As you’re graduating from college or looking for that next career step, you should always consider the cost of living in the area where you plan on moving to before accepting a job offer.
This may sound obvious, but it can be a difficult process if you don’t take the correct steps.
A cost of living calculator is a great place to start, but it is not the end of the road. You have to get in the trenches to accurately assess how much it will cost to live in a city and whether or not relocating for work is worth it.
It’s easy to look online and find the median and mean value of a home in an area, but these numbers can be deceiving. You will want to make sure you look at specific apartments and homes to see what your money will get you.
Keep in mind that older cities can have some ancient housing options that come with quirks. Old houses often need more repairs and upgrades. Also, if you’re renting, you can expect that older buildings have less energy-efficient features and factor this into your rent. Don’t forget to ask about energy efficient windows and doors.
You have to consider distance to work and whether the area you’d live in is a place you want to spend time. Calculate the cost of your commute and the time you may save with some amenities like a dishwasher or energy efficient washer and dryer.
Getting a car insurance quote is easy. You can call up your current company or process it online without any commitment to change your policy.
While the city you live in plays a role in how much you should be prepared to pay, the state is a bigger factor in your car insurance price. You can even get quotes in the city center versus in the suburbs. This can help you determine where you’ll actually save housing cost.
Better yet, can you get rid of your car? Some cities like New York and Washington D.C. have high pricetags for housing, but most Big Apple resident can easily get by without a vehicle. How much would public transit save you?
Check gas prices all around the city where you live. You can do this on an app. Is the price of petrol higher or lower than where you currently live? Would you drive as much, more or less? Don’t forget that gas is one of your biggest day-to-day expenses.
Most states allow you to see the average utility cost for any address. This can help you determine how much you should plan on forking over to keep your home warm enough or cool enough. After checking into a few rentals, pull up their cost of utilities and write it next to the price of rent for your reference later on.
This one can be a little more tricky without physically going to the city where you plan on moving to, but there are cheats that can help. Try online shopping or setting up a pick-up order at a local grocery store. While you should never place that order without the intention to pick up, you can see how much different items cost and see the local tax rates.
Average household income is a great indicator of what you can afford in a city. If the average income is significantly higher than your prospective salary, you may not be able to afford to buy a home. You should also expect the average prices for most products and services will match what local residents would be willing to and can afford to pay.
While your recreational activities may seem minor, many people splurge when it comes to going out to eat or other activities. If you like to dine out once a week or twice per month, you should see how much your favorite restaurants cost. Check their online menus.
If you have to go hiking every other week, check the distance to the nearest parks and hiking trails. Will it cost you an hour to get there and a tank of gas? Factor this into your budget.
When all is said and done it’s always better to know what to expect financially when considering a job offer. Ultimately you can include these factors in your salary negotiations, but be prepared with specific figures. Use these numbers when comparing potential jobs, especially if you have multiple offers simultaneously.