Funny you should mention those areas. I worked in McAllen, and Brownsville years and years ago, before Dharma as it were. And I have vacationed in South Padre Island as a result. Life is strange. I was doing some community organizing at the time and i remember going to a border crossing with one of the locals and he said to me that if this event we were planing failed, i would be blamed. I guess I didn't care because i never followed up as to whether it was a success or not.
It's always interesting to talk money. My current rent (I live in a one bedroom apartment in a beautiful area) is lower than the figures you cite for southern Texas (it includes all my utilities as well) and the last time i bought ground beef I paid less per pound than what you cited also. (Of course i bought it from the "reduced for quick sale" counter). I've never had an air-conditioning bill and i guess I'm counting my lucky stars right about now. Everything could change in the blink of an eye.
Money is a strange phenomenon. I've heard one dharma teacher call it an illusion and I've heard others describe it as just energy.
The way things actually are and the way the are reported to be (as in the sources you cite) are often quite different.
Huh. I lived about 10 miles from ChNNs center in Massachusetts, and for New England it was relatively inexpensive. I was surprised at the figures and places cited in both those sources. 25 years ago, people were just walking away from payed off houses in far Northern Minnesota, abandoning them when they needed to leave... because they were unsellable. Anyone could walk in and take them over. But, of course, you need a lot of heat oil there, and snow plowing. I also would have though rural Arkansas or Mississippi would be cheaper than Texas.