Before You Move: Consider the Cost of Living

I’ve been thinking a lot about cost of living lately. At some point, my husband will get a full-time job as a professor, and leave the world of adjuncting behind. He likes being an adjunct, but he thinks that, with a little more experience, he could get a cushy professor job somewhere.

I’m not sure when that will be, but at some point we will be likely to move to a new location. As a result, I think about how that might change our lifestyle. Will we live in a more expensive city? Or will we end up in an even more rural location.

I tend to think that any move we make will be to a more expensive location, since he doesn’t want to teach at a community college, and most of the larger institutions are located in bigger towns. So, how could our finances handle a move to a more expensive location? That is something that we have to consider before we make a move.

Will the Cost of Living Eat Up Your Income?

A few years ago, my husband’s cousin moved to our city. He complained about how he made less money here than he did in California. “Wait a minute,” I said. “Let’s look at the situation.”

We quickly discovered that even though he was only making 2/3 of what he made in California, his costs (a lot of them related to housing and to his formerly-long commute) had been cut by 1/2. In terms of disposable income, he was coming out ahead. I told him to think about his situation. Since moving here, where the cost of living is lower, he had:

  • Paid down some of his debt
  • More money for entertainment
  • Stopped living paycheck to paycheck

Once he realized that cost of living made a difference, he stopped looking at the raw numbers related to income, and consider how his location had impacted his finances. He didn’t need to make more money (although he might have wanted to) while living here.

Think about how much it costs just to live where you think about moving. Estimate how much more you will have to spend in your new location. Is your new pay enough to cover the increased cost of living? If not, making the move might not actually be your best move.

You can get an idea of the differences involved by using a cost of living calculator.

What about Us?

Luckily, I have a “job” that allows me to work almost anywhere. And we are fortunate enough to be in a position that allows my husband to be picky about where he teaches. He can stay on as an adjunct at two local universities as long as he wants, so he can take his time looking. According to the cost of living calculator I use, all of the likely candidates for our move aren’t more than 20% more expensive than where we are now. We should have no problem meeting our expenses down the road.

The peace of mind I feel knowing that is very helpful, and I’m glad that I tok the time to consider cost of living. Do you factor in cost of living when making moving decisions?

About the Author

Miranda writes about financial topics for several web sites. Her blog is Planting Money Seeds, and her book, Confessions of a Professional Blogger, is available on Amazon.