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The high cost of coastal living

October 28, 2007

I spoke recently about how I got a job offer in California, making roughly 11k/yr more than I make in the Midwest. My company here pays pretty well for new graduates because there is a high demand for them. Even though they are located in a low cost of living area, starting salaries are not much lower than in high cost of living areas. Anyway, this raise will net me an extra $916 a month, which we will call $650 after taxes (optimistically?).

I’ve been doing a little math to see how this move will affect me. The biggest increase in monthly spending will undoubtedly be rent. I currently pay $575 for a small but relatively nice one bedroom apartment. I’m hoping to find something for $1000 (or less, but that seems unlikely) in California, probably equally small and not as nice. I’m secretly hoping that I’ll have a roommate (my boyfriend) move in after several months, but this isn’t something that has been discussed enough to count on, so I’m running the numbers without factoring that in. That is $425 per a month extra in expenses! That destroys a huge chunk of my “raise”, making it an increase of a puny 2.7k/yr!

I will be able to take public transportation, but I doubt that’ll save me any money since I currently live a 4 minute drive from my company and don’t drive often. I suppose, one nice thing about a higher salary is that the company match of my 401k will be of a larger amount. If I want to go home, it’ll cost me $300 for a plane ticket rather than $80 for a couple tanks of gas.

Luckily, the initial costs of relocating won’t be too much of a burden on me. Not only do they give me $2000 for miscellaneous moving costs, they will pack and move my stuff, reimburse me for mileage and lodging and meals for the drive out there. With all of that, there still might be a bit of a hit to my savings, but not nearly as drastic as it could be.

I’m not making this move for financial reasons. It is for personal reasons, and for a desire to live in a big city, the dream of California living. But the impact to my finances is still there, and I hope that it won’t slow my progress too far.

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