Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cost of Living Advantages

On Free Money Finance, FMF is discussing the advantages of moving to a city with a lower cost of living. The idea is simple, move to a location that costs much less, but try to keep your salary from decreasing proportionately. My idea is the reverse: move, or just work, in a higher cost of living location, temporarily, and try get your salary to increase more than proportionately.

I live in one of the top 20 largest cities in the country, but the cost of living is very low. For the first time (I don't know why I never thought about it before), I checked the job market outside of my metro area. In this case, I checked New York City. In this case, I found a job similar to mine that paid twice as much (and I am not on the low end of the scale for my location). In New York City, my pay would need to be a little bit more than what that job offered to cover the cost of living increase. So, this is not ideal. Further, I have argued against moving with my wife for some time, and this would be me supported the worst possible situation for my family. If I was single, this could make since because I could reduce my costs drastically just to get by, and then it would work out. If I were able to save the same percentage of my income that I save now, it would be double, in a nominal since. Then, when I had enough of it, I could move back and have twice the money saved than I would have.

So, New York City doesn't look like it would work out. However, being in the Midwest, there is the third largest city in the country: Chicago. Chicago is only two and half hours away. I have known people (and I thought they were crazy) who travelled two and a half hours to work out where I live, this would be about the same thing. Gas prices are outrageous, though, so I might take the fuel costs and apply them to renting a room somewhere, and then just save the wear-n-tear on my vehicle. I could come home on the weekends, and the family could stay with me during the summer. Heck, maybe I could even telecommute a few weeks each year, in addition to vacations, and have more time at home than I expect.

You can use Sperling's Best Places to figure it out for yourself. At a round number, like $50K, someone in my area would need to make over $69K to have the equivalent salary. As a side note, I don't make $50K (and I will not say it is higher or lower... you can speculate). The percentage increase is what is important, and it is 38.6% higher in Chicago to be equivalent to my current location. So, now I will head over to to see if I can find a job similar to mine that pays 38.6% or more than my current job.

Well, what do you know? I found a job that certainly had to potential to much more than a 38.6% increase. As a matter of fact, it could be up to a 72% increase! And the skillset is nearly identical to what I do in my current position... and the title is very similar, as well.

While I am not anywhere near ready to leave my current job, it is certainly something to consider when that time comes. With Chicago being so close, I could very nearly maintain my current cost of living. Further, if I could turn it into a Independent Contractor style position, I could write off all of the increased costs associated with traveling on my taxes.

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