The Benefits of Living in a Low Cost-of-Living Area

Hello everyone! Please welcome Kali from Common Sense Millennial here today, sharing with you the benefits of living in a low cost-of-living area. She provides a very thorough analysis for any of you considering it. I thought this topic was appropriate as you all know I’m looking forward to moving for the sake of our long term goals. You can find my post about how I’ve been dealing with my student loan debt over at her blog today, and if you aren’t a current reader of hers, you’re missing out! CSM is one of my favorite blogs. 

The benefits of living in a low cost-of-living area

The cost of living can vary wildly within the United States. Simply by moving to a different region, households can save thousands of dollars per year on home costs, groceries, and transportation. As an example, compare living in the South with living in the North: both regions are on the East Coast, but the differences in cost of living are significant.

Though families who have always lived in the northeastern part of the country may not think much of the suggestion to relocate farther south, there are real financial benefits to doing so. As a resident of a southeastern state myself, I can confidently say that I save far more on the cost of my home and other necessary expenses than my Northern counterparts do. And because of this, I’m able to save more of my income.

This is the biggest advantage to living in a low-cost area: having more money to save and invest. Because I have to devote less of my income to my expenses, I’m able to put more away in the interest of reaching financial independence as soon as possible.

Not convinced? Let’s do a budget breakdown of someone like me, who lives in Georgia and who we’ll call Country Peach, and her Yankee cousin, who, for the sake of this example, lives in a place like Washington, D.C. (because let’s be honest: us Southerners aren’t likely to be found all that far from the Mason-Dixon line in most cases). We’ll call the “northern” gal Miss City Chic.

City living
City living

We’ll assume that both our ladies here are in their early twenties with college educations. They both graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees from relatively inexpensive colleges down in Georgia (another benefit to living down here, folks – my own college tuition, when I was in school from 2007-2011, was about $3,000 per semester).

After graduation, City Chic moved north, to D.C., while Country Peach stayed in her home state. Both got entry-level jobs shortly after leaving school – and here’s where the differences start. Country Peach got a job working in an office in the Metro Atlanta area and started earning about $38,000 per year. City Chic, because she lives in a bigger city with (arguably) better jobs, got an entry-level position that started her at $42,000.

It seems like City Chic made a smart decision to move to another city where she immediately starting out by making more. But let’s look at their expenses and see if that advantage holds up.

The Cost of Housing

Both Country Peach and City Chic are independent ladies, so they both decided to get one-bedroom apartments where they could live without roommates. Peach gets an apartment about ten miles from her work and pays $770 per month in rent. Chic also gets an apartment that is also about 10 miles from her office and pays $1,370 per month – a whopping $600 difference right off the bat. Over a year, Peach’s housing will cost her $9,240 while Chic’s place costs $16,440. That’s nearly twice as much.

(Both women could choose to split the rent with a roommate and move into a two bedroom apartment, but Chic still comes out on the bottom. Peach could get a place with two bedrooms for about $900 a month, or $450 if she split the rent with someone, while Chic would have to shell out $1,500 – or $750 with an even split – and deal with the joys of sharing a living space. Peach would still be up $300 per month. Yearly totals would be: Peach – $5,400 / Chic – $9,000)

Transportation

Maybe Chic can make up for her more expensive place by saving on transportation – after all, by living in D.C., she has access to the Metro and bus system that she can ride if she wants (or if the weather is bad). To save time, however, she chooses the bus and rail system 90% of the time. She buys a SmarTrip card, which costs $2 for the card, and regularly loads it with money to pay her fare. It costs her between $20 and $40 per week to ride the buses and trains, depending on where all she needs to go. Let’s give her an average of $30 a week, or $120 per month, or $1,440 per year.

I wish we saw these prices
I wish we saw these prices

(Also, Chic sold her car when she moved to D.C. This isn’t a problem most of the time because the city has solid public transportation. But if she wants to travel outside the city, she’ll have to pay for a plane ticket back home to Georgia. These are discretionary costs, to be sure, but it’s something to consider. Let’s say Chic makes two trips per year back home – for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. Both her round trip, direct flight plane tickets from Regan International to Hartsfield-Jackson cost her a total of about $750. Her total transportation costs for the year if we include travel back home without a car would be $2,190).

