Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cost of Living

Work has been hard the past few weeks.

I'm not entirely sure why, last month I won the great team card contest by having the most written about me and was recognized by my boss on the awesome board of awesomeness.

And it's not like anything terrible horrible bad has happened.

But there have been these little things... lots and lots of little thing.......

And I'm starting to feel like perhaps Colorado is not the place to be.

See, Target says they adjust your pay based on where you live and the relative cost of living, which I'm sure is true to some extent and that the Boulder Target really might be one the highest paying ones in the country.


I know what minimal wage is.

So, extrapolating that employees in say, the midwest, HAVE to be making at least that and probably a little bit more, it would stand to reason that one could compare hourly rates and housing costs to see if they're equivalent.

A standard sales floor team member is hired at $8.75 an hour at the Boulder Target.

(For the record, I do make more than that being on in-stocks.)

(But don't get too excited, it's not THAT much more.)

I'm just going to go out on a limb and assume that an equivalent position in, say, Cedar Rapids IA would pay $8.00 an hour. Sure it could be the $7.63 of minimal wage itself, but I like to have a little faith in the Target corporation.

Now my math skills are not stellar, but I can still manage to come up with the pretax income of a full time employee in Boulder as $1400 a month while the Iowa one would be $1280.

$120 a month difference between the two states doesn't actually sound like all that much, now does it?

Well, lets check out housing costs...

I couldn't find a 2 bedroom apartment for less than $1000 a month in Boulder itself on Craigslist.

The cheapest ones listed in the city of Cedar Rapids? Just under $500 a month.

(For the record, I owned a two bedroom condo in a nearby area and payed $425 a month for mortgage 6 years back, so this really is a plausible number.) 

It would still be a tight budget to be sure, but the idea of working and living in Cedar Rapids gets someone MUCH closer to having rent be a third of their income than would happen in Boulder.

Now in all fairness, rent prices do go down once you get outside of the city limits of Boulder and many people (including reasonably salaried professionals) commute for that precise reason. But see, housing costs ALSO drop waaaaay down in Iowa if you're willing to live a little more out in the middle of nowhere, and then you start talking about houses only costing $200,000 in Colorado vs. $40,000 in Iowa and this gets real depressing real fast. 

But getting back to the numbers, my main point was how there is a 9% increase in monthly wages while a 50% increase in monthly housing costs.

And that just doesn't work.

And we haven't even begun to look at things like how much a loaf of bread or a gallon of gas costs in these two cities!

So I keep coming back this conclusion where having a crappy job HERE sucks way more than having a crappy job somewhere else probably would.

And then I have to wonder, is Colorado worth it??


  1. But would you want to live in Iowa? Would you have the support system of family and friends to help you out? It's hard to put a price on that, as well.

    But I understand where you are coming from. It's all relative.

  2. If you came back to Iowa there would be at least one person who would be willing to get you out of the house now and then (with or without kids in tow).