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Old 04-14-2007, 06:12 PM
Location: North Carolina
18 posts, read 29,926 times
Reputation: 24



I'm trying to compare cost of living between various regions of the country. I did a little exercise where I compared rents, utilities, gas costs, and other expenses for a single adult commuter (no children) working an entry-level-out-of-college job. I'm assuming a pretty basic lifestyle without too much extravagance, but enough to live decently in a 1-bedroom apt. with no roommates.

With kids, the costs would be higher. I'm assuming no kids.

I looked up rents for 1-br apts on craigslist or commercial sites and looked at reasonably nice apts in safe locations. I plugged them into a spreadsheet and tried to keep rent and electricity to around 25-30% of cost of living.

In some cities, I factored in a couple hundred a month for downtown parking or for riding the commuter train(as noted).

I would like to know what the readers think of my numbers - too high/too low in certain areas for an entry-level professional position (college degree but low on the experience)?

Here are the needed salary numbers that I got for some sample locations:

$30K/year - Charlotte and Wilmington NC, Tulsa OK,
$35K/year - Raleigh/Durham, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Cincinatti, St. Louis
$40K/year - Phoenix, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, Chicago, Milwaukee
$45K/year - Philadelphia, D.C. or LA suburbs (pay for parking to work downtown)
$50K/year - LA and the bare minimum to live in New York outer boroughs or San Francisco (parking or commuter train)
$55K/year - San Francisco or New York (parking/commuter train again)

In general, I get a factor of about 3/5 for Charlotte or Atlanta or St. Louis compared to living costs in NYC, Boston and SF. In other words, at a middle range salary, $60K/year in St. Louis would provide an equivalent lifestyle to $100K/year in Boston or 'Frisco.

From the numbers I got, people who are trying to make it on $10 or less an hour are in trouble, and it's especially bad in Florida and California. $30k/year works out to about $15/hour.

What do you guys think?
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Old 04-14-2007, 06:59 PM
Location: a primitive state
9,256 posts, read 18,758,887 times
Reputation: 10589
That's really interesting. It sounds a bit low. You're talking about the minimum to get by, right?

Did you figure for taxes, insurance, food, auto payment, clothing, entertainment, etc?
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Old 04-15-2007, 01:08 AM
Location: Oregon Coast
1,849 posts, read 6,027,191 times
Reputation: 1374
Most of it looks pretty good. I feel it's a bit too low for L.A. area San Francisco,and New York city.
I have relatives in the outlying L.A. area. I have an idea it's going to take more than $45,000 unless you are going to live in a slum and eat noodles every night.
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Old 04-15-2007, 10:20 AM
Location: Missouri
6,044 posts, read 20,658,966 times
Reputation: 4997
I think it's slightly on the low side also, but doable. Did you know, there are several websites out there, that will do this for you?
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Old 04-15-2007, 10:54 PM
31 posts, read 89,542 times
Reputation: 17
It's a little low for LA. You can probably do it on $50,000.00 but you would need to know the area pretty well and get really lucky on your apt. Our household is well over $150,000.00 and we're definitely not living large LA is a tough place to make it if you didn't get in before the first couple of rounds of the housing boom.
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