Use Salary.com's Cost of Living Calculator to easily compare the cost of living in your current location to the cost of living in a new location. We use the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and salary differentials of over 300+ US cities to give you a comparison of costs and salary. Let us help you make an informed decision about what it will cost to live and work in the city of your dreams!
Cost of Living Index in Major Cities of the United States
A comparison of the Cost of Living indexes across major US Cities compared to the national average. The calculations are based on the total cost of energy, food, healthcare, housing and transportation, among other factors. New York City consistently ranks #1 as the nation's highest cost of living.
If you'd like to know the cost of living in other cities, then please select a city in
Cost of Living Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Cost of Living index and how is it used?
In the simplest terms, a Cost of Living index is the estimated amount that represents the cost of the basic necessities required for an individual to live. A cost of living or COL estimate may typically include estimates for housing, food, energy, medical care, transportation, taxes, and other necessities. A COL index may be used to measure what the cost difference would be for a person living in a certain location compared to another location. This cost of living comparison helps individuals make decisions about where they would like to live and what they can afford based on the costs in that location. A cost of living comparison can provide guidance about how an increase or decrease in these basic living expenses impacts necessary spending for an individual or a family.
What factors are included in estimating your cost of living?
The Salary.com cost of living calculator estimate is based on data related to five general categories: housing, food, healthcare, transportation, and energy. These are the universally recognized core components of any cost of living estimate and represent those expenses that apply to everyone. Obviously, there may be other factors that could contribute to your particular cost of living situation and not everyone has the same spending habits. For example, education and/or childcare costs might not apply to everyone, but for those who have those expenses, they could be significant and should be considered when you evaluate your cost of living comparison.
The Salary.com cost of living calculator is unique in that it also incorporates current salary data for thousands of jobs specific to a chosen home or work location to provide a more refined estimate of the cost of living variations. You can see how your job and your salary will be impacted by a change of location. If you live in one location but work in another, the cost of living calculator will make those adjustments to provide an accurate estimate of the change in COL. The Salary.com cost of living calculator helps you to make cost of living comparisons cost comparisons easily and quickly.
Review the cost of living categories used by the calculator
Housing is a large part of any cost of the living estimate. This category includes your rent, mortgage payment including interest and property insurance or other fees. Most households spend the largest share of overall expenses on housing. Average housing costs have recently been increasing everywhere in the United States. There are certain areas of the country where the cost of housing has increased much more rapidly than other locations and the cost of living calculator will help you to identify those locations. Budget tip: The rule of thumb estimate is that housing expense should be between 25 - 30 % of net income (after taxes).
Another category of the cost of living is food. This includes the overall cost of food items purchased in grocery stores and food consumed away from home. The cost of groceries is a significant piece of the cost of living estimate.
Budget tip: Food expenses should range between 10-15% of income.
Transportation is included in the cost of living estimate and consists of any expenses related to travel including commuting. The costs of operating a car, such as gas, maintenance, repairs, tires, insurance, motor vehicle licensing or registration fees are part of the estimate. The costs of utilizing public transportation are also included in this category.
Budget tip: 2-5% of income is a good spending target for transportation costs.
The healthcare category of the cost of living estimate consists of premiums for health insurance, medical care or professional medical services like a physician or dentist, and hospital, prescriptions and other health-related services.
Budget tip: It is difficult to budget for healthcare expenses due to the sometimes unexpected nature of the need for healthcare services. Hopefully, you will remain healthy. Based on typical spending, 7-10% of income should be budgeted for Healthcare expenses.
The energy category of the cost of living estimate consists of the cost of electricity and other utilities like natural gas or home heating oil. Where you live can impact this category, in very cool or warm locations, energy costs can be much higher than the national average.
Budget tip: Energy utilities should range between 2-10% of income. In some cases, some of your energy costs may be included with rent.
Think about some other factors that might impact your cost of living
Taxes come in the form of income taxes (federal, state, city), sales taxes, property taxes, and licenses or fees collected by various local government entities. Some taxes, like a sales tax on fuel or food, are included in the overall COL category estimates. Required income taxes will be deducted from pay and reduce the spendable income available to a person. A state with high state income taxes will take a bigger share of your pay than a state with low or no state income tax rates. Licenses or fees can differ by individual. Examples of fees could be a dog license, boat license, special parking permits, or some other local tax.
For those with children, child care can be a significant expense that is above and beyond a typical cost of living estimate. The type of child care needed, for example, hiring an individual caregiver or live in nanny for an infant, or enrolling in an after school program for an older child or for several children, can vary in cost. Those expenses might impact your overall cost of living.
Apparel and personal services
If you spend a lot on new clothing or personal services like beauty services or gym memberships you will need to think of those additional expenses and include them in your cost of living estimates.
Pet expenses are also not included in the basic cost of living estimate, depending on the type of pet you have, these costs can be significant. Think about veterinarian visits, food, licenses, grooming, and even doggy daycare. All these costs will add to your overall cost of living.
If you have special hobbies or spend a lot on recreational pursuits, those expenses, whether they are for travel, lessons, equipment, memberships, or admissions should be considered part of your overall cost of living. Include these activities in your cost of living estimates. It is possible that a move could reduce the costs of your activity, for example, if you like to ski and you move to the mountains, you could eliminate the costs of travel and lodging to the slopes.
Don't forget- Savings
Finally, think of how much you should set aside for savings and make sure your cost of living planning includes your savings.