Post details: What Will it Cost to Relocate?


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What Will it Cost to Relocate?

Linda Stern
Adding up the various costs will help you budget your move effectively.

Are you thinking of making a move? Every year, 16 million American families move, nudged by a new job, family ties, or the lure of a better lifestyle. But before you pack the first box, research the price tag of that better lifestyle. If you move to an area with higher living costs, you could end up with a lower standard of living -- even if you're making more money. On the other hand, a lower-cost location can help you live rich -- even if you aren't.

How Much Will Your Lifestyle Cost There?

You need details to get a fairly accurate cost picture. The local newspaper is a great source; consider subscribing to your new town's newspaper for a month or two so you can check out grocery promotions, car ads, housing and employment classified ads, and news. Other tips:

- Contact at least three real estate or rental agents. Ask them to do some legwork on homes and schools for you.
- Call the local library. Ask them for names of consumer shopping guides and real estate publications.
- Call everyone you know in that area -- even friends of friends. Hunt for information so you can get a good idea of the true cost of living your current lifestyle in a new place.
- Use the relocation company. If your new employer hires a professional relocation company to help you move, lean on their staff for all the answers you can get. They've got 'em.

As you uncover cost-of-living information about the location you're considering, put those figures into a worksheet (use "What Will Your New Life Cost You" at the bottom of this page as a guide). A worksheet will help you figure the income you'll need in the new location, and it will help you answer the should-I-stay-or-should-I-go question. Here are some key price points to consider:

Study Housing from Every Angle

The cost of housing is one of the easiest yet most complex parts of the relocation puzzle. Easy, because home-price comparisons abound on the Internet, in local newspapers and via real estate agents. Complex, because to find a comparable home, you must take in many factors besides the size of the lot or the number of bedrooms.

To find out what a home like yours would cost in a new location, quiz personal contacts and real estate agents (or both -- the more the better) about school districts, local parks and recreation, the crime rate, the proximity of stores, services, and places of worship and the age, education, and occupations of the neighbors. Ask about "hidden" homeowning costs, such as recreation fees, trash collection, and community services.

Finally, check out the costs of homeowners insurance and the mortgage itself -- both of which tend to vary by region.

Try to get year-round sample bills for the kind of home you're considering. Some people pay plenty for cable TV, others rely on satellite dishes, and still others live so far out in the country that they pay long-distance fees to get on the Internet and have their own pumps and septic tanks instead of community water service. If you're moving to an area that gets dark early, has lots of swimming pools, or is very hot all summer, you can expect higher utility bills.

Pay Attention to Taxes

But don't dismiss a high-tax environment. Those taxes are paying for something, and if you're picking up better schools, convenient swimming pools, good libraries, trash collection, and more, the benefits may outweigh the cost. Saving on taxes could lead to higher expenses in other categories.

Better Homes and Gardens



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