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Resources to Research Cost of Living

By Kristi Sproul,

$123,268. This is the annual salary you would need to live comfortably in San Francisco, California, which tops the list of the most expensive places to live in the United States. Move to Little Rock, Arkansas and you would need to earn just $65,292 to maintain the same standard of living that you had in the Golden Gate city. Salaries will go further in some areas than others which is why it is important to research the cost of living when considering a move.

Cost of living (COL) is defined as the amount of money you need for a certain lifestyle in a given place. COL calculations most often consider home value, property taxes, rent, entertainment costs, price of gas and the price of groceries in their formulas. Some resources include dollar figures (the salary you would need to maintain a comfortable lifestyle) while others utilize an index. To interpret an index, you assume that 100 is the average and a locations index will either be higher (more expensive) or lower (less expensive) than the average.

There are several websites that can be utilized for cost of living research. Some offer information for free, while others may charge of fee for detailed reports. Included below are some free resources that can be a great tool for starting your research.

  • Bankrate Cost of Living Calculator
    This calculator is helpful as it includes side by side comparisons for the categories of housing, food and lifestyle. This allows you to prioritize the expenses that are more frequent for you. A downside of this calculator is that it can be difficult to find data for smaller rural areas.

  • Numbeo Cost of Living Index Rate
    Numbeo utilizes the index method to detail rent, groceries, restaurants and even local purchasing power.

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