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When you purchase a home in a new neighborhood, city, or state, you will likely experience a change in your overall cost of living. Therefore, to ensure that you are moving to an area you can afford, you should definitely check your new cost of living estimates before you move.
With home values slow to rise and mortgage rates at all-time lows, there has never been a more affordable time to own a home.
However, there is more to the cost of living than just a mortgage payment. There is the cost of groceries, gasoline, and routine medical care, and the list goes on. If this is your first time considering a home purchase or moving out-of-state, you may not have really taken the time to consider exactly what the cost of living is? In the simplest of terms, it is the price of both big-ticket and everyday items, based on location. Obviously, one of the big-ticket items is housing, followed by transportation, utilities, food, and healthcare. However, the buck does not stop there. As briefly suggested, there are other items you need to factor in that are not as essential but are still important.
Before you start plugging away at your new budget, it is also highly recommended that you factor in the substitution effect to your estimates or calculations. If you do not have an economics book handy, the substitution effect, in essence, explains why comparing the price difference between cities with an expensive housing market and a more affordable market will likely leave you with an incomplete picture or estimate. So, just be mindful that if you move from the city to a more suburban area or vice versa, your calculations are just that estimations. The reality is moving nine times out of ten changes the way people spend their money.
Along those same lines, there are certain amenities that you have access to when you live in one place versus another. So, in this instance, if your former home was a townhouse that had a gym within the community, then now you will have to add the cost of a gym membership into your overall cost of the living estimate. It is little things like this that are often overlooked. But since you want a full and clear picture of your new budget, you should take the extra time to figure these things out.
Once you have taken care of the above-mentioned items, now you can pull up a Cost of Living Comparison Calculator. This particular calculator by Bankrate.com will offer you a quick and easy-to-understand cost of living estimate when you move from point A to point B.
Clearly, if you are moving across town to a nicer neighborhood or from a rural area to a major city, your cost of living is going to increase. What’s more, other factors in addition to the previously mentioned ones (substitution effect, intangibles, etc.) can have an impact as well. For example, local tax laws influence daily costs, too.
On the other hand, for home buyers moving across state borders, or even for those moving long distances intra-state — it is important to know the relative costs in your new hometown as compared to your current one. Your household cash flow depends on it. You cannot know your budget for a home if you do not know what life in a new town will cost you.
In comparing the costs of 60 mundane, everyday items, the Cost of Living Comparison Calculator can show you how common costs in your current home town compare to costs in your soon-to-be new home town.
Bankrate.com’s calculator asks for just three inputs — (1) In what city do you live now, (2) To what city are you moving, and (3) What is your current salary — then uses that information to produce a detailed cost comparison.
The calculator also includes local mortgage rate differences to help plan for housing and accounts for median home prices, too.
This specific online Cost of Living Calculator is based on data from the ACCRA. On the ACCRA website, a similar cost comparison report sells for $5. At Bankrate.com, you can get the data for free.
After getting a better idea of what your potential new life in your new home and town will cost you, you can decide if this is something that you can actually afford. If all signs point to yes, then you can concentrate your search on said area and pick out the home of your dreams with confidence.
That said, if you have already closed on your future home, a cost of living estimate can still be useful, especially if you want to know whether or not you can afford your new mortgage and your family’s lifestyle in a particular town. Ultimately, knowing ahead of time can help you move somethings around to ensure you can make ends meet and enjoy your new home at the same time.
If you need the assistance of a seasoned mortgage professional, Sammamish Mortgage can help. We are a local, family-owned company based in Bellevue, Washington. We serve the entire state, as well as the broader Pacific Northwest region that includes Idaho, Colorado, and Oregon. We offer a wide variety of mortgage programs and products with flexible qualification criteria. Please contact us if you have mortgage-related questions.
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