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.