Is it worth moving halfway across the country to save $300/month?

Originally published/last updated on on 30Nov2019. 

If you’ve read even one of my last ..I don’t know… 30 posts, you’ll see the struggle is real. What I’ve realized is that I pinned too much of my life’s next steps on a job offer that never came. So I’m back to where I was in 2016 when my lease renewal was pending.

I don’t know where to go from here.
I so badly want to make a fresh start, and I just unilaterally decided that once I can get a new job in a new town, I’ll build my new life from there. That unfortunately hasn’t happened, but the feeling of wanting to start over hasn’t gone away.
So I tried to take an objective look. One of my goals of getting a new job is to increase my income thereby accelerating my early retirement journey. Another less impactful way is to decrease my expenses. Most of my core expenses are fairly optimized in my opinion or they’ve gone as low as they’re going to go without making any drastic changes.
However, my biggest expense is my housing. I live in a studio for a little over $1,000/mon. It stopped meeting my needs about 2 years ago, but a combination of less desirable options and general lack of appeal of the moving process has halted any change.
I run numbers just about every other weekend, and I know there are cheaper options out there, but there is some mental block. So I’m looking for an outsider’s perspective.
Given these estimates, is it worth making the move?
I currently pay a little over $1,000/mon for my studio which comes with internet and my utilities are about $34/month.  I know my rent will go up at least $50/mon when I have to renew in April 2020 because I had to talk them down by about $50/mon at last renewal. They send the notice out about 3 months prior to that so around Jan 2020.
A cheaper (older) apartment nearby may save me about $100/mon, but then I’ll have to actually pack up my stuff; clean the apartment; find and hire movers; unpack; clean the apartment again.  Sounds annoying. But at $1200/yr in savings, maybe it’s worth it?
Next is buying a cheap townhouse about 80 miles away. I can work remotely and it’d save me money and I’d supposedly be earning equity, I guess. Because owning a home is not an immediate goal, it’s really hard to prioritize it. I just don’t feel any sense of pride in home ownership; all I can see is potential headache.  Plus, lest we forget, I don’t really like my job.  But there are some upsides to owning a home, I suppose.
Then there’s moving out of state. Cincinnati popped up my radar during my job hunt and I grew up in central Illinois and fantasized about moving back there because childhood was so blissfully uneventful (albeit some blaring discrimination).  The cost of living stands to be about 30% less on the housing front. Easy choice right?!

The 2 glaring reasons for my indecision

The two glaring things that stand in my way of either buying a house or moving out of state:
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Professional License
It’s really just two components of the same thing. I don’t want to work in the call center forever. Every year since I’ve started, I’ve sought an escape. That to me is a deterrent for buying a house. That being said, it’s been four years going on five. Accounting for transaction costs, I would have been realizing the potential $200/mon savings of owning a cheap townhouse by now (starting at year 2).  That’s $5,000!
Next, moving out of state. In the event I did quit my job (again) without a plan, I’d hope to fall back on either a loose network of alumni for some part time gigs or per diem work which generally requires an active NC license. If I lived in Ohio or Illinois, I’d need to apply for and test to get a reciprocated license. Again, since I’ve been at the the call center amidst the indecision, and working remotely started becoming an option at Call Center 1 about 2 years ago, that’s $300/mon x 24 months = $7,200 of potential savings.
I’ve never tallied it before. What great opportunity cost in terms of potential savings! And my how the years have crept by! Looking at this, it just makes me feel as though I really need to make a decision (and not just a decision by default from making no decision at all!).
What do y’all think??

Nov 23, 2019 Life Update: A Year of Self-Sabotage, Regrets, and Lack of Self-Control

Originally published/last updated on on Nov 23, 2019. 


  • I just bought a house online…well I put $95 down and was sent a purchase agreement. I have never seen the house. I don’t even know if I want a house. I convinced myself I could save money since best case scenario…after 2 years…I’ll be saving about $200/mon on housing costs.
  • Last Friday, after waiting 6 weeks to hear from an employer after interview, I sent them an I-reject-you-before-you-reject-me email in an emotional moment. This week I was rethinking that decision given the fact that at Week 5 a recruiter had called to tell me I was still being considered. And at Week 4, another recruiter had emailed me to tell me I was still being considered …while they were doing third round interviews. BUT this was after hearing nothing from them for 4 weeks although I had emailed to follow-up and sent three emails to ask about travel reimbursement.
  • I have been so discouraged by the hiring process this year, I haven’t prepped as much for my last 2 interviews.
  • Not getting an offer from my latest round of interviews = loss of control = emotional distress = buying houses online.


  •  I regret quitting my job. If I had never quit, I would not have ended up at my current employer which is worse in different ways.
  • I regret taking this job. I’m treated like a number. The training and management is chaotic. The higher ups don’t make sense and as long as there is a warm body to take calls that’s all that matters. Their logic and lack of procedures has been consumingly frustrating.
  • I regret applying for 200 jobs. The emotional distress was foreseeable.  The amount of discrimination was also foreseeable, but I just didn’t want to believe it. I was better off not knowing. I have no one to blame but myself.
  • I regret trying to move up at work.  See previous bullet point.
  • I regret getting reacquainted with old friends over the course of this year. I would’ve been better off not knowing how their lives turned out. It turns out a few thought I was dead. Yet none reached out to my family.  It would’ve been better not knowing there was nothing to rekindle.

