The 4 Best Cost of Living Calculators

If you’re considering relocating for a new job opportunity, you have a lot to think about. One of the highest priorities should be whether you can afford to make the move to a new city, and how the new cost of living affects you.

Cost of living fluctuations can impact your rent or mortgage, commute, overall cost of daily goods and services, and more.

This is where cost of living calculators come in. They use data about various regions to estimate how much you’ll need to earn in a new city to maintain your current lifestyle, taking into account many variables to do so.

Many employers will work with you to adjust your salary for a different cost of living, but in the event that you must negotiate your salary to account for this change, you’ll need to research.

Below, we list our favorite cost of living calculators available on the web.

1. NERDWALLET

NerdWallet Cost of Living Calculator

NerdWallet uses your current city, future city, and current income to predict the salary you’ll need in order to maintain your current lifestyle in the new location. This exact amount accompanies the percentage increase or decrease in the cost of living. For example:

  • Move from Chicago, IL to Cleveland, OH.
  • Make $100,000.
  • You would only need $82,017 to maintain your lifestyle, as the cost of living is 18% lower in Cleveland.

NerdWallet features primarily major cities (listed by state), but finding the closest metropolitan area to your own will give you a fairly accurate number. NerdWallet also offers the added benefits of displaying housing, transportation, food, entertainment, and healthcare costs, as well as school comparisons, so that you can make a more informed choice.

2. BANKRATE

Bankrate Cost of Living Calculator

Bankrate is similar to NerdWallet in that it uses a drop down list of cities (listed alphabetically) and current income to give you the new salary needed in order to maintain your lifestyle, along with the percentage change in cost of living. Here’s another example:

  • Move from Pittsburgh, PA to San Francisco, CA.
  • Make $80,000.
  • You would need to make $143,123 to maintain your lifestyle, as the cost of living is 79% higher in San Francisco.

Bankrate also shows associated housing, food, and lifestyle costs between the two cities.

3. CNN MONEY

CNN Money Cost of Living Calculator

CNN Money is set up slightly differently than the first two. It uses drop-down lists for cities and states, and a sliding bar for income. Then, it shows you a comparable salary in the new city, with a short list of price difference for items such as groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, and healthcare. Here’s an example:

  • Move from Grand Rapids, MI to Manhattan, NY.
  • Make $130,000.
  • Your comparable salary in Manhattan is $328,515.

4. SMART ASSET

Smart Asset Cost of Living Calculator

Smart Asset is the only calculator of these four that allows users to type in any city name rather than using a drop down list, assumedly allowing for more specific data. It is also the only tool that adjusts for adults in the household and children (with the limit of two adults and three children). To take advantage of the more advanced tools—and the fact that you can use a smaller town in the city search—here’s a more complex example:

  • Move from Aurora, OH to Atlanta, GA.
  • Make $150,000.
  • Have two adults in the house and three children.
  • You would need to make $152,528 to maintain your lifestyle, as the cost of living is 2% higher in Atlanta.

If you were a single adult with no children, cost of living in Atlanta would actually be 12% higher, according to this calculator. Thus, taking these factors into account is important.

Smart Asset, however, doesn’t provide the specific increases and decreases in other cost of living factors (such as food) that the other calculators have.

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