Let’s see how our girl down South is doing on transportation. Atlanta has Marta as its public light rail and bus system, but it only operates within the city and is not very useful unless Peach is going to a sporting event or something else going on downtown. Most people “in Atlanta” also live in the Metro area, not the city itself, so undoubtedly Peach needs a car to get around. She has a small sedan she was given in high school that is pretty good on gas mileage. She drives twenty miles per day (round trip) on work days, and averages a little less on the weekends to put her driving about 115 miles per week or 460 miles per month – but let’s round that up to an even 500. With gas prices in the Metro area at about $3.20/gallon right now, and with Peach’s car averaging 25 miles per gallon of gas (with a 12-gallon tank), she ends up paying $64 per month in transportation costs.

Well – almost. She has to pay to maintain that car, too. Let’s say she needs 3 oil changes per year at $60 per service for a total of $180. Then she has to pay for car insurance, which runs her about $100 per month (and $1,200 per year). Her total yearly transportation costs are about $2,200.

If we assume Chic’s transportation costs would include her daily expenses plus two trips back home, her and Peach’s transportation costs average out to be the same with Chic winning by $100.

Groceries, Personal Items, and Entertainment

Both Peach and Chic have similar lifestyles. They’re not the most frugal people in town, but they do know they need to save their income for big financial goals and for future needs like retirement.

Peach pays about $150 per month for groceries and spends $60 per month eating out. Her food budget is $2,520 per year. She spends about $150 per month on personal items, including things like toothpaste, shampoo, household cleaners, and clothes – or $1,800 per year. She also makes room for entertainment and fun in her budget; her discretionary spending on things like movies, going to baseball games, and going to things like concerts with friends adds up to about $300 per month/$3,600 per year. In total, Peach spends $7,920 in these categories in a year.

As we established, Chic buys and does pretty much the same things as Peach, but her location makes her budget look a little different. Washington, D.C. is the 8th most expensive city in which to live in the United States, so her discretionary spending will reflect that. Her grocery bill is $180 per month, or $2,160 per year. She spends the same – $180 per month – on personal items, for a total of $2,160 per year, and her entertainment costs are at $350 per month, or $4,200 per year. Her total for these budgetary categories comes to $8,520.

Peach spends about $600 less per year on groceries, personal items, and entertainment.

*In this section, I based numbers off averages and my own personal experiences, and what I was spending in my first year of holding my full-time “adult” job after college.

Don’t Forget the Income Taxes

Chic and Peach both work for regular ol’ businesses, so they pay state and federal taxes. But taxes vary depending on where you live – and Chic still has to pay local taxes, even though she lives in a district and not an actual state. Let’s break this down for each of them.

Peach

Falls into the $35,351 – $85,650 tax bracket for federal taxes and pays 25% ($9,500)

Falls into the $7,000+ tax bracket for Georgia and pays 6% ($2,280)

Total Paid in Taxes: $11,780

Chic

Falls into the $35,351 – $85,650 tax bracket for federal taxes and pays 25% ($10,500)

Falls into the $40,001-and-above tax bracket for the district and pays 8.5% ($3,570)

Total Paid in Taxes: $14,070

Looking at the Totals – What’s Left for Savings?

In total, Peach’s basic expenses plus what she pays in taxes comes out to $31,140. Remembering that her salary is $38,000 per year, she’s left her with $6,860 to put into savings.

If Peach chooses to save a little more by sharing a two bedroom apartment with a roommate, her expenses would come out to $27,300. This would allow her to save $10,700, or about 28% of her salary.

Chic’s totals for her expenses and taxes (if we include her two flights back home) are $41,220. She makes $42,000 per year – yikes! low cost

Obviously, Chic really can’t avoid to fly back home on her own dime, so let’s cut her some slack and say her parents miss her so much they’re willing to fly her home for the holidays. Reducing her expenses by $750 – the cost of her flights – puts her at $40,470.

This still leaves hardly anything to save, so let’s move Chic in with a roommate like we allowed for Peach. Splitting the rent evenly puts Chic’s total yearly expenses at $34,560. This is a much more comfortable number and one that would allow her to save $7,440, or about 17% of her salary.

This means that by living in an area with a lower overall cost-of-living, Peach is able to save almost double what Chic is able to, even though they maintain the same sort of lifestyle. Clearly, the biggest thing that is hurting Chic is the cost of her housing.

Obviously, this example got simplified for the sake of not making this post any longer than it already is. I used averages for my figures, I understand taxes aren’t as simple as I made them seem, and I know the cost of housing can vary widely in and out of your favor (for example, when I had an apartment in the Metro Atlanta area I only paid $600 for a one bedroom, not $770).

