Are you thinking about moving to a new city in 2013?  If so, a cost of living calculator can help you determine how far your current salary will go in your new city and whether you’ll need a raise to live a similar lifestyle.  

Although I’m not planning a move in 2013, there is a distinct possibility that a move to a new state is in our medium-term future and so I’ve spent some time with the calculator.  I currently live in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area and there are three cities on our list: San Jose, California; Denver, Colorado; and Seattle, Washington.

Those cities weren’t arbitrarily chosen, they are on the short list because of my husband’s work requirements and although we may not live in the city proper, the cost of living calculator was helpful in determining future salary needs.

First up on the list is San Jose.  Obviously California has a higher cost-of-living than Arizona and even though I know that there is a premium for living in the Silicon Valley region, the difference surprised me.  

In order to maintain our current lifestyle, our household income would have to increase by 50 percent.  Groceries are 11 percent higher in the region; housing is 181 percent more, utilities 32 percent, transportation 11 percent and health care 13 percent.  Housing is obviously the real budget killer if a move to San Jose is in our future.

Next up is the Denver, Colorado metro area.  The comparable salary in Denver is about 10 percent higher than what we currently make.  Groceries costs are 1 percent less, housing is 29 percent more, utilities are 10 percent less, transportation costs are 8 percent less and health care is 4 percent more.

Last on the short list is the Seattle, Washington area.  A comparable salary in Seattle is 20 percent higher than our current household income.  Groceries are 8 percent higher, housing 48 percent more, transportation costs are 9 percent higher and health care is 15 percent higher.  The only category that has a lower cost than Phoenix is utilities and those are about 10 percent less.

Since I have a few years before a move I have the time to manage my finances so that the increased salary requirements won’t be as much of a hit to our budget.  

If you’re moving, is the cost of living higher or lower in your intended community?

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