Cost of Living Calculator

Updated on Dec 08, 2022

Use this cost of living comparison tool to see how much housing, utilities and other basic living expenses vary from city to city as we head into 2023.

Where you live affects your insurance rates and how much everyday things cost. And the cost of living — the amount of money you need to cover basic living expenses in a particular location – varies significantly from city to city.

For instance, the average home in New York City is valued at almost $783,000, according to online real-estate site Zillow, while the typical house in the Brownsville-Harlingen, Texas, area is just more than $175,000.

While housing prices play a role in an area’s cost of living, it’s far from the only component. Utilities, groceries – the price of milk, bread, and cereal – health care, transportation and other items are factored in.

The Council for Community and Economic Research, a nonprofit research organization, each quarter publishes its Cost of Living Index, which tracks regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services, excluding taxes and non-consumer expenditures, for professional and managerial households. C2ER determines a national cost-of-living average for these homes in more than 250 urban areas and then lists the most and least expensive areas to live.

In its recent index, for the third-quarter of 2022, released year for the third-quarter of 2022 index, it found that New York City was the most expensive place to live — more than twice the national average — while Brownsville-Harlingen was the least expensive.

Cost of living can be a big issue when people are looking to move to a new city to be closer to a job. However, it’s also something remote workers consider when trying to determine where in the country they may want to put down roots. It also plays a role in retirement planning, as many seniors look at an area’s cost of living before deciding where they want to spend their golden years.

But it should be noted that the cost of living fluctuates, which is why many people pay such close attention to the quarterly C2ER metric.

“There are so many changes that go on within a year,” says Tyler Baines, a researcher at the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, a management organization that oversees C2ER. “So, tracking the cost of living as frequently as possible gives people a better picture, in real time, of what their city looks like as far as cost of living goes.”

To provide you with a good picture of what the cost of living is in various cities – and to let you know how insurance rates will be affected — created its Cost of Living Calculator. Each quarter, collects the cost-of-living figures from the Council for Community and Economic Research and combines it with auto and home insurance cost data.

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Cost of living index comparison tool

Please enter valid city/zip
Please enter valid city/zip
Please enter salary Value must be less than 10 digit
New York, NY Boise, ID
Cost of living in Boise, ID, after-tax
Cost of Living
56.45% lower
in Boise, ID, than New York, NY
66% lower
in Boise, ID, than New York, NY
28% lower
in Boise, ID, than New York, NY

Compare cost of living: Boise, ID, vs New York, NY

Cost in
Boise, ID
------- vs -------
Cost in
New York, NY
Misc. Goods & Services
Auto Insurance
  • New York, NY: $5,199
  • Boise, ID: $1,775
  • % Change: 66% lower
Home Insurance
  • New York, NY: $2,795
  • Boise, ID:
  • % Change: 28% lower
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How to use cost of living comparison calculator

To use the tool, enter the Zip code to get the most accurate result. Cities can have multiple Zip codes, so by entering the city name, you'll get the average for all Zip codes in that city. We may not have cost-of-living data for some non-metropolitan areas. In those cases, we provide the cost-of-living information for the nearest Zip code with available information.
  • The cost of living index lets you compare one area’s costs with another.
  • Enter where you live and the information about another community. Provide your income and calculate the cost of living.
  • Our tool shows what you’ll need to earn to maintain the same standard of living. The tool also highlights the cost differences for each category: housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, health care, auto insurance, and home insurance.
  • The cost of living tool additionally includes how much you’d save on home and auto insurance.
  • Enter your information below and compare the cost of living between two places.

Highest and lowest cost of living areas in the U.S.

Highest cost areas

Lowest cost areas

  • New York-Manhattan, NY
  • Urban Honolulu, HI
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA
  • New York-Brooklyn, NY
  • Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, CA
  • Washington, DC
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA
  • Boston, MA
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  • Brownsville-Harlingen, TX
  • Decatur, IL
  • McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
  • Kalamazoo-Portage, MI
  • Ashland, OH
  • Tupelo, MS
  • Muskogee, OK
  • Albany, GA
  • Topeka, KS
  • Richmond, IN

Cost of living by state

Compares cities across the U.S. to find which ones are most expensive and least expensive.

States Least Expensive City Most Expensive City
AlaskaEielson AFB, AKJuneau city and, AK
AlabamaAnniston, ALWoodville, AL
ArkansasMayflower, ARCoy, AR
ArizonaKingman, AZValentine, AZ
CaliforniaRidgecrest, CASan Francisco, CA
ColoradoClifton, COLimon, CO
ConnecticutGranby, CTBridgeport, CT
District of ColumbiaNANA
DelawareGreenwood, DEWilmington, DE
FloridaThe Villages, FLLauderhill, FL
GeorgiaTy Ty, GACandler-McAfee, GA
HawaiiEast Honolulu, HIWaimanalo, HI
IowaAnkeny, IANew Providence, IA
IdahoJerome, IDParma, ID
IllinoisMount Zion, ILChicago, IL
IndianaCambridge City, INPatricksburg, IN (PO Boxes)
KansasLawrence, KSKansas City, KS
KentuckyLexington-Fayette urban, KYLouisville/Jefferson County metro govern
LouisianaChoudrant, LANew Orleans, LA
MassachusettsWilliamstown, MABoston, MA
MarylandMardela Springs, MDCoral Hills, MD
MaineSouth Portland, MERaymond, ME
MichiganPortage, MIDetroit, MI
MinnesotaSt. Peter, MNSt. Paul, MN
MissouriJoplin, MOKansas City, MO
MississippiBelden, MSBeaumont, MS
MontanaFort Shaw, MTWillow Creek, MT
North CarolinaLewisville, NCAvon, NC
North DakotaGrand Forks, NDCannon Ball, ND
NebraskaDakota City, NEOmaha, NE
New HampshireWilton, NHSeabrook, NH
New JerseyBrookside, NJ (PO Boxes)Newark, NJ
New MexicoNara Visa, NMSouth Valley, NM
NevadaMesquite, NVOwyhee, NV
New YorkChaffee, NYNew York, NY
OhioWooster, OHWinchester, OH
OklahomaWebbers Falls, OKOklahoma City, OK
OregonJordan Valley, ORPortland, OR
PennsylvaniaBerwick, PAEast Stroudsburg, PA
Rhode IslandNewport East, RIProvidence, RI
South CarolinaAiken, SCPort Royal, SC
South DakotaBeresford, SDTolstoy, SD
TennesseeKnoxville, TNCenterville, TN
TexasHarlingen, TXCarrollton, TX
UtahCedar City, UTSalt Lake City, UT
VirginiaDanville, VAFlint Hill, VA
VermontEssex Junction, VTSt Michaels College, Colchester, VT
WashingtonProsser, WASeattle, WA
WisconsinHoward, WIMuscoda, WI
West VirginiaSouth Charleston, WVKearneysville, WV
WyomingLysite, WYCarpenter, WY
Below national average
Equals national average
Above national average

What is 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 retiring.
  • You want to spend less on regular daily expenses, so you can invest and save more.
  • 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?

Cost of living shouldn’t have a direct effect on savings and investments. That said, if you’re spending

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 scene 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 — If you prefer warm weather, moving from a cold climate to a place with warmer weather might make you happier and make a higher cost of living worthwhile.
  • 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 need 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. Access to high-quality health care facilities and top-notch doctors may be well worth the higher cost of living.

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 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 2021 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 to 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 have learned 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 there’s a lot to consider when choosing a new place to live. 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 other factors about the area, 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 an informed decision about whether to move to the new city. 

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