Making the Move to a Lower COL

Sometimes, the right money move means an actual move. Here’s everything you need to know about making the move to a lower COL based on my very own move.

Considering the Possibilities

I put in my 90-day notice at my job (my first job out of residency) the end of September. This nicely coincided with my maternity leave, so I won’t be returning. M also gave notice around the same time. Why? M was offered an opportunity he (we) couldn’t refuse.

Except the job was not in NYC or within commuting distance. Let’s just say my initial response was “Hell No” as a New Yorker. Our first trip to Philadelphia together–aka the “I need to convince Bonnie trip”–didn’t end well.

At first, I was excited. Philly is a lot like Brooklyn (Shhh, I’ve been told they don’t like to hear that!). But then, as the day wore on, I was sad about leaving my friends and my life here.

I was a wreck.

Exploring New Opportunities

However, it became clear to me this was a job he could not turn down for his career. So, I figured, at the very least, I should check out the job market for me and see what turned up. There was no shortage of opportunities for me. I looked into both private and academic positions.

For a number of reasons (new addition to family being a top one), I decided to leave academics and join a private practice. The deal was clinched when M said “we can retire 5 years faster.”

I found a job that I am excited about. It doesn’t hurt that both M & I will also be increasing our incomes significantly and living in a lower COL area. I took advantage of the job and location transition to take an additional month of maternity leave bring the total leave to 16 weeks.

Not quite LCOL, but for us New Yorkers, Philadelphia is a significant drop in COL. So we are practicing a bit of geographic arbitrage.

So here is what I learned from by making a move to a lower COL:

#1. Don’t be afraid to see what else is out there.

Explore options job wise. Obviously, I knew I was making less being in academics AND being in NYC (doctors get paid less here…). But until I saw the numbers in front of me, it didn’t feel real.

#2. Don’t be afraid to move.

Moving is one of the top stressful events for adults (and children). I could see us living in NYC for the foreseeable future. Once I ran the numbers living in Philly vs. NYC (incorporating our new higher salaries, less taxes, less expensive childcare), it really was a no brainer. At the very least, it can’t hurt to try!

Both WCI and Physician on Fire espouse living in a lower COL to get you to FI faster. I finally listened to them.

Thankfully, my parents live in New Jersey, so Philly isn’t that much further away. Also, they can still be quite involved with helping out with our newborn.

#3. Sometimes you just gotta do what’s best for the family.

We would’ve been “fine” staying here for a while or forever. I’d be lying if I said the cost of childcare (and private school if we went that route) in NYC didn’t cause some heart palpitations, though.

Both of us have lived in NYC for several years and were open to trying something new.

NYC won’t be going away if we want to come back.

Final Thoughts on Making a Move to a Lower COL

It’s hard to give up what you know, what feels familiar, and what you call home. However, if you’re feeling a pinch financially or want to accelerate your FIRE journey, a move to a lower COL area might be the right decision for you.

Have you moved to a lower COL? Comment below!]]>


  1. Hatton1 on October 30, 2017 at 8:26 am

    Congrats on the move. Inertia is such a strong principle. Yes I moved from a higher cola area to my hometown about 25 years ago. One of the best decisions I ever made.

  2. MKK on October 30, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    Will you keep the condo in NYC? Seems like a good idea to hang on to it . . . just in case!

    • Miss Bonnie MD on October 31, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Selling. In contract:).

  3. Solitary Diner on October 30, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Good luck with the move! If you’ve never seen it, Philadelphia is home to the really amazing Mutter Museum ( I took a trip to Philadelphia once just to go there!

    • Miss Bonnie MD on October 31, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Thanks! Yes I am familiar! Excited about all the museums for kids too 🙂

  4. Vivek Angadi on November 5, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Hello! This is my first time posting. As someone who was a New Yorker/LI native all my life…the thought of settling in a small town in PA initially seemed like a dream buster. But as we started settling our life here…we realized that pursuing FI beats being in the shadow of NYC any day. Best wishes on this new leg of your life journey! -Vivek A.

    • Miss Bonnie MD on November 5, 2017 at 8:32 am

      Thanks! We are settling initially in the city proper and will go from there 🙂

  5. Foreign BornMD on November 5, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Happy moving! I love Philly 🙂 looking forward to more updates from you on the new life.

  6. Eschwets on November 5, 2017 at 5:00 pm

    It amazes me that NYC has doctors at all with all the negatives you mentioned. We worked way too hard to get where we are just to struggle to live what many would consider an average lifestyle. Higher rent, taxes, education, and childcare AND you get paid less?

    Congrats on the decision! I hope you can leave ‘the city’ behind and not look back. I spent 5 years during residency in Philly. I didn’t see much the first two years, but it grew on me enough that I missed it when I left (back to the much lower cost of living Midwest!)

    • Miss Bonnie MD on November 5, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      It’s because NYC is the best city in the world … 😉

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