A Dearth of Cost of Living Data | WYPR

A Dearth of Cost of Living Data

Mar 8, 2018

To stretch out one’s retirement savings, one may have to eventually move to a lower cost city. Many people from the northeast United States end up moving to the American South, with one of the major factors being warmer weather. But that’s hardly the only factor. States like North and South Carolina tend to have costs of living far beneath what one contends with in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey or Maryland.  One of the difficulties in understanding differential costs of living in various areas is a dearth of comparable data.

For instance, as indicated in The Wall Street Journal, if one were considering a move to Davidson, North Carolina or Conway, South Caroline, which represent small, friendly, southern college towns, one may have to settle for cost of living statistics from Charlotte or Myrtle Beach, the closest large cities, respectively. These data are unlikely to accurate represent costs of living in smaller communities.  That said, there are some useful sources out there. For instance, the nonprofit Council for Community and Economic Research based in Arlington, Virginia has published a Cost of Living Index on a quarterly basis since 1968.  The publication measures relative price levels for consumer goods and services in about 300 metropolitan areas. For less than $8, you can compare two sites. Up to four sites can be added to the initial comparison for less than $5 apiece.  This is a great start, but even this is imperfect since data are drawn from the top 20 percent of earners.