Red-hot inflation pushed the cost of living in the U.S. higher and higher over the last two years. But as inflation abates and Americans continue to migrate to different parts of the country, the relative expense of different areas may still change with demand.
To see where the cost of living has gone up the most relative to the national average, SmartAsset compared economic data from the first quarter of 2023 and the first quarter of 2022 for 237 areas.
- Relative to the U.S. average, New York City and San Francisco costs dropped about 15%. Prices in Manhattan and Brooklyn came down nearly 16% from the previous year, relative to average U.S. costs. In San Francisco, the cost of living fell by more than 14% when compared with the national average, while prices in Chicago dropped 12% during that same time period.
- Miami overtakes Fort Lauderdale as the most expensive Floridian city. Fort Lauderdale had the biggest decrease at 2.7%, relative to Miami’s 1.5% drop. Both cities are roughly 20% more expensive than the average American city, but now Miami slightly outranks Fort Lauderdale. Across Florida, cost of living decreased relative to U.S. average, with a 0.74% average decrease.
- Costs in this Texas city increased most. Relative to the average cost of living, prices in Plano, Texas are up nearly 10 points from 2022. Other places where prices increased most include Kalamazoo, MI and the Hampton Roads area of VA – the cost of living jumped 8.8% and 8.6%, respectively, when compared with the nation at large.
- Harlingen, TX is the most affordable area in the nation. Located on the southern tip of Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border, Harlingen has the lowest cost of living among all 237 areas we evaluated. Harlingen prices are more than 24% lower than the national average.
Top 10 Relative Increases in Cost of Living
1. Plano, TX
Between the first quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023, the cost of living in Plano rose 9.5% relative to the national average – more than any other area in the country. Prices in Plano are 21.8% higher than the national average, making it the 22nd most expensive place across our study.
2. Kalamazoo, MI
Prices in Kalamazoo rose 8.8% between early-2022 and early-2023 when compared with the national average – second-most out of the 237 areas we evaluated. However, Kalamazoo’s cost of living is still more than 17% lower than the national average and fifth-lowest across our study.
3. Hampton Roads-SE Virginia, VA
Virginia’s Hampton Roads area, which includes Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News, saw an 8.6% increase in prices relative to the national average. By the first quarter of 2023, residents were paying a 4.1% cost of living premium, making it the 60th most expensive area to live.
4. Tulsa, OK
The cost of living in Tulsa remains relatively low, even after prices climbed 6.1% – compared to the national average – by 2023. Tulsa’s cost of living is still 8.4% lower than the national average. As a result, $91.60 in Tulsa is worth the same as $100 nationally.
5. Terre Haute, IN
Between the first quarters of 2022 and 2023, the cost of living in Terre Haute increased 6% relative to the national average. However, overall costs in Terre Haute are still 3.1% lower than they are nationally and less than 97 other areas.
6. Hutchinson, KS
The cost of living in Hutchinson increased 5.7% between early-2022 and early-2023, when compared with the national average. This city of nearly 40,000 people, located northwest of Wichita, remains significantly more affordable than most other areas. The city’s cost of living in 2023 is approximately 11% less than the national average.
7. Pueblo, CO
Relative to average, prices in Pueblo are up 5.4 points from 2022, seventh-most across the 237 areas we studied. The cost of living in Pueblo – a city of 111,000 people in southern Colorado – is just 1.3% less than the national average.
8. Douglasville-Douglas County, GA
In 2023, the cost of living in Douglasville and the surrounding Douglas County increased by 5 points when compared with the national average. However, prices in Douglasville, which sits 22 miles west of Atlanta, are still 5.4 points lower than the national average.
9. Grand Rapids, MI
Between the first quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023, prices in Grand Rapids rose 4.8 points when compared with the national average. As a result, the city’s cost of living is now just 3 percentage points lower than it is nationally.
10. Jackson, MS
The cost of living in Jackson rose 4.7 points in 2023 relative to the national average, 10th biggest jump across our study. Mississippi’s capital city is still among the most affordable places in the country. In Jackson, $85.02 goes just as far as $100 nationally, making this city the 17th most affordable of 237 areas.
Data and Methodology
This study used Cost of Living Index data from the Council for Community and Economic Research for Q1 2023 and Q1 2022, considering 237 urban areas for which data was available.
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