First Person: Moving Around Put Me Behind Financially

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Moving around a lot in my 20s and early 30s put me behind financially compared to people who stay in one place. I know most of my financial progress in life didn't come until I settled down in my current single-family home about 8 years ago. Through the years, moving from one apartment to the next and making move across the country cost me tens of thousands of dollars in everything from new car registration fees to renting moving vans. I also lost a lot of money in terms of deposits when I rented different homes and apartments. When I look back on my past, I realize there are several key financial advantages of staying put in one place.

Building up my retirement account

I didn't make any progress on saving for retirement in my 20s because my money was always wrapped up in my apartments. I moved about 12 times or about once a year from the time I was 20 until the time I was 30. I'd like to say I moved for different job opportunities, but I always had steady income where I lived. After I purchased my first condo at age 30, I decided to do other responsible things. I contributed a percentage of my income toward the company 401(k).

Becoming a homeowner

By becoming a homeowner, I have been able to build up equity in my house. I sold my condo for a profit of about $30,000 which I was able to put toward my single-family home. Even though the value of my house went down due to the housing crash, I am slowly building up equity again. When I rented different apartments, I never had any money to show for it.

Preserving my possessions

Whenever I moved from one apartment to the next, I'd either lose things or find that my furniture had been damaged. Sometimes it was just too expensive to haul certain items so I left them behind. Now that I own a home, I find my furniture and appliances stay in better condition so I can keep them longer. I'm no longer spending thousands of dollars every year paying for replacement furniture. I also don't have to keep redecorating every year because the layout and size of my rooms stay don't change.

Even though I'm on the right track now, I was curious about how much money I wasted by moving around every year. I got out my old receipts and checkbooks and decided to put a firm number to it. After adding up how much money I lost on housing deposits, moving trucks, license plates, tags and registrations, I realized I spent more than $37,000 on moves in 10 years. I didn't count the amount of money I spent on rent that could have gone toward paying down a mortgage because I couldn't qualify for a mortgage anyway when I was younger. I could have saved money by just renting the same apartment for 10 years, especially if I had been able to lock-in a good rent cost. Now that I'm a homeowner, I plan to learn from my lessons as a renter and stay put for the long term.

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More from this contributor:

My Smartest Financial Moves in my 30s

I'm Not Retiring to a College Town

The Spent Challenge Changed My Perspective on Saving


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