Factoring the Cost of Living in a Post-Retirement Relocation

 Your retirement plan may involve a move. You could be moving some place warm so you don’t have to put up with the wonderful Michigan winters or perhaps moving to be closer to your kids and grandkids.  Whatever the motivation, there is always a financial component in the decision-making process.

Paying for what you want vs. what you need

The cost to live in other areas of the country can be higher or lower, but some people don’t know the specific figures you will probably pay after you make the move.  Is a dollar in Michigan the same as a dollar in California or Utah? A recent conversation with a client evaluating relocating placed focus on this specific issue. His thinking was that it didn’t matter where you lived, you can always find a way to spend money.  While I certainly have to agree with him on that point, I think the bigger point is that there is a difference between spending money on things you want versus spending money on things you need.

Comparing Expenses

Let’s take a look at the cost of different goods and services in the two cities. These figures were taken from www.costofliving.org and they are an average estimate taken from people who live in Salt Lake City and San Francisco. The list of goods and services has more than 75 commonly purchased or used items but we’ll look at just a sampling of expenses.

As you can see, everything in San Fran is more expensive except the T-Bone steak. Unfortunately, after you pay for your basic living expenses, you might not have any money left over for that T-Bone! According to the living expense calculator on www.costofliving.org someone living on $70,000 of net income in Livonia, Michigan would need approximately $120,000 net in San Francisco.  In Salt Lake City, that same person would only need $69,000 to maintain the same standard of living. 

If you think a move might be in your future, talk to your financial advisor to weigh the costs associated with the new location and make sure it fits within your retirement income goal.

Matthew Trujillo, CFP®, is a Certified Financial Planner™ at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Matt currently assists Center planners and clients, and is a contributor to Money Centered.


Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. C14-022592