With a little planning you can see just how far your savings might take you in a new city.

Cost of living is one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to relocating, yet this concept is often overlooked. When planning a relocation, do you know how an area’s cost of living will affect you? Fortunately, there are many tools and guides available online to help you compare a possible destination to your current location before making the decision to move.

Why Cost of Living Is Important

When it comes to living expenses, relocating is not as simple as finding out the cost of a home in the new area. Comparing two similarly sized homes in different regions of the country may seem like an apples-to-apples comparison, but that is rarely the case. In addition to looking at the cost of your new home, you have to consider all of the expenses that come with the area including taxes, utilities, retail prices, the cost of gas, and more.

If you are still working, whether full or part-time, the amount of money you can make will change where you relocate as well. Even when transferring within the same company, employees often have their salaries adjusted to better match the cost of living in their new geographic area. Those expecting to find a new job after relocating may be surprised by the salaries offered if they do not do their homework first.

How To Calculate Cost of Living

There are different ways of calculating cost of living for an area, but you do not need a degree in economics to sort it all out. Simple online tools and guides make it easy to compare two geographic areas. With a little planning you can see just how far your savings might take you in a new city. One popular cost of living tool is available online through CNN and Money Magazine. To use this simple calculator, you only need to know your annual salary, your current location, and your destination. The calculator will tell you the comparable salary in the new location, and how much more or less you will spend on certain expenses.

According to this cost of living tool, a $60,000 salary in Newark, New Jersey is comparable to making $46,350 in Phoenix, Arizona. This means you would have an extra $13,650 to spend each year. The tool also says that if you move from Newark to Phoenix, groceries will cost 15 percent less, housing will cost 46 percent less, utilities will cost 29 percent less, transportation will cost 2 percent more, and healthcare will cost 1 percent more.

However, various cost of living calculators do give different results. Plugging the same information into the cost of living tool at Relocation Essentials yields less exciting results. You would still have more money when moving to Phoenix, but only $4,608 more each year. Similarly, the tool at Moving.com reports an extra $4,662 of disposable income each year.

By using a variety of online tools and working with a relocation specialist or financial advisor, you can learn the importance of taking cost of living into effect when planning a move to a new area. This is an important step for anyone who is planning to relocate, but it is crucial for retirees on a fixed income.