Right or Left at Oak Street - Using Data for Departure

By Hal Reid

I've been on the road across the American countryside for the last couple of weeks and I noticed two things. First, the trees are changing color and winter is on the way. Second, satellite radio might really be a good thing to have - some of the local radio stations I listened to in my non-satellite radio-equipped car were pretty hokey. I did get to hear an old Roy Clark song, "Right or Left at Oak Street," which got me thinking. Being a considerate guy, I'll also give you a link to the complete lyrics.

The song is about an average guy who has a ho-hum job and a ho-hum life. Every day he has to make a choice when he reaches the intersection at Oak Street. One direction (right) takes him to work and keeps him in the same rut, but the other (left) represents escape. We all know that feeling - stay where we are and live up to our obligations or run off and bag them all. Don't tell me you haven't been there.

Well, if we go left, where would we go? Obviously, our right/left singer needs some fun and a little escape from the mundane. Where is the most fun place in the country for adults? Las Vegas, of course. But what are the real opportunities there? Well, a few minutes poking around on the Web and some applied demographics can help us see how we might fit in to the Las Vegas scene as a fugitive from the reality of our lives.

What sort of money would you need to make and what do the basics cost? From Las Vegas Living I can compare the cost of living in the adjacent areas. I already know how expensive it is to live where I am now. High taxes, bad weather, high heating costs, rusty cars, all of the things you might want to escape. How does Las Vegas compare to New England or the upper Mid-West? The table below compares several places to Las Vegas. Does Las Vegas look good, or what? If you are cheap, you could go to Tucson instead, but don't forget, we're going for an escape from the mundane.

Source: Las Vegas Living (Click for larger image)

Since this is an impromptu departure - without a lot of stuff like furniture, suitcases, etc. - we'll probably want to rent a furnished apartment. So check out the local listings to see what's available. By the way, before we ditch the hometown, it might be wise to stop by the ATM.

You will want a thematic map of income in Las Vegas, to gauge where you might want to live, so here is one showing median household income.

(Click for larger image)

Since your income will no doubt make a downward adjustment, you could aspire to finding an apartment in ZIP Code 89122, or one of those other ones in the yellow area. Perhaps even the eastern part of 89191. There are probably some good deals on trailer rentals, too.

Here is another view of Las Vegas from a quality of life perspective:

(Click for larger image)
You will probably want to find a job, too, since you just left your old one. Try this site for a look at what is available in the casinos and elsewhere. Working in a casino could be pretty exciting - lots of glitz with people spending freely, and it might be a chance to use your old Army skills as an ashtray sanitary technician or in wheelbarrow guidance control.

Oh, you might need some sort of alibi, just in case, so go to the Las Vegas alibi generator.

To help you out when you get to that pesky intersection at Oak Street, here's a picture that will help you keep it all in perspective. Look out of your windshield, and then look at this picture just before you make the turn.

Vegas, baby! Used with permission. From www.visitlasvegas.com (Click for larger image)

It is a wonderful thing that you are into the Internet, mapping software and geography in general. It keeps you focused. Be sure to get the oil changed.

Published Thursday, October 12th, 2006

Written by Hal Reid

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