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Higher-Paying Job May End Up Costing You

Are you thinking about taking a higher-paying job in another state? Better think it through very carefully. That new job actually could end up providing you with less spendable income than you get from your current job.

How's that possible? A number of factors may affect the cost of living in any area, and some job seekers fail to consider overall living expenses in the area where the higher-paying job is located.

In fact, according to Glassdoor, an online job-listing site, almost 70 percent of job hunters say salary is their top priority when looking at a new job offer. Location and commute come in as the second choice at 59 percent. Benefits and perks come in third at 57 percent.

"Often times when people move, they have no idea what the overall cost is," says Kristen Robinson, senior vice president of the Women and Young Investors unit of Fidelity Investments. "They're just looking at the salary increase and thinking, 'Wow, I'm making $10,000 more a year.'"

Changing jobs can mean having to pay more for some perks or losing some benefits altogether. Health care costs may go up and 401(k) matches may go down. Or someone in the job seeker's family may have a chronic health condition that could lead to much higher expenses if coverage in the new position isn't as good as at the previous company.

Other factors also enter the picture: property values (whether you own or rent) may be higher in the new area, which could mean increased property taxes and insurance rates or higher rental costs. These increased expenses could add significantly to the cost of living in the new area. Groceries may cost more, as well as gasoline and other everyday living expenses.

All of these factors could cut a $10,000 annual salary increase considerably – if not completely – or possibly even cause the increase to fall into negative territory.

Some benefits, including health care costs and 401(k) match, are not negotiable. But Scott Dobroski, a spokesman for Glassdoor, says people considering a job change based on salary should take a hard look at the numbers and decide what perks and benefits are most important. For example, a flexible work schedule may rank high on a job seeker's list of preferences.

Dobroski adds that job seekers also should crunch the numbers to get a better understanding of the overall financial picture. One positive change could be that the new job is located in a state with no state income tax. Seven U.S. states—Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming—currently don't have an income tax. And residents of New Hampshire and Tennessee are also spared from handing over an extra chunk of their paycheck on April 15, though they do pay tax on dividends and income from investments.

If you're considering accepting a higher-paying job in another state, feel free to contact us. We may be able to help in your decision-making process.


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This article was written by a professional financial journalist for Amherst Financial Services and is not intended as legal or investment advice.

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