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To Move, or Not to Move?

Kate Traynor

Before you accept a job offer that requires relocation, make sure your new salary will really cover your new expenses.

One of the more obvious relocation costs is moving your possessions to your new home city. Although potentially expensive, the cost of using a moving company may be offset by a raise or relocation bonus offered by your new employer. But the cost of moving your belongings is just one of many expenses to bear in mind when you consider relocating for a job.

State and local income taxes: Since state income tax rates vary from zero to double-digit percentages, moving from one state to another can make a big difference in your take-home pay. Some communities impose local income taxes instead of or in addition to other income taxes, so keep this potential expense in mind, too.

Property taxes: Don’t leave property taxes—on your home, car, or other possessions—out of your calculations. Just as income tax rates vary among states and local areas, so do property tax rates.

Housing: If you plan to buy a house, examine the real estate market in the new area. Renters should investigate their options in advance, too; some landlords require that tenants pay a hefty security deposit along with the first month’s rent.

Transportation: Consider your potential transportation costs. Will you need to buy a car? If public transportation is available, can you use it? What will it cost? Don’t forget to consider the possibility of parking fees.

Auto insurance: Ask your current insurer to estimate the rates in the new location, or shop around for estimates.

Cost of living: Consider the cost of food and utilities in the new area. While air conditioning may be optional in cooler climates, it can be an expensive necessity in the South. Likewise, if you move from a warm area to one with cold winters, you will need to factor home heating expenses into your cost of living calculations.

Wardrobe: A move to a different climate could mean that you and your family will need to purchase a new wardrobe. This can be a major, unanticipated expense.

The Internet is a great resource for finding out about living in another city. Here are just a few sites that can help you decide whether relocation is worthwhile. (—This site gives profiles and comparisons of cities, information about state and local tax rates, and much more. (CareerBuilder Inc.)—Use the salary calculator to see how far your salary will go in a new town. The site also lists job opportunities and gives career development information. (Digital City Inc.)—Find out what the locals have to say about many major cities. Digital City gives practical information for tourists and other people who want to learn what a city offers its visitors and residents. (—This site’s ReloSmart tool gives cost-of-living comparisons for various cities. Other information at the site is also helpful to people considering a move to a new town.