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Old 12-24-2014, 02:08 PM
zdg zdg started this thread
Location: Sonoma County
841 posts, read 1,706,794 times
Reputation: 1123


One of City Data's favorite hourly arguments is the cost of living per state and, more specifically, the tax burden by state.

There are plenty of websites out there that can show you the tax rates and the overall tax burden by percentage per state, but what those sites don't (usually) do is index each state to living costs and average income.

I spent the day compiling a list of each state by average household income by state (source: US Census Bureau), average housing cost by state (source: Zillow/Trulia), income tax calculator (source: each state's taxation website), property taxes by state (source: Tax-Rates.org - The Tax Information Portal), sales tax by state (source: Tax Foundation), consumer price index by state (source: MERIC Home), and the Dec 2014 mortgage rates (source: bankrate.com).

What I really wanted to see was a list of the states based on indexed household buying power -- or in English -- a way to compare the actual buying power of an average family of 4 in each state.

Below is a list of the states, ranked by monthly buying power. This buying power is the average monthly money left over after paying the actual property, sales, and income tax that family would pay in that state AND after average housing costs for that family in that state, adjusted to cost of living for each state.

EXAMPLE: Do you live in California and want to know what your monthly buying power would be if you moved to Iowa? This chart factors in the differences in prices, housing, and taxes for you, so you can see that an average family of 4 in Iowa would have about $930 more per month to spend after taxes and housing than they would if they stayed in California.

Are there some flaws? Of course. Obviously the average house in San Francisco doesn't cost the same as the average house in Fresno, but you get the basic idea.

Remember that costs and prices are already indexed here, so you don't need to argue about how much further that $930 goes in Iowa than California -- the dollars are already adjusted to costs.

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