The move -- from Manhattan to Miami -- was prompted by the need to find affordable housing in an urban setting with a warm climate. The cost of a rental apartment, childcare and other basics in Manhattan exceeded my salary. In contrast, Miami Beach --prior to the recent spike in residential real estate -- seemed like an affordable option in a beachfront paradise.
*Cheap rent or low-cost housing
What's more, we save a fortune on clothing because our local climate is mostly sunny and warm. My kids only need a one-season wardrobe, with a few jackets and sweaters for cold snaps in the winter.
But there are hidden costs that I failed to include in the initial calculations. For example, regional and seasonal emergencies can be dangerous and expensive. Weather-related disasters have had the following impact on my family:
- Destroyed engine: We lost one car on a flooded street. The engine was soaked and the insurance company declared the car a total loss. Although the insurance policy covered the auto loss, we did not receive dollar-for-dollar replacement value for the vehicle. There were also assorted out-of-pocket expenses related to the destroyed vehicle.
- Damp wardrobe: Water damage and mold in our closets have trashed suits, shoes, hats and other garments.
- Damaged furniture: During one storm, our apartment was flooded, which lead to the damage of some household items.
- Emergency supplies: Every year, we spend between $100 to $300 on hurricane supplies, which include batteries, ice, camping supplies, bottled water and plywood.
- Intangible costs: We have lived for short periods without water and electricity. But our total losses, thank goodness, have been small. More importantly, we have been safe. My family has been fortunate. But storm threats --with related fears about safety and security -- have exacted emotional costs.
This post, however, is not meant to be a whine. I live a life of gratitude in Miami. And there are random acts of nature in other parts of the country, including floods, wildfires, earthquakes and tornadoes. And I've learned to be grateful for personal safety (and for the safety of others!) and to consider regional weather patterns and terrain when making relocation decisions.