Location, location, location

The NYTimes has an article on the pricing bifurcation in the U.S. home market: your money can either buy you a mansion in a small town or a hut in a big city (NY, SF, Chicago, Boston, LA, etc.). I'm experiencing that reality firsthand as I delve into the housing market. For the price of a 3BR/2B home in the Seattle metro area I'll get a house about half the size of the last home I lived in before I left Naperville for college.
Of course, there was less to do in Naperville. A wild night out involved cruising in our parent's cars around the local McDonald's parking lot to see which of our classmates was getting arrested, or sneaking over a fence and past guard dogs to climb up the local landfill to look at the stars. I'm not kidding, I did that once. The sense of exhilaration my cousin, friend, and I felt upon returning from our illicit quest to the top of a giant mound of dirt burying tons of human refuse--only Jason and his surviving Argonauts could empathize.