As some of us try to survive the current economy and digest the financial ramifications of selling our deflated homes and putting the equity into another in a more favorable climate, it is a good idea to figure cost of living adjustments into the equation. Depending on where you own now and what area you are eyeing for your next home, the differences in living expenses and housing fall somewhere between ho-hum and windfall.
The problem is that some of the widely used sources of data differ wildly in their comparisons. Where to
Where to Retire says a move from Buffalo to Myrtle Beach will decrease cost of living by 3%; Sperlings says it will increase 53%.
magazine, for example, which boasts 700,000 subscribers, publishes an easy to use chart that provides the cost of living differences between two cities (pages 168/9 in the March/April 2009 issue). For example, according to the chart, whose data is furnished by the Council of Community and Economic Research's ACCRA Cost of Living index and chambers of commerce information, a move from Milwaukee, WI, to Myrtle Beach, SC, will result in a decrease of 8% across all major expenses, including housing. But when you make the same comparison at the "Sperling's Best Places" web site
, the Milwaukee to Myrtle Beach move indicates a 42% increase
in cost of living. I ran comparisons for other moves to Myrtle Beach, and the results were equally perplexing. Buffalo to Myrtle Beach a decrease of 3% in Where to Retire
and increase of 53% at Sperlings; Boston to Myrtle Beach indicated decreases of 30% and 7%, respectively; and Hartford to Myrtle decreases of 23% and 15% respectively, a narrower gap but still different enough to be less than helpful.
I have calls into both Where to Retire
and hope to reconcile the differences between them in the coming days. Once I can explain their conflicting conclusions, I'll provide some market-to-market comparisons in this space. I hope their explanations are simple enough that I won't have to use the word "respectively" again.