Live Where the Water Tastes Good
There's an old song, the "Michigan Water Blues" that starts, "Michigan water tastes like cherry wine." I grew up in Michigan, so the song always had a certain resonance for me, but I've lived other places where the water tasted good, and a few where it didn't. If you don't like the water where you live, you're all too likely to start buying bottled water or investing in a filtration system — neither a very frugal option.
Does it make sense to move somewhere just because you like the water? Probably not — just like it probably doesn't make sense to move somewhere just because they've got good public transit or because you can live within walking distance of work or because they have good public schools or because there are diverse natural areas nearby. But good-tasting water ought to be right up there with considerations like that.
Healthy water, of course, is an even more important consideration. But many people seem to think that bottled water or filtered water will somehow be magically safer than well water or water from a public water system. The fact is, though, there's no reason to think that filters make water any safer — unless you know there's something bad in the water and that your particular filter is the right kind to remove it. And bottled water is definitively less healthy — you've got whatever was in the water when it was bottled, plus the chemicals that leach out of the plastic the bottle is made of.
If you're really worried about the safety of your water supply, it would make more sense to investigate whether it's safe or not. You can start with the Centers for Disease Control Drinking Water page. It covers public water systems, private wells, springs, drinking water for campers, bottled water, and so on. Public water systems in the US are required to publish their water quality test reports. Start with the EPA's Public Drinking Water page.
For most people, though, filtration systems and bottled water are an aesthetic choice — they like the taste better. And if that's all it is, a much cheaper option is to evaluate the taste of the water the next time you're thinking about moving. If you don't like it, put the cost of a filtration system down in the minus column for that location.
And, if you're free to live wherever you want, think about moving to Michigan, where the water tastes like cherry wine. (The water in Champaign is pretty good too.)
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