THE FINANCIAL PROS AND CONS OF MY CROSS-COUNTRY MOVE

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I’ve been MIA on the blog for a while, and for good reason. For those that don’t know, I was offered a job in Santa Barbara. Of course, this required me to move across the country from my hometown in Missouri.

I had a month to move, resulting in a whirlwind of events in a short timeframe. Between June and August, I’ve flown to California to do apartment hunting, packed up the old apartment, sold furniture, thrown out tons of junk, driven back to California, done more apartment hunting, all while prepping for the new job.

Exhausted is an understatement.

Making this transition has been stressful, but exciting. I’m finally working in my field, with a company that seems to be genuinely interested in my wellbeing. Before I ever touched down in Santa Barbara, the HR manager and my current supervisor reached out several times to offer assistance for anything I needed, including housing resources (because trying to find somewhere to live in Santa Barbara is insane).

As expected, this move came with a lot of major financial decision making. I’ll let you in on a few of the biggest pros and cons of making such a big move, starting with the positives.

 

Higher Salary

One of the reasons that made me say yes to the job in Santa Barbara, was the opportunity to start at a higher salary after graduation. Some may argue this is due to the fact that California has a higher cost of living. However, I came across many job listings out here paying less than $35k a year, which we all know is barely enough to live in a closet if you don’t have roommates.

My job was transparent about the salary, and after doing research, I found that their range was in line with the current job market. Upon receiving the job offer, I negotiated a higher hourly pay (which is my first time ever negotiating a salary). I was beside myself with excitement when they agreed to pay more than the initial offer!

Prior to graduating, I read a lot about how to negotiate your salary. My recent experience is proof that negotiating really works. Now that I’ve tried it, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to taking the first salary offer made. I plan to do a blog post with details on how I negotiated and what resources helped, so stay tuned.

 

Refinancing Student Loans

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know I’ve had an ongoing inner battle with tackling my student loans. The biggest headache comes from two private loans with variable interest rates that have brought my account balances to nearly double the amount I initially borrowed.

Since starting the new job, I’ve refinanced my loans through SoFi. The interest rate is considerably lower than the current rates I have, and I’ll save thousands over the life of the loan.

While I’m still not thrilled about using a chunk of my paycheck for loans, I can breathe easier knowing the balance won’t be as overwhelming as it is now.

 

Convenience

Santa Barbara is smaller than other cities in California, which also means everything is closer. We got lucky and found a great apartment in a location less than a 10-minute drive from my job. If I’m ever feeling super motivated, I can even walk to my job in 25 minutes. (Which likely won’t happen until the weather cools down a bit. Can’t be sweaty and gross before I even sit down at my desk!)

Speaking of the apartment, this is the first time in a while that we have a washer and dryer IN our unit. This may not be a big deal for some, but to me, it’s major. I can’t describe how annoying it was to lug 3-4 bags of dirty clothes to the laundromat because the facilities in our building looked like a scene out of a low-budget horror film.

I’ve moved around enough to know that convenience is priceless, so I gladly accept the small instances that make this transition a little easier.

**Those are some of the goods…now for the not-so-fun stuff about moving to a new city.

 

Adjusting to Higher COL

Coming from the Midwest, my mind is still blown by how expensive it is on the West Coast. From housing to groceries, I find myself trying not to faint at the inflated prices.

I was bracing myself to pay astronomical costs for insurance, but surprisingly, the premiums are about the same. This is a small relief to the burden of paying nearly triple the amount of rent we paid back home.

 

Paying Expenses Upfront

The most stressful part of this transition has been paying out of pocket for big moving expenses. My job offered a relocation stipend, but under the conditions that I’m reimbursed for what I spent. This means footing the bill myself initially.

This is where I admit I made several credit card purchases, due to not having enough savings built up. I have every intention of paying it off immediately, but I feel bad for not being better prepared.

Still, this is one of those times when making a less-than-stellar financial decision is unavoidable to obtain a better opportunity. I could have turned down the offer in Santa Barbara and worked somewhere close to home until finances were stable. But who knows when/if I would get this chance again?

I’ve never been one to turn down a great opportunity, and this one is definitely paying off so far. I’m doing what I enjoy, meeting new people, surrounded by mountains and the ocean. It doesn’t get much better than that (for me, anyway).

 

The Journey Continues

We’ve only been in California for two weeks, so I know there are a lot more hurdles—financial and otherwise—to come. I’m still adjusting to the new job (and enjoying the beautiful scenery!), so I may not be posting as frequently, but I’ll be sure to give updates when I can.

Have you ever made a big move for a better job opportunity? What are some of the financial challenges you faced along the way? Let me know in the comments!

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