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The Rarified Air of Santa Fe and the Costs of Travel

George Reporting

snow 50 °F

We passed through downtown Santa Fe plaza the next day and nearly all the trees have lost their colorful leaves. The few that haven't, seem to cling on to theirs in some misguided hope that winter will stay away the longer they grip them.
Today, snow has fallen to the ground and the last, defiant trees have resigned their last leaves.


Fortunately the future forecast looks bright and sunny but today we have a chance to reflect and thing about many things.

Santa Fe is a very interesting "town". I say "town" because it feels more like that than it does a city. Saturday, we expected large crowds to invade downtown but it was quite mellow during the sunny but slightly chilly day. Nonetheless, the area was vibrant and energetic with live music happenings and various people filling up the bakeries and coffee shops. We met up with a friend, that Andrea had made here, and her son who is attending the Santa Fe University of Art and Design. It's a very nice campus and I was able to take in a couple of photography exhibitions as well as chat with one of the art professors. I learned from one of the teachers that Santa Fe has a very large photography community and that there are other artistic communities in the area. However, the area has changed quite a bit, she says, and wished she was here back in the 1930's, when Georgia O'Keeffe, D.H. Lawrence, Alfred Stieglitz, and other artists first made their presence known here. Santa Fe does exude a kind of interesting, laid back lifestyle and it seems that one could pursue their art endeavors without too much expense. These pics were taken while strolling along Canyon Road, a fun street filled with art galleries and sculpture gardens.

Speaking of expense.....a few people wonder if it is expensive for us to go from hotel to hotel while we travel. We have been on the road for two months and, so far, we have been really good at staying within our monthly budget. And I have come to the realization that there is a lot of value in the dollar spent for the way we travel.

Comparing our Home Owner costs to Travel Accommodation Costs:

Those of you who followed our Victorian house blog, know we put in a lot of blood, sweat, tears and money into the various renovations. We probably averaged around 6k per year in renovation costs. Add to that our entire escrow costs and we probably paid around $1700 a month,
or $56 a day, in home ownership costs. Pretty cheap for living in the Bay Area, I know, but we were very diligent in keeping our costs low while rehabbing the house along with ridiculously low mortgage costs.

Water, electricity, DSL, garbage averaged around $200 a month or $6 per day
for a total average daily homeowner cost of $62 a day for two people.

We have been traveling for 2 months but, at this point, we've spent exactly 31 days in a variety of hotels, averaging about $63 per hotel stay.

Hardly any difference between the two at all except:
1. We now get daily maid service. We leave to go sightseeing and when we return, some magic fairy has come into the room, cleaned out the garbage cans, made the beds and hung fresh, clean new towels. Checking online, the average daily cost of regular maid service is between $35-$100 a day depending on the size of the home.

2. We get free cable TV with HBO, Cinemax etc. We never had cable ever. The average Cable costs about $100 or more per month.
There is also a daily newspaper service (USA Today) that is provided by the hotel at no charge. We calculate the cable/paper service to be about $5
a day savings for us.

3. Most hotels now provide daily free breakfast. Granted, it may be a little hard to find something healthy and different from day to day but there is certainly something to be said about getting free eggs, waffles, bread, cereal, fruit, coffee, milk etc every day you stay. We figure it saves us
at least $15 a day eating the hotel provides breakfast.

Other Savings with Heating/Cooling
We had lived in the temperate zone of Oakland, CA which rarely posted very high or low temperatures throughout the year. Maybe 3 weeks each year the weather would get below 30 degrees and a few hot days might hit 90. This meant our overall heating/cooling costs never got dramatic.
So far on our travels, we have felt the extreme heat in Phoenix AZ and the unusual cold and snow of Santa Fe, NM where it is 17 degrees as I write this. But I have the hotel room heater going full blast knowing I do not have to concern myself with a heating bill at the end of the month nor was I concerned about blasting the air conditioner whilst in Phoenix.

Savings with Maintenance
As a homeowner, if a light goes out, the plumbing clogs or just the batteries need changing in the smoke detector, I have to get in my car and drive to the store, buy items and come back and fix it. Now? If something breaks or isn't working in the hotel room, just tell the person at the front desk and it is dealt with almost immediately at no extra cost.

Savings on Toiletry products
As a homeowner, you have to pay for your own cleaning products, toiletry products, coffee products, soap, shampoo, tissues, lotions etc.
At a hotel, that is all included in the price of your stay.

Savings on local travel
This part has many intangible benefits I find. Firstly, we are usually staying in a hotel that is within walking or short driving distance to the important sightseeing areas of a given city saving on the cost of gas to get from point A-point B. If you live in a house, you typically need to drive further
and further to get to some place different from your local area and most folks don't typically own homes right in a city center. What about our driving costs going from city to city? Well we are lucky now (of course) since gas is averaging about $3.00 per gallon(and declining as I write this) for us with a car that gets 38mpg. After doing the math, we barely spent over $100 on gas traveling over 1350 miles thus far. The car is new and is under a 5 year bumper-to-bumper warranty so we shouldn't have to many surprises down the road. There is the unexpected cost of your usual ticket from the 'speed trap' that you encounter driving through an unknown area. This has already happened once, costing us $100. I need to find an app that alerts me to speed traps. lol

After all this, most of our other costs are food, museum/attraction/massage/tour fees and other fun things. We do walk an awful lot so don't really need a gym but have, on occasion, paid $6 for an all day gym-workout pass in certain cities. I think we probably average $30-$40 a day for food and fun stuff.

Overall, we spend about 3k a month traveling like this which is exactly our monthly budget. We save greatly, whenever we stay with friends and relatives or in areas where food and fun are extremely cheap. We will save more when we start renting an apartment for a month which is cheaper but usually (unfortunately) don't come with the maid service. :(

If I'm missing something in my calculations or you have any questions, please let me know.

Posted by woa 09:50 Archived in USA

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