If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Cost of living comparison: how does your city stack up - by Better Money Habits®

Content brought to you by our partner, Better Money Habits®. 
As you think about moving to a new city, you might size up the job market or the social scene. But you may also want to think about the cost of living. Here’s a cost of living comparison by city in a few spots popular with young adults.


Wherever you live, housing is likely your biggest expense. A general rule of thumb is to spend less than 30 percent of your income on rent, but each budget is different. The median rents below represent newer, two-bedroom apartments close to the city center.start superscript, 1, end superscript
Map of US is shown with cost of rent displayed for large cities in four states. Portland, Oregon is $2,131 per month, Salt Lake City, Utah is $910 per month, Raleigh, North Carolina is $701 per month, and Des Moines, Iowa is $648 per month.


The numbers below reflect total energy bills.squared Keep in mind you’ll likely have additional monthly expenses, such as water and trash collection. You may want to do some research or check with your landlord about mandatory expenses.
  • Portland: $151/month
  • Salt Lake City: $149/month
  • Raleigh: $148/month
  • Des Moines: $131/month

Car insurance

While these cities have public transportation, residents often choose to drive. Besides calculating car insurance costs, consider the price of gas, parking and tolls.cubed
  • Portland: $107/month
  • Salt Lake City: $88/month
  • Raleigh: $66/month
  • Des Moines: $87/month

Sales tax

Sales tax drives up the cost of just about everything you buy. Keep in mind that rates can vary by municipality, so cities and suburbs in the same metropolitan area may have different rates.
  • Portland: 0%
  • Salt Lake City: 6.85%
  • Raleigh: 6.75%
  • Des Moines: 6.0%
Remember, sales tax is likely not the only tax you’ll have to pay. You may also want to look up income and property tax rates in the areas you’re considering.

Dinner out

Millennials spend an average of 43% of their food budgets dining out, so restaurant prices can make a big difference. The prices below are based on the cost of an 11- to 12-inch pizza at a typical chain restaurant.start superscript, 4, end superscript
  • Portland: $13.49
  • Salt Lake City: $8.99
  • Raleigh: $9.74
  • Des Moines: $8.49
start superscript, 1, end superscript C2ER Cost of Living Index, 3Q 2015
squared C2ER Cost of Living Index, 3Q 2015
cubed CarInsurance.com, average quotes in zip codes 27601, 50314, 84128 and 97206
start superscript, 4, end superscript C2ER Cost of Living Index, 3Q 2015
The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment options.

Want to join the conversation?