(See Part 1) City-data.com has good information on it that allows you to see the weather, crime, population growth, household size, average household income, breakdown of industry, average age of population, school district info, and much MUCH more. There is so much that I simply cannot show it all. This is also a great resource to use when analyzing markets for real estate investing! Below are some examples of what to expect from city-data.

The BLS maps in particular allow you to see what counties may be the most favorable, but keep in mind that money is not everything. For example, if you cursor over non-metropolitan Alaska, dentists make $253,000 on average. While Alaska might be a beautiful state, many of us (myself included) don’t want to live there for one reason or another. On another note, Dentists in southern Nebraska make $83,000 on average, which may seem low, but if your family happens to live in southern Nebraska, it could improve your quality of life dramatically. One final thing to keep in mind is that the cost of living in one place (Nebraska) could be vastly different from another (downtown Los Angeles or Irvine CA). One dollar in Nebraska is able to buy much more than a dollar in California, so it’s important to consider looking at a cost of living calculator (City-data.com has its own cost of living calculator for larger cities).

Because there is a difference of money in depending on location, a final step is to use a cost of living calculator to try and get an apples to apples comparison. Below we will compare the average mean wage of a dentist in Irvine CA ($141,800) to one in Hastings Nebraska.

City-Data.com’s cost of living calculator

Smart Asset has a decent calculator that attempts to include tax information as well. Sometimes it is difficult to estimate tax since it can vary by state and city. Try to use a few different calculators to get an idea. Here, we are shown that the tax rate surprisingly might not be too different (this is worth looking more into to verify), but overall the total difference is NE is 21% cheaper than Irvine CA.
Nerd Wallet’s cost of living calculator estimates 40% lower cost of living in Hastings NE compared to Irvine CA.
It’s important not to get enticed by large numbers if in reality $85K of income in NE is equivalent to $141K in CA

Result: the “lower” annual income in Hastings NE has basically the same (if not more) purchasing power as the “higher” annual income in Orange County CA due to cost of living and taxes despite NE’s income being smaller. Averaging these values together will give you a rough of idea of what it will cost to live somewhere and allow you to keep your expenses under control while planning for FIRE.

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

I used both city-data.com, wikipedia, http://www.BLS.gov, etc to find crime data, household size, population growth, weather, and other general demographics and created zones for different years on my customized google my maps. These multiple layers can be overlapped to help you see hot-spots. Once you have narrowed down an area, you can google search all the local dentists in a city (confirming with your list of dentists from the state dental board) and place markers for them. Mapping out existing dentists not just gives you an idea for the competition, but also can give a rough way to estimate the dentist to population ratio, which ideally should be 2,000 or more. Once you have locations of interest, consider making a flier (canva works great) with your name, picture, what kind of practice you’re looking for, and a little blurb on the back that talks about you. I did a second round of hand-written letters, which were received well (about 10% response rate). You may end up finding a good practice on a broker’s website, but why not invest a little time and 50 cents per stamp to have a chance at finding your perfect fit you never would have found otherwise? Good luck and make it count!

List of Websites:

https://www.google.com/mymaps

https://www.city-data.com/

https://www.bls.gov/

https://www.canva.com/

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