What Is The Average Cost Of Living In The USA?

Definition of "What is the average cost of living in the USA?"

Barbara Gargiulo real estate agent

Written by

Barbara Gargiuloelite badge icon

Prominent Properties Sotheby's International Realty

The cost of living index is an important factor to consider when choosing a place to live because it reflects the overall affordability of a particular location. The cost of living index takes into account the prices of essential goods and services, like food, housing, healthcare, transportation, and education, to name a few of the typical areas. The cost of living index can vary widely, depending on the location, and understanding it can help you determine if a particular location is financially viable for you. 


The cost of living in the USA fluctuates greatly depending on the location, with cities and metropolitan areas generally being more expensive than rural areas. The cost of living can also vary based on factors like education or air quality. Still, there are plenty of safe cities that have an affordable cost of living to discover. 


Why does the cost of living index matter?


Some of the reasons why the cost of living index matters when choosing a place to live are:


The cost of living index can help you assess whether a particular location is affordable for you. If the cost of living in a particular location s high, making ends meet may be more difficult, especially if you are on a fixed income.

Quality of life

The cost of living index can be a marker of the quality of life you can potentially have in a specific location. If the cost of living index is high, you may have to spend more time working to cover expenses, leaving you less time to enjoy life, and thus result in a worse quality of life. Living in cities with low cost of living and high safety standards can change that for the better. 


Understanding the cost of living index in a particular location can help you budget and plan your finances. It can give you an idea of how much you need to earn to maintain your current lifestyle or achieve financial goals. Being well-informed can help you plan your future better. 


Job opportunities

The cost of living index can also help you get an idea about job opportunities in a certain area and how difficult it is to find a job in the modern labor market in that particular location.  A high cost of living may indicate higher salaries, but there can be higher expenses too. On the other hand, areas with lower costs of living can offer smaller salaries, but that income can still be more advantageous because of the low cost of living.  


Cost of living in the US


According to recent data, the average annual expenditure unit in the United States is $61,334 a year. Roughly 34.9%, or $1,784, of that is spent monthly on housing and housing-related expenses. The median price for a single-family home is $273,992 currently in the United States. Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,164 per month. Additionally, an average household in the USA is spending 16% on transportation which equals an average of $9,826 a year. Healthcare expenses cost $5,177 on average annually. Food, eating out, and groceries cost an additional $7,317 a year, or divided by months $609.75. The monthly cost of utilities in the United States is $370.16 on average.   


The median household income is $67,521 per year nationwide, and the personal income per person is $35,805. For a family of four, the living wage is $68,808 annually. 

For a good quality of life, you might want to consider the top 7 cities with low cost of living and high wages for 2023 when planning where to relocate in the USA. 

It is important to note that these numbers can vary significantly, depending on the location and the size of the household. To get a more accurate idea of the safest places with the best cost of living index currently in the US, you may want to try using an online cost-of-living calculator. Those can provide estimates of expenses, such as transportation and food, based on the location and family size. Additionally, contacting a real estate agent in a specific location might help you with up-to-date information. These tools and resources can give you an idea of how much it costs to live in a specific area and help you make well-informed decisions about finances before committing to relocate.

image of a real estate dictionary page

Have a question or comment?

We're here to help.

*** Your email address will remain confidential.


Popular Real Estate Questions

Popular Real Estate Glossary Terms

Any walls constructed without using concrete or mortar. Drywall materials include sheetrock, gypsum, plywood, Styrofoam, and pressed fiver. See also drywall construction. ...

An insect, such as a termite, that "eats into" the wood and destroys it. This can cause significant damage to the home. Most states have laws that require termite inspection and ...

Word, or group of words, that identifies a business or one of its products. The name is registered with U.S. Patent Office and provides legal protection for an indefinite number of renewals ...

Also called real property. Anything permanently affixed to the land, such as buildings, walls, fences, and shrubs, as well as the rights to own or use them. It is distinguished from ...

Projecting what the total cost would be to construct a structure. Costs include material, labor, and lawyers' fees. ...

Square footage of space a parcel of land has. ...

Geographical area for which a given governmental agency has authority and responsibility. For example, the jurisdiction of a county court is the county in which it is located. ...

Adding a period of time onto another. An examples a mortgagor who successfully restructures his loan by tacking another five years onto the term. ...

Exposure can have various meanings in real estate and insurance, depending on the context. Let’s have a thorough look at these scenarios! Exposure as property’s ...