5 Things to Consider Before Moving

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Almost half of American workers say they'd move if they could have the same job in a different city – even if they weren't paid a penny more.

If you’ve thought about moving to find work in this recession, you’re not alone. Nearly half of all working Americans would take the same job in a different city, according to a new national poll.

For many workers, the goal of relocating isn’t about more money. Reasons ranking high in the survey – conducted by research company Ipsos this summer – included better schools, a wider choice of recreational venues, and perceptions of safety.

But the number one factor was the local business climate, with 36% of people naming affordability or “a more robust economy” as their top concern.

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said they’d already tried to find work elsewhere in the past five years, and people under 35 were more than twice as likely to move than those who are older.

If you’re considering a change, before you start packing, remember that relocating comes with a variety of considerations and expenses that aren’t always obvious. Here are some things you need to consider before moving:

1. Housing

Home prices – whether buying or renting – definitely vary widely from place to place, with some cities far more affordable than others. According to City-Data.com, the average price of a house in Indianapolis is $153,325. In San Francisco, it’s $1,107,510.

Another decision you’ll face in a new location is whether to buy or rent a home. In many places the housing market has changed, so be sure and check out our story, Rent or Own Your Home? New rules. And if you do decide to move, here’s another story you’ll definitely like: Tips to Save $1,000 on your next move.

2. Expenses

  • Heating and/or cooling costs: extreme climate, whether hot or cold, might change utility costs
  • Home and vehicle maintenance: the cost of car and home repairs can vary from state to state
  • Clothing: A move from Michigan to Florida – or vice versa – might require a new wardrobe
  • Insurance: If you’re moving to an area prone to hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, or other “acts of God,” expect higher insurance rates. For example, in South Florida, wind insurance alone can cost thousands of dollars annually. Car and even health insurance rates also vary widely. Ask your current insurers to give you ball-park rates for the places you’re considering.

3. Taxes

There are nine states that have no state income tax: moving to one could save you thousands – moving from one could cost you thousands.

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Wherever you’re considering, find out what the state tax rates are and whether you’ll also be subject to local income taxes.

You should also consider state and local sales taxes. There are five states without sales tax:

  • Alaska
  • Delaware
  • Montana
  • Oregon
  • New Hampshire

4. Wages

If you’re looking to move but don’t have any job offers lined up yet, it might also be helpful to gauge what your pay range could be.

One resource for that is the U.S. Department of Labor, which keeps statistics on average salaries for over 800 occupations searchable by state and/or metropolitan area. You can take a look right here at what you should be making – or might be making elsewhere. They also keep relatively up-to-date “economy at a glance” charts that provide the local unemployment rate.

5. Demographics

And if you’ve got a dream city in mind, look it up on City-Data.com for a profile including everything from average household income and home values to crime and education rates to average age and marital demographics. While these statistics may or may not factor into your quality-of-life decisions, it’s interesting to compare things like racial ethnicity, divorce rates, average income – even the ratio of men to women and married to single. There’s volumes of information here for nearly every city in America.

Stacy Johnson

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