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HCOLA versus LCOLA

July 20th, 2016 at 06:44 pm

People always ask why do people live in HCOLA versus LCOLA? Does the salary support the difference in cost of living? Absolutely not. The HCOLA usually salaries aren't commensurate with the higher cost of living. I can say that with absolute certainty. Until now I've only lived in expensive cities so I've never experienced anything else. I grew up in HCOLA and started a family in a HCOLA. But now we are able to buy a home.

So people think it's only about the home prices. But there are so many factors involved. Small things you don't think about. Right now we pay for a SFH electric/gas bill a high of $150/month, currently it's $80/month. I was previously paying $250/month for electric alone monthly plus my heating bill was $250/month balanced and during the winter we spent around $600+/month. We pay $125/month for water now and our portion previously was around $200/month. The food bills I think are around the same.

We pay $190/month now and used to pay for the same days $390/month. So double and even if I priced out full time it's around 2x the cost. It even translates to babysitters charging $10/hr here versus $20-25/hr where we were. Private schools are also much cheaper. Average private school costs around $12-15k versus $30k where we were.

All these small things contribute besides the cost of homes to the cost of living. When we were looking at places to live, I admit I only looked at the cost of homes. But the truth is that there is so much more to it.

Should people move from a HCOLA to LCOLA? It depends. If you want to yes. But on the same token should people move from a LCOLA to a HCOLA? It depends.

I can say that people who stay in HCOLA without high incomes do so for other reasons. There are other reasons like staying put to be close to family. Because they prefer the lifestyle. And sometimes because it's the fear of the unknown. The same things go for people who live in a LCOLA and are tempted to move to a HCOLA.

After meeting friends who moved from LCOLA to HCOLA I will say that it's harder to do that than go the opposite way. There are a lot more sacrifices. It's eye opening to see how much more things can cost outside of housing which everyone see immediately. I mean a friend moved from a place where her house cost $300k and is bigger than her rental that costs her $3k.

Do you ever think about moving?

3 Responses to “HCOLA versus LCOLA”

  1. butterscotch Says:

    I would love to move closer to the city to shorten my husbands commute. I don't even care about giving up our largish house and acreage, I just want to be CLOSER! Plus all my friends live in DC so I would love being able to see them more often. My husband makes well into the 6 figures, and I make another 60k from home, so we could swing a place in DC, but he loves having land and not being on top of neighbors. I guess we are out here until he gets sick of his commute Frown

  2. livingalmostlarge Says:

    Have you considered trying to buy something closer in with land? Would it be affordable?

  3. Butterscotch Says:

    I have looked off and on, but it's pretty had to find. Most land in or around DC has either been developed for businesses or town homes, or is privately owned and part of some historical family's wealth. We could probably get within 10 miles without being right on top of neighbors, but those houses are generally right around 7 figures. Ideally I would like an apartment because it would be so much less maintenance. For example, I just got in from playing with the dogs and found that one of our neighbors huge oaks must have lost limbs in the crazy wind the other night. They fell into our yard so now we have to deal with that. Technically the neighbors should deal with it, but the husband is fighting cancer and we don't want to bother them about this right now. It's just going to be a hassle to deal with, especially with the 100 degree weather expected this weekend!

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