Relocating to greener pastures is a timeless consideration, and one to be taken with careful consideration due to it’s impact on the many aspects of our quality of life – but also – our wallet.
Today we’re specifically discussing a move prompted by LGBTQ considerations. Whether it be concerns about your child’s education or healthcare options (generally a state-by-state issue) or safety and sentiment within the community (unfortunately, this can go town by town), it’s important to consider various financial aspects to ensure a smooth relocation.
What I’d like to stress first is that you certainly don’t want to be moving somewhere that’s ultimately more of the same. The ACLU is tracking the legal side of state-wide initiatives to limit rights for LGBTQ. Review to ensure you’re not surprised by a “more of the same” situation. But it’s also important to visit where you’re considering and talk to people using the school, health systems, and community-wide resources. Just because the news reports a place as LGBTQ-friendly, doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets with issues. I’m from Upstate NY and can say families I’ve grown up and continue to work with have switched towns to give themselves and children the best treatment and opportunities for any number of reasons – LGBTQ for sure being one of them. I see it regularly here in MA as well.
All that said, here are some steps to help you with your financial planning process as you consider a relocation:
1. Research the cost of living: Start by researching the cost of living in the state you plan to move to compared against your own. Consider factors such as housing, taxes, healthcare, education, transportation, and other essential expenses. This is particularly relevant for the LGBTQ community as coast states are considered the most progressive, but also the most expensive.
2. Employment: Research the job market in the state you plan to move to and explore potential employment opportunities and career shifts. You may find a different state better accommodates a set-aside or desired career path that wasn’t otherwise possible. But also remember to evaluate if your current employer offers relocation assistance or if there are any potential job opportunities within the company in the new location.
3. Budgeting: Take your research one step further by creating a detailed cash-flow statement that takes into account your income, taxes, savings, and spending goals. Consider any changes in your income or expenses that may arise from the move, such as differences in job opportunities or tax rates. Ensure your budget accommodates for any one-time costs associated with the move itself, such as travel expenses, moving services, and deposits for new accommodations.
What comes to mind during this process is you may be wide-eyed at a potential salary for a comparable job, but be certain it adequately compensates for an increased cost of living. For instance, you may be locked into a low-interest mortgage rate on a home bought during favorable times. Buying something now in a higher-cost state at a higher rate alone could eat up any difference in pay. But you may be able to find some savings as well. If you were considering private school for your children in your current state due to public school infringements, you may feel comfortable to continue the public route in a preferred state.
4. Taxes and financial regulations: Understand the tax laws and financial regulations specific to the state you’re moving to. Different states have varying tax rates, deductions, and credits that can affect your overall financial situation. Check out this site for each state’s “tax burden.” Remember that even states with little or no state income tax can have some of the highest property/auto excise taxes (yes, I’m looking squarely at you NH). Consult with a tax professional or financial advisor to ensure you’re aware of the tax implications and can optimize your financial planning accordingly.
5. Insurance coverage: Review your insurance coverage, including health insurance, auto insurance, and renter’s or homeowner’s insurance. Determine if your current policies will be valid in the new state or if you need to make any adjustments. Many local agents are just that – local, using local underwriters. Explore options for new insurance policies if necessary. The landscape of homeowner’s insurance may surprise you. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult and expensive to get policies due to climate change impacting the risk of hurricanes and flooding. Your coastal beachy dreams may be hard (or super expensive) to get insurance for.
6. Financial assistance and benefits: Research any financial assistance programs or benefits available to LGBTQ+ individuals in the new state. Some states may offer specific programs or resources that can help with housing, healthcare, or other financial needs.
7. Estate planning: If applicable, review your estate planning documents, such as wills, trusts, and power of attorney. Different states have different laws and regulations regarding estate planning (particularly when it comes to the best way to own a house to avoid probate), so consult with an attorney to ensure your documents are valid and reflect your wishes in the new state.
8. Seek professional advice: Powwow is here to help you chart out any “what-ifs” related to a move. Determining the parameters of the many variables involved in relocating can bring great peace of mind and using a professional can also speed up the process. No need to feel stuck with the devil you know, or go it alone on a spreadsheet.