Not to mention, other costs of living that you have control over – like discretionary spending and utilities – will vary based on your lifestyle. But that’s why this was simply an example, and it should give you an idea of how the benefits of living in a lower cost-of-living area can make a difference. You have the potential to make just about as much and save even more!

Do you have experience with living in a very low-cost – or inversely, a very high-cost-of living area? How did it make an impact on your savings and did it change how you worked toward your financial goals?

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Gavin St. Ours
 

60 Comments

  1. kelly @stayingonbudget December 12, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    I love living in low cost areas. I moved from a higher cost to a less expensive. If I ever move again, it will be somewhere warmer and less expensive.

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 12, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      I really dislike the humidity in warmer places, but I am beginning to think it’s not such a bad idea considering how cold it’s been this week! I wish I could move somewhere that has autumn year round.

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 12, 2013 at 1:30 PM

        You’ll get used to the humidity, I promise! Though it is something to be reckoned with if you’ve never lived in it before. Kelly, I agree – my next move will be somewhere even warmer and even less expensive.. maybe like Thailand? :)

        Reply
  2. Brad @ RichmondSavers.com December 12, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    Great analysis Kali!

    We moved from a very high-cost area (Long Island, NY) to a moderate to low-cost area (Richmond, VA) about eight years ago and it was the best financial decision we’ve ever made.

    Most of my friends bought $400,000+ fixer-uppers with $10,000/year taxes (!), and it’s almost impossible to get ahead when you’re paying that much. We were able to buy a sub-$300k house with $1,800/year taxes in the best part of the metro-Richmond area.

    Everything is less: car insurance is less than 50% of what we were paying, utilities are 30% of what we were paying, groceries are much less. The list goes on and on…

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 12, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      Hello fellow LI’er! So glad to see someone else made the move. It’s way too expensive here, and for 20-somethings like us who just graduated 2 years ago, building a future here seems impossible. My parents paid about $8k in taxes, which blows my mind. I could never afford a down payment on a nice house here, much less all the fees! How do you like Richmond compared to LI?

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 12, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        Thanks Brad! Good grief, my eyeballs nearly just fell out of my head – $400k+ fixer upper?! That’s like an oxy-moron! Glad you guys were able to find something more reasonable in a lower-cost area.

        Reply
      2. Brad @ RichmondSavers.com December 12, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        Very cool that you’re from LI!! We’ll be heading up there on the 23rd to see our family in the Northport/Greenlawn area.
        Honestly, I don’t know how people build a future up there — it’s crazy. You always have to give up something, whether it is saving for retirement, a house, regular savings, etc. You just can’t do it all when it’s so expensive.
        It was hard for us to move away from our family and friends, but it was a great move in general.
        The part of Richmond where we live is just like a nicer, newer LI with no traffic! So it isn’t too terribly different, except it is really inexpensive to live here.
        My wife is in the middle of taking 9 years off to raise our girls, and that would have been impossible up there.
        I just reached out to you via your contact form — would love to talk more about this.

        Reply
  3. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer December 12, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    Excellent breakdown, Kali!! We live in a lower cost area, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Just the savings on the housing costs alone are worth it!!

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 13, 2013 at 11:38 PM

      Housing costs are our main concern, too. I could never afford to buy a house where we live right now, and we could easily get a two bedroom apartment for what we’re currently paying for our basement apartment.

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 14, 2013 at 12:34 AM

        Thanks, Laurie! I feel the same – wouldn’t trade in the awesome ability to save more for anything :)

        Reply
  4. Ashley December 12, 2013 at 9:32 AM

    LOVE this! Our move from DC to Rochester is saving is so much money. I can’t even believe that our housing costs/utilities dropped MORE THAN HALF. And our transportation costs dropped (way less gas wasted sitting in traffic) and our entertainment costs dropped (no one up here wants to go to the fancy schmancy $20 cover charge bars that are so prevalent in DC)… everything is just so much cheaper. I don’t think I can ever move back to a high cost of living area after experiencing this!

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 12, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      I am glad that you’re enjoying upstate so much! Eventually, my boyfriend and I would like to try living there, but for now I’d love to be closer to my parents. Who knows though. People are so much nicer and laid back up there compared to here on LI, which is one of the reasons why my boyfriend wishes he just stayed up there after college.

