The Relative Value of $100 in Every American State and County
Money at Face Value
Not all money is equal. Even though the face value of money stays relatively constant, the purchasing power that is behind it can differ wildly.
We know this intuitively with our personal experiences with things like inflation, but it is also true depending on where you are spending it. In an expensive metropolitan area it may cost more for ordinary goods, while in a rural place it may buy more than you may expect. Today’s charts use information from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to look at data at the state and county level to see where money can get the most “bang for the buck” in purchasing most goods and services.
Hawaii and D.C. are Money Pits
Looking at the cost of living by state level (and including the District of Columbia), the most expensive places to live are: Hawaii, Washington D.C., New York, and New Jersey. California and Maryland are close behind.
In all of these places, on average, spending $100 will only get you about $85 of goods and services relative to the rest of the country.
Here it is mapped:
The best places to get bang for your buck? Each dollar goes further in the Midwest and the South. Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, and South Dakota are among the cheapest states to live.
More Granularity by County
The data becomes much more interesting as it becomes more granular. It also makes sense because most people in Washington State know that money goes further in Spokane in comparison to Seattle. In the big metropolitan areas, or parts of remote states such as Alaska or Hawaii, the cost of living goes up significantly.
Here’s the data by county mapped:
Here’s the five most expensive places in America:
1. Honolulu ($81.37)
2. New York-Newark-Jersey City ($81.83)
3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara ($81.97)
4. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk ($82.31)
5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward ($82.44)
The cheapest place? It looks like it is rural Mississippi where $100 can buy you more than $125 of goods.
Original graphics from: Tax Foundation