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March 29, 2007


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Some one I know did relocated in the last couple of years to get a better standard of living.

To be fair this is in the UK where no where is that far away (in an American sense) from anywhere else, but also its slightly less common for people to relocate full stop.

Anyway, they think its the best move they ever made, they now have a huge house (I'm not sure they're completely on board with a frugal type of lifestyle) in an area with great schools and still have more disposable income than they used to, even though they took paycuts to move here.

I think I just commented on one of your older posts that we did indeed do this. I recommend it all the time but most people just aren't game. For those who take the plunge, it can pay off immensely.

We moved from San Francisco area (most expensive area in the nation) to Sacramento (Was dirt cheap at the time). To boot since we moved somewhere so up and coming we earned about $400k equity in our house in just about 3-4 years. We got in the right time. Sure that won't happen to everybody, but right now Portland, OR is *it* - a lot of California escapees - and it is going to see a big boom in the next few years. Some areas in Nevada as well.

For us it was a no brainer. Looking at $500k for a starter home which at best would be over 50% of our combined income. Or $250k for our dream home here - big fancy new house. We had a little condo in SF that we sold for more than our home here which is twice as big and luxurious. Today the payment is around 25% of just 1 income. For us $500k for a house was just insanity. We just refused to play the game. Today the same house is about $1 million back there.

We are lucky to both have jobs that we can find anywhere but I know too many people using their jobs as an excuse when they are just scared to move, or are fooled by the "bigger wages" which don't stretch very far.

Which reminds me I expected a 10% pay cut when I moved but instead got a raise and better benefits! You may be surprised what you find, you won't know until you get job offers...

Our plan when we moved was to have a $100k mortgage and pay it off in a few years. Didn't pan out and now we are using the $200k leverage to our advantage, but we have too many friends and relatives killing themselves for these crazy mortgages and we just kind of live a lazy luxurious lifestyle in compare. I just don't *get it* myself. Obviously my example is extreme.

On the making more when you move thing, yes you are right. But for places like SF, HAwaii, DC, NY, don't get fooled by high wages. You would not believe how many people my old firm recruited in from smaller towns with promises of high wages. The resounding result was always after a few months, "I knew it would be expensive here, but I had no idea." The wages,unless you are in a particular field like tech, will not pay the bills. Just know what you are getting into. You may peruse the real estate listings but you may not know you have to compete and over bid on average with an extra 100k to get the house. The rest of the market is cooling but the bidding wars are still strong in California today. A lot of people get blindsided because they don't have enough info.

We tried this, unfortunately, and, in our case, it just didn't work. Left L.A. for a decent-sized city in the Midwest - 3 months later, my husband got laid off from his new job and never DID find another job here, in his field or otherwise (even Starbucks or other retail jobs.) The area we moved to, which is great on paper for families, turned out to be a nightmare for him, job-wise. (In every other way, it was great! Schools/parks, housing, etc). However he is the main breadwinner in our family and, at 43, nobody from a different field was willing to give him a chance. Finally, he went back to L.A. to find work, since we had connections there. After a year of sporadic freelancing (me back in the Midwest, working and taking care of the two kids alone), he got a good job and we are all moving back. If it weren't for his parents helping us with the move, I don't know how we could have gotten through this.

Like you, I felt it was a crock to think that one could ONLY find work in a certain city, but in his case it turned out to be pretty true. Any city (outside L.A.) that he interviewed in, everyone kept asking him why we left. Nobody seemed to understand that we left L.A. to find a better quality of life - in fact, they kind of acted like he was STUPID to leave such a great place!

My DH also loves L.A., which I do not. However, that's where we're going to be, so I'm going to do everything in my power to make it work. One thing - giving up the dream of home ownership. We can rent a house in a nice area (good schools, kids, yard) for far less than owning it. Everything I've read online about home-ownership in L.A. right now makes it clear (for the time being at least), that renting is not only cheaper but if you sock away the difference between owning the house and renting, you can come out ahead, despite tax breaks, etc.

Also planning on doing the grocery game, using Mvelopes to carefully figure out $$, using public transport- anything to make L.A. work better for us!

Believe me, I WANTED to go to a low-cost of living place, but for our family, it just didn't work out. :-(

I totally agree that it's a great idea to save money; I think people get upset with you because it's jut not an option for many people. My immediate family has 3 examples of why NOT to do this:

1) My in-laws relocated from NYC to semi-rural New Hampshire 15 years ago, following my mother-in-law's lucrative computer programming career (company moved to NH). They had been there only a few years when she was laid off, and could not find another job in her field in that area. They've stayed and survived on very low incomes, but they're very bitter about it. My mother-in-law will probably never be able to retire.

2) My father would love to move (back) to upstate NY, where his wife lives; but the only company in his field in that area is continually downsizing (he was given early retirement from the same company a few years back). He now works in NJ, and spends his weekends with his wife.

3) The weakest argument is my own. My husband and I live in Massachusetts, and we've talked about relocating. However, we wouldn't want to move farther away from our mothers, and we're fairly sure that we couldn't find comparable work in New Hampshire or Maine. We're also heavily involved with our church, and don't see a good reason to move to an area where we wouldn't know the churches.

We've thought about moving to a smaller town due to the ridiculously high real estate prices in Vancouver, but both my husband and I are skilled at knowledge worker jobs - marketing and new media. Small towns here in Canada just don't have a lot of job options for us. They tend to be focused on resource extraction, but in many places even the lumber mills and mines have shut down.

The other consideration for us is our family network. With a baby on the way, it makes a difference to have family to call on for support and free babysitting! Also, it matters to us that our children know their extended family.

All that said, it is something we have in mind. Some friends of ours moved to Hope, which is about two hours out of Vancouver. They love it there, and rave about the quality of life. They moved because of a job though - good pay as a prison guard.

Other friends of ours moved to Calgary. She had family and a job offer, he was interested in lowering their cost of living and was willing to start over in a new city. They've done all right there, but the last word we heard was that housing is still too expensive relative to wages, and because it's a boomtown the price is going up all the time. They haven't really gotten much farther ahead financially, and the isolation from family and friends has taken a toll.

As you say, your job is your most important asset. Before you uproot and gamble on finding work that is equally or more fulfilling for equivalent (relative to cost of living) or better pay in a small town, you must do your research first. Relocation costs can be very high, depending how far you're moving, and if you decide in the end that you were better off in the town you left, you could end up much worse off than if you'd stayed despite the high rent/mortgage payments.

I'm living this situation right has its upsides and downsides. I moved from the NYC metro area to NH. I'm spending about the same on housing, though now I own a whole house rather than rent a tiny roach-infested walkup in a bad neighborhood. On the other hand, I'm locked into a job that isn't going as well as it could, because there really aren't any other options.

I may be moving to a more populated area in the next year or so because of the job situation. Overall it's been fun, but it's not working out.

We got the best of both worlds...the Chicago economy and the Indiana cost of living. :)

(Yeah, there are places where we could live cheaper than in Indiana. But neither of us wants to live in any of those places.)

How much would you save if you stopped throwing money away to religious outfits?

Consider some of the other trade offs if you are thinking of moving, such as: will you hate it there? If you are a city person and move out into a rural or even suburban area the lack of culture, activities, etc. may not be worth it.

I'm speaking from personal experience here. I was born & raised in the San Jose/San Francisco area and moved to Seattle for the cheaper cost of living while putting myself through school. I completely hate it here. I think moving might not be as big of a deal if you are married or settled down, but when you are on your own it's a drag.

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