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 12, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        Thanks Ashley! It’s amazing the difference in housing costs from place to place! Glad you were able to make the switch to low-cost living :)

        Reply
  5. Andrew@LivingRichCheaply December 12, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    Very interesting analysis. This topic has been on my mind lately as we live in NYC and my wife and I always wonder how much money we’d save if we lived in a lower cost of living area. The most significant financial benefit would be the housing costs! Housing is expensive here in NYC! We’d probably move if it wasn’t for family and friends here.

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 12, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      Housing costs can really make or break an area for people. While I don’t plan on being a homeowner any time soon, it’s one of the reasons I won’t be settling down here. Renting is also overpriced. Honestly though, if my parents hadn’t moved, I’m not sure what my plans would be. Probably moving upstate!

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 12, 2013 at 1:36 PM

        I second what E.M. said – housing costs really make it or break it when it comes to a good budget that allows for lots of saving! I could never justify living in NYC simply because of the cost. We know some folks who live on the Upper East Side and pay over $2000 in rent per month for a studio apartment! That’s over twice what I pay for my mortgage (and I’m including taxes and insurance in that number!)

        Reply
  6. Brian December 12, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    This was a really nice read. I would nitpick and say at 42K it would be pretty easy to get her AGI below the 40,001 income level to lower her tax bill, but that is just nitpicking.

    I currenly live in Indianapolis which is one of the most affordable cities in the country for most everything. We are big enough to be a city, but small enough we have a lower cost of living. The only down fall is Indy does not really have an viable mass transit. It would literally take me 2 hours to get to work via the bus system versus a 15 minute drive.

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 12, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      We don’t have the most amazing mass transit where I live, either, since we’re out in the suburbs, not too far from the city. Indianapolis sounds like a decent mix of both.

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 12, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        Good point, Brian – there are a lot of ways to play with the numbers to make the outcomes more favorable for both our fictional characters here. I think the bottom line though is that you can’t play with housing costs and the differences there are huge!

        Reply
  7. Michelle December 12, 2013 at 12:44 PM

    I live in St. Louis and the cost of living is fairly low here. I love it! You can get a decent house for around $150K or a super nice one for around $300K.

    Reply
    1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 12, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      Sounds like our area! It makes it a lot easier to put money toward savings when housing is so much cheaper :)

      Reply
  8. Josh from CNA Finance December 12, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    I’ve lived in both, very low cost, and very high cost areas. I can’t say that either changed my goals and how I addressed my finances, but the low cost area definitely helped with savings. Nonetheless, I’m planning on starting a family soon. Because high cost areas tend to have the best schools, that’s probably where I’ll end up for the long haul. Thanks for the great read!

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 12, 2013 at 10:54 PM

      I do have to say that we have some amazing schools around here, and I am thankful for the opportunity I had. Saving for retirement is my next goal, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to accelerate paying off my student loans to get there faster.

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 13, 2013 at 10:03 AM

        I understand that high cost-of-living areas do tend to have better schools, but that’s not necessarily the case. I know schools in the state of Georgia as a whole don’t perform well, but schools in the Metro Atlanta area are some of the best in the country. It’s hard to know that, though, unless you grew up in/lived in an area like that.

        Reply
        1. Josh from CNA Finance December 13, 2013 at 12:07 PM

          Hey EM, I’m glad you got a great opportunity! Kali, thanks for the intuitive response. I never thought about it that way. I’ll have to do some digging to find the best schools when the time is right. Thanks again!

  9. Micro December 12, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    As someone who spent a couple years living in the DC/Metro area and now lives in Atlanta, the cost difference is crazy. I love the fact that I can hang on to a greater portion of my paycheck and use it for savings. Although as a former WI resident, living south of the mason dixon line is still weird for me. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the word yall.

    Side note: $60 for an oil change. Where on earth is she getting her service done: platinum station? Although I’ve changed my own oil for a while so I may not be up to date on current prices.

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 12, 2013 at 10:50 PM

      Haha, I don’t think I’ll ever catch myself saying ya’ll either, unlike my boyfriend who slipped the other day.

      I think the standard price for an oil change around here is between $25-$30.

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        High-five for my fellow Atlantan! And don’t worry – I’ve lived in Georgia all my life and avoid saying the world y’all like the plague. I do use it in writing, though.. seems like there’s only so many times you can write ‘you guys’ before you feel like it’s a little too much and surely there’s a better word to type.

