What to Know Before You Go
This Old House (03/02) No. 56 p.54; Wood, Christina

Between 1990 and 2000, about 3.5 million more people moved out of urban areas than moved in from small towns or rural communities. That is more than double the loss from the previous decade. A 1999 study by the National Endowment for Financial Education showed that 40 percent of retirees are 60 years old or younger and that they increasingly are moving into high-quality, less costly locales to make their stock market wealth last longer. At the same time, younger families are relocating out of the city to save money spent on high-priced homes and monthly rents. However, it is essential for people to consider not just the disparity in salary and the price of real estate but all the aspects of a major relocation, especially the cost-of-living difference. Real estate agents, chambers of commerce, and Web sites like Monstermoving.com or MSN's Home Advisor can be helpful in comparing different cities based on income and household costs. Most importantly, people should be aware that many inexpensive areas also have lower wages and more costly childcare and health care premiums. They also should consider the prices of auto insurance, utilities, transportation, and private schools. Finally, many take for granted amenities like museums, theaters, or even their favorite foods or fashions; such luxury items are often not available in small towns, forcing people travel to buy them or order by mail.

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