- I moved from Seattle, Washington to Cincinnati, Ohio in June 2020, and everything became cheaper.
- My mortgage in Ohio is $210 less than my old rent, and I don’t share the house.
- My grocery bill has been nearly cut in half, and dining out costs less here, too.
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I moved from Seattle, Washington back to my hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio in June 2020. My move wasn’t related to the pandemic – I’d been wanting to do it for a while – but I did get a lot more space for less money, and have been able to cut back on my spending significantly.
Here’s a breakdown of how my spending has changed, using costs from my pre-pandemic bills in Seattle from January 2020, and my current expenses in Cincinnati in January 2021.
My mortgage in Ohio is significantly cheaper than what I paid in rent
- What I spent in Seattle: $950 per month for one bedroom in a two-bedroom rented house
- What I spend in Cincinnati: $740 per month on my home’s mortgage, including property taxes with an abatement and insurance
One of the reasons I moved to Cincinnati was that I wanted to own my own home, and I can here.
Quite frankly, I couldn’t get approved for a mortgage in Seattle. The median single-family home in Seattle costs $804,000 according to Zillow. In Cincinnati, the median home value is about $184,000. I spent a bit more than the median cost, and I’m still saving $210 per month, or $2,500 a year, and building equity in my own home instead of renting.
My new home is a big upgrade from the two-bedroom house that I rented with my roommate. While there are other costs to homeownership that I’ll have to save for, such as repairs and maintenance, owning a home is the right move for me now. I will miss living with one of my best friends, but I won’t miss working in my bedroom, or spending so much on rent.
Dining out (or getting takeout) is so much less expensive
- What I spent in Seattle: A typical casual meal or takeout would cost between $13 and $17, and $25 to $30 would be a typical, causal dinner with friends
- What I spend in Cincinnati: Typically, meals are between $7 and $10 per person. If I’m spending $20, I’m probably eating somewhere too fancy
Dining out (or getting takeout) is much less expensive here. A dinner out with friends will run about $12 per person here, but in Seattle I’d easily spend $25 to $30. I also felt like I got significantly less in Seattle and paid more.
In Cincinnati, a takeout meal will top at $10. A casual dinner out will be about $10 per person. And there’s minimal chance you’ll walk away and want to snack afterwards – this is the Midwest, after all.
I don’t spend as much on groceries
- What I spent in Seattle: Between $75 and $80 for a week, which would last at most a week and a half
- What I spend in Cincinnati: $50 should buy me enough to last about two weeks
I may be spending less on groceries because I live alone now – my roommate and I often shared dinners and meals at home. But I also think the price per item is more affordable here.
Staples are simply less expensive: Two for $1 avocados and five ears of corn for $1 were absolutely unheard of in Seattle, but paying more than that is rare here. Cereal, bread, milk, and eggs cost so much less here, too: While I might have spent $10 to $12 on those four items before, I’m confident I could find them all for under $6 at Meijer here.
Getting around is much cheaper
- What I spent in Seattle: $30 per month on bridge tolls, about $20 per month on parking, $10 on the bus, and about $20 on ridesharing apps
- What I spend in Cincinnati: $0
I lived north of the city in Seattle, and while I did sometimes use my car to get around, I also often used the bus (which cost about $3 each way per trip), light rail, or ridesharing apps. In January 2020, pre-pandemic, I spent about $80 on getting around between bridge tolls, bus and light rail fares, ridesharing apps, and parking – not including my car payment, or gas or electric for the car.
In Ohio, I don’t really pay anything more than my car payment and whatever electricity I use on charging (since I have a plug-in hybrid). When I do have to use gas, it’s cheap here, and there’s no shortage of free parking lots. Uber and Lyft have pretty limited service here compared to Seattle, so I drive everywhere.
My car registration is much cheaper each year
What I spent in Seattle: About $640 per year to renew my license plate
What I spend in Cincinnati: About $160 per year
It’s only a once-a-year cost, but my car registration is significantly cheaper here. I pay about a quarter of what I used to in car registration fees each year, and the cost would be even less if there wasn’t a $100 hybrid fee in Ohio on my registration. In Seattle, I had to plan out my expenses in the months before my license would come due, but here, it’s much less expensive.
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