        I did go high on the oil change price. I was assuming if your plan was to keep your car as long as possible, you’d want to use full synthetic which will cost you $60 at most dealerships or at a place like NTB. Because the Mazda dealership that my car was originally purchased from sends me a gazillion coupons for service and oil changes, I usually go there and the price works out to be $40 (they also change the filter, wash the car for me, and top off fluids). It’s more expensive than doing it yourself, but not much more in my experience – especially considering the time and labor involved. If I drove more, I may look for a cheaper option, but as it is I only need an oil change about twice a year.

        Reply
      2. Emily @ evolvingPF December 13, 2013 at 1:06 PM

        I purposely added y’all into my vocabulary when I moved to the South, as kind of a fun poke at the culture. :) I hope I’ll be able to drop it when we move away.

        Reply
  10. H @ Minding My Cents December 12, 2013 at 11:31 PM

    Great post! We’re actually contemplating moving to a slightly cheaper area at the moment. The reduced housing cost will definitely help with our savings goal.

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 13, 2013 at 11:40 PM

      We are aiming for a reduced housing cost as well, though it doesn’t look like it will be as much as we had originally hoped. I am just glad we’ll be able to make the move with one of us still employed, otherwise it would be much more difficult to make the jump.

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 14, 2013 at 10:17 AM

        Thanks! I think that’s a great idea – housing costs really make a serious difference to your budget. Frees up quite a bit for savings!

        Reply
  11. Done by Forty December 13, 2013 at 10:53 AM

    I have lived in a fairly high cost city (San Diego) and now live in what I think of as a very low cost city (Phoenix). I personally have done a lot better in the latter, but it’s not a truly fair comparison as when I was in San Diego, I was earlier in my career. It’s possible that the income gained by living in an ‘innovation hub’ city might outstrip the higher COL (Moretti argues this in The New Geography of Jobs, but I have my doubts).

    Gun to my head, I’m going with a low cost city…but hoping to bring a higher pay telecommuting job in tow. :)

    Reply
    1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 13, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      I think there are absolutely some circumstances where a higher COL city will bring a significantly better-paying job (and more opportunity). But I feel like this is only true in certain fields and professions. I like your solution – low COL area, high-paying telecommuting job!

      Reply
    2. E.M. December 13, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      I second the high-paying telecommuting job. One of the biggest motivators I have to monetizing the site is that I’m very worried wages where we plan to live are lower than we are used to. My boyfriend will be making the same as he does here, so we’re hoping it will go further down there.

      Reply
  12. Emily @ evolvingPF December 13, 2013 at 1:19 PM

    Hey, there are reasons HCOLAs cost so much! There are a lot of advantages. Personally, I want to move to a HCOLA (right now we live in a median COLA). My husband and I both grew up in top-10 most expensive metro areas so it’s not foreign to us. We’ll probably still be a bit shocked when we move to our target city, but I think it will be worth it for 1) the weather/environment, 2) proximity to family, and 3) job opportunities. And if it’s not, we’ll move.

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 13, 2013 at 11:42 PM

      I would really love to move somewhere with ideal weather. I hate humidity and anything over 75 degrees, so I’m hoping I’ll adapt when we move. Proximity to family is always worth trying a move out, it’s largely why I’m willing to put up with the heat =).

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 14, 2013 at 10:19 AM

        I agree there are some advantages. For me, 1 and 2 are taken care of where I live – I know some people wouldn’t call Georgia weather ideal, but I love that we have relatively short/mild winters and hot summers (I like heat!) and both mine and my husband’s families live nearby. Admittedly, if you don’t work in business, finance, or law, job opportunities aren’t so great here, but if you do work in one of those fields you should be set!

        Reply
  13. DC @ Young Adult Money December 13, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Sometimes I watch House Hunters where they are shopping in a very low-cost area and I want to cry because for the same price we spent they are getting AMAZING homes. Anyway, I’m not going to pretend I live in a place like San Francisco or New York, but there are some higher cost areas around Minneapolis St. Paul and we bought a house in a “first ring” suburb so the prices are a little high. The main problem is when you are trying to pay off student debt, go to and finish grad school, etc. it makes it really tough to get a nice place that you love. You’re almost forced to wait until you’ve had a decade to save and invest and whatnot.

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 13, 2013 at 11:25 PM

      I know! I’ve watched House Hunters too and I’m always in disbelief at what people are getting for their money elsewhere. Even if we were ready to settle down in one place, I don’t think I would buy without years of saving up, as you said. There’s a lot of younger couples that are forced to compromise because their expectations are unrealistic, too.

