Cost Comparison of My Move – Housing

I think I’ve fully embraced the “New Year, New Me” meme. While for most people, moving across the country may not be the best idea when trying to save money, I thought I’d write a post on some of the cost analysis comparing my old area to my new one.

To start with, let’s tackle the elephant in the room. I couldn’t have stayed in my old situation had I wanted to. Well, I could have physically stayed, I couldn’t stay forever. Let’s go over what my situation was before the move: I was living with my parents. While my parents and I get along very well, I wouldn’t have been living with them otherwise, I don’t think that was a fair comparison as I was only paying $1,050 a month plus whatever personal spending I had.

Instead as a thought experiment we’ll go over what it would have been had I stayed from a financial standpoint. I can’t find a comparable rental to the place I’m currently at for rent in Zillow in my old area, but for a 2 bed 1 bath apartment (894 square foot) where I was before is $1,700 a month exactly where these  and a 4 bed 2 bath house (2,174 square foot) is $3,500. As I haven’t had a full month of my own utilities to pay for nor usage to call on so we’ll assume the costs would be roughly comparable and we’ll exclude HOA fees and such that are probably included in the price of the apartment Doing a quick fit to find something close to what I’m currently at leaves  My current housing, a 3 bed 1 bath house (I’m guessing 1200 square foot although that is a little generous on the size, the 3 bedrooms is a rather generous reading of the term) is costing me $1,300 a month.

So using square footage as a measure of price, I’ll say that rent for a comparable house would be 1,815 a month. Now I will say that the numbers I used came from somewhat desirable locations in my old area, the apartment was built in the past few years (I think I was still in college when they completed them so sometime in 2020/2021) and the house was on one of the main streets. I’m less certain about the area that I’m located in now. The unit I’m in had a big garage which is why I chose it over other units. But if we go the other way and instead look for a comparable apartment in my area (without accounting for desirable location premiums just to make it easy) a 2 bed 1 bath apartment goes from $725 to $1,300 a month. Both of these analyses exclude furnished apartments just to keep things simple as I wasn’t really interested in a furnished place. I’ll also note that in my old area there were a total of four rentals listed on Zillow.

So renting would be rather more expensive. Let’s take a look at buying in both places. I’m going to give price per square foot as well as square footage to make this comparison simpler. To further refine the comparison I’m going to look at a mid priced range in both areas of a 2-3 bed 1+ bath space. I’m going to try and find roughly the same sized lots. Where I used to live a 1971 square foot house is selling for 263.8 $/square foot. In my new area a 1854 square foot house is selling for 59.3 $/square foot. I’m going to assume that maintenance-wise these two houses are in the same general conditions, the pictures show some differences in work that needs to be done, new carpet/flooring in my old area and the siding and counters in my new area. But I’m going to assume maintenance wise and how desirable the location is between the two is not the same. Even then that’s a difference of $204.5/square foot, quite the difference. While these comparisons aren’t exactly the same, I wasn’t comparing the problems or work that needed to be done exactly, on paper the area I’m in has a lower cost of housing.

Now I’m not exactly surprised by this. A quick search tells me that where I used to live was one of the wealthiest areas in the US on a per capita basis. It also doesn’t strike me that the area I’m in is having a housing issue, you can’t get a hotel room in my new area. In my old area I know a lot of people that complained about finding a hotel room to stay in because a lot of the rooms were taken up by people that lived in them full time. There was one major employer in my old area and almost everyone in town was currently employed or had worked for this employer or one of adjacent businesses, so I knew a lot of the people there.

So overall I think I’ve moved to a much lower cost of living area at least where housing costs are concerned. Plus in my new position I can walk to work. While I plan to keep my car so I can go shopping or to nearby areas, in my old area you needed a car. Not having one made things really difficult, I could walk to the grocery store and hardware shop but everything else was 15+ minutes away. So I’m also saving by not having to drive every day to/for work.

As for other expenses I plan to talk about that in my monthly budget post. But in summary I expect that it would have saved me $800-$1000 to have moved more locally. Mostly due to the cost of the U-Haul and gas.

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