How a Low Cost of Living Provides Me with More Freedom

by Miranda Marquit · 5 comments

new life
Last week, I wrote about how I moved across the country with my son in a bid to get a fresh start on my life after divorce. One of the reasons I moved was to experience a lower cost of living. While I probably could have afforded to remain put, and my career isn’t constrained by geography, a lower cost of living comes with a number of advantages for my son and me.

Indeed, before we moved, I talked with my son about the financial ins and outs of the move, as well as the social ramifications. This was a decision that my son and my ex were both involved with. So, while I’m not constrained by geography, being able to live somewhere with a low cost of living has provided us with the following advantages:

Less Work = More Time with My Son

My son is getting to the age where he is more involved with extracurricular activities, but he’s not old enough to drive. This means I need to be available to cart him around. My ex-husband never attended a single baseball game of our son’s, and there has only been one time when he picked him up from an after-school activity. All other times, I have had to be there or make arrangements with someone else to manage these issues.

Moving to an area with a low cost of living means I don’t have to work as much to support our lifestyle and that means I can spend more time with my son. I can help with homework, get him to activities, and just have time to hang out, play board games and chill. Plus, it also means that I can provide a place for him to bring his friends.

Opportunities for My Son

Our low cost of living comes because we live in a medium-sized town in Idaho. In the Philadelphia area, it took at least half an hour to get anywhere. We had to limit my son’s activities because we always had to consider the time factor. Now, it takes five to 10 minutes to arrive at most places, and we are within walking distance of his school. My son is excited to be able to engage in music, sports and academics. He also loves close to his friends. He can do more here, yet still not be over-scheduled. We’ve been able to strike a nice balance and it will help him develop as a well-rounded person.

More Financial Freedom

Finally, even though we could “afford” to live in Pennsylvania, we would have been cutting things a little closer. While I’ve always been the primary breadwinner, my husband’s financial contribution often paid for extracurricular and “fun” activities. With that source of income gone, my son and I would need to cut back and find new ways to save money. And I wouldn’t have been able to reduce my workload. The stress on us both (since I would still be in charge of shuttling my son around, but without the same resources) wouldn’t have been healthy.

Now, we have more financial freedom. We have the ability to travel, and it means my son will still have interaction with his father. Additionally, we have been able to re-structure our finances in order create a smoother cash flow and provide us with more choices.

Moving to an area with a lower cost of living has its challenges — we aren’t able to access some of the same amenities and entertainment options or live close to transportation — but it’s been worth it so far.

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  • We are never too old for the change. That sounds like a good opportunity for both of you. I always wonder where the limit of ‘other activities’ is. My the oldest daughter (will turn 4 in a month) attends dance classes, play school, we visit regular skate park and ‘fun zones’ and now she wants to add swimming pool to it. We have to think about it as we do not want to overload her with activities. However, it sounds like your son will enjoy the new lifestyle. Keep going like that!

  • Spending less always puts less pressure on ourselves. You’re able to do so much more and not have to work as hard (especially if you’re self-employed). Great lesson to teach your son.

  • Fru-gal Lisa says:

    I live 100 miles south of Dallas and once thought about moving there. Then several of my friends moved back down here. They told me that even though they made a bit less money, it was like getting a pay raise. They didn’t wear out their cars commuting so far (and also gained an hour or two of free time bc everything here is no more than 20 minutes away, if that) the cost of gas, housing and insurance was less and the quality of life was so much better. I then decided I didn’t want to give up my evening Jazzercise classes and stayed put. Sure am glad I did.
    Since then I’ve been able to find a job that pays big city wages here in our town. On the rare occasion when I want to have a shopping trip, ball game or concert up in DFW, I just take off work and go. However Waco has grown so much and added so many fun things, I go out of town less often than before.
    I agree mid sized cities are really under rated as to the quality of life and affordability!

  • Donna says:

    Your story applies to everyone regardless of age. Needing less income to enjoy life is really what we all need to work toward. Being frugal, I have always managed and still work at lowering my living costs. Doing so has actually made life easier and more joyful. I am retired now and a widow so many of my “needs” before are different now. I am not longer “living to work” since cutting the $6,000 plus costs of working( having a job) are gone. My house is paid. No debt. Health good. The freedom you now have is well worth the move.

  • It sounds like you’ve made the right choice for you and your son. And it’s great that your new city affords you so much more flexibility!

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