- Anesthesiologist Taylor Graber, 32, and his wife, Amelia, moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2021.
- In California, nine cents of every dollar he earned went to taxes. In Arizona, it’s only 4.5 cents.
- Graber isn’t saving much on rent in Arizona, but he’s able to put more toward his retirement fund.
It was hard for Taylor Graber and his wife, Amelia, to leave San Diego’s sun, beaches, and hiking. But they gathered their strength and moved to Scottsdale, a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, last year.
“It was kind of the big-boy adult decision that caused us to make that choice, because I love San Diego,” Graber, who described his experience to Insider in September, said. “Love the climate, love the city, love everything that’s over there. But the cost of living is more expensive there. Buying a house is more expensive there. Taxes are more expensive there.”
The 32-year-old is an anesthesiologist and the founder of an at-home IV company, ASAP IVs, who pulled in a salary of about $65,000 at his job as a resident anesthesiologist at the UC San Diego Medical Center.
Before making the move, the couple vetted Graber’s work opportunities in the area, with all of them clearing salaries far north of $250,000 — when doctors graduate residency and become attendings, it’s typical for their annual pay to skyrocket.
The couple’s finances are clearly better in Arizona
In Phoneix, Graber said he’s making $350,000 a year at Valley Anesthesiology Consultants, “and there’s other performance bonuses and productivity bonuses,” he added. He also said the nature of the job he accepted in Arizona was more attractive than the options in California, and he wanted to expand the footprint of his IV company.
“I have the very first-world problem, and a good problem to have, that I make a pretty good amount of money. But that also puts me in such a tax bracket that I’m more penalized,” Graber said. “However much you’re paying for state income tax versus federal income tax adds up pretty quickly. The difference between California and Arizona is quite a bit that adds up over time.”
Graber estimated the marginal tax rate for their combined household income in California was 9.3%, over twice that of Arizona’s, which sits at 4.5%. That means about nine cents on every dollar would go toward taxes in California, while four-and-a-half cents of every dollar would go toward taxes in Arizona.
That amounts to a savings of roughly $25,000 a year in Arizona, a number that helped justify the move for the Grabers.
Because they’ve only lived in Arizona for about 14 months, they have yet to see their savings-account balance increase. But Graber said, however, that he’s been able to put more into his retirement fund.
Graber also added that both his family and his wife’s relatives are in the Scottsdale area, making the move a bit more inevitable.
Moving to a low-tax state has some minor drawbacks
Still, the move has taken some adjusting. Graber said Arizona’s weather isn’t as good as what they were used to in California, where they lived for four years, and that it’d taken an adjustment to trade in “those sunny and 75-degree summers for sunny and 115 degrees.”
The Grabers hope to buy their first home someday soon. Their move to Arizona puts them closer to not only family but also their dream of homeownership as they’re able to save more with Arizona’s lower income-tax rate.
“A big perk of the move is definitely being able to pocket a little bit more of those savings to either save away so that we can speed up the rate that we’re able to buy our first house or buy a little bit nicer of a first house,” he said, though he added that “surprisingly, Scottsdale is not the cheapest place in the world.”
The couple is currently renting while figuring out where they want to put down roots. The savings from rent aren’t huge: Graber said the two-bedroom unit they’re renting in Scottsdale is only about $100 less than their two-bedroom rental in San Diego.
Still, it’s been worth it.
“There’s a lot of bigger metropolitan areas that are certainly catching up to San Diego in terms of cost of living, but it’s still cheaper,” he said.