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Old 09-04-2009, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Fairfax, VA
246 posts, read 1,018,161 times
Reputation: 88

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We're moving to the area in a couple of months (corporate transfer) from Louisiana. The first thing out of everyone's mouth is "the cost of living is crazy up there"! I live in supposedly one of the cheapest states in the US, yet am not finding a whole lot of differences in the price of things. Housing is the biggie - what we got for 300K here will cost us 600K in VA. But that seems to be the only thing that's considerably more expensive.

Property tax is almost exactly the same, and sales tax is less than in LA. Both states pay income tax. My car and homeowners insurance will be less in VA(on a house that's worth twice as much), health insurance the same. Not sure about gas (we're paying in the high $2 range). Electricty and natrual gas prices are high in LA - so I don't expect my utilities to be higher than I'm used to.

On a recent trip to the area, I stopped at a local grocery store, and prices were identical - almost to the penny on stuff I typically buy here in la.

Child care is higher in VA ($1000/ month vs. $600)- but once kids are in school, they can go to public school, which is a HUGE cost savings! Private school here can run $5,000 - $15,000/ year per kid.

So what am I missing? In my mind, I've covered most of lifes recurrent expenses - and don't see much difference. Maybe it's just that LA is masquearding as a "cheap" state, but it's really a rip off!!!
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Old 09-04-2009, 09:38 AM
 
5,330 posts, read 6,121,958 times
Reputation: 2624
That's what I've found in my travels - the groceries, the gasoline, the consumer goods all cost pretty much the same. Housing is the big difference. Some localities in Virginia charge an extra restaurant tax, and some have additional cell phone tax and similar taxes. This doesn't make a huge difference, though. Some states don't tax your car, and some states have lower sales tax, but then, some states have higher.

Maybe some services are higher here, like home repairs/remodeling. I've heard theories that since people are expected to be making so much money here, services like plumbers, electricians, painters charge accordingly. But I have no experience in other states to compare.
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:01 PM
 
715 posts, read 1,866,291 times
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What do you mean by property taxes are the same? Are you saying that the rate is much higher in LA?

For a 300k house that's 600k up here, if the rates are the same, then that means you're going to pay double up here. Also, a 300k house down in LA may be the same 300k house in Manassas.....depends on which part of NoVA you're considering. States usually charge higher taxes to citizens when there are less viable tax revenue streams.

In VA, you're also paying a personal property tax. That means all your cars are taxed yearly.

Also, a highly regarded private school in this area can run from 18-26k...with 18 being for a lower school (starting pre-K).

Housing is more expensive in VA because of the demand, and given that, it all depends on which area of NoVa you're planning on settling in. More expensive areas have better schools. More expensive areas usually have better access to roads and public transportation to get to jobs. More expensive areas also have less crime. Homes are probably cheaper in LA because a large percentage of LA is probably below sea level.

Last edited by live_strong28; 09-04-2009 at 01:22 PM..
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Falls Church, VA
722 posts, read 1,752,211 times
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The housing is really the big thing. But it's SUCH a big thing. I mean, my housing cost more than doubled in moving here from the Midwest (and we're just renters) but my husband's salary didn't double. That extra money has to come from somewhere. I really think that alone is enough to say that this area has a high cost of living.

There are commuting costs, too, that people in less-dense areas don't really have. Sitting in traffic burns a lot of gas, and you may have to pay tolls as well, but the alternatives (like Metro) aren't always cheaper. Unless you have a subsidy from your employer.
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:34 PM
 
10,596 posts, read 12,090,790 times
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The biggest cost of living factor is housing. And while the tax rate may be the same, the value of your house will be double so your taxes will be double.

Another thing I find high here is doing things like dining out. I'm always impressed when I go on vacation to places like Orlando, eat in comparable restaurants, and the entrees can be several dollars cheaper.

Bit by bit, it all adds up.

But sure, groceries are groceries are groceries--those prices are roughly the same throughout the country. It's going to be the items like housing and services that will get you.
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:43 PM
 
Location: Jefferson County
380 posts, read 999,159 times
Reputation: 103
I guess that's why lots of people live in Eastern WV and commute in to NoVa. Housing & taxes are much lower if you can put up with the commute.
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:51 PM
 
3,504 posts, read 7,920,013 times
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The following I have found more expensive here in VA than my home state of NJ: home improvement contractors, repairmen; plumbers, electricians, etc., garden centers, furniture stores, coffee shops, restaurants, pizza is very expensive and what they call an XL pie is tiny, gas is much more, some groceries, dentists, hairdressers, lawn services (thats why I cut it myself), fence companies, child care, - it just seems that all services are more expensive.

But I am growing to like VA in my own way -

Please no pizza cracks....
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:57 PM
 
3,156 posts, read 8,096,516 times
Reputation: 1977
1) Housing
2) Housing
3) Housing

Honestly I don't see that much of a difference beyond that. Restaurants are one thing that are definitely more expensive here too, but it's not really a necessity to go out all the time.
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:57 PM
 
Location: San Jose, CA
1,318 posts, read 3,064,926 times
Reputation: 760
I never really understand the comments with regards to the housing prices. In Fairfax County, houses, condos, and townhouses on median sell $500K at $234/sqft, and households earn $102,460 in median income, at that rate the median household could afford a house of about 1743sqft.

Compare that to here San Mateo County, where the median is $737K for a house, $413/sqft, and the median household income is $81,573, so at that rate the median household could afford a house/townhouse/condo of about 790sqft. Try to fit two bedrooms in that.

Assumptions made are that one could afford to pay 26% of their income for housing after adjusting for tax deductions and taxes. Some sites suggest that affordable is under 30% gross. Housing is affordable for middle of the road housing ie median price per square foot, that do not want a large house and earn the median or above. Housing in Reston is around the median price, around $240/sqft. If you want to live in McLean or Great Falls it would cost more, other areas like zip 22153 are only around $200-$220sqft. But the median household in FFX Co. can certainly live comfortably on a salary $102k/yr regarding housing. If you want a place of 2500 - 4000sqft or larger that is where the costs will then add up, or if you want to move to McLean, or Great Falls, or Arlington.

Loundon Co is even cheaper per sqft.

The one thing I have found more expensive in NoVA in comparison to here in CA is the utilities during summer and winter. Here during the summer the PG&E bill goes up to $30/mo, and winter it can go as high as $65/mo. In NoVA there is no way it will be that low.
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Old 09-04-2009, 01:58 PM
 
Location: Fairfax, VA
246 posts, read 1,018,161 times
Reputation: 88
Quote:
Originally Posted by live_strong28 View Post
What do you mean by property taxes are the same? Are you saying that the rate is much higher in LA?
No - we pay roughly 1% of assessed value. So yes, it will double when I move. Still a great deal compared to other parts of the country though.
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