Home Info-Graphs True Cost Of Living In The United States

True Cost Of Living In The United States

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Why did we create this tool?

There are many cost of living rankings out there, but most of them give cost of living averages for the "average American household." Here's the issue - the "average American household" doesn't exist. Income and expenses vary widely between a single millennial to a household of two parents and three kids. Our cost tool explores the costs and expenses of living in a place based on your own, specific needs.

The True Cost of Living tool allows you to add details like household size, income, occupation, and even food preferences.

How Does it Work?

Find your True Cost of Living in a Few Clicks

  1. Select your city
    Select the city you are interested in
  2. Browse and click
    Browse through the map and click on the area you'd like to have more information about
  3. Use advanced filters
    If you're looking for more sophisticated searches, click on the cog icon for additional filters

Check Your True Cost of Living

Where do we get our data?

To make sure you're getting the best possible answers from our cost of living tool, we source our data from several places, and keep it updated to reflect the most accurate numbers we can. Here are some of our sources:


This data is from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor, Wages, and Minimum Wage database.


Our Taxes data comes from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Our calculations tend to err on the side of safety - this means that the taxes we estimate may be higher than the taxes you actually pay if you live in that area.

House rent

Our data comes from Renthub.com, which provides us with statistical models that determine accurate market values down to the neighborhood level.

Food costs

We calculate food costs based on food plans created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


We got this data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, Public Use Microdata. It includes utilities, fuels, public services, and much more.

Child care

Our Childcare costs are based on the Parents and the High Cost of Child Care.


This includes all healthcare and personal care products and services as reported by renters in the Consumer expenditure survey


It includes all transportation costs as reported by renters in the Consumer expenditure survey.

True Stories Behind the Numbers

Broken Myths? Why Raymond Left Ohio and Moved to San Francisco:

Raymond is 25 years old and lives with his cat and a fish. He moved to San Francisco to chase his entrepreneurial dreams and follow in the footsteps of giants such as Google and Facebook. He figured it would be easy to “make use of the huge amount of creative and financial resources available in the valley.”

Diary of a Working Woman: How a Change of Cities Actually Changed My Life

The Cost of Living Map for my lifestyle in DC shows a little bit of money leftover each year after basic necessities, all of which is in keeping with my experiences in the city. My rent adjusted for inflation was a bit less than the average 500 square foot apartment (of course my studio was smaller than that), so I probably had closer to $3500 left over each year for additional spending. That basically covered wine and my trip to Paris.

Austin: What Happens When Cool Gets Overcrowded?

According to the Cost of Living Map, even with a job in sales, it can be difficult to make ends meet. Jonathan also limited himself to store- brand cereal and Lean Cuisine for meals. "I didn't go out, ever, which if you talk to any Austin resident under 30 (and many over 30), that means I kind of missed the whole 'point' of being in Austin at all," Jonathan says.

Find Your True Cost of Living Here.

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