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cost of living calculator

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How to use Credit Karma’s cost-of-living calculator

Prices for housing, healthcare and other necessities can vary from city to city. So if you’re thinking about relocating to a new city, it’s a good idea to find out how far your salary might stretch.

Our cost-of-living calculator can help you see how much it’ll cost to live somewhere new compared to your current city so you can make an informed decision about your finances.

To compare the cost of living in two different cities, you’ll need to enter some information into the calculator, including …

Your current city — This is where you live now.

New city you want to move to — Enter the city you want to compare the cost of living to.

Your current annual salary — Enter the amount you earn in a year, before taxes are taken out.

When using the cost-of-living calculator, it’s important to keep in mind that the results are only an estimate. Other factors — such as additional income from a partner, for example — could affect the results.

Using the cost-of-living calculator

The cost-of-living calculator can estimate much you’ll need to earn in a new city to maintain your current lifestyle. You’ll be able to see the estimated differences in the costs of …

  • Housing
  • Groceries
  • Transportation
  • Utilities
  • Healthcare
  • Goods and services
  • Mortgage rates

For example, let’s say you currently live in St. Louis and earn $60,000. You’re curious about how much it would cost to live in Seattle. The calculator shows that the overall cost of living in Seattle is 77.16% higher than it is in St. Louis. This higher cost of living in Seattle means that you’d need a salary of $106,295.45 in order maintain your current lifestyle.

Running these numbers can potentially help you in salary negotiations if you’re thinking about relocating for work. And it can give you an idea about where you may need to trim your budget if you’re not able to earn a comparable amount in the new city.

What is cost of living?

Cost of living is determined using the Cost of Living Index, a tool for city-to-city cost comparisons. To create the index, researchers look at the prices for different products and services every quarter. They use those prices, plus data on how people tend to spend their money, to calculate a number that represents what living costs are at a particular time and place.

What to consider when evaluating cost of living in a new city

When you’re trying to figure out how expensive life will be in a new city, it’s a good idea to consider how your spending habits might be different after you move.

You may want to think about these questions:

  • Will you rent or own your new home? If you’ll rent, you may want to purchase renters insurance. If you’re buying a home, you should anticipate paying for homeowners insurance, property taxes and upkeep to keep the home in good repair.
  • Are you going to eat out more often, or will you cook more meals at home? You may need a larger food budget if you’re going to take advantage of a new city’s restaurant scene.
  • Will you use public transportation or drive your own car? Look into the costs of bus passes and subway fares if you’re going to use mass transit. Otherwise, consider what you’ll need to spend on parking fees, tolls, gas and other transportation expenses.
  • Are there any significant expenses you’ll face in your destination city that you don’t pay now? For example, if you currently live near relatives who help out with childcare and you’re moving to an area where you don’t have any family nearby, you may need to spend more on daycare or to hire a nanny once you move.

Whether you’re planning to keep your current standard of living and quality of life or tighten your spending after a move to a new location, it may be a good idea to create a budget. A budget is useful for deciding what your financial priorities are and how you want to allocate your earnings. And sticking to a budget can help you keep spending within your means and make progress toward your long-term savings goals.