When you're at a gathering of family and friends this weekend, it's a safe strategy to never ask a question unless you already know the answer. This is a smooth way to steer conversations into amicable territory. A nice Q&A can even turn out to be quite a lot of fun.


Question One: In terms of the average price of a home, what are the most expensive zip codes in the country? “Beverly Hills 90210 may be the most famous zip code in the country, but it’s actually not the priciest.”


Answer One: “The national median home price slipped to $375,700 in March of 2023. Still, it’s the biggest annual median home price drop since January 2012.” The biggest price tag goes to the 94027 zip in Atherton (San Francisco metro) at $7.36M. That's followed by 90210 in Beverly Hills at $5.11M, 11962  in Sagaponack (New York City metro) at $4.75M, 94022 in Los Altos Hills (San Jose metro) at $4.26M, and 98039 in Medina (Seattle metro) at $4.18M. (


Question Two: If you want to build a new home, what state is the least expensive per square foot? “To rank the states for their report, Today’s Homeowner estimated the average price of building a new 2,100-square-foot spec home, excluding the cost of a land plot and development in each location.“


Answer Two: Mississippi is the cheapest at  $137 per square foot. Hawaii is the most expensive at $205. Michigan is around average and ranked number twenty-one at $155. (


Question Three: Where is the cost of raising a child the most expensive? “SmartAsset set out to calculate the cost of raising one child in 381 metro areas across the U.S., considering the extra costs of food, housing, childcare, healthcare, transportation and other necessities.”


Answer Three: The top annual cost is in San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley (California) at $35,647. Interesting, though, is that two Michigan cites finished in the top ten. “Raising a child in Ann Arbor, MI costs $31,670 per year, making this college town the sixth-most expensive place. Child care ($22,154) comprises a massive chunk of that annual expense.” Kalamazoo/Portage, MI nabbed the eighth slot. “The Kalamazoo-Portage metro area in southwestern Michigan is home to the second-highest child care costs at $19,853 per year.” (


Question Four: What states have the worst drivers? “Forbes Advisor compared all fifty states and Washington DC to see where in the US has the worst drivers.”


Answer Four: “The worst drivers in the country are found in Texas, while Washington DC, is home to the best. Of the top ten states with the most dangerous drivers, half are in the South — Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky and South Carolina. Montana has the highest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal car accidents, while New Mexico sees the highest number of fatal car crashes involving a distracted driver.” Michigan finished thirty-fifth. See A cool graphic at:


Question Five: Where in Michigan are the mosquitoes the worst? “Three Michigan cities rank among the worst in the entire country when it comes to mosquitoes, according to Orkin’s Top 50 Mosquito Cities List.” 


Answer Five: “The worst city for mosquitoes in Michigan is Detroit at number eight. Grand Rapids jumped to twenty-three, with Flint coming in at number thirty-five.” If you hate being eaten alive by those pesky bugs, there are some cities to avoid. “Coming in as the worst in the county is Los Angeles. Chicago and New York City are right behind at numbers two and three. They are followed by Atlanta and Dallas/Fort Worth.” (


Question Six: When you hear the sound of thunder, what does it mean? “Have you ever wondered why thunder can sound different? A crack versus a rumble? Startlingly loud versus calmingly low?” 


Answer Six: “A 'crack' is typically indicative of a nearby or relatively close thunderstorm and/or with a strike perpendicular to a person (ex. lightning bolt stretching from the cloud to the ground). A 'rumble' is typically associated with storms further away and/or with a strike parallel to a person (ex. lightning bolt stretching from one end of a cloud to another). A 'boom' is indicative of a lightning strike reaching the ground. A combination of 'crack' and “rumble” is heard when sound waves from multiple strikes reach a person at varying times.” (


Question Seven: Is peanut butter a liquid or a solid? “The Transportation Safety Administration contends that peanut butter is a liquid – and a full-size jar of Jif is over the 3.4-ounce limit (allowed on a plane).” 


Answer Seven: “By the scientific definition, peanut butter is indeed a liquid. To define a liquid, we must first define a fluid. Any material that flows continuously when a shearing force is applied is a fluid.” It turns out that peanut butter is just one of many “fluids” we encounter all the time. “Our everyday lives – but not our airplane carry-ons – are filled with substances that are unexpected fluids. In general, if it can flow, it’s a fluid. Some surprising fluids are whipped cream, mayonnaise, cookie batter, and toothpaste.” (


Final Question: At what point did you realize you were officially old? Buzzfeed lists sixty-two indicators at: and


Final Answer: You qualify instantly if you identify with the number one item on the lists. “Whenever I have to enter my birthdate in a drop-down menu and I keep scrolling and scrolling."


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and