"People underestimate the role family and friends play in life and how enriching they are," she says.
Rose remembers helping one client find a home for his family that included six children.
"Less than a year later, I was helping them sell that home," she says. "The kids could not adjust. It never felt like home to them."
Sudweeks agrees that cost of living is only one factor. "How do you quantify being close to family?" he says. "How do you quantify being close to something you really like doing — such as being close to the mountains or close to the water for waterskiing? There are other non-quantifiable factors as well. It's not a simple decision."
Scott C. Marsh, the owner of Scott Marsh Financial, a registered investment advisory firm based in Salt Lake City, and a professor of personal finance at BYU, says quality of life and cost of living issues can be turned on their heads.
He says his students look at websites like glassdoor.com to find information about salaries, benefits and other cost information about areas and particular companies. They combine it with information about cost-of-living and can often negotiate a better salary.
Marsh also says the website bestplaces.net can tell where the best places are to live — and the worst. He remembers one person who was offered $20,000 a year more in salary, not because the cost of living was higher, but because the city was considered a less than desirable place to work.
Rose says people should be careful not to just focus on the money. One place may pay a lower salary but give a higher quality of life. "You need to ask what is the essence of what you are going for," she says. "Money can fool you. Perhaps what you are really looking for is peace or security."
For Sloboda, the very things that first attracted her to New York became the reasons why she wanted to move.
"A lot of the things I originally moved to New York for I've been priced out on in New York," Sloboda says. "And so have a lot of artists, for that matter. I could get all the things in Cleveland that I could get in New York, and some things I couldn't even get in New York anymore. The opportunities have changed there."
But not everything is cheaper in Cleveland. According to the Bankrate calculator, women's slacks cost, on average, $2.50 more. "I did notice that," Sloboda says. "Why is it more expensive in Cleveland in this little boutique than it is in Bloomingdale's in New York?"
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