Should You Move to a New City to Reduce Lifestyle Costs?

By Carrie Smith on 21 January 2016 2 comments

Moving to a big or popular city is often associated with higher housing costs. But even so, it may be worth it when you're able to change your lifestyle for the better — while reducing overall costs elsewhere.

This is the exact decision that my husband and I faced a few months ago when we decided to move across the country to be closer to family.

If you're considering whether or not you should move to pursue a better career or lifestyle, here's why you may want to move to a new city even if rent or housing costs more. (See also: The 5 Best Mid-Sized Cities for Millennials)

Why I Chose to Pay Double the Cost of Rent

Compared to our previous apartment near Dallas, TX our Boulder, CO rent is nearly double the price. Basically, the average price per square foot to buy an apartment in Texas is $100, while Colorado is as much as $383 per square foot.

Our one bedroom rented apartment in Texas only cost $900, whereas here in Boulder it's $1,660 — not including utilities. But we looked at our budget and took all our lifestyle costs into account before deciding that moving was the best option. Here are four reasons we decided to move to a new city despite the higher housing costs.

1. Lower Utility Charges

One of the biggest factors to your budget, aside from rent and housing costs, are your utility costs. This can include your water, electricity, gas, Internet, TV, and other small things like trash and sewer maintenance.

Depending on whether you live inside or outside the city limits, these costs could be quite high. Added together, my husband and I used to pay close to $400 per month towards our utility bills. But now that we live in a more cost efficient city, we're able to save nearly half of that each month.

Check your utility costs against those of your potential new city by making a list of your current bills. Compare those utility costs to your potential new place. (You can compare the costs online via the utility company's website, or calling the local phone number.) Be sure to check:

  • Internet
  • Phone
  • TV/Cable
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Water/Sewer
  • Trash/Recycling

Even though we may pay a lot more in rent, the amount we save every month by having low-flow faucets and more cost effective heating/cooling is definitely worth the move to us.

2. Food Costs and Waste

Groceries are a non-fixed expense that can eat into your budget if you're not careful. In our previous city, we had limited options of grocery stores to choose from, which left us little choice of saving money on food. We could either spend a fortune at a small boutique grocery store, or sacrifice the quality by going to a big chain store. We chose to spend a bit more for organic food and had a grocery bill upwards of $800+ per month — just for the two of us!

Since moving to Colorado, we have access to 10 different grocery stores (seriously, we counted!) and can find what we need at a much lower price. In the past several months we've knocked an average of $230 off our grocery bill, and it keeps declining.

Better quality organic food at one-fourth the cost has been well worth the move to a new city. In addition, we're able to buy less food and avoid so much going to waste. Having more options has allowed us to save money while still getting the organic and healthy food we want.

3. Environmental Impact

One of the main reasons my husband and I wanted to move from Texas to Colorado was to be more environmentally aware of the impact we were making. This city has a built-in recycling program so we no longer have to take weekend trips to the recycling center.

And because of the climate, there's no air conditioning unit in our apartment. During the cold months, we simply use a gas-powered furnace. When you compare the cost of a electric heater versus a gas furnace, prices for gas typically cost much less to operate than electric ones.

According to the EPA, the fuel from a gas furnace comes from natural gas production, which burns much cleaner and poses less of an environmental threat. It's important to evaluate your impact on the environment, as well as your overall lifestyle costs. Consider how this change could save you money and help better the local community.

4. Transportation Costs

Since settling into our life here in Boulder, my husband and I have only filled up the car with gas twice in the past three months. Our gas and car maintenance budget used to be $250 per month, but now it's down to around $40–$50 for all our transportation costs.

Because this new city has several different transportation choices, including a bus system, carpooling, and car sharing options, we've stopped using our car as much. We now bike or walk to work or while running errands.

This allows us to save over $200 a month on gas and maintenance costs for our car. In addition it allows us to put less emissions into the environment.

All-in-all, we increased our housing costs by $760 but are currently saving $610+ in lower utility, transportation, and food costs. For us, this was definitely worth it.

Are you thinking of moving to reduce lifestyle costs? What are some other things that impact your decision?

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Guest's picture
evan

How about state income and sales tax?

Guest's picture
Elizabeth Vega

Like you, I think it's a mistake to not consider all of the spending and earning that happens in your current home city, and compare that to the one you are thinking of. When moving from Los Angeles to Austin TX a couple of years ago, our housing costs doubled (we had a screaming deal in L.A. and Austin rents are skyrocketing), and our income went down by about 25%. But roll in the rest of our expenses, and we're spending about 30% less than we were before, and we have a much better quality of life. Ironically, our personal environmental impact has lessened quite a bit since moving to Texas, but I guess so much depends on the city you're in!