Save. Spend. Splurge.

Why are you still living where you are if you can’t afford it?

I kind of don’t understand it when people feel like they’re trapped where they are and can’t move to another city to live.

Sometimes it’s their family holding them to that spot, their job, their friends, and/or .. well, themselves (fear of the unknown).

It’s just a city. Heck, it’s just a country.

If somewhere isn’t agreeing with you for whatever reason (e.g. high cost of living sucking up your otherwise generous 6-figure salary), then consider moving.

Seriously. Consider. Moving. Elsewhere. Where. It. Is. Cheaper.

I can’t move” is really code to me for “I don’t want to move, but I don’t want to say that I don’t want to move because then you’ll judge me or tell me to STFU and stop bitching then.


All you need to do is find a job in another city or state/province that has a LOWER cost of living, but a higher delta between your income and needs.

Take for instance everyone who is crammed into Toronto here….

Toronto is like this massive city that has swallowed all the other counties and regions around it into one big soul-sucking entity called “The Greater Toronto Area” or “GTA” for short.

For everyone who works in Toronto, and feels totally angry at the high cost of living, the overpriced $800,000 shacks that people seem to be desperately throwing themselves into debt for, why don’t you leave?

It’s just a bloody city. There are other cities out there.

It becomes even more imperative that you leave if you are in a job that pays minimum wage.

I mean what do you have to lose? You are making MINIMUM WAGE but spending the MAXIMUM in expenses just for the privilege of being in THIS particular city.


For everyone else who is above minimum wage, the same rule applies — can’t you leave and go to another city, find a similar-paying job, and live with a much lower cost of living?

If you are able to leave and find a job elsewhere (even at a lower pay), but by working out the numbers you actuallyΒ save more per month, why wouldn’t you leave?

(Unless of course you don’t want to, in which case, do not tell me: I can’t leave.)

This situation makes me think of people in other high-priced cities like Vancouver, New York City, or Los Angeles.

Figure out the delta between taking a lower-paying job in a cheaper city, versus staying where you are, and then come to peace with it.

Otherwise, my only other suggestion is to lower your expectations and assume that you are never going to be able to afford a house, the white picket fence, 3 kids, and all the things you feel you need just because of the city you live in.

Leave or Lower your Expectations.


  • LivingAlmostLarge

    Leave. And yes it’s expensive to the poster who wrote about homes but we quit, moved, and left good paying jobs and sold a house entirely out of pocket. What I found? It’s STILL cheaper to move somewhere Lower Cost of living even with moving expenses which can be done as cheap or expensive as you want. Than it is to gripe and live in the higher cost of living area.

    I know for a fact that my DH and I left high cost of living areas (we’ve done it on both coasts of the US) and now we’re so much happier. Less pressure. Less Stress. Housing ridiculously cheap. Utilities (HAHAHA!) I used to pay more for electric alone than I do for electric, water, and heat. And Heat we used to pay over 4-5x what combined now. So yeah it makes sense to move for MANY reasons. Try paying $500-1000/month for heat. Can’t get ahead when cost of living is so expensive. Everything is so much more expensive in a cost of living, not just housing but everything. Utiltiies, repairs/maintenance of house/car/etc.

  • Stacy

    After a number of years in the San Francisco Bay Area, my beloved and I purchase d land in a gulf coast fishing town to build and retire early. You have to make and take action on a plan. We love it here yet the real estate market is an out of control bubble, crime rate is rising, tech bubble is about to burst (you would not believe what I’m hearing…there is a correction coming), traffic really sux, and I could go on and on. Even our green spaces are seeing the effects of over population. So enough keviching…we are working out plan, step by step. We will be working from our little fishing town, won’t be too far from a symphony or airport and are looking forward to ah, quiet :-). Especially our dog…the police helicopters drive him nuts. Write out a plan and make it happen…it can be done without sacrificing a life well lived :-).

  • LeisureFreak Tommy

    For some moving closer to work in the same city so you can ditch the car to save money makes sense. I went the other route. My job relocated to Denver CO and I didn’t want to live in Denver so moved to a smaller less expensive town 20 miles away and 1000 feet higher in elevation for cleaner air and lower real estate cost. The first 10 years traffic wasn’t a problem but the last 10 it was a pain. There are trade-offs with every decision. I saved $50K on the house 20 years ago over a Denver/suburb location and used that to my FI benefit so I could retire early. No more commuting issues. .

  • JustaReader

    There are a few small assumptions that you have in your post that I would just like to point out. Your posts are normally spot on, even if they “call out” people’s behaviour. This one seemed a bit more presumptive.

