When Relocating For a Lower Cost of Living Doesn’t Make Sense

The economy has been in a turbulent state for months, and it may be awhile before things get better. The cost of living is rising due to supply chain problems, the housing market is out of control, and a recession may be looming.

Many Americans moved in 2022, often in search of more reasonable housing prices, warmer climate, or better job opportunities. A common (and often useful) tactic for many is to move to a city with a lower cost of living in order to save on expenses.

But is that always a winning strategy? Here, we’ll look at some of the factors to consider when making such a decision.

Where Are People Moving?

According to statistics from North American, people largely moved toward southern states in 2022. The most inbound states in 2022 were South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, and Florida, while the most outbound states — places people moved away from — were Illinois, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Tennessee and the Carolinas have been at the top of the list of inbound states for years, while Illinois has topped the list of outbound states for the fourth year in a row now.

Is the Move Worth It? Things to Consider

There are all sorts of reasons people relocate to another state — job offers, life changes, being nearer to family, or just for a change of scenery. As previously mentioned, one of the main reasons for relocating is to take advantage of a lower cost of living elsewhere. But a lower cost of living may not always translate to more money in your pocket. Here’s why.

Insurance rates.

One of the biggest cost-of-living factors to consider is insurance, especially if you’re a homeowner. Homeowner’s insurance can vary wildly from one state to another. For example, the average rate of homeowners insurance in Kansas is $2,615 per year — significantly higher than the national average. Compare that to these numbers from Kristine Lee at The Zebra: Delaware homeowners insurance will cost you $614 a year, less than a third as much for some of the best cheap homeowners insurance in Delaware. On the other hand, the cost of living in Delaware is 13% higher than the national average, and the price of buying a home is 5% higher. This is the kind of math you’ll have to contend with.

Employment rates.

If you’re moving to a new city to take on a new job, that’s one thing. But if you don’t already have work lined up, it pays to take a good look at the job market before you relocate. The lowest cost of living in the world won’t help you if you can’t find a good job and bring in a decent income.


Income tax, property tax, and sales tax all vary from state to state. Will you be paying more taxes in your new city? This is important to consider, particularly if you don’t have sales tax where you currently live. It’s something you’ll now have to factor into every purchasing decision you make!

Will you be driving more?

This is another factor not everyone considers, but it’s pretty important. If you’re moving from an urban area like New York (with plenty of public transport) to somewhere without those kinds of amenities, chances are you’re going to be driving a lot more. This means more money spent on vehicle costs like fuel, maintenance, and insurance. On the other hand, if you’re moving to a city with more public transportation, your driving costs are likely to go down.

Emotional loss.

Are you moving far away from friends and family? A lack of a support network can leave you feeling lonely and unhappy when you move to a new place. You may end up spending a lot on travel to make visits home. This isn’t an insurmountable problem, but it pays to be ready — plan on making use of technology to fill the gap a little, i.e. Zoom meetings with family or using streaming apps to watch movies together while in separate cities.

The impact on your family.

Cost of living is one thing, but it’s not the only thing. There’s job and income to consider, but you should also look at other areas of your daily life, such as schools, hospitals, recreational opportunities, education, and even dining.


Moving to a place with an entirely different climate can be a big shock. If, for example, you’re unused to tornadoes and move to Oklahoma in the spring, you’re going to be in for some new experiences. Similarly, moving from a place with a warm and sunny climate to somewhere further north with a lot of snow, ice, and cold weather (like, say, Minnesota) is also going to require some adjustment. You may need to buy new clothes, learn new driving and coping skills, and have emergency plans in case of disaster.


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