Tyler Bettilyon and his wife outside their new home in Salt Lake City.
Sarah Maddock, @sarahmaddock
Long before Tyler Bettilyon, a software engineer and educator, left San Francisco, he wondered what he would have to sacrifice in order to be financially enough to raise a family in the Bay Area. “There was a path I could follow to make $ 250,000 a year,” he says. “But part of that equation would have included a hectic lifestyle that kept me in the company office from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day.” (Remember to give up your expensive city too? Check out the Lowest Mortgage Rates You Can Get Right Here, and under.)
It wasn’t that Bettilyon didn’t want to work hard. He only wanted to work, but also to spend time with his girlfriend at the time (now his wife) and the children, if they ever got them. Bettilyon, who had to commute 90 minutes each way to his job as a senior engineer at a technology start-up, found the experience was grueling. “There are thousands of people at BART who will corner you,” he notes.
Even before the pandemic began, Bettilyon realized that what he really craved – time, accessible green space, a community – was nowhere to be found in San Francisco, where he had lived for seven years. “My wife and I started looking for a house in the Bay Area, and any house we liked was so far out of reach financially,” he says.
Do you also dream of moving to a cheaper city?
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- Casing: See what type of mortgage you can qualify for Here, and see what rent you could pay here.
- Cost of Living and Other Lifestyle Factors: Compare the cost of living in a new city to your current city here, as well as things like taxes, crime, and more.
- Health care: See how US News ranks your new state in terms of healthcare here.
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- Crime, education and other lifestyle factors: Look at that niche.
The frugal couple saved nearly $ 200,000 in cash, he notes. In San Francisco, Bettilyon says he made about $ 150,000 even though his wife made less. They kept spending low by taking public transportation and sharing a 1,600-square-foot house in Berkeley with Bettilyon’s brother and sister-in-law for a total rent of $ 4,000 a month. In fact, according to Zillow, the typical San Francisco home is still valued at more than $ 1.5 million. “Any reasonable-priced home was either in an area we didn’t want to live in or in an area that wasn’t particularly safe,” notes Bettilyon. Adding children to a mortgage would have been financially onerous, even with Bettilyon’s six-figure salary.
Instead, Bettilyon and his wife decided to return to their Salt Lake City home, where they bought a three-bedroom home for $ 420,000 in May 2020, just as the pandemic started, he notes. The house is in the neighborhood where Bettilyon grew up and is close to friends and family. Better yet, it’s a couple of blocks from a large park. In San Francisco, they couldn’t afford a seat near a green space, and that was something the couple had sorely missed.
Moving from San Francisco to Salt Lake City saved the couple a tremendous amount of money. You’ve covered nearly 50% of the cost of your home and now your total mortgage is $ 1,250 per month. Bettilyon, who now teaches corporate computer coding courses on a contract basis, says he now makes between $ 60,000 and $ 80,000 a year, and his wife, who works as a project manager at a startup, makes roughly the same. And that works well for them, while it would have been difficult in the Bay Area, since everything from food to groceries to personal care services is cheaper in Salt Lake City than it is in San Francisco. The one expense, which may be a little higher, is that Bettilyon has more use of his car now that he can no longer walk to the grocery store – but he already had the car when he lived in Berkeley. And he couldn’t park the car in the house he lived in without paying his landlord an additional $ 500 a month – now he just parks in his driveway.
Thanks to their cheaper lifestyle, Bettilyon and his wife are saving for the future, he says. They recently installed solar panels on their home and decided to invest in a restaurant and mobile cocktail company. Every year they maximize their Roth IRA accounts and slowly replenish their savings. Every now and then they treat themselves to something totally pampering. For example, Bettilyon recently bought a piano to practice a skill he learned as a child. “It’s really liberating to be able to say that I can go out and have a good night on the town and not have to worry about how much it will cost,” says Bettilyon.
Parenthood is just around the corner – but for now the couple are focused on taking care of their recently adopted dog, who enjoys walking in the large park near their home. “I wouldn’t have got a dog in San Francisco because I was worried that this dog would get enough exercise,” says Bettilyon.
Of course, there are things the couple misses about San Francisco – the museums, the food, the inexhaustible possibilities. “Nothing is open late here in Salt Lake City. So if you’re hungry on your way home from a night out, you’d better have a pizza in your freezer, ”says Bettilyon. But as he gets older he goes out less anyway. “A lot of what made San Francisco so valuable in my twenties is not so valuable to me now that I’m married and thinking about children,” he says. (Are you thinking of giving up your expensive city too? Check out the Lowest Mortgage Rates You Can Get Right Here.)