You may move to a new city for many reasons: a new job, a relationship or a change of pace and scenery. Being fully prepared is your first step to making it a positive move, and much of the preparation begins with knowing how much it will cost, what you can afford and how the move will affect your overall lifestyle.
Moving to a city that’s more expensive than your current home can make sense for the job opportunities or if you already have a job waiting for you. Consider these tips before you move.
Know the true cost
You may be surprised to find how different the cost of living can be from one city to the next. Do your research beforehand to ensure the plans you’re making align with the cost of living in your new city. For example, you may be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment in your current city on your salary, but that same salary might not go as far in your new city. You may have to share the costs with a roommate—or two. The cost of living also includes things like groceries, entertainment and transportation. To avoid unwelcome surprises, use an online calculator to determine the true cost of living before you make your move.
Once you know the true cost of living, you can create a budget and look at ways to cut your expenses. In addition to sharing rent costs, having roommates can help lower the amount you will pay for utilities, cable and other expenses. Look at whether it makes sense to use public transportation more, which will help you save on gas, parking costs and wear and tear on your car. It also could cut your car insurance costs. Many cable and internet providers will provide discounts on a new plan, so compare initial rates, benefits and the long-term cost if the provider requires an extended contract. Also, evaluate your cable and internet plans to ensure you’re not paying for more than you’re going to use.
Plan for the move itself
Moving costs can add up quickly, so be sure to factor the actual move into your overall budget. If you’re hiring a moving company, get quotes from two or three movers. Another way to lower the cost is by selling or donating items you haven’t been using or aren’t likely to use in the future. That cuts the total weight you are moving, which is what movers base their fees on. Also, consider the cost of deposits on electricity, cable, internet and any other services you will need.
Create a budget—and stick to it
A new city can be a lot of fun to explore, but the cost of nights out can add up quickly. Set aside a realistic amount of money for entertainment and going out, and then make that budget stick. Budgeting doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of a social life; you can look for free meet-up groups to find people with similar interests. The local newspaper and websites focusing on the area will provide ideas for free things to do throughout the week.
To make the most of your move, you’re going to want to maintain a balance between enjoying your new city and adhering to the budget you have set. You want to be able to afford your current expenses as well as put money aside for your future. Having a budget in place will help you avoid impulse spending, and creating a solid financial plan now helps lay the foundation for a financially secure future.