Cost of Living Calculator 2021
The cost of living can turn your dream move into a nightmare. A generous salary in one region can be lacking in another. A $500,000 home in the Bay Area is much different from a half-million-dollar home in Little Rock. Housing costs play a role in an area’s cost of living, but it’s far from the only factor. Other factors include utilities, groceries, health care – and even the price of milk, …bread, and cereal. Auto, home, and health insurance costs also vary depending on where you live. Figuring out a region’s cost of living can help you if you’re looking to move. A high cost of living can strain your wallet. You may find that your $100,000 household income won’t go nearly as far in a high-cost area. You may even discover that your comfortable life becomes one in which you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck. Cost of living can play a factor when you’re changing jobs. It can also have a role in your retirement planning. Lower costs are one reason people lay down roots in low-cost areas during their retirement years. With those scenarios in mind, Insure.com collected the cost of living figures for geographic regions across the U.S. from the Council for Community and Economic Research. We combined that data with Insure.com’s auto and home insurance cost data to get a better view of an area’s cost of living. The information includes:
Cost of Living Index Comparison Tool
What’s cost of living and how does it influence your life?
What is cost of living?
Cost of living is what it costs to live in an area. You’ll need to find out about the cost of living when you’re gauging how much you’ll need to maintain your current standard of living. Cost of living involves all of your expenses. Some costs are the same or similar regardless of the area. However, many costs, from groceries to a new home, can vary greatly.
Why is cost of living an important factor?
Cost of living is an aspect to keep in mind when deciding to move to a new area. You may live comfortably in a small town, but that same salary won’t go far in high-cost areas like Manhattan, San Francisco, or Honolulu.
Comparing an area’s cost of living should be a critical part of your decision-making, including whether you should move and how much you should ask for a salary.
How does insurance play a role in the cost of living?
Insurance companies base premiums on risk. An area’s claims history, economics, and social factors play a role in insurance costs. For instance, a neighborhood with many car break-ins has higher rates. Additionally, a person who owns a home along the coast that regularly gets pounded by devastating storms will pay higher premiums.
How does shopping for insurance help when you move to a high-cost area?
You don’t have any control over many aspects of the costs of living. You do have some influence on insurance costs though. By shopping around for auto and home insurance, you can find policies that make sense for you at the lowest costs.
How much could you save? Our research shows you can cut your auto and home insurance costs by hundreds.
You can save by shopping around, comparing quotes, limiting your claims, and making sure you’re getting the auto insurance discounts that you deserve.
How do you shop for auto and home insurance?
Shop around at least every three years to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your home insurance. For auto insurance, you’ll want to shop for rates upon renewal of your policy each year but also when you experience these life-changing events, during which your rates are likely to change:
- You move
- You get married or divorced
- You buy a car
- You buy a home
- You have a recent accident or moving violation on your driver record
- Your credit score changes significantly
- You add or drop drivers from your policy
Insurers differ in how they set their rates. Get an apples-to-apples comparison from at least three insurers. Ask about discounts. Research the companies’ reputations. Make sure you’re comfortable with the company and the coverage.
How does cost of living affect savings and investments?
Cost of living shouldn’t have a direct effect on savings and investments. That said, if you’re spending more on your house, gas, insurance, and groceries, there is less to invest and save. No matter where you live, make sure you’re putting enough away for emergencies and your retirement.
When should you move to a higher cost of living area?
Spending more for your purchases isn’t enjoyable, but it’s the price you pay for living in the most desirable places in the U.S.
Sometimes, paying more to live in an area is worth it. Maybe the schools are top-notch, or the health care there is world renowned. The area may have an active arts scene or top restaurants.
Whatever the reason, you may find living in an area with a higher cost of living is worth it.
Here are some times when it may make sense to move from a lower cost to high-cost area:
- Your salary will more than offset the cost of living increase.
- You can find housing that fits your new budget.
- You understand that you may have to cut back on spending and make lifestyle changes.
What should you do when you move to a higher cost of living area?
You’ll want to find ways to limit your spending. Maybe that means cutting back on dining out. Or it could be cutting entertainment. You’ll also want to look for free and low-cost things to do. That might include dropping a gym membership and getting your exercise at home.
Figure out what you can live without and make cuts accordingly.
There are ways to help cut your home and auto insurance costs, too. One way is to increase your deductible. That will lower your premiums. Just make sure you have enough money set aside to pay the deductible if you need to file a claim.
Of course, another avenue is to ask for more money if you’re moving for a new job. Your new employer may be willing to give you more if you explain the cost of living issue. They may also help pay some of your transportation costs. It’s worth asking the employer, but understand your new boss could say no.
If you decide to move, you may want to look for lower-cost areas in the region. It may require living further away from the city center and a longer commute. You may have to live in a smaller home or one that needs work.
If you’re looking to rent, see if you can find a roommate to help you spread out the costs.
