Four things to consider before making a big move
Finding a new job — or second or third gig — is one way to boost your income. Another option, for some, might just be finding a more affordable community to live in.
Last year, the Pew Research Center published a study that looked at where wages are worth the most and the least in the United States. It took federal data for both average weekly wages and “regional price parities,” the regional price differences for housing and groceries, among other essentials, and compared the two.
After all, a big paycheck won’t get you very far if you’re living in one of the most expensive regions of the country. In high-priced New York City, $1,000 a week won’t go as far as the same salary in the small city of Rome, N.Y., where the cost of living is lower than the U.S. average.
Moving to a region where it’s cheaper to live can offer plenty of advantages. Often everything is less expensive — from necessary items such as housing, gas and food to extras, including dinners out, movie tickets and other leisure activities.
Income and property tax rates also vary wildly across the country. In fact, some states, including Wyoming, Alaska, Florida and Nevada, charge no income tax. If you’re looking for cheaper taxes, Kiplinger recently ranked the 10 best states to live in for taxes.
But, before you pack up and make plans to move, hold up for a second. Believe it or not, moving to a cheaper region of the country might not be the best decision for your pocketbook.
Here are four things to consider if you’re contemplating a move to cut costs:
- Can you afford the actual move? The American Moving and Storage Association says the average cost of an out-of-state move is about $4,300. For in-state moves, it’s about $2,300. Even if you plan on selling everything you own, you’ll still need to buy a new bed, dishes and other items for your new place.
- Are there jobs where you want to live? The Silicon Valley region of California has the highest weekly wages in the country, even when compared to the very high cost of living there, according to the Pew Center. At first blush, it might look pretty good. But, you’ll only be able to get one of those high-paying jobs if you’re qualified for the kinds of high-tech positions that pay the big bucks. Before any move, research job opportunities to ensure there’s something for you.
- Can you sell your house? How is the housing market in your current community? And how is it in the town or city where you plan to live? Even if you can sell your current house quickly and take advantage of lower prices elsewhere, take a close look at that decision. Why are housing prices in your new community so low? Did they build too many houses? Are people moving away? If you need to relocate again, will you be able to sell this new house?
- Are your roots planted too firmly in your current community? Money, of course, shouldn’t be the only deciding factor when contemplating a big move. Other questions to ask yourself include how involved you are in your current community. Are neighborhood church activities, for instance, central in your life? Are you close to your extended family, who might live nearby? Do you rely on friends and family for childcare? How will your children respond when pulled from long-time friends, family and schools?
Just because your paycheck might stretch further elsewhere, the grass might not actually be greener in a different location!
The team at CESI is committed to helping you make wise financial decisions and to helping you understand how to get out, and stay out of debt. For a free debt analysis, contact us and find out how we can help.