Author Topic: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?  (Read 11952 times)

joeypants

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Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« on: April 28, 2016, 03:01:39 PM »
Hi all,

My wife and I (both early 30's, no kids yet) live in Seattle, and are hitting a point where we're feeling ready to move on to a different city. We've had enough of the endless grey during the winters, and it's increasingly/outrageously expensive just to exist here. One of the cities we're considering moving to sometime later this year or early next year is Nashville for a handful of reasons.

However, my biggest concern is the pay cut I would have to take if I were to move there.

Here's an overview of what I make now, in Seattle:
- Currently, in Seattle, my gross annual income is $89k
- My net take home pay is ~$4760/month, after taxes, health insurance, 401k funding, etc.
- Our monthly rent is ~$1600 for a 1BR, which I know is stupidly expensive, but it's actually not too bad compared to what else is available. Welcome to the Seattle housing market :( We're dying to get into a 2BR or, ideally, a house since we've long outgrown our current place, but it's impossible to afford on our budget, unfortunately. I try to keep housing costs around ~30% of my take home pay, we're currently at ~34%. Not great, not the worst, either. But it's only going to go up the longer we live here.
- I'm putting ~$1000/mo. into my 401k (VFIFX).
- Over the last 12 months or so, I've put between $1000 and $1500/mo. toward my student loans, and just paid them off last week. So now that money will go toward saving up for a down payment on a house, stashing it in my Barclay's online savings account @ ~1% interest, on top of our emergency fund to boost the meager interest earnings as much as possible.
- $19k in our emergency fund. I work in a field where layoffs happen fairly often, and I like the peace of mind a larger emergency fund provides.

I'm not providing info about my wife's income since she works as a freelance photographer and the numbers are way too unpredictable to base anything off of. So let's just use mine.

My job:
I work as an Art Director and have worked in advertising agencies, design studios, and in-house companies over the course of my career. My current gross salary of $89k is pretty average for my position, nationally. In Nashville, however, it would likely be difficult to get paid what I do now. I would expect to get paid between $45k to $70k, gross, per year. I've heard stories of people in higher positions than mine making only $60k/year, which is terrifying because in Seattle that same position would make easily over $100k. But! That figure also largely depends on which agency a person works at, time of year they're hired, etc. Lots of variables, really.

Some Googling tells me that the cost of living in Nashville is about 30% less than Seattle, on average, and that housing is roughly 46% less, depending on the area of town. Several of those online salary comparison calculators say that I would need to make between $60k and $64k to maintain the same standard of living as I have now. But I have no idea if those calculators are accurate at all.

My concern/question:
Assuming I make a salary proportional to the decreased cost of living in Nashville (which kind of seems like a big assumption to me right now?), I would expect that that would also decrease the amount of my 401k contributions as well as the amount of money for a down payment on a house that we're just starting to save up for. I'd like to assume we'll want to save ~$50k so that we have a 20% down payment on a $250k house someday. $250k is definitely a reasonable house price in Nashville as of right now, and impossible to find in Seattle.

Since the Nashville housing market seems to be in the earlier stages of taking off, I'd really like to have that down payment money ASAP so that we can buy earlier in the rise. So is it dumb to move to a place where I could be paid considerably less, since I won't be able to save as much toward retirement and shorter term savings goals like a down payment? Best case scenario, the percentages might be proportional, but the actual dollar amount would be less.

I hope this all made sense... Any thoughts, advice, words of wisdom, etc.? I'm at the point of thinking myself in circles over it and need an outside perspective.

Thank you!

AZDude

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2016, 04:07:49 PM »
Sounds like you should save up the down payment first, and then move rather than jumping the gun. Of course, the longer you stay somewhere the harder it is to leave.

Good luck.

joeypants

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2016, 04:01:28 PM »
Sounds like you should save up the down payment first, and then move rather than jumping the gun. Of course, the longer you stay somewhere the harder it is to leave.

Good luck.

Thanks! But if we stay, we're hemorrhaging obscene amounts of money every month in rent costs, and it'll only get worse as the years continue to go by. Owning a home is out of the question here.

I guess my question boils down to this... Assuming my potential salaries in Seattle and Nashville are proportional to each other with the cost of living decrease in Nashville, our saving rate would be too, I think. We save a not-terrible amount now in terms of dollar amount, but we live in a HCOL area. Our savings rate would be a lesser dollar amount in Nashville due to lower salary and cost of living, but likely proportional to the salary decrease. For example, instead of putting away $1000/mo., we'd put away something like $700/mo. instead, accounting for Nashville's 30% lower cost of living.

Is that a bad/stupid move to make? 

Thanks again!

Miss Piggy

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2016, 04:07:56 PM »
One good thing about moving sooner rather than later is you would get to know the area long before you are ready to buy a house. Then you can be more certain about what part of "town" you want to buy in.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2016, 05:59:53 PM »
Sounds like you should save up the down payment first, and then move rather than jumping the gun. Of course, the longer you stay somewhere the harder it is to leave.

