While the Euro has long been more valuable than the American dollar, the cost of living in the United States is significantly higher than across Europe on average. Basic expenses for a single adult with no children in the U.S. is $2,508, compared to an average $1,746 per month in Europe. However, individual states and nations run the gamut in terms of costs.
With this in mind, SmartAsset examined the cost of living across all 50 states and the 38 countries in Europe to get a sense of how they compare on a one-to-one basis.
- Cost of living gap is wider in Europe than the U.S. While the median cost of living in the U.S. ($2,508) is higher than Europe ($1,746), there is a wider gap between the most expensive European countries and most affordable ones. Switzerland, which has Europe’s highest monthly cost of living ($4,059), is 4.5 times more expensive than Bosnia, Europe’s least expensive country ($900). In the U.S., Hawaii’s cost of living is the highest ($3,167) and Kentucky is the most affordable ($2,275).
- Costs in the Carolinas are comparable to Germany. A single person with no children needs about $2,503 per month in Germany – similar to what the same person would need in South Carolina ($2,501) and North Carolina ($2,492).
- California and New York costs are most similar to Denmark. The median cost of living in the second- and third-most expensive states in the U.S. is $3,155 and $3,126, respectively. That’s only slightly less than the $3,176 that’s needed to get by in Denmark.
- Colorado and New Jersey have similar costs to the U.K. The median cost of living in the U.K. ($2,827) is comparable to both Colorado and New Jersey, where a single person with no kids spends $2,843 and $2,798 per month, respectively.
- It’s more expensive to live in the cheapest U.S. states than most of Europe. Twenty-six countries, including France ($2,240), Sweden ($2,100), Italy ($1,743) and Spain ($1,719), have lower costs of living than Kentucky ($2,275), which has the lowest cost of living in the U.S.
- Costs in Virginia and the Netherlands are nearly identical. A single person with no children can live on $2,788 per month in Virginia, just $12 more per month than in the Netherlands ($2,776).
- The Florida of Europe? Liechtenstein, a tiny mountainous country between Switzerland and Austria, is the European nation with a cost of living that’s most comparable to the Sunshine State. The basic monthly living costs for a single person with no kids in Florida is $2,689, just $4 more than in Liechtenstein.
- Finland and Texas share a similar cost of living. The median cost of living in Texas is $2,555 per month, which is most comparable to the basic costs of Finland ($2,527).
- Belgium has a comparable cost of living to the most affordable states. Basic costs for a single person with no children in Belgium ($2,292) are most similar to those of Arkansas ($2,278) and Kentucky ($2,275) – the two states with the lowest costs of living in the U.S.
Data and Methodology
Basic costs for a month for a single adult with no children in 2023 are compared across European nations and U.S. States. Data for the U.S. comes from MIT's Living Wage Calculator and includes housing, food, medical, transportation and miscellaneous costs. Self-reported European data comes from Expatistan.com and includes housing, food, clothing, transportation and personal care items. All currencies are converted into USD based on September 2023 conversion rates.
Limitations: Basket of goods across Europe and the U.S. differ. All cost estimates come from self-reported data. Exchange rate fluctuations and other factors may affect cost comparisons.
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