The term “cost of living” refers to the amount of money required to cover the essential cost of living at a given time and location. Cost of living such as housing, food, utilities, transportation, and health care vary by time and place and are factored into the cost of living. If you’re planning to move to a new city or are just curious about what it might cost to live elsewhere, use the cost of living calculator below to see the difference between your current location and your desired location.
In addition, the calculator informs you whether you can probably maintain your standard of living based on your income. If your current salary is not enough, take your financial future in hand and try our tips to negotiate a possible cost of living adjustment.
Average cost of living in the US
Based on our index, the average cost of living in the US is 100. This means that if a region’s cost of living equals the national average, its cost of living index (COLI) is 100. Cities at or closest to the average cost of living in the United States are:
- Yuma, AZ (COLI of 99.9)
- Ogden, UT (COLI of 99.9)
- Pierre, SD (COLI of 100.2)
- Orlando, FL (COLI of 100.2)
When a city is a COLI over 100, that is, it is a certain percentage above the national average. In other words, it could be viewed as a more expensive city to live in.
- Los Angeles, CA has a COLI of 148. This means the cost of living in Los Angeles is 48 percent above the national average.
When a city is a COLI under 100, that is, it is a percentage less than the national cost of living. In other words, it could be seen as a more affordable city to live in.
- Amarillo, TX has a COLI of 81.5. This means that the cost of living in Amarillo is 18.5 percent below the national average.
What is the national cost of living?
Although the average cost of living index is 100, this number can be confusing to interpret. To put this in perspective, let’s use the median necessary living wage for Yuma, AZ, which has a COLI equal to the US average of 100, as an example.
The average necessary living wage is equal to the cost of living as it is the estimated income needed to cover the basic cost of living in a given place and time. By using Yuma’s living wages as a reference point, we can illustrate the type of salary and wages required to meet the average cost of living in the country. We have also listed the average necessary living wage for the country to put the average cost of living into perspective.
Median living wage in Yuma, AZ:
- $ 74,740 per year, pre-tax for a family of four (two working adults)
- $ 17.97 per hour per working adult in a family of four
Median living wage in the US:
- $ 68,808 per year, pre-tax for a family of four (two working adults)
- $ 16.54 per hour per working adult in a family of four
Cities with the highest cost of living in the United States
The cost of living is useful when comparing the cost of cities and identifying the areas with the highest and lowest cost of living. The city with the highest cost of living is New York (Manhattan), NY, with an index of 239.3. Check out the table below to see which other cities lead the nation with the highest cost of living.
|The 10 Highest Cost of Living Cities in the United States|
|city||Cost of Living Index (COLI)|
|1. New York City (Manhattan), NY||239.3|
|2. San Francisco, California||186.4|
|3. Honolulu, HI||185.6|
|4th New York City (Brooklyn), NY||172.6|
|5. Washington, DC||154.4|
|6th Oakland, California||152.8|
|7th Orange County, California||151.9|
|8th. Seattle, WA||149.9|
|9. Boston, MA||148.6|
|10. Los Angeles, California||148|
6 tips for negotiating a cost of living adjustment
Some employers offer a cost of living adjustment to workers who must move to an area with a higher cost of living in order to carry out their job duties. These adjustments are usually an increase in your salary and are intended to account for the increased cost of living.
A good time to negotiate a cost of living adjustment is when you are relocating for work and cannot afford the same basic cost of living in the new location. Adjusting the cost of living will help expand your budget to cover expenses such as accommodation, food, and transportation. Check out the tips below to help you successfully negotiate a cost of living adjustment.
1. Make use of the data
First, use a salary tool to see how your current income compares to the market average for your position and area. You can get comprehensive salary data from Mint or try using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on wages, compensation and benefits. Examining whether your salary is competitive for your area can help you decide whether it is worth negotiating.
Once you have decided to negotiate an adjustment, it is important to provide data to justify your request. Find out the data on the national adjustment of the cost of living by the social security administration and the consumer price index. Information based on social security adjustments and the rising cost of living such as food and accommodation will help support your request.
2. Show your worth
Demonstrating your worth as an employee is a critical part of negotiating any aspect of your compensation. Prepare to demonstrate your impact on the job by quantifying your accomplishments whenever possible. For example, if you work in sales, you can highlight your value by providing metrics on the number of leads you closed or the company’s overall bottom line. This shows your employer that your worth justifies your raise.
3. Get the timing right
Timing is important when asking for a cost of living adjustment. If you are moving for work in the near future, it is a good idea to inquire before moving. Also give yourself and your employer enough time to prepare for the interview and to arrange an interview.
Open the email template
4. Approach it with confidence
In any negotiation, trust is key. Practice what you are about to say so that you can confidently make your cost of living argument. This will help show your employer that you did the research and know your worth, and they may be more likely to accept your request.
5. Be collaborative
Research shows that cooperative negotiation leads to better outcomes for both sides. Approach your negotiations collaboratively and let your employer know that you are ready to work with them. In this way, both parties can come to a solution that will satisfy everyone.
6. Express gratitude
Whether or not you are successful in negotiating a cost of living adjustment, expressing your gratitude is a good practice. Then try a thank you email briefly summarizing what you discussed. When you have received the desired adjustment, you should also have this confirmed in writing. On the other hand, if you haven’t received the customization, it shows that you are professional and gives you an opportunity to move forward.
Negotiating any part of your compensation, be it an increase or an adjustment in the cost of living, can be a daunting task. If you want to negotiate but don’t know how, try these conversation starters to start the discussion on a cost of living adjustment.
The cost of living varies depending on the time and place. Whether you are moving across the country or just a few hours away, it is wise to think about whether you can keep your standard of living in a new location. Use this cost of living calculator to compare two cities in the United States and see if you can still get enough of your current budget. If it doesn’t work, consider applying for a cost of living adjustment to increase your budget for expenses like groceries, housing, and transportation. After your move, readjust your budget categories in your Mint app to keep your finances on track.
About this calculator:
To calculate the cost of living, C2ER’s 2021 Cost of Living Index (COLI) is used to compare the cost of living for 294 urban areas in the United States. Please note that these are estimates and we cannot guarantee your actual costs.
Sources: Living wages MIT | COLI