Good luck.

Thanks! But if we stay, we're hemorrhaging obscene amounts of money every month in rent costs, and it'll only get worse as the years continue to go by.

And yet...your annual rent is $19,200. You expect to have to take a pay cut of at least $19,000 to move to Nashville, potentially as much as $44,000. When your total housing cost is less or equal to the pay cut you'll take to move, it doesn't seem likely that you will be able to save more dollars in Nashville than you're able to save in Seattle.

Are there other cities with lower housing cost and higher salaries for your field? It might be worth exploring other options to see if there's a place that's better than either option you're currently considering.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2016, 02:29:42 AM »
If you are trying to be FI, it's a no brainer to stay in Seattle. The numbers don't make any sense to move. Taking a paycut of tens of thousands to save a couple hundred dollars in rent or buy a house doesn't make any sense. 

If you move to Nashville, you will be disappointed that many things cost the same as in Seattle and you now have less buying power with your lower salary. You will save a little on housing, but your lower salary will not make up the difference.

MMM has a post on living in expensive cities. Side hustles are very popular in expensive cities.




jenn_ifer

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2016, 06:55:31 AM »
If you're looking for a lower cost of living but want to retain or even increase your salary as an AD, I would look at Chicago.  You should be able to rent a 1BR for under $1300 if you avoid the hip neighborhoods.  If you're looking for warmer weather, you might also consider Dallas, Raleigh or Atlanta, which both have larger national agencies and should provide a salary closer to what you're making. 

ender

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2016, 03:14:46 PM »
Alternatively, try to find a better and higher paying job in Seattle?

misskris816

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2016, 09:49:34 AM »
I live in Seattle as well, and have often thought about moving back to the Midwest where I'm from due to the lower cost of living. I bought a townhouse at the end of 2014 here. 14 months later, it had already appreciated by almost $60k. After much thought, I've decided to stay in the Seattle for many reasons. I love the weather, beautiful topography, great job market and high salaries. As someone else mentioned, you'd be moving just to save a few hundred dollars on your rent/mortgage while making drastically less money. Staying in Seattle and making a decent wage (approx $93k), I'm able to shove money into savings and 401k hand over fist.  Instead of moving back to the midwest, I'm buying rental property there to capitalize on the low real estate costs.

Dee18

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2016, 03:21:00 PM »
Every time I see this topic heading my reaction is, do you want to live in the Bible Belt?  Do you want your future children to be southerners? Seattle and Nashville are worlds apart.   I moved south years ago for a wonderful job, but I seriously underestimated what it would be like to be a parent where my political and religious beliefs are so in the minority.  It is like stepping back in time....decades.  You may have spent lots of time in the south or know that it's religious and political beliefs align with yours, but otherwise be sure to factor that in.  I had lived in the south previously and being in the minority when single didn't bother me...but I found having a child growing up in it was much harder to deal with. 

Rubic

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2016, 04:10:43 PM »
Every time I see this topic heading my reaction is, do you want to live in the Bible Belt?

Nashville resident here.  There's a big difference between living in an urban area in Tennessee and the rural parts of the state.  Similar to how living in Atlanta isn't the same a Kennesaw, Georgia.

OP: The low cost of living in Nashville is something that we used to be proud of, but it's unfortunately starting to reach parity with other similar sized cities.  I love it here, but in addition to moving expenses you should consider the heat and humidity, though you'll get a lot more sunshine than Seattle.  In Nashville proper, demand for rental property is ahead of supply (hence increased rent rates higher than the national average), but supply is slowly starting to catch up.

Tennessee has no state income tax.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2016, 06:25:24 PM by rubic »

ZMonet

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2016, 04:45:33 PM »
The salary disparity is very large because you're taking an educated guess, understandably all you can do.  I realize applying for jobs all the way across the country probably doesn't make sense.  But might it be worth it to try and take a 3-5 days in Nashville and set up "informational" meetings with others in your field in Nashville?  Not only will it give you a better sense of what you could make, but it could open your eyes to other pluses and minuses of making the move and possibly help you get a job in Nashville (if that is ultimately where you come out).

tryathlete2011

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2016, 06:27:08 PM »
I can confirm (at least at my agency) your pay cut expectations. While I don't live in Nashville, we have an office there and our CD makes similar to your AD salary in Seattle. The art directors we have are on the younger end, mostly 3-6 years out of school but are in the range you have found. Our shop isn't the most glamorous, and there could well be better paying jobs but at least you know your numbers aren't completely off.