Lack of Self-Control

  • This is more a combination of regrets and self-sabotage. More specifically, when things seem out of my control, I self-sabotage; do things I later regret; and self-indulge in bad behavior. All the while I’m self-soothing by telling myself it doesn’t matter or it’s not that bad because the only person it hurts is me. 
  • I emailed friends and old friends every time I got a rejection email. I just had to lash out, it felt like. I had to do something to publish my pain. Nothing nasty, just less edited venting. In truth, I thought it was friends I could vent and be honest with. People aren’t really in my life like that, and I’m not in theirs like that.
  • Buying the house online.
  • Quitting my job.
  • Under-performing at interviews. This is a combination of past experiences that I let dictate how I would act when faced with a similar situation so as not to feel that way again. It didn’t work. It just compounded the negative feelings.
  • Bad interviews affected my communication with Aunty MERJ. I would essentially ghost her because I knew I would not be as patient as I needed to be with her.
  • Spending all my travel points to go to Tampa because negative self-talk convinced I would die in NC and would not need to travel anywhere with those points. There was nothing left to see.
  • Emailing the previously mentioned employer that I didn’t need their travel reimbursement because they were taking too long to respond. But really it’s because they weren’t offering me a job. Since I rejected them before they rejected me, we’ll never know the outcome. So I lost out potentially on a job and $600 of travel reimbursement.
  • Emailing other employers I-reject-you-before-you-reject-me emails when I hadn’t heard from then within a timeline either they or I established.
  • It just feels easier sometimes to make the wrong decision knowing it’s wrong than spend anymore energy trying to figure out what the right decision is.
This is not an exhaustive list in either category, by far.
Mostly I just feel like this year could’ve been a wash if I had just let it be, but I tried to do things I saw other people doing knowing full well that NEVER turns out well for me. I have no one to blame but myself. Despite my efforts, my destiny seems to be one of an aimlessly over-educated field worker at the call center plantation living in a crappy townhouse she bought online in a sketchy part of town.  #americangirlproblems

A November 2019 Update: New Job, Aunty MERJ, Homeownership

Originally published/last updated on on Nov 8, 2019. 

How is it already November! I meant to do a post when I reached a month at Call Center #2. Then when I updated my budget spreadsheet for October. And again when I tentatively decided to get back in the housing market. But to write a quality post with figures takes so much longer than a stream of consciousness. So guess what we’re getting today?

The New Job

As you may know, I started a new job at another call center 5 weeks ago after a nationwide search to change my current circumstance. It wasn’t where I wanted to be, namely because it was in a call center; it’s in NC; and it’s a call center in NC. I kid. It’s also a little less of an hourly rate and a later shift than I would have liked. Five weeks into it, there’s nothing new to say. My secret-love gene kept thinking something is going to come out of the wood work and say they made a terrible mistake and I was their first choice after all. Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen.
In fact, because I’m apparently the red-headed step child of the employment market, one of the remaining contenders actually called me and left me a voicemail. After my heart stopped racing, I called them back only to find out she had a question about some travel reimbursement. Talk about let down. For some reason they’re stringing me a long and I’m falling for it. “You’re still being considered,” the email says. For five weeks? I mean it can only mean one thing – the person they really want is stringing them along. Knowing that and my history of a second-place life, I’d still take the offer!

Aunty MERJ

Today is my aunt’s birthday. She is turning 70! After much hemming and hawing and changes of plans, I used the 45,000 AA miles I accrued from my first attempt at travel hacking to go to Tampa. Womp, womp. Pretty much a waste, but I decided to just choose worst choices for awhile to recalibrate my mojo. I closed that card because the pressure of keeping up with it and making the best possible choice when redeeming points was too much for the single girl.

Home ownership

The numbers don’t lie. The first time I tried to buy a house was two years ago. Two things happened. First, when I ran the numbers, I realized it wasn’t so much an investment at my price point ($90-120k) as much as a possible rebate when all was said and done. Second, I knew I didn’t want to stay in NC so buying a crappy house that wasn’t saving me any money or earning me any money didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Then my rent went up a little over 10% pushing my total housing costs to near $1100/mon (before I talked them down).
And I also found out I wasn’t nearly as employable as I believed so leaving NC for a job was officially out of the question.
So I’m back in the market. The numbers haven’t changed much. As for a mortgage, I’d still like to stay around $100k. Which means a crappy house. I’ve accepted that.
Here’s my estimated breakdown for a $100k mortgage:
Principal + Interest: $465
Property tax: $82
Home insurance: $26
Mortgage insurance: $86
Subtotal: $659
1% maintenance fund: $83/mon
Subtotal: $712
Internet: ~$60/mon
Subtotal: $772
Water: ~$20
Utilities: ~$100
Total: $912
So, estimated monthly cost of “home ownership” aka renting a house from the bank: $912/mon
Renting my studio apartment: $1090/mon
(includes rent+internet+water+util)
Difference: $178/mon less to carry a mortgage.
I don’t know, that just doesn’t seem like enough of a boon for me. It wasn’t then, and it still isn’t.  Plus who even knows if there is an HOA. If I choose a townhouse, there definitely will be.
I just see a whole lot of bills to pay. Where as right now I pay two bills for housing: rent and electricity.

Qualitative costs:

  • Unpredictably of housing expenses (vs. fixed annual renting costs)
  • Responsibility of home ownership (mentally and actual maintenance)
  • Inconvenience of moving
  • Safety factor of single family home in the middle of nowhere
  • Single story living (safety issue/ mental block)
  • My apartment is much nicer than anything I can afford to buy
  • Undesirable neighborhood of house I can afford
  • Transactional costs of home ownership (about $10.5k year 1, which will take about 2 years to recoup; plus whatever it might cost to sell it)
  • How does this figure into my FIRE plans? (Right now it’s one option to eliminate or curb housing costs without a roommate, but again so unpredictable.)
  • Ultimately, how does this benefit me?