with whom you choose to associate…how you spend your free time…and what you wouldn’t do for all the ice cream in the world.

These are the votes that really matter in life. Not the political sideshow that rolls into town once every four years (three in the U.K.).

All these decisions—and plenty more besides—send critical information out into the marketplace. Prices react accordingly.

An hour on the “tube” each way? Hey, that’s 10 hours a week…460 hours per year (U.K. citizens get six weeks “statutory leave” annually)…18,400 hours over the course of a 40-year career.

Or two full years of life lived in the U.K.’s Underground.

Some folk might well prefer to live in a basement.

Image ©iStock/bizoo_n

T&P Tool Shed

An “A-Mason” Hanging Garden

By the Staff of The Savvy Retiree Daily

If you’re stuck living in the basement or just short on space, a hanging herb garden can be just what you need to add a bit of color and vibrance to an otherwise dull setting—and there’s nothing like plucking some fresh herbs for dinner from your own kitchen.

This stylish, mason-jar, hanging garden is a real space saver and simple to make. The components required can be bought for $60 total, but you can save quite a bit of money by upcycling some old wood and jars. You’ll need:

Mason jars
2 planks of wood
Hose clamps

1. Take your planks and mark where you’d like the jars to be hung. Remember to give the plants enough space to grow (6 to 10 inches should do nicely).
2. Use wood adhesive to secure your boards to the wall horizontally, placing the second board about a foot below the first. Try to set up your garden somewhere that gets a fair bit of sunlight. Screw the boards to the wall once they’re secured in place. Depending on the type of wall you’ll need a different type of screw or anchor.
3. Secure hose clamps to board at the positions you’ve marked for your mason jars. Use the hose clamps to tie the mason jars to the wall.
4. Place a handful of stones in each jar for drainage. Layer a thin covering of charcoal on the stones to balance PH. Fill the rest of the jar with soil and plant your herbs.