I read a lot of handwriting articles about how expensive things are and have to laugh to myself a little bit every time because I have it very good where I am to get the most for my entertainment dollar. I’ve lived in more expensive cities (New York, Ann Arbor) and cheaper (Flint, Taylor) but where I am right now in a suburb of Ann Arbor has the right mix of suburban necessities like malls and chain restaurants and cheap entertainment options.
Cable and Internet – We have a very good regional cable provider called WOW that gives us basic cable (network channels plus TNT, TBS, ESPN, Nick, Disney, etc.) and high speed internet for $60 a month. We don’t have digital boxes, or DVRs, or OnDemand but I can watch all the sports I need, the kids can watch their crap, and Becky can watch fat people lose weight in any number of documentary and reality show manners. I’ve tried more expensive providers and tried cutting the cord completely, but I hate paying $100 or more for it all, and I REALLY hate screwing with antennas. This seems to fit nicely in the middle.
Books – I live close enough to Ann Arbor to participate in their robust literary community and patronize my favorite independent mystery bookstore Aunt Agatha’s for the few books a year I can afford to purchase in hardcover. For the other 50 or so books I read a year I’m lucky to have access to a great local library and an even greater statewide inter-library loan system. I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve wanted to read but haven’t been able to get from the library with a couple fingers left over.
Movies at the Theater – I’m one of the dwindling number of folks apparently who like to see movies in the theater but I would hate to have to pay very much to do it. Again, I’m lucky. Ann Arbor has two art house and independent cinemas where I can see off the wall flicks cheap. For more mainstream fare there’s a theater in town that has $5 matinees, and student priced evening shows for $5.75. If I wait a few weeks, I can use my frequent movie goers card to see slightly older movies for $4.25 anytime. I also get a nice coupon in my email every week that gets me a large pop and popcorn for $6. Even if this theater doesn’t have what I want and I have to go up the road to the huge multiplex where they show EVERYTHING, a student ticket will only cost me $5 for a matinee or $7 for a evening student ticket. Their concessions are not cheap though and I usually avoid snacks unless I’m with Becky then we just bite the bullet and take the hit.
Movies on DVD – I tried Netflix for a while and was sort of happy, but I almost exclusively watch new releases and the waits kept getting longer and longer. I also don’t know exactly what I’m in the mood for on a given night so I like to browse. Enter Family Video. Their new releases are under $3 for three nights and they have an amazing selection including a lot of the straight to DVD schlock I love. Their Nearly New Release section has movies I used to watch when they came to HBO before we got rid of HBO. These movies are a buck. We can also rack up ridiculous late fees and only pay a small portion of them. Every once in a while they’ll call us and let us know our late fees have been reduced and we can have 50% off of movies for the month. Sweet, eh? For older movies and TV shows I’m in the mood for, again, our library has a great selection.
So in summary, as much as I say I’d like to live in a bigger city, living in a suburban midwest town certainly has it’s share of benefits.