    1) There are costs to moving. Sometimes these costs are huge (loss on a house, realtor fees, migration fees to sell a home, moving expenses). If people are already strapped for cash, these expenses are also another huge obstacle to overcome.

    2) You assume that people can just find a job elsewhere. The job markets are generally bad even in major cities. In smaller towns, where there is a lower COL, you may not find a minimum wage job, and if you do there is no sure bet that you will have 40 hrs a week employment at minimum wage. I know many friends who are back in my hometown that struggle to get adequate hours.

    3) Moving to an area with a lower COL might increase things like commute to work, costs for travel to see family members, or accepting less benefits or seniority.

    I am not disagreeing with your post. I’m choosing to move to an area with a lower COL when I start my family. But it’s a perk of my career choice, and I am still faced with some substantial upfront costs in doing so. Job hunting in a cheaper area is also harder than you may think! I’ve faced a huge struggle trying to break into a smaller town market.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      All great points!

      Thanks for bringing them up. I think I wrote this in a fit of frustration with a friend who couldn’t stop whining about where he lived. How he couldn’t leave, and he was earning minimum wage (or just above).. and wanted to live in NYC.

      I couldn’t comprehend it because I finally said: If you want to make more money, either move away so that you CAN make more money or suck it up and live in NYC but don’t complain about the COL.

      I guess I was also thinking about moving costs being low but it’s true that people may own their own places


  • Tavi

    My solution to you is to move to another, more expensive city for a few years, then you will think anywhere is really cheap. This has been my strategy. Where I have been living for the past few years puts all those places you mentioned to shame, so when I am now contemplating moving back to Vancouver, all I can seriously think about, is how awesome its going to be to pay so little for everything! Can’t wait! You make new habits to accommodate for your insanely expensive lifestyle, then it doesn’t seem like such a big deal to just buy less and be frugal. When I move back to Canada, I’m gonna be ridiculously rich, it’s awesome.

    Try it! I swear, if you’ve got big city, ‘everything is so expensive’ syndrome, this will cure it. Well sure your life will suck for a couple years while you try to make it in a truly expensive area. But it pays off in the long run. Nowhere in Canada is very expensive. (Cue: I’m just trying to make myself feel better for having wasted so much $$ living in an expensive city music).

    • save. spend. splurge.


      OK. Good point. In my case, I lived in NYC and Toronto and both are expensive (NYC moreso).. and I moved to Montreal recently and thought: Wow.. it’s so cheap here.

      Even within Montreal itself, there are areas where places start at $1 million and others where they max out at $400,000. All depends on location.

  • anon

    I would love to move, leave the 3rd world African country we live in and move to a 1st world country. However its not easy to get a visa, without a visa you cant get work, without work its hard to get a visa. Its a vicious cycle.

    Life in USA, Canada, Australia would be cheaper for us. We could pay our own way – we have never used government assistance and we don’t plan on starting.

    We just need that visa…

  • Sylvie

    I agree mm in theory with a lot of what you’re saying, but ahh, the caveats! If you belong to a small ethnic community, and want to be a part of that community, then your options are already fairly limited. I can think of many professions at the top of my head where you are dependent on, if not trapped by, major metropolitan areas because of your job (I am in one such area and may have to switch careers as a result–not what I want to be doing in my 30s, having just finished a PhD). Additionally, for some, the emotional stability of having family and old friends nearby is worth the financial costs. Good friends don’t come cheap, and while moving to a cheaper city might save you money, it may be detrimental for your emotional well being. It takes a certain personality who can migrate easily; many cant.

  • Revanche

    … Are you scolding me? You left us off the list. πŸ˜‰

    Yeah I generally agree even though I’m in that group griping about the COL here and refuse to move. Our jobs are pretty outstanding on both pay/benefits and quality of life and our fields are too specialized to this area so we’re just gonna have to get really creative somehow. It sucks that we make perfectly good salaries but because it’s not tech boom dot com money, we’re uber priced out. Oh and also that I’m still supporting another house which kills a huge chunk of our income. Ah well. We are, at least, happy with what we have here right now (minus the evil neighbor) and it is good for at least another 3-4 years which gives me time to figure the rest out for the future.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      No way!

      I wrote this while I was in Manhattan 2-3 years ago πŸ™‚ It was just by chance you and I started chatting about this via email recently as well

      All of YOUR points in the email were 100% very well made too. To re-create your situation would be near impossible.

      Then again, I also think of others I know who recently left expensive areas and have relocated to cheaper cities and could not be happier with their risky choice…

      • Revanche

        Hehe I’m joking of course. But yeah, while I don’t rule out the possibility entirely, our particular level of quality of life is peculiar to this area at this time. Which is cool. πŸ˜‰

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