Ramsey Cost of Living Calculator

Enter the two cities you want to compare, your salary, and boom! You’ve got an instant cost of living comparison.

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Cost of Living 101

Cost of living refers to what it takes to afford life’s necessities like food, utilities, shelter and transportation—or what we call the Four Walls. Before you get dead set on moving to a new city, make sure you can take care of the Four Walls and maintain your standard of living there. Let’s dig into the nitty-gritty of the expenses that go into your cost of living calculation.

Housing

This is the big one. Whether you’re renting or buying a house, it’ll be hard to balance other financial goals if your monthly housing costs (rent or mortgage) are more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay—including property taxes and insurance. Even if rent is sky-high in your new city, the 25% rule still applies. Try finding a roommate to keep this category in check.

Food

Let’s taco ‘bout food. We recommend spending 10-15% of your take-home pay on groceries and dining out. Depending on where you live and what you eat, you can actually see a difference in food costs from city to city. For example, if you’re moving to another state, food might be taxed differently, which can add up to some serious dough unless you adjust your budget accordingly.

Transportation

Transportation costs —car repairs, gas, tolls, parking permits—can wreck your budget if you don’t plan ahead. These expenses should fall within 10–15% of your monthly income. If transportation is pricier in a new city, try to find housing that gives you a short commute. On the bright side, if there’s good public transportation, you might be surprised by how much money you could save.

Health Care

Most people factor in health care to cost 5-10% of their monthly take-home pay. But similar to how health care needs can vary from month to month, health care costs also vary from state to state. Trips to the doctor or dentist—not to mention insurance premiums—can differ depending on location. But keep in mind, your age and lifestyle habits have a bigger influence on your health insurance premium than where you live.

Other Expenses to Consider

Depending on your life stage, you won’t want to forget about how these expense categories might change when relocating: entertainment, taxes and childcare. Make sure to do your research! It'll be nice if you’re moving somewhere with lower costs, but it probably won’t seem quite so peachy the other way around. 

 Where did we get our data?

The data driving our Cost of Living Calculator comes from the Cost of Living Index, which is published quarterly by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). This index is recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as legit—so we feel pretty confident in these numbers.

If you want to learn more about C2ER, get the scoop here.