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Ask Chuck: Should we move South?

moving truck
Getty Images/ Maskot

Dear Chuck,

Many of our friends are moving to the South. We are reluctant to leave our family, but the financial benefits seem worth it. What do you advise?

Considering a Move South

Dear Considering a Move South,

In January, I went to the dentist where I live in Tennessee. The dental assistant was new, so I asked her to tell her story. Since I could not really talk, I learned a lot! She, her husband, and their two children had recently relocated from California. She had done extensive research on all of the “lower 48” states looking for lower taxes, lower housing costs, access to outdoor recreation, mild weather, and a strong job market. Tennessee came up as the overall top destination according to their criteria, so they moved. But even more remarkable to me was that 12 other members of their extended family from California followed them! They all bought homes in close proximity to each other.

Relocation trends

Extraspace.com reports that more than 10% of  Americans moved in early 2021 alone. The shifting economy, remote work, and the desire for less densely-populated areas — all sparked by the pandemic — led to a migration to several key states. 35 million addresses changed last year.

Politics and crime are influencing others to relocate. People are moving to be near family. Others want bigger homes in the suburbs with yards for children and pets along with affordability and good schools.

North American Moving Services released a 2021 migration report. The top five states that people left are Illinois, California, New Jersey, Michigan, and New York. The top five states they moved to are South Carolina, Idaho, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida. The main reasons given include:

  • Lower cost of living
  • Proximity to family
  • Work flexibility
  • New job opportunities
  • Better schools
  • Safety regarding the pandemic

Other reasons people move are to escape high taxes, heavy traffic, and crowded cities, as well as the desire for better weather and proximity to outdoor recreation. I have included numerous charts that provide helpful information if you’re considering a move to another state.

Sales Tax Rates

Property Tax Rates

States with No Income Tax

Estate Tax Rates

Parks

Public School Rankings

State Population Rankings

Average State Temperatures

Here are some practical pieces of advice: 42 moving tips and how to cut moving costs should you decided the benefits outweigh the overall risks.

Family

Pandemic restrictions revealed the desire for many families to live near one another. Assuming healthy boundaries can be established or are already in place, you will find numerous financial benefits of living close to your family. A few of these include free babysitters, reduced travel costs to visit at holidays, sharing tools and equipment, and passing down knowledge and skills.

Young and old benefit from living close to one another as long as parameters are respected. Children and grandchildren benefit from serving older relatives. Older family members gain meaning and purpose in life by helping younger ones. Healthcare costs can decrease also. 

In your case, moving away from family may be the determining factor whether you should move or not. One couple I met said they were able to budget for annual travel to see their family, and they were also able to pay for airfare for some family members who wanted to visit them in their new location. This, too, can be an expensive consideration to factor into your decision.

Making a wise decision

An important aspect to consider is finding a new church. Research options in the city where you want to move. Stream services, and reach out to staff. If you can plug in before you move, it will make the transition much easier. We need the Body of Christ. Seek to get involved in a class and/or small group. They can help you navigate a new city, find doctors and repairmen, and answer other questions you may have. We have benefited from the weekly fellowship in our small group. 

Pray, seek lots of wise counsel, and speak to your family about their views. Ask God for wisdom and direction to place you where He wants you to be, then come to unity with your spouse and children. It may be He wants you right where you are. I hope this information will help you make the best possible decision. If you come to Tennessee, be sure to say hello!

My new book, Economic Evidence for God: Uncovering the Invisible Hand that Guides the Economy, is available as of today. As you press into the evidence, it will become more and more exciting as you begin to see the world and even your own economic activity through an entirely new perspective. Money ― and our personal and collective use of it ― can be examined to reveal our faith, or lack thereof, and God’s ever-present reality in our affairs. I hope you enjoy it!

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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