Moving to another country, town or city is one of the most important decisions one can ever make, it’s important and advisable that before moving to a new location, you take out some time to consider how much it will cost to live in that city so you can plan properly before moving. Just as the popular saying goes ‘he who fails to plan has planned to fail’ so looking at the cost of living in the city you are moving to is paramount and there are several things you need to take into cognizance about living in a city, town or country.
Cost of living is the amount of money you would need to live in a certain area, city, town or country to cover your basic necessities. The average cost of living in any place varies because the cost of living for a family of four is different from the average cost of living for a single person. It’s also important to note that the cost of living also varies by location
The cost of living scores and indexs are a way to compare the total prices of goods and services between different areas because the prices of goods and services varies from city to city so calculating the cost of living will determine how affordable it is to live in a certain city, town or country.
Some of the key areas to factor into cost of living includes the following;
Education and Childcare
Entertainment and Recreation
Calculating the cost of living is important because it help you determine expenses associateed with different cities, town and regions. And this information can help you determine or negotiate the income you will need to cover basic necessities in that city, town or country.
This is the most important thing to consider when calculating the cost of living in a place. Its includes your rent, mortgage payment as well as interest and property insurance, etc.
Most household around the world spends the largest share of their annual salary on housing. And the average housing cost have been increasing everywhere around the world and in certain countries, states and cities, the average cost of housing has increased significantly more than others which is why the cost of living calculator will help you identity these locations.
In 2020, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey published by Bureau of Labor Statistics, states that housing expenses accounted for 29% of average budget or about $21,409 yearly. Some consumers spend more than others depending on income level.
Monthly rent, home prices, and property tax vary country by country, state by state, city by city and even area to area. For homeowners, they have more expenses to consider than the monthly mortgage payment. There are also taxes, maintenance, upgrades, etc that you need to be mindfully of when considering where to live.
Another important thing to consider is food because food is a basic need and if food cost are high in the city you live, it means that going to the grocery store can add up to your cost of living. Although you can make changes to cut down on the cost of food like cooking more at home rather than going to restaurants, however you choose to do it you would still be affected by food cost in your city or neighborhood.
Cost of food vary also from city to city, area to area because most cities exempt grocery items from sales taxes but some don’t. And it’s important to know this so you can better prepare yourself. If you are someone that doesn’t cook you would also be affected by food prices because wherever you decide to eat it will be reflected on the cost of food you buy.
If you are on a tight budget, it is better you cook your own food, it’s less expensive than eating out and ording takeouts but you must be mindful of grocery cost.
According to Consumer Expenditure Survey in 2020, American household spend an average of $7,316 on food or 10% of their budget. Depending on their budget, they spend about 14 to 12 percent of their annual salary on food.
Education and Childcare
If you are married with kids or planning to, you also need to consider this category because it will also affect your cost of living. You would have to consider the cost of education or whether or not you will need to take out a student loan to get a college education or degree.
You would also need to consider the cost of childcare if you need it. This means the cost of caregiver, pre-kindergarten or after-school daycare. Although you wouldn’t need this if you or your partner is a stay at home parent or you have a relative that can help out.
This is also a basic necessity, it also varies significantly depending on the city you live because some medical procedure cn be more expensive in some cities or areas than others.
You might not have to pay a dime for medical insurance if you have employer-sponsored healthcare but if you are self-insuring you might be looking at over $400 depending on the city or area you live.
Hopefully you will remain healthy but it’s a little challenging to budget for healthcare expenses due to some unexpected of the need for healthcare services. At least 7-10 percent of salary should be budgeted for healthcare expenses.
This is also a major thing to consider where you planning to live. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation is the second-largest expense consumers have. This includes taking public transportation for some. While for others it includes driving your car, repairs, gas, parking and tolls.
It is important to consider the proximity of your job to where you live because this can affect the cost of living significantly whether or not you are taking a public transportation or driving your own car.
Taxes come in the form of income taxes (federal, state, city), property taxes, sales taxes and fees or licenses collected by different local government entities. Some taxes like the sales taxes on food or fuel are included in the overall cost of living estimates.
The required income taxes will be collected from pay and there by reducing the spendable income available to a person. Meaning that a state that has high income taxes will collect a bigger share of your income than a state with low or no state income tax rate. Fee and licenses can vary such as special parking permit, boat license or dog license or some local tax.
Entertainment and Recreation
Entertainment is also part of the things to consider, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend almost the same amount of money on entertainment as they do on health insurance. So if you are someone who loves going to the game, cinema, shows, concerts, etc you also have to take it into account. But just like food, you can curb the way to get entertainment by reducing the way to go to these events.
If you have special hobbies or spend a lot of time on recreational activities, they are also considered part of your cost of living. So if your love to ski or traveling, you may have to look into it if you want to reduce your cost of living.
This is also another important aspect to consider, they are basic necessities you need for your everyday life, the ‘Extras’ refers to things like utility bills, clothes you wear to work, toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, sponge, dishes, etc. Although they are not all that expensive but they are what you would need on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the number of people using it.
Cost of Living in USA
The American families have experienced a rise in the cost of basic necessities in the last decades which has made it a little difficult for them to attain economic security. According to hamiltonproject.org about 80 percent of families in the country saw the share budgets dedicated to spending on needs like housing, healthcare increase by over 7 percent between 1984 to 2014.
Also in 2019, according to pewresearch.org, 35 percent of middle-income families in America usually worry about paying their bills and a similar percent worry bout the of healthcare for them and their families. This alone can give you an idea of the cost that families in the US face.
Although prices of goods and services have fallen drastically, especially when it comes to their quality such as prescription drugs, childcare, etc. Other, however have gone up like education, housing, transportation, utilities etc.
The average cost of living in America vary by state by state and city by city. The cost of living for a family in New York City I different from the cost of living in for a family in Chicago.
As I have aforementioned, the cost of living vary significantly by location but let use average monthly living expenses for a single person in the USA. It would be $3,189 per month resulting to $38,266 per year.
The average living expenses for a family of four would be $7,095 per month resulting to $85,139 per year.
Cost of Living Index in USA
To compare and calculate the cost of living from city to city is the cost of living index and it’s bsed on different kinds of expenses and spendings. The index is based on housing, food, utilities, transportation, health care, etc. For most cost of living indexes, 100 is the number used to represent the national average cost of living. Each city or state is given a number either below or above 100 which is a way consumers can use to tell or gauge how the cost of living in that city or state relates to the national average.
For example let’s look at NYC and Indianapolis.
NYC – 168.6
Indianapolis – 84.9
What this means is that the living expenses in NYC is higher than Indianapolis and an income of $50,000 in NYC would be equivalent to an income of $20,999 in Indianapolis
Monthly Living Expenses in the USA
Below are some of the monthly living expenses in the US and their average cost.
- Housing – $1,784
- Food – $610
- Utilities – $300
- Transportation – $819
- Healthcare – $431
- Health Insurance – $306
- Gas – $131
- Clothing – $120
- Entertainment – $243
- Education – 106
- House keeping supplies – $70
- Personal care products and services – $54
- Food away from home – $198
Total – $5,172
Please note, that the amount mentioned above is not a must for everyone, it all depends on what you have and where you live. For example ia single person would not need to spend nearly that much. If you don’t have children and you are not in school the living expenses would be lower.
Cost of Living in USA Cities
If you are planning to move to any state in the United States, it’s important you know the living expenses in that state and this is the reason we have taken our time to compile the cost of living in different cities in the USA below;