Things to Consider Before Moving Out of State

Sometime around the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015, my wife, Kelly, and I began discussing the possibilities of moving to Florida.  It wasn’t that we were looking to leave Massachusetts. We love our families, especially our younger nieces, nephews, and cousins.  I certainly wasn’t looking to leave my job. After all, I cried ugly tears when I told the president of the company I was leaving.  I was just about to hit my 15-year anniversary where I worked, and was only a few credits shy of completing my MBA.  There was just something that attracted us to Florida, and that something was Walt Disney World.  My wife has always loved Walt Disney World, and at some point in our relationship, my love for it surpassed hers.

My goal with this article isn’t to tell you whether or not you should uproot and leave, that’s for you to decide.  I’m just here to let you know some things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about moving out of state.

Cost of living

We did some research and thought we knew the comparison of the cost of living between Massachusetts and Florida. But, we found that what we thought wasn’t entirely true.  The housing cost was significantly different.  We owned a 2 bedroom townhouse in Massachusetts with 1 ½ baths and a finished basement, which we ended up selling for somewhere around $175,000.  In Florida, we rented a house in Davenport (about 12 miles west of Walt Disney World) that had 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a 2 car garage, and an indoor pool.  The house next door had the same setup and sold for around $175,000.  Which would you rather have?

Utilities in Florida were similar to Massachusetts, maybe slightly higher because we ran our air conditioner for 11 months out of the year and kept the pool filter running, but similar.  And of course I needed to have DirecTV so I could still watch the Patriots games.  In reality, this was definitely a want and not a need.

The cost of groceries was not similar, at all.  Sadly there are no Market Baskets in Florida.  Even when items were on sale or there was a special deal (buy 1 get 1), it still didn’t compare to Market Basket.  Not too long after moving back to Massachusetts, Kelly and I were in Market Basket. I forgot my wallet with my debit card in it, but luckily had $100 cash on me.  As I watched the items move across the conveyor belt I started to get nervous that I wouldn’t have enough cash.  The cashier finished and told me my total… $62.  In my head I started to laugh, I certainly wasn’t getting more for my dollar in Florida.

Be sure to do heavy research on what it actually costs to live where you’re going. Consider things like housing, groceries, gas, cable, utilities, shopping and entertainment.

Emotional spending

No matter where you live, your emotions play a huge factor in your spending and your financial wellness.  Living away from family and friends can definitely have an effect on your emotions, which impacts spending habits.  When we first moved down, my wife and I only had one another, so if we had a tough day or missed our families, more often than not, we’d go out to dinner, go to one of the parks or maybe go shopping when we should’ve stayed at home and hung out by the pool.

Be prepared to face the emotions that come into play when you move away, and make it a point to not let them impact your spending.

Missing family time

No matter how hard you try you’re going to miss family events when you live away from home, and that stinks.  Kelly and I lived in Florida for 21 months, and off the top of my head I think we came back to Massachusetts nine times. We had a tenth trip scheduled, but moved home just before it happened.  Even coming home that often, we still missed events, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, and our niece’s christening.

Will you actually be able to handle being so far away from your family and friends? Is missing these types of occasions and even everyday life worth it? These are important questions to ask yourself.

Living where people vacation

You obviously want to spend as much time with your family as possible when they visit your state. Kelly and I always had an open door policy, and loved spending time with our family and friends whenever they visited, but it was tough to balance everyday life with their vacation plans.

If you’re moving to a place that people will make a vacation out of a visit, be prepared to have to deal with that. You also want to consider that people may not be able to come visit you at all.

Insurance is different in every state

Each state has different laws for what is and what isn’t covered by health insurance.  This is something I absolutely wish we had done more research on.  The truth is we never thought about it.  We returned from our honeymoon on May 3rd, and moved to Florida on June 22nd. We never realized we’d have so many difficulties trying to get pregnant.  In Florida, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) isn’t covered by insurance, so you have to pay everything out of pocket.  We didn’t know this, but certainly wish we did.

Do you have prescriptions that you regularly fill or do you see a specialist for any health reason? Research the insurance coverage in the state you’d like to move to so you can make sure you will be covered when you get there and that you are prepared for any changes you have to make or health expenses you will have to take on.

Moving. Isn’t. Fun.

When you take into consideration all the wrapping of fragile items, packing of boxes, keeping finished boxes out of the way and waiting for the portable storage units to be delivered, it feels like a whirlwind.  For me, the worst part was organizing the moving truck.  I’m terrible at it, but luckily for me, Kelly is great at it.

Be sure to think about the actual moving part, and whether or not you are ready to take that on.

Weather

Florida is hot.  The summers in Florida are like the winters in Massachusetts – you don’t leave the house unless you really have to.  For someone like myself who works in an office all day it wasn’t a big deal.  I’d drive in my air conditioned car to my air conditioned office.  I’d then get back in my air conditioned car and head home and go in the pool or watch TV.

If where you’re going entails a drastic change in weather, think about whether or not that’s a change you’re willing to deal with.

Where exactly you will live

Kelly and I knew we wanted to live in the Orlando area so we didn’t really think about this, but if you’re moving to a different state, it’s important to consider the area where you will live. Do you want city or country? Do you prefer to live somewhere where there is a lot of diversity? Do you need to be somewhere that offers public transportation? The neighborhood you live in can certainly impact your overall quality of life and the experience you have in this new place.

Don’t Rush

The place you’re thinking of moving to will always be there.  There’s no need to rush into things.  Take your time, and make sure you’re well-informed before you take this very big step.

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