When the day gets gray or the pace gets too hectic, who hasn't thought of running off to Bora Bora to sit in the sand?
Or maybe your "Let's move!" daydreams are actually within the realm of possibility, depending on how much you could earn in the new spot. But this comes with some important finagling of financial figures for all but the independently wealthy (do you know someone like that? Us either.). Because even If you can pick up and leave your current location for a spot where people like you make boatloads of cold, hard cash, you'll still have to deduct any increased living expenses from your increased income.
Here's where things get tricky. Anywhere salaries are higher will cost more to live, that's a given. But you may be able to find a great situation, one where a salary increase isn't based solely on an area's higher rents or other living expenses. In those cases, you may be able to make more money and keep most of it. Or you may be able to make a bit less than you do now and still move where you want.
Or, you might run into a situation where your actual salary would be much higher, but the cost-of-living is out of sight. (Think places where Amazon moves headquarters and drives rents and housing prices up, or anywhere in the District of Columbia or Seattle.) If that's your prognosis, it might be better to stay put and save your pennies for a Bora Bora vacation instead.
Eyes already glazing over? You don't have to become a statistician or pore over hundreds of spreadsheets to figure out how much you'd need to make in a new city to keep pace with your current salary and cost of living. Leave it to the non-human calculators!
NerdWallet, for example, has an online tool that will help you compute how much the cost-of-living will increase (or maybe decrease) as you move from one city to the next. You simply plug in your current salary, where you live now and where you want to move. It then calculates the comparable income you would need to make in the new city to stay at your same standard of living.
Here are three examples of NerdWallet calculations for popular jobs and some expensive and bargain cities (spoiler alert: Atlanta has a very favorable cost of living).
Business coordinator moving from Atlanta to Los Angeles
This is one of the top jobs where women make more than men.
Average base pay in Atlanta: $40,662
How much you'd need to make to have a comparable salary in Los Angeles: $58,123; the cost of living is 43 percent higher in Los Angeles than Atlanta.
The average salary for a Business Development Coordinator is just $55,866 in Los Angeles.
Software engineer moving from Charlotte, North Carolina to Austin, Texas
This was one of the most popular jobs for 2018 college graduates.
Average base pay in Charlotte: $66,059
How much you'd need to make to have a comparable salary in Austin: $67,758; the cost of living is 3 percent higher in Austin than Charlotte.
The average salary for a software engineer is just $66,425 in Austin.
Occupational therapist moving from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta
This is one of America's best jobs for 2019 according to Glassdoor.
Average base pay in Washington, D.C.: $95,840
How much you'd need to make to have a comparable salary in Atlanta: $61,135; the cost of living is 36 percent lower in Atlanta than D.C.
The average salary for an occupational therapist is $84,862 in Atlanta. That's $23,000 more than the NerdWallet calculation for the salary needed for a comparable standard of living in Atlanta, money that could go into a savvy job seeker's bank account.
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