Should I move? That’s the question that many people are likely asking themselves these days. If not, maybe they should be asking themselves that question.
Nearly 8 years ago, my family moved from the San Francisco Bay Area (aka Silicon Valley) to Rhode Island. We had lived there for 7 years and it was a difficult decision to leave all those friends behind and start a new life. I had never lived in Rhode Island, but I lived in Massachusetts for the first 30 years of my life, so I figured it would be relatively easy. I won’t get into all the specifics, but it hasn’t been easy at all.
[Editor’s Note: This article was started last week. The focus is on a move within the United States. After the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I’ve seen some talk on social media about moving outside the United States. That’s a topic that I won’t be covering here at this time.]
I’ve been talking with some friends from San Francisco and they’ve sent me some crazy pictures about the wildfires there. The sky was simply red all day. Their rooms were dark orange. My memory of the area couldn’t be more different. The Bay Area had the best climate in all of America. It was about 75-80 and sunny almost every day. No one needed air conditioning because it only got hot for 2 weeks in the summer. My only complaint was that you didn’t get all the seasons. You’d have to drive a couple of hours to Lake Tahoe to go skiing.
Nowadays, I don’t regret our decision to move across the country. In fact, some of my friends are looking to move to New England as well. I don’t blame them. Who wants to live in fear of wildfires and extremely poor air quality?
Of course, the wildfire problem isn’t only in the Bay Area. It’s millions of acres in multiple states all along the west coast… and of course, that’s just the fires. I hope they prepared for an emergency ahead of time.
I’ve been talking with another friend of mine (who writes as Kosmo on this website) about a natural disaster that hit close to his home. The Midwest derecho leveled Iowa in August. He was lucky to have missed most of the damage, but millions of people lost utilities. Last week he told me that they cleaned up 250 million pounds of tree debris and it was still going on.
It barely made the news as this Washington Post article notes.
This made me reach out to a couple of other friends (completely tapping out my network):
- I have a friend in Jacksonville, Florida, who roughly represents the southeast portion of the US that has to deal with hurricanes. This year the storms are so bad, they literally ran out of names and had to start going with Greek letters of the alphabet. I asked about her long-term plans. As I guessed, she has plans to move in the future. The hurricanes are just too much.
If you live in Alabama, Lousiana, or another state in the southeast, perhaps you’ve had similar thoughts?
- Arizona has always been a very hot state. However, it seems to just get hotter and hotter with more and more days over 100 degrees every year. I contacted Abigail from I Pick Up Pennies who lives in Arizona to see if she is thinking of moving. While she isn’t a fan of the extreme heat, good friends and a low cost of living make it bearable.
To spare you any further gloom and doom, I won’t skip over thoughts of flooding and rising sea waters.
All of these thoughts are presented in much greater detail in Propublica article on climate change. It is a long read, but well worth it.
It’s hard to read that article and come away with any conclusion other than people in the United States will start moving to Maine and Vermont. While those states typically get feet of snow at a time nowadays, the snow may be more moderate over years of climate change.
What does all of this have to do with personal finance? There are a lot of places with expensive real estate that may not make sense over the long term. In my own area, Newport, Rhode Island has many million-dollar properties on the coast. It’s not like we have the money to buy them. However, if we did, we’d have to think long and hard about whether it would make long-term sense.
What are your thoughts on climate change? Do you think you’d consider relocating in the next decade or two due to climate change? Let me know in the comments.
I don’t like heat, so even the summers here in Colorado are unbearable for me. We’ll have a good 2-3 month stretch where temperatures approach 100. Dry heat, my ass!
We’re thinking about moving into the mountains where it is cooler, but then you have to worry about fires which are becoming more of an issue.
I’ve been to Vermont and Maine and both are spectacular. So is Wisconsin. I could happily live in any of them, but we’re also considering a move out of the country.
Lazy Man says
I saw that Colorado went from like 85 degrees to 30 and snow in a day. We do live in crazy times. I hope you aren’t looking to permanently or semi-permanently move out of the country. Now I need to go look for a post that gives me more details.
I live in Northeast Ohio. The cost of living is low. Jobs are sparse unless you work in the medical field. Winters have been pretty moderate the past 3-4 years. We have tornados and believe it or not earthquakes (due to fracking but they won’t admit it). I have a modest house an taxes are pretty low here. I never liked living here as I’m in the middle of trumpistan but moving isn’t really an option for now. Universal health care would free us up to go but right now my daughter is on about 10,000 worth of meds every month so We are stuck
Lazy Man says
I hate that the cost of health care limits so many options for people. The United States really needs to do better.
We’ll adapt to the relatively small projected temperature changes. Florida was originally considered to be uninhabitable for humans, too hot, yellow fever, etc. But now it’s a favored location. I think I’ll stay in Arkansas, unlimited water and outdoor splendor. Also a very low cost area. And the last couple of summers have been the coolest I can remember here. We did have a little hurricane damage here but we just fire up the generator until the power comes back.
Lazy Man says
Uninhabitable may be a strong word for what I was thinking. Maybe just not your preferred place if you don’t want to live in a fire or get your house burned down.
I was not aware of the yellow fever history in Florida. It seems like science found a solution for that. I haven’t seen science solve a hurricane yet.
We’re in Portland and we’re not in danger of wildfire. But the bad air quality was terrible. Luckily, we have 2 air purifiers. They helped a lot. I don’t know where we’d move. The NE is too cold for us. It seems like there are problems everywhere. For now, I think we’ll stay in Portland until our son is done with school, 10 years. After that, I’d love to be nomadic for a while. But my wife probably will move closer to her parents in CA. They won’t move. I guess we’ll see how it goes.
Lazy Man says
New England may not be too cold in the coming years. As part of climate change, I think it is expected to have more of a North Carolina climate. It might take some time for it to get there.
My group was already working from home 60% of the time, now 100% without any issues, and we have team members that live elsewhere including Mexico. I guess people are considering moving because one of the managers sent out a CNN story of things to consider before assuming you can move to another state without impacting your job. Such basic things you would think people would consider. https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/23/success/working-remotely-moving-to-a-new-state/index.html
Lazy Man says
These are great points. Some of my friends have freedom to mostly work anywhere, so I didn’t think of that. For example, if my optometrist friend can get licensed in another state, there will likely be work for her. A lot of people don’t have that kind of work freedom.
If you did, or if you were planning retirement, it may be worth considering the effects of climate change in the future.
My wife and I have joked for years about moving to Destin, FL(might not be a great idea if the oceans rise), but I had not thought about whether that would impact what my company pays me since I would be a remote employee. Or if someone picked CA where they have employee protections that I would not be used to coming from TX(where we are business friendly, not employee friendly).