July 14, 2024
I Saved Around $1,650 Per Month Moving To a Cheaper State During the Pandemic: Here's What I Did With All The Money I Saved

While the pandemic undoubtedly caused devastation for so many, a major event like that can also be a catalyst for positive change. For some, the pandemic proved an opportunity to reorient their finances and set themselves up for a better future. The disruption caused by the pandemic allowed some to hit the reset button to their advantage.

That’s exactly what happened to Ashly Doran, a travel nurse and content creator, who moved from Portland, Oregon, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in June 2020. 

The cost of living in Milwaukee is 16% lower than in Portland, according to RentCafe. Meanwhile, Oregon ranks as the ninth most expensive state, while Wisconsin comes in at 25th, according to the Council for Community & Economic Research survey (via the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center).

But Doran’s move wasn’t entirely motivated by finances. Around this time, a series of what might otherwise seem like unfortunate events prompted her move, ultimately to her benefit.

For one, a month before the pandemic, her nursing school announced it would close permanently due to financial issues. While she could continue for the time being, the pandemic then shifted school online, and she was given the option to finish at a sister school in Wisconsin in person and gain experience at a hospital there.

Meanwhile, after working as a bartender for eight years in Portland, her place of work closed permanently during the pandemic. To top it all off, she and her boyfriend broke up.

“With the high rent prices in Portland and not having a job, school, or boyfriend, I decided to move to Milwaukee to start over,” she explained. “I ended up continuing nursing school and graduating on schedule, got a new bartending job, and nabbed a beautiful apartment on Lake Michigan. I remained single, but that was fine by me.”

Not only did she get a fresh start moving from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest, but she dramatically lowered her living expenses too.

For starters, she saved $1,250 monthly in rent due partly to getting a fellow nursing student to be her roommate, but also because of lower rent prices in Milwaukee. She also saved $150 per month in utilities. That was due largely to not having to pay electricity — so that people don’t freeze to death in the frigid Wisconsin winters, as Doran explained.

Also, moving saved her $250 per month in food and other various expenses she said. That’s because Milwaukee tends to have cheaper restaurants, for example. Altogether, Doran ended up saving about $1,650 per month.

Reducing Financial Stress

Saving $1,650 per month did far more than bolster Doran’s bank account. It made a huge impact on her life overall, largely by reducing financial stress and enabling her to focus more on nursing school, rather than trying to work more hours than what would have been feasible at that time.

“My goal at that point was to just save on overall living expenses since I was a nursing school student and couldn’t work more than two days per week,” she said, adding that many nursing school students didn’t work at all during that time.

“With less financial stress in Milwaukee compared to when I was living in Portland, I was much able to better focus on nursing school and clinicals at the hospital,” added Doran. “Nursing school is incredibly challenging, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to have an excellent experience — especially during the pandemic when a lot of people were struggling financially, mentally, and physically.”

Saving money also helped in her personal life by giving her more free time, as opposed to jamming every minute of the day with work and school. 

She was able to do the 75 Hard challenge to get in excellent shape, she said, along with being able to spend time with friends and have more time for herself. And while she now travels to different areas as part of her nursing job, this move during the pandemic continues to benefit her.

“Saving that amount of money allowed me to not have to take out as many loans. Today, that translates into lower student loan payments leaving me with more money to save, spend, or invest,” said Doran. “Moving during the pandemic really did help set me up for the financial success that I have today.”

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