Moving? Consider a City’s Cost of Living Index

Thinking about a new place to hang your hat?  Moving can have a drastic effect on your finances.

Costs of living vary hugely across the United States. Everything from rent, real estate, and utilities to food and entertainment is different from place to place.

Here’s a quick look at the cost of living in various cities, according to the 2017 Kiplingers Best Cities for the Next Decade survey.

From cheapest to steepest, we’ll take a look at some well-known locations: Boston, New York, Miami, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, Las Vegas, Seattle, Los Angeles, and St. Louis. All of our cost-of-living ratings are against a national average of 100.

1. St. Louis, Missouri – St. Louis is our cheapest featured city, with a cost of living index of 87.

2. Dallas, Texas – Second lowest on our list is cheap Dallas, coming in with a cost of living index of 92.

3. Las Vegas, Nevada – Like to try your luck on the tables? Las Vegas has a cost of living that’s spot on the national average of 100. Of course, living in Las Vegas will present you with many high-roller luxuries to spend money on.

4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – The city of brotherly love comes just a hair above the average with an index of 103.

5. Chicago, Illinois – The Windy City’s deep-dish pizza and Cubs games bring a cost of living index of 113.

6. Seattle, Washington – For rainy weather and easy access to many Starbucks locations, you’ll spend 14 points above the national average with a cost of living index of 114.

7. Miami, Florida – Sunny Miami comes with an index of 120.

8. Boston, Massachusetts – Fancy yourself as a future Red Sox fan? Boston’s index of 129 brings a price 29% higher than the rest of the country.

9. Los Angeles, California – Fledging models and actors be warned: living in LA will cost you 42% above the national average at a cost of living index of 142.

10. New York, New York – Interested in living in the city that never sleeps? Well, being up all night can, and will, cost you. The cost of living in New York is four times the national average, with an index rating of 400. Never again will you call people that commute from Connecticut crazy!

If you’re considering a move to a new city, the cost of living will give you a good idea of what an equivalent salary is in another city. However, comparing gross salaries might not give the clearest indication of the lifestyle you can expect. To get as clear a picture as you can, you’ll want to consider how much money you’re likely to net post taxes. If your new salary is bigger, the difference could be taxed now that you’re in a higher tax bracket.

Calculate Your Cost of Living Index

So, to get a realistic estimate of your new income, try this. First, get a realistic idea of your post-tax income. Start with your gross income, subtract any deductions or deferments you expect in both places, and then subtract federal income tax.

You’ll also want to consider state income taxes in both places.  Cost of living indexes generally only include taxes affixed to goods, such as sales and excise taxes.  After you have an idea of both post-tax incomes, compare them.

And remember to consider other factors that might affect how much you enjoy living in your new home. Think of the culture of each city, the access to entertainment, and how you’ll be able to spend your off hours.

Then, use cost of living estimates to figure how far your dollar will go.