Recently, my family sold our home, packed up, and moved across the country. Our decision to relocate was pretty simple: My husband was offered a full-time job teaching at a Penn State campus — a step up from working as an adjunct. Because my income, earned by working from home, wasn’t affected by the move, it made the decision that much easier.
As easy as the decision to relocate was for us, though, I know that it involves careful thought for others. Deciding to relocate should not just be about whether or not you will have a higher income (although that is a prime factor). Before you decide to move somewhere new, here are some things to consider:
Cost of Living
Even though we knew we would likely move, I went ahead and ran a cost of living comparison. CNN Money offers a cost of living calculator that can help you determine how far your income will go in a different city. This calculator is a great quick and dirty way to figure out whether or not your new, higher income is enough to cover your increased cost of living.
My move from a semi-rural town in Utah to an affluent area outside Philadelphia requires that we make about $34,000 more each year. Fortunately, my husband’s new income more than covers the cost, so we come out ahead.
Your new income might not cover a cost of living increase, though. Even if you see a $30,000 a year raise by moving to a new city, it doesn’t do you much good if your cost of living will increase by $45,000 a year. I have a cousin who learned this the hard way when he moved from small town Utah to the Bay Area in California. The job paid more, but it didn’t pay enough to overcome the huge disparity in cost of living. After a year of difficulty, he relocated again. He makes less now, but he has more discretionary income due to the lower cost of living.
What will it cost to move? If you are relocating a short distance, your moving costs might be relatively small. A large cross-country move, on the other hand, can be expensive. You need to consider what you will bring with you, as well as whether or not you will hire movers or rent a truck and do it yourself.
Don’t forget to map out the costs associated with driving across the country. Nine years ago, when we moved from Syracuse, New York, to Logan, Utah, we discovered that it was actually cheaper to use ABF Upack, rather than renting a truck. We still packed everything up, but we didn’t have to do the driving. Because we were able to fit everything in the smallest space available, it cost us less to use this hybrid version of moving than it would have cost to rent a truck, and then pay for the gas to drive it across the country.
Run the numbers as you decide how you will move. Will your new job (taking into account the new cost of living) pay enough to help you recoup your moving costs within a few months? If not, the move might be too expensive.
Other moving costs include deposits you might need to make on utilities, as well as for housing. One of the biggest drains on our resources as we moved was the fact that the sale of our home in Utah didn’t close until we had been in our apartment for a couple months. We had to pay rent plus the mortgage, and we also had to keep up with the utilities on two domiciles for two months. Take that into account as well. Can you handle double the costs if it is necessary?
Even if you see an increase in income, and you can handle the cost of living difference, you should still carefully consider the question of relocation. This is because you also have to consider the changes in lifestyle. One of the reasons that my husband chose the job in Pennsylvania over another job offer he received was due to lifestyle.
The other job would have required a longer commute in order for our family to live in an area with passable schools and activities for our son. Additionally, there wasn’t as much readily available housing in the other area. We chose to relocate to this area of Pennsylvania because we could find the type of housing we wanted, in a school district that is known for its excellence. Additionally, my husband’s commute is shorter, and we live near amenities like shopping, cultural events, and metropolitan areas.
Think about what a relocation means for the other members of your family. Will your kids be able to make friends easily? Will a longer commute bite into family time (and your wallet)? Can your life partner engage in activities that he or she enjoys?
Relocation isn’t just about a salary figure. There is a lot that goes into the decision to relocate, and it’s important to consider the big picture, rather than narrowly focusing on income.
By Miranda Marquit, Staff Writer