Inflation Nation: America’s Cost of Living

By: Anneken Tappe · November 10, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Coastal Tax

High inflation has driven up America’s cost of living. But there are huge differences in what life in different communities across the nation costs.

Coastal cities remain some of the most expensive places to live, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s latest quarterly cost-of-living index, which measures regional differences in consumer good, and services. The index excludes taxes.

Wish You Were Here

Some desirable destinations rank at the top of America’s most expensive places to live, when looking at six component categories of housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services.

These are the most expensive and affordable places to live in the U.S. (100 is considered average):

Highest cost of living:

•   Honolulu: 179.2

•   San Jose: 171.3

•   San Francisco: 169.5

Lowest cost of living:

•   Amarillo, Texas: 84.4

•   Augusta, Georgia: 82.8

•   McAllen, Texas: 80.2

Notably, if Manhattan was its own city, it would top the list, blowing all others out of the water at an eye-watering index level of 227.8.

Cost Considerations

It’s important to remember that this cost-of-living index isn’t an inflation gauge, as the cities included may change quarter to quarter.

Even so, its results may have implications for consumer choices. With remote work growing more common, the “coastal tax” could add to existing migration patterns to lower cost of living locations, such as the Southwest.

Learn more about the cost of living in different states across the U.S. here.

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