When should you move to a lower cost of living area?
Moving from a high cost of living area to a lower one may free up money. You may be able to put more into investments or retirement. You could buy a bigger house or a fancier car.
On the other hand, you may find fewer entertainment opportunities. You may have to sacrifice activities living in a lower-cost area.
Here are some times when it makes sense to move from a higher cost to a low-cost area:
- You’re changing jobs and getting a salary that won’t hurt your standard of living.
- You’re retiring.
- You want to spend less on regular daily expenses, so you can invest and save more.
- You don’t mind sacrificing some of the reasons for higher cost areas, such as better public transportation and a wealth of services.
- Your employer will let you work remotely while living in the lower-cost area.
What should you do when you move to a lower cost of living area?
A lower cost of living should let you stretch your dollar further. It could also mean you get a lower salary.
However, a $75,000 salary in a high-cost area might not go as far as a $60,000 salary in a low-cost area. Keep the cost of living differences in mind when deciding on a new job and salary.
If you find you have more leftover money in a lower-cost area, make sure to invest or save at least some of it. You might as well take advantage of paying less for housing, health care, groceries, and insurance.
What major factors should I consider before relocating?
Cost of living can play a significant role in whether to move to another area. However, there are also many other factors in deciding whether to relocate.
Factors beyond the cost of living that may influence a move include:
- Job transfers — Sometimes you don’t have a choice. Your company may move or your job may decide you should move to a new place.
- Schools — Parents are drawn to communities and regions with the best schools. However, that move may also mean higher housing costs and property taxes.
- Safety — A neighborhood’s safety affects both quality of life and home prices. Homes in areas with high crime usually have lower rates than nearby neighborhoods with less crime.
- Traffic — An area’s traffic influences quality of life. If you can’t travel a few miles without hitting constant traffic, that makes driving less enjoyable and likely raises your stress level.
- Better social scene — A happening entertainment and restaurant scenes are a great way to unwind. You may find that another area has a better social scene that will make your future home more enjoyable. Just understand that entertainment costs can add up , so keep that in mind if you’re headed to a place with higher cost of living.
- Weather — Moving from a cold climate to cities like Myrtle Beach may help make you content, which can go well beyond the cost of living.
- Great professional or college sports teams — Sports teams can be a great drawer to an area. There’s nothing like watching your team win a big game in person.
- A change of pace — Maybe you’re bored with the same slow-moving area. Or you can’t stand the constant coming and going. Either way, a faster or slower pace of life can nudge you to look beyond the horizon for a different way of life.
- Walkability — An area’s walkability can be important to your quality of life. It can also make sure you get enough exercise.
- Child care — An area’s child care may be vital. If you would child care, check online to see what kind of options are available in that area. Check consumer reviews and reach out to childcare facilities before making the final call on the move.
- Health care — A region’s health care can influence costs. However, health care, including multiple high-quality health care facilities and top-notch doctors, does well beyond healthcare costs.
Not everything is about the cost of living. These are all factors to take into account when looking to turn the page and move to a new area.
How do you calculate a cost of living increase?
Our cost of living calculator uses COL data from the Council for Community and Economic Research’s ACCRA COL Index so you can see how multiple regions’ individual cost of living and overall cost of living compare.
When you compare two Zip codes on our cost of living calculator, check out each cost type: housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, health care, auto insurance, home insurance and miscellaneous. Some of those costs are higher than others. For instance, housing costs like a mortgage payment will take a bigger bite out of your wallet than transportation expenses and food costs.
So, when comparing Zip codes, consider the costs that usually add up more than others, such as putting greater emphasis on housing costs.
What is the average raise for 2021?
The median percentage total salary increase is 3% in 2021, according to XpertHR’s 2001 Salary Budget. That’s the same median increase from 2019 to 2020.
That rate increase includes an average 2.5% increase for officers and executives.
Why do a cost of living comparison?
A cost of living comparison is a way to see if you could maintain the same lifestyle if you were to move to a new city.
You may find the move wouldn’t affect your finances negatively or positively. However, if you’re moving out of state, there’s a good chance that you’ll see a significant enough change that will affect you financially.
The cost of living calculator can also give you ammunition for requesting more money from your current or new employer. You can mention to your employer what you learning from the cost of living calculator results and see if you can get more money to make the move.
Can I afford to move to a new city?
You’ve run your salary in the cost of living calculator and find that your salary wouldn’t go nearly as far if you were to move. What do you do?
One thing to check is how much more you would need to maintain your current lifestyle. Would there only be a couple of hundred dollars difference? Would you be short tens of thousands in your new location?
If you find your income won’t go as far in a new city, you can use that information to request a salary increase. Maybe a prospective employer would be fine with increasing the offer by a couple of thousand to get you to move and join the company.
Remember that a lot goes into an area. Cost of living is just one factor. Before deciding on making a move, look into each aspect of cost of living in our calculator to see specifically how the new area’s costs compare to your current city.