I moved from the NY area to the south as a creative director and was able to work remotely for my old agency (and my old salary). Might be worth exploring if your company would have any interest. Hours would be less than ideal, but if you could chop your living expenses without hurting your income, it makes the decision significantly easier.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2016, 07:15:45 PM by tryathlete2011 »

Rubic

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2016, 06:32:44 PM »
OP: If you want to couchsurf for a bit in Nashville within the next 30 days to check out the scene, PM me.  There's a cheap Southwest flight from Seattle to Nashville.


DeltaBond

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2016, 12:32:52 PM »
If you're wanting to avoid endless grey of winter, Nashville won't be your best bet.  Many people that I know live there, if you're talking about Nashville, TN... I didn't notice you clarify, have seasonal depression due to the winter. 

Also, your cost of renting will be about the same in Nashville, as the realestate market has inflated in a HUGE way in just the last year.  You have unfortunately missed the boat for Nashville, TN.  There ARE other places to consider - Louisville, KY, Memphis, TN, Knoxville, TN, Birmingham, AL, lots of cities in TX.  I'd recommend somewhere south of TN if you're wanting more sunshine.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2016, 12:37:23 PM by DeltaBond »

andy85

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2016, 01:06:51 PM »
not sure it makes sense in terms of pure dollars. A $30k paycut just to cut your rent in half doesn't make much sense. but there is also more to life than money.

If you ever decide to visit this neck of the woods then let me know and i can show you around. I am in Louisville, which is about 3 hours to Nashville.

Good luck OP.


... Do you want your future children to be southerners?...
and side note: wtf is that supposed to mean? like seriously!? please tell me you can see how that would be offensive? born and raised in what i consider to be the south, not the deep south, but i consider myself a southerner and think i turned out ok.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2016, 01:10:20 PM by andy85 »

DeltaBond

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2016, 01:23:12 PM »
not sure it makes sense in terms of pure dollars. A $30k paycut just to cut your rent in half doesn't make much sense. but there is also more to life than money.

If you ever decide to visit this neck of the woods then let me know and i can show you around. I am in Louisville, which is about 3 hours to Nashville.

Good luck OP.


... Do you want your future children to be southerners?...
and side note: wtf is that supposed to mean? like seriously!? please tell me you can see how that would be offensive? born and raised in what i consider to be the south, not the deep south, but i consider myself a southerner and think i turned out ok.

Not even in half, you can't hardly find houses in Nashville/Davidson County for less than $1100, and $1100 is rare now.

I also didn't care for the 'southerner' remark, but there are ridiculously prejudiced people like that everywhere.  Its as bad as racism, yet they pretend it isn't.

Dee18

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2016, 02:23:45 PM »
Andy85,
Not sure if by "born and raised in the South," you mean Louisville.  That is where I was born and raised, but I always felt it was more like Indiana and Ohio, than Tennessee.  I have since lived in major cities in two more Southen states, in addition to time spent in two northern cities. I know many wonderful people in both of the Southern states I have lived in, but I have also witnessed sexism, racism, homophobia and religious intolerance repeatedly over the years that I wish had not been such a part of my child's daily life.

 I was genuinely raising an issue that I think is important:  that when we move somewhere and have children, our children will be influenced by the culture around them.  If our children, because of being mixed race or belonging to a minority religion or for some other "difference," will be particularly affected by that it is an extremely important consideration.  As an adult, I have been fine being in a religious minority.  But it was truly hard to watch my child, who also happens to be of a different race, cope with blatant discrimination.  We actually went to family camps in Washington state when she was young so she would experience a welcoming of diversity. That was my experience and why I raised the issue.  I would not have mentioned it if OP had not indicated possible future children.

« Last Edit: May 03, 2016, 02:48:32 PM by Dee18 »

honeybbq

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2016, 02:33:09 PM »
Don't forget the state income taxes in TN.

Saving that 10% is huge...

MerryMcQ

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2016, 02:35:13 PM »
Don't forget the state income taxes in TN.

Saving that 10% is huge...

Washington is also a state with no income taxes.

ABC123

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2016, 02:35:21 PM »
Yeah, the housing market here in Nashville is crazy.  I live just north of Nashville, and we bought our house in '09.  My BIL and his family are wanting to move to this area - they have a $200k budget and are having a hard time finding much of anything that will meet their needs (admittedly, they want a lot for that $200k.)  And this is the "cheap" part of the greater Nashville area.  Go south of town to Franklin, Brentwood, etc. and it is quite a bit more for housing.  Don't want to discourage you, as I think this is a great area to live in.  I love the weather here, too.  I grew up in Wisconsin, did college/grad school in Florida, then moved here.  This is by far the best of the areas I have lived in - you get a little bit of winter, and the summers aren't so crazy hot like the deep south.
I admit, I don't know exactly what an art director is.  But have you been looking for what kind of jobs are available here, and what the posted salaries are?  The music business is big here, so if you would looking in that field there would probably be quite a bit available.

honeybbq

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2016, 03:07:30 PM »
Every time I see this topic heading my reaction is, do you want to live in the Bible Belt?

Nashville resident here.  There's a big difference between living in an urban area in Tennessee and the rural parts of the state.  Similar to how living in Atlanta isn't the same a Kennesaw, Georgia.

OP: The low cost of living in Nashville is something that we used to be proud of, but it's unfortunately starting to reach parity with other similar sized cities.  I love it here, but in addition to moving expenses you should consider the heat and humidity, though you'll get a lot more sunshine than Seattle.  In Nashville proper, demand for rental property is ahead of supply (hence increased rent rates higher than the national average), but supply is slowly starting to catch up.

Tennessee has no state income tax.

I lived in St Louis. St Louis itself is modern, hip, educated, crunchy.

But Missouri is the land of the "legitimate rape" representative.  People in charge of my life and laws believe I can control whether I get pregnant or not based on if the sex is consentual... ugh.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Todd_Akin

But seriously, it's one of the reasons I left. Seattle is worth the extra cost.

honeybbq

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2016, 03:27:34 PM »
Don't forget the state income taxes in TN.

Saving that 10% is huge...

Washington is also a state with no income taxes.

Right. Which is why I pointed out the OP will lose 10% of his salary right away to move to Tenn.

EDIT: I see Tennessee is one of the other states without. I didn't know that! Learn something new every day. Disregard!

freeatlast

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #23 on: May 03, 2016, 03:52:24 PM »
Have you considered just moving to South Seattle? The commute north is fast and housing is cheaper. Keep the high paying job and reduce costs that way. Burien/White Center/Georgetown/Renton etc.... all good places. But if you will need the school systems soon, that could be an issue in some locations. No extra sun though ....

AZDude

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #24 on: May 03, 2016, 04:12:11 PM »
As far as the southerner thing goes... I grew up in Arizona, a solid red state with a rather inglorious history(voters once voted against a state MLK holiday, Sheriff Joe, etc...). I visited the south quite a bit as I had family there, mainly the Atlanta area, though I did visit Tennessee once. I found the Atlanta area a horrifying hotbed of racism and other prejudice. It could be I just had a bad individual experience, but it should be telling that a conservative person from a conservative state found the area to be too conservative.

I also had friends living in Seattle, and visited there for a week once. The two places could not be more different in culture, demographics, and general attitude of the populace. Be sure you understand what you are getting yourself into. The city itself and some of the neighborhoods will probably be fine, but chances are you will have co-workers and other people you meet who say/do offensive things.


DeltaBond

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #25 on: May 05, 2016, 06:07:54 AM »
Here's an article about a development plan that will help completely destroy the area around Nashville AND Nashville...

http://www.tennessean.com/story/money/real-estate/2014/06/08/b-mixed-use-development-planned-near-natchez-trace/10104291/

Rubic

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #26 on: May 05, 2016, 09:06:51 AM »
Here's an article about a development plan that will help completely destroy the area around Nashville AND Nashville...

http://www.tennessean.com/story/money/real-estate/2014/06/08/b-mixed-use-development-planned-near-natchez-trace/10104291/

How so?

My sister lives next to the entrance of the Natchez Trace and I bicycle there often.  The proposed location is over 20 miles outside of downtown Nashville.  I'm hardly an apologist for increased development, but there's a lot of land out there.

DeltaBond

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #27 on: May 05, 2016, 01:34:39 PM »
Because those of us who live out here like the feel of the community as it is.  Traffic is already bad and getting worse, now they want to turn it into a mini-Franklin.  My point to the OP was how the housing market is going around here, I wasn't trying to go off topic, so I'm not going to discuss my thoughts and feelings on the change in the community and just point out that he/she won't be saving much money coming here.  There are lots of other places to consider, though, as I  mentioned above.

zephyr911

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Re: Seattle vs. Nashville Salary/Savings Goals?
« Reply #28 on: May 05, 2016, 01:51:18 PM »

and side note: wtf is that supposed to mean? like seriously!? please tell me you can see how that would be offensive? born and raised in what i consider to be the south, not the deep south, but i consider myself a southerner and think i turned out ok.
As a fellow Southerner: calm your teats. ;)
I didn't take it as an insult, and I think that question was important. I also think it is possible to acknowledge differences in culture that might affect OP's decision without making a value judgment on either one.

@OP, if you think about this too long, the COL in Nashville may catch up, but there's a wide variation between different neighborhoods and suburbs. Agree with the above comments that there are many factors beyond finances and you should consider them all. If you've never been around this part of the country, culture shock is guaranteed, but you might still like it. Try visiting.

As for me, I spent several years in Seattle and plan to go back, but not Seattle proper, unless real estate experiences a full-blown crash. I find that for my skillset and goals, 'tis better to get rich in the Southeast and then retire to the PNW.