Relocating? – Is Your New Salary Worth It?

When it comes to whether or not to take a new job offer, salary tends to be a deciding factor. You’ll likely be asked for a salary request from the application stage. If not then, definitely during your first interview.

I tend to avoid an answer at this early of a stage, a piece of advice that’s fairly common. Not all decisions are based on money. You might take on a project because it’s an area of work you are passionate about, maybe it’s a job in city you want to move to, or it’s simply a company you wish to work for. For these and many other reasons I find that salary requests early on detract from the interview process.

That being said, many of us would likely aim as high as we can. Be aware, if you are looking to relocate you might find that that extra 10k a year you’ve been offered leaves you worse off than before.

To understand what your current salary is worth in a new city, you will need to breakdown the cost of your current lifestyle. Food, transportation, leisure, rent, health care, and income tax.


You probably want to have a place to sleep. If so, you’ll be paying rent (or a mortgage). Jump on craigslist or any other online classifieds and you’ll soon get a good idea of the possible range of your new rent. You should also quickly research what utilities will cost.

Is space is important to you? Does having that extra room matter? Whether it does or doesn’t will affect the way you compare prices. If your rent stays the same, you might find that losing that spare bedroom hasn’t affected your quality of life. On the other hand affording that extra bedroom can make all the difference for a family.


We all need to eat. Unless your company offers free lunch, you likely won’t be avoiding this expense. What you will spend on food depends on you. What type of foods do you enjoy? How important is it to eat out?

With many grocery stores adding delivery services, it is easy to jump online and find out exactly what a gallon of milk will cost you near your new home.

Although there is some small variation in the cost of the food you buy at the grocery store, I find that the biggest difference in prices will be for those who enjoy to eat out. If you’re in an area with a higher cost of living, waiters, cooks, and other service staff will have a higher income; a cost that will be passed on to you.


How do you get around? This of course will depend on where you live and what your job is. For most people in the U.S. this will likely be a car. Will the price of gas be higher? How long will your commute be? And most importantly, what’s the cost of a good mechanic? These are good question to factor in.

In the U.S., as well as in most other countries, liability insurance is mandatory. Call your current insurer and ask what your new rate might be. Don’t let it catch you by surprise you when your rates double after moving into a no-fault state. You might move to a state that requires a strict annual car inspection. Worse yet, you may be subject to an annual car tax. These costs add up, and need to be accounted for.

Many cities on the other hand offer good public transportation. If you happen to be moving to such city you may find yourself getting rid of your car along with all its associated expenses. Rental cars are an option on the occasional chance you need it.


It’s not all about work is it? We need time to relax. It’s good to know what your leisure activities will cost. What will your Gym subscription cost ? Just like the restaurants, a higher cost of living means instructors, trainers, and service staff require higher pay. Do you like to travel? Airfare may differs, but prices at your vacation destination will stay the same regardless if where you are coming from.

Write down a list of things you do with your free time. This way you can better research what the new cost will be.

Health care

For those who live in the U.S. this can be a significant cost. If your company will help cover it, great. Find out how much they will cover, and what plans they provide. If not, get a quote for yourself. You will also want to look up what services a state, or city provides. Why pay a doctor for a vaccine, when a state sponsored clinic is available.

If you are heading overseas, you might be happy to land a job in a country with free health care. Later to find out that free doesn’t apply to outsiders. Research well what benefits you are eligible for.

Income tax

No matter what your salary is, knowing what you will actually receive is more important. All those living in the US are subject to Federal Income Tax. State tax varies widely from state to state. You may find that the city or county will also add their own tax. As ridiculous as it sounds, on top of federal and state taxes, I use to pay an additional “working tax” to the city I was working in.

So, is it worth it?

As much as a new opportunity may interest you, you will need to take into account all the factors that are important to you. For an individual there is a lot that goes into calculating your desired salary. When looking at the possibility of relocation, you will need to do plenty of research. Most online salary calculators will get you started, but you will need to investigate further in order to understand what a salary is worth to you based on your own needs.

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