Also, go beyond the cost of living. Check out the area’s other factors, including restaurants, nightlife, arts, sports, schools, walkability, biking, safety and any other things that interest you. You can find online tools and calculators that gauge those factors. Once you compare the cost of living and the myriad factors, you can make a better decision whether to move to the new city.
HIGHEST COST OF LIVING AREAS IN THE U.S.
- New York, NY/New York-Manhattan NY
- San Francisco, CA/San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco CA
- Daly City, CA/San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco CA
- San Jose, CA/San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco CA
- Ross, CA/San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco CA
- Tiburon, CA/San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco CA
- San Quentin, CA (PO Boxes)/San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco CA
- San Bruno, CA/San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco CA
- South San Francisco, CA/San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco CA
- San Geronimo, CA/San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco CA
LOWEST COST OF LIVING AREAS IN THE U.S.
- Portage, MI/Kalamazoo-Portage MI
- Kalamazoo, MI/Kalamazoo-Portage MI
- Schoolcraft, MI/Kalamazoo-Portage MI
- Vicksburg, MI/Kalamazoo-Portage MI
- Richland, MI/Kalamazoo-Portage MI
- Augusta, MI/Kalamazoo-Portage MI
- Mattawan, MI/Kalamazoo-Portage MI
- Plainwell, MI/Kalamazoo-Portage MI
- Galesburg, MI/Kalamazoo-Portage MI
- Otsego, MI/Kalamazoo-Portage MI
Cost of Living By State
|States||Least Expensive City||Most Expensive City|
|Alaska||Kodiak, AK||Juneau city and, AK|
|Alabama||Lincoln, AL||Birmingham, AL|
|Arkansas||Bloomburg, TX||Coy, AR|
|Arizona||Kingman, AZ||Shonto, AZ|
|California||Ridgecrest, CA||San Francisco, CA|
|Colorado||Fowler, CO||Matheson, CO|
|Connecticut||Ellington, CT||Bridgeport, CT|
|District of Columbia||Washington, DC||Washington, DC|
|Delaware||Harrington, DE||Smyrna, DE|
|Florida||Astor, FL||Sunny Isles Beach, FL|
|Georgia||Harlem, GA||Decatur, GA|
|Hawaii||Waimalu, HI||Waimanalo, HI|
|Iowa||New London, IA||New Providence, IA|
|Idaho||Boise City, ID||Owyhee, NV|
|Illinois||Monmouth, IL||Chicago, IL|
|Indiana||Richmond, IN||Coal City, IN|
|Kansas||Arma, KS||Kansas City, KS|
|Kentucky||Owensboro, KY||Louisville/Jefferson County metro govern|
|Louisiana||Ragley, LA||New Orleans, LA|
|Massachusetts||Williamstown, MA||Boston, MA|
|Maryland||Henderson, MD||Silver Spring, MD|
|Maine||Cape Elizabeth, ME||Acton, ME|
|Michigan||Portage, MI||Detroit, MI|
|Minnesota||Red Lake Falls, MN||St. Paul, MN|
|Missouri||Carthage, MO||Kansas City, MO|
|Mississippi||Blue Springs, MS||Hattiesburg, MS|
|Montana||Great Falls, MT||Willow Creek, MT|
|North Carolina||Winston-Salem, NC||Gerton, NC|
|North Dakota||Grand Forks, ND||Lemmon, SD|
|Nebraska||Lincoln, NE||Omaha, NE|
|New Hampshire||Goffstown, NH||Pelham, NH|
|New Jersey||Randolph, NJ||Newark, NJ|
|New Mexico||Salem, NM||Albuquerque, Kirtland Afb, NM|
|Nevada||Mesquite, NV||Reno, NV|
|New York||Appleton, NY||New York, NY|
|Ohio||Pandora, OH||Cleveland, OH|
|Oklahoma||Muskogee, OK||Jennings, OK|
|Oregon||Sherwood, OR||Portland, OR|
|Pennsylvania||Bloomsburg, PA||Canadensis, PA|
|Rhode Island||Kenyon, RI||Providence, RI|
|South Carolina||Aiken, SC||Folly Beach, SC|
|South Dakota||Hawarden, IA||Midland, SD|
|Tennessee||Jackson, TN||Slayden, TN|
|Texas||La Feria, TX||Rosser, TX|
|Utah||Cedar City, UT||Salt Lake City, UT|
|Virginia||Henry, VA||Arlington, VA|
|Vermont||Winooski, VT||St Michaels College, Colchester, VT|
|Washington||Electric City, WA||Seattle, WA|
|Wisconsin||Green Bay, WI||Wisconsin Dells, WI|
|West Virginia||Morgantown, WV||Charles Town, WV|
|Wyoming||Lysite, WY||Alcova, WY (PO Boxes)|