I know it sounds crazy or impossible but what would happen, if just for a moment, you considered picking up and moving to another city?
There are tons of reasons why you might say there’s no way this can happen – from family to current work arrangements.
But if there were a way that you could save 10 percent to 20 percent or more of your current costs and invest them to bring financial freedom a decade closer – and perhaps have an even greater quality of life – wouldn’t you owe it to yourself to push beyond the obvious obstacles and consider your options?
Could you be living large in a magnificent community like Boulder, Colo., for what you’re paying in rent alone in New York City or San Francisco? The cost of homes, food and taxes differs wildly depending on where you live.
Our country – and even the world – has boundless opportunities waiting for you to explore. So why not take off the blinders just for a moment to consider what life could be like if you lived in a new city or town?
Are you freezing your butt off during Midwest winters or battling the summer heat in Atlanta, wondering year after year why you don’t hoof it to a better climate? As a native of Southern California, I am always amazed by people who spend their lives freezing to death in the arctic tundra of Minneapolis or Chicago.
And even if you don’t care about the weather, you must be concerned about your cost of living. A million-dollar home in Washington, D.C., costs a fraction of that in Raleigh, N.C., a city considered business-friendly – not to mention a high-tech and educational hub (with great weather).
It’s one thing to be tax efficient in your investments. It’s another to be tax efficient with your life. You’re trying to save 5 percent here, 10 percent there so you can achieve financial security and eventually a great retirement.
What would moving to a less expensive city and saving 10 percent or 15 percent do to the tempo of your achieving your financial goals?
Think about the additional money you’d have to invest, share or put into a new business if it didn’t go straight to rent, food or transportation. One single move could give you a 10 percent to 30 percent increase in your income. And if you’re already saving 10 percent, you could relocate and then save 20 percent to 40 percent without spending an additional dime.
This would put some rocket fuel into your money machine and would massively improve the pace by which you’re able to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams.
I know you’re likely still thinking, Move to a new city? You’ve got to be crazy, Tony. I can’t just pick up and move! Again, I have a job, I have family, I have friends. I’ve lived my whole life in Dallas (or Seattle, Miami or Denver).
But if you saw that you could start your dream business a decade sooner, might it be worth it?
Generations of Americans have looked at retirement as a time to pick up and move to a warmer climate, a less-expensive city or a beautiful, low-key place like Boise, Idaho, or Greenville, S.C. – to breathe clean air and enjoy the outdoors.
But why wait till then? Why not change your zip code today? Why not find a place to raise your family that lets you reduce your cost of living and elevate your quality of life at the same time, while you’re young enough for you and your children to reap the rewards?
If you’re still shaking your head and saying no, I get it. I was with you on this until recently. I grew up in California and never imagined living anywhere else. Even when I started traveling extensively and buying homes and properties all over the world, California was always my base. I never imagined leaving.
That changed in 2012 when California raised taxes on the highest-income earners more than 30 percent, to 13.3 percent. After a lifetime of paying through the nose on state income taxes (California’s are among the country’s most punishing), I found my tax situation had worsened.
I had played by the rules, and the rules had come to bite me. But instead of feeling sorry for myself, I voted with my conscience – or my feet, I should say.
My wife, Sage, and I decided to take the plunge and look for a new place to live.
We turned it into a treasure hunt. We looked at places like Lake Tahoe, where we really liked the mountains, the mix of seasons and the small-town vibe; and Austin, Texas, where music, energy and high tech come together to create the fabric of an innovative and connected community.
We looked at Florida, too, but reluctantly. All I knew about Florida was alligators – and that retirees lived there. But that’s the stereotype, not the reality. What we found instead was the paradise of Palm Beach.
After looking at 88 properties in three states in three weeks, we found a brand-new home on the water in Palm Beach. It has 2 acres, nearly 200 feet of ocean frontage on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other, with a 50-foot boat dock.
Sage has everything she wants close by: world-class restaurants, shopping, easy access to the entire East Coast and all the privacy and serenity of living on an island, right here in the United States.
Of course, the price tag was way higher than I imagined I would have to pay for a home. But Florida has no state income tax.
We went from a 13.3 percent state income tax in California to nothing – nada, zip, no state income tax in Florida. So with the taxes we’re saving every year as residents of the Sunshine State instead of the Golden State, we hope to pay off our entire new home in six years.
Now granted, Palm Beach is expensive but we’ve massively improved our quality of life in the bargain. Every day we pinch ourselves as we wake up with magnificent weather – 78 degrees with a cool breeze off the ocean and water so warm you can melt into it.
In fact, Sage and I have become almost evangelical in our enthusiasm for our new home. We tell friends and family to think about moving and joining us. My youngest son has already moved here. Two of my dearest friends in the world are on their way down from Connecticut and New York.
So whether you decide to join us in Palm Beach, there’s a zip code out there that might be just right for you. You don’t have to wait for retirement to get there. From Portland, Ore., to Augusta, Maine, there are scores of affordable havens for young and old alike – for young professionals aiming to jump-start or reimagine their careers to retirees looking to stretch their savings and continue to enjoy a rich, rewarding lifestyle.
Check out the U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 list of the best places to retire for as little as $75 a day. Also seriously consider the seven states with no state income tax at all: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Or try New Hampshire and Tennessee, where only a resident’s dividend and interest income are taxed at the state level: Just imagine the Memphis and Nashville music scenes and more money in your pocket. How bad does that sound?
It’s all about being more efficient and effective with your earnings and savings and speeding up your path to financial freedom. You can find a way to finally pursue your entrepreneurial dreams while simultaneously improving the quality of your life. It’s the ultimate win-win. At the end of the day, the best investment you can make is the one you make in yourself and your family’s lifestyle.
This piece was adapted from Tony Robbins’ new book, Money Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom.