5 everyday expenses that cut my bills in half when I moved from Seattle to Cincinnati
- 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.
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.
Almost everything is cheaper here, from my home costs to my groceries, and even keeping my car licensed.
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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