When we talk about reducing our cost of living, we usually talk in terms of moving closer to work to reduce transportation costs, or downsizing to cut housing costs. However, one thing not often discussed is moving to live where it’s cheaper. While this not be possible for some, many of us could probably do our jobs anywhere. If you work in management for a private company, your skills could transfer to a similar company in a new state (or to a new branch within your same company!).
Moving to a new state may be an exciting or terrifying challenge, depending on how you look at it, but it could be a lucrative way to boost your career and save money on housing. If you’re looking for space for your family, many affordable cities offer large homes or lots for less than what you’d pay in a bigger city. Would you be willing to move to save money?
Move to Save Money By Choosing an Affordable City
If you currently live in an expensive city, moving to a more affordable city will likely save you a lot of money in housing costs. As an example, if you lived in San Diego, CA and wanted to move to Phoenix (a pretty common occurrence!), you’d seriously save on housing. According to CNN’s Cost of Living comparison calculator, housing in Phoenix compared to San Diego is 55% less!
This means that if you sold a home in San Diego, you could get the exact same sized home for half the price. Couldn’t afford to buy a home in San Diego? You probably can in Phoenix. You could even bring in a smaller salary in Phoenix than you did in San Diego and come out ahead.
Other benefits of living in an affordable city include:
- Lower costs for transportation, groceries, healthcare, and utilities
- Access to better schools and neighborhoods for the kids
- Access to better amenities (close to parks, nature trails, art museums, etc.)
Note that an affordable city won’t always be on the lists for “best cities” or “top cities.” You may even think of some of these cities as “boring” until you get to know them. However, what you may lose in the excitement-factor, you’ll make up for in terms of home-affordability and lower all around cost of living.
Best Doesn’t Always Mean Cheapest
Forbes listed the best cities and neighborhoods for millennials, and the results were fairly predictable. NYC, Austin, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco all took top honors. While Austin is still somewhat affordable, for most of us, the others are off the list. If you want to have any sort of work-life balance, and don’t make upwards of $250,000, forget living in a decent house with an affordable mortgage.
However, while those fun cities may be off the list because of affordability, there are still many other “best cities” that appeal to millennials (and above!) and have a lot to offer. Yahoo! Finance had an article about the most affordable cities of 2015, and the South and Midwest took many top honors. Ohio in particular scored really well, with a high median income and low median home prices.
While the Midwest may have a poor reputation, that reputation may be undeserved. With a higher median income and lower housing prices, it’s possible to live in a vibrant city with many younger people who have moved for jobs and better housing. Cincinnati, one of the higher scoring cities by Yahoo! Finance, is chock full of interesting places, including the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden and the Cincinnati Observatory.
It’s All Relative
Of course, all of this depends on whether or not you want to move to save money. Ben Adler on Grist makes a good point when he notes most New Yorkers are not going to leave for Raleigh, NC, which consistently scores high marks for affordability. If New York art, culture, and convenience matter to you, you’re not going to give that up for affordability.
Where you live ultimately comes down to personal preference. If the convenience factor of living in a walkable city that has 24 hour delivery doesn’t matter to you, but a great neighborhood with top-notch schools does, moving doesn’t sound so bad. Conversely, if you couldn’t imagine living more than an hour from the beach, you’re not going to be happy in, say, Phoenix, no matter how cheap it is.
The next time you talk about downsizing or more affordable transportation, consider making a big change and moving states. You may not have thought of it much before, but there are a lot of cities out there, and many of them are affordable. Take a long look around before you get settled to see how much you could save by moving!
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Would you move to save money? How did you decide on your city, or how are evaluating your future move? Did affordability play the only role in deciding where to live, or did you consider other factors (walkability, proximity to nature, etc.)?