“The cost of living is going up and the chance of living is going down.” – Flip Wilson
As time goes up, so do costs. That is something we can all agree with. We’ve all seen those books in the local diner or grocery store that have all the prices from 50 years ago.
But, although inflation is inevitable, why is it that it is more prevalent in certain parts of the country? It’s a pretty well known fact that the cost of living is significantly lower in southern parts of the country. Cost of living even varies from city to city in some states. People will argue that since the cost of living is more expensive in New England it’s because we get paid more. But is that really true? and if so, do our salaries correlate with our cost of living effectively? I was curious, so I did some research. I thought you might like to know as well so here ya go.
With a website called www.areavibe.com I was able to compare different cities through the USA and measure their cost of living, crime, education, income, and other factors that fall into play. I compared our home town of Lowell, MA; Boston, MA which is only 30 mins away from Lowell but cost of living is significantly higher through my recent observations; Raleigh, NC which has been a common comparison in price differences; Waco, TX to represent the South; and Fresno, CA to represent the West.
As far as livability and amenities, these cities are all very comparable. The livability in Raleigh and Waco is slightly higher based on a higher graduation rate. Raleigh comes out on top for livability specifically because of the low cost of living.
As you can see in he chart above, Boston has the highest Cost of Living Index BY FAR. Lowell is not too far behind. The housing index for Boston is almost off the chart. Just to put into perspective for you, I also found these statistics.
Lowell’s cost of living index is 4% lower than MA (so Lowell is one of the cheaper areas to live in MA)
Massachusetts’s cost of living index is 25% higher than the national average.
Massachusetts’s housing index is 24% higher than the national average.
And this was the kicker for me – Massachusetts’s income tax index was 132% higher than the national average.
So in case you haven’t figured it out yet, we live in one of the most expensive states in the USA.
So now the question is this, do our salaries and wages really reflect such a higher cost of living? Let us see.
So to me, there isn’t really that much a difference but let’s go a step further and see that the numbers are to compare.
Boston vs Lowell
Boston’s cost of living is 14% higher than the cost of living in Lowell. HOWEVER, the median household income is only 10% higher in Boston than in Lowell.
Boston vs Raleigh
Bostons cost of living is 29% higher than the cost of living in Raleigh, NC. HOWEVER, the median household income is .18% LOWER IN BOSTON than it is in Raleigh, NC. So in this specific example the answer is NO – WE ARE NOT GETTING PAID MORE TO LIVE IN A MORE EXPENSIVE LOCATION.
So through this research it makes me think – how good is quality of life in an area where people are struggling to keep up with the cost of living and their salaries and wages don’t correlate? How many people just work as much as possible to make as much money as possible just to simply exist in their area rather than truly live? How can people save or do things they enjoy when you can barely afford rent or your mortgage, groceries, and utilities necessary to survive?
Some people are fine with this. They like working and they like being busy all the time. But if you don’t, it’s important to know the facts. It’s important to know that things are different elsewhere. You may make excuses that you can’t leave because this or that. You can’t quit your job because of reasons A, B, and C. But at the end of the day, only you can change your situation.