How to Minimize the Cost of Living When Moving: The Cost of Living Myth
“You’re crazy. I can’t afford to move there — the cost of living is way too high.”
When looking for jobs in new markets people correctly investigate the cost of living. Cost of living is an important consideration when moving to a new location. Nevertheless, there are many false assumptions regarding the cost of living differences.
People falsely assume the cost of living calculator is infallible. While there are many sites that can give you some of those numbers, you should realize those numbers only represents a static mathematical equation. Your purchases, habits, and product usage will not be static. Therefore, you can reduce the cost of living expenses incurred by moving to a new city
The cost of living myth is that you cannot afford to move to certain cities unless you make “x” number of dollars. This simply is not true.
I have experienced a lot of moves in my adult life. This post did not evolve out of some theoretical concepts. They are practical experiences. I have lived in three countries internationally and four different states. My conclusion is this: cost of living differences can be dealt with by lifestyle adjustments not just income adjustments.
The Ice Cream Factor: Buy Less of What Costs More
Two liters of ice cream in my hometown (Alotau, Papua New Guinea) starts at $7.00 and goes as high as $11.00. While living in the States, we could buy the same amount of ice cream for $3. The static mathematical reality is that ice cream costs two to three times more. However, the practical reality is that we have adjusted how often we buy ice cream — less. Therefore, we now spend $7.00 per month instead of $9.00, for three containers of ice cream. Total difference = spend $2.00 less per month on ice cream.
You can minimize the impact of a cost of living change by buying more expensive items less frequently.
The Fruit Factor: Buy Local Alternatives
There are certain North American fruits we cannot find. There are, however, things like apples that are available in our stores. Those items are shipped in from either Australia or New Zealand. Because they come in from overseas we pay around .50-.75 cents per apple. However, we have found fruits like Pomello (similar to grapefruit) that only cost .30 cents during harvesting season. So instead of spending .50 cents on apples, we buy pomellos for .30 cents.
You can minimize the impact of a cost of living change by buying local alternatives or items in season.
The House Factor: Downsize
Housing is probably one of the most discussed parts of the cost of living. A four bedroom house is $150,000 here and $200,000 there. Yet, there are still ways to make the move if you wish. Perhaps instead of buying a four bedroom house you purchase a two bedroom house. Yes, you are not getting the same amount of house, but you are still only paying $150,000 for a house. You might even consider buying a house that has an unfinished basement or something that allows you to improve in the future.
You can minimize the impact of a cost of living change by downsizing and reducing your expectations.
The Transportation Factor: Minimize
Trucks (necessary due to the number of pot holes) cost a lot to maintain where I live overseas. Unleaded gasoline costs around $7 per gallon. Still, you can get around this buy buying cars that are older than you might typically buy. Furthermore, as you explore transportation alternatives you might find that your new location has a very good public transportation system. We pay .36 cents to ride the bus anywhere in town. I know many people who live in Asia who don’t buy a car or truck, but who purchase a scooter instead.
You can minimize the impact of a cost of living change by minimizing your vehicle usage or exploring cheaper local transportation alternatives.
The Vacation Factor: Enjoy New Sites and Sounds
If you have just moved to a new city for at least that year (and probably more), you can enjoy the destinations within driving distance of your new home. Perhaps you are moving from Utah to Florida. Take a vacation to the beach and you will save on airfare and other travel expenses. Perhaps you moved from Florida to Utah. Take advantage of some great camping destinations or skiing in the winter. When looking for something fun, look locally before thinking about heading out of town.
You can minimize the impact of a cost of living change by vacationing in and around your new home.
Can you afford to move to a city with a higher cost of living?
I hope when thinking about a future move, you won’t just accept the cost of living myth. Ask yourself, “will it really cost that much more?” “Is there anything I can do to reduce the cost of living impact?” For example, when living overseas you will need to explore the cheapest ways to exchange foreign currency. When it comes to making your moving decision don’t just get online and let a website tell you if you can afford to move. The calculator is static, but you must be willing to adapt, to be flexible, and to be financially resourceful. Ultimately, you can make up for a lot of cost of living changes simply by life style changes.
What are your experiences with moving? What was the cost of living impact?
This is a guest post by Craig Ford, author of Money Wisdom From Proverbs. Read more from Craig on his blog, Money Help For Christians.