If you decide to pack up and leave town, there are a few easily overlooked budget busters that can send you to the debt house if you are not careful.
Before you start thinking of moving, hop onto a rental listing website to check out rents in different parts of town. In the Denver area, where I live, some neighborhoods have an average rent over $1,100 while others are well below $900. However, other cities like New York ($2,800 for a one bedroom) and San Francisco ($2,700 for a one bedroom) can be very high while smaller cities like Des Moines ($700 for a one bedroom) and Albuquerque ($700 for a one bedroom) are a lot cheaper.
I never recommend buying a new home in a city you have never lived in until you have spent at least a few months there. You could find yourself stuck in an undesirable neighborhood without an easy way out.
Before you rent, go check out the city and get a feel of each neighborhood. I always try to live close to where I want my social life to be centered over living closer to my job.
Rentbits has a great tool to look up the average rent by city to help you start your search.
Average price of groceries can vary greatly between cities and regions in the United States. In big cities like New York and remote cities like Anchorage, you may pay a lot more for food than a city in the Midwest.
Research your average living expenses before you move to avoid any big shocks to the checkbook.
If I decided to move to Little Rock, for example, I would save on almost everything at the grocery store (except for T-bone steak for some reason).
For a good gauge on food costs between cities, the Bankrate cost of living calculator is helpful.
The average price of a movie ticket in Minneapolis is $9.45. In Los Angeles, that same movie will put you back $12.75.
When you get to a new city, you will probably have a very different social calendar early on, but you will want to get out and explore. If everything is more expensive, you need to save up to make sure you can do what you want when you are new in town.
Setting Up a New Home
Even if you bring your old stuff, you will have a handful of new needs when you get to your new home. While you can furnish on a budget if you move to a city with an IKEA, even the small things add up big.
In my last move, I needed to buy new storage cabinets, window coverings, and other essentials that quickly passed $500, and I shopped around for a good deal. If you move to an expensive city or want designer furnishings, expect to spend a lot more.
If you grew up in Manhattan, you might not know what it costs to own a car. After you spend $30,000, which is the average price of a new car in the United States, you have to pay taxes, registration, fees, insurance, gas, oil changes, repairs, and other maintenance.
On the flip side, if you grew up in a car town like LA, you can get by on a $104 a month MetroCard in NYC. If you live and work in an urban area, you might be able to skip the fixed cost all together and get by on a bike.
Whatever you are used to, look into the cost of getting around in your new town.
If you thought this was enough to make your head spin, moving out of the country can be a real shock. Tax systems vary wildly (ever heard of a VAT?), things you take for granted become luxuries, and things you are used to spending a lot on (like health care) may be free.
Do a lot of research if you are leaving your home country to head somewhere new.
Ever leave home to do it up in a new city? What did you learn from the experience? Did you have any big shocks when your cost of living changed? Please share in the comments.
Image by Gavin St. Ours/flickr