      Reply
  14. Tonya@Budget and the Beach December 13, 2013 at 7:56 PM

    You have no idea how much I think about this ALL the fricken time! Especially now that I’m making good side income, although two of those things would go away (coaching beach volleyball and personal assistant work) if I moved away. But I think of how much further my money would go if I lived somewhere else and how I could be more aggressive with savings, AND have money left over to travel. But then I think about the great weather, the beach, and my amazing friends here and it makes it really, really tough to decide.

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 13, 2013 at 11:22 PM

      If you’re in love with your current place, I can completely see why you might be compelled to stay. For me, it’s not worth paying the money as I really don’t enjoy where we live. We have beaches as well, but neither of us are crazy about going. We’d much rather be in the woods walking, or near scenic mountains. Location still matters!

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 14, 2013 at 10:21 AM

        I can see where the higher costs would be worth it if, like E.M. said, you were in love with some great things about your current area – and friends and the beach are certainly awesome things to have!

        Reply
  15. Justin @ RootofGood December 13, 2013 at 10:26 PM

    Some people are shocked when I mention our $32,000 per year retirement budget that includes taking care of our 3 kids. The usual rebuttal is “but but but my property taxes alone are $12,000 per year!”. Mine are $1,450 in Raleigh NC. Per year.

    As far as I can tell, wages in large cities in the southeast aren’t a whole lot smaller than big cities elsewhere in the US. There are exceptions, like investment banking pays more in NYC and high tech jobs often pay a premium in SF or Silicon Valley. But we have those kinds of jobs here in Raleigh, and they pay ridiculously well for an area where you can buy a house in the city near your job for $100-300k, or acreage and a country house 30-45 minutes away from your job for the same amount of money.

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 13, 2013 at 11:20 PM

      Property taxes are a killer here. My parents are thrilled with what they’re paying now. I’d much rather live near a “smaller big city” than a “real big city” like NYC. It’s true that there are some exceptions, but we’re hoping to make it work.

      Reply
      1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 14, 2013 at 10:23 AM

        Same here, Justin – our property taxes are $1,500 per year. Since I’ve always lived here, I didn’t realize until I got older that some people payed so much just in property taxes alone!

        Reply
  16. Jen @ Frugal Rules December 14, 2013 at 4:26 AM

    Even without the budget breakdown, I am immediately convinced that living in low-cost living areas means savings. It is the same where I live.

    Reply
  17. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction December 14, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    I make roughly the same as someone in a big city (a couple grand difference), but living in the small city has lots of extra perks. My rent is 60% lower than my friends when comparing their
    ONE bedroom to my large TWO bedroom. I can save (well, it’s going to debt right now) around 30% of my salary. I could never manage that living in those huge big cities.

    I doubt I will be here forever, but it’s a great boost at the beginning of my career.

    Reply
    1. Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 14, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      I think the cost of housing is always the biggest, most significant difference. That’s awesome that you can save so much!

      Reply
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  19. Mo' Money Mo' Houses December 14, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    I definitely wished I lived in an area where the cost of living was lower, but the city is where I love to live, plus there are a ton of jobs here too.

    Reply
  20. eemusings December 14, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    I’ve almost always lived in Auckland, which has a very high COL (esp in relation to incomes). There is nowhere else in NZ I would rather live though (esp seeing as we only have a couple of big cities) and after having travelled the world, I don’t think there is anywhere else we would rather live either.

    Reply
  21. Connie @ Savvy With Saving December 15, 2013 at 11:25 PM

    I wish I could move to a lower cost of living area but I just don’t think I could ever do it. I live in NYC and all my friends and family are here. It’s just tough to leave a support system like that. Plus, I grew up here so big city living is all I’ve ever known.

    Reply
  22. KK @ Student Debt Survivor December 16, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    I’m originally from Maine but bf and I live in the metro NYC area. We pay more in property taxes than most of our friends pay for their mortgages. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about it, but it is what it is (bf can’t do finance-well the type of finance he does in rural Maine). I’d love to move to an area with a cheaper cost of living. Just have to figure out a way for bf to get a job that will make him happy.

    Reply
    1. E.M. December 17, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      It really does stink sometimes when your job field dictates where you live. Being happy with your career is important as it’s a huge aspect of your life. Property taxes here are awful, too. Hopefully in the future his field will expand into other cities.

      Reply
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