The Midwest sees some of the lowest costs of living of the United States’s five regions, but what exactly is your salary worth here? No matter what aspect of living expenses you look at, cities in the Midwest are consistently more economical than other regions in the United States. Everything from housing, food, utilities, to services is more affordable.
|Dinner for Two (Mid-Range Restaurant)||$50||$69||$75||$65|
|Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)||$11||$12||$12||$11.50|
|State Sales Tax||7%||10.25%||8.75%||9.6%|
This chart shows the average cost for a dinner out in Cincinnati, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle. Let’s compare a typical night out between Cincinnati and San Francisco. While a dinner out might cost you $65.27 including sales tax in Cincinnati, that same dinner would cost you about $23 more in San Francisco, or 35% more. However, it’s not just everyday expenses that add up outside the Midwest, housing costs compared to other regions have even more disparity.
Say you’re an entry-level software developer currently making $65,000 per year, and the average salary for your job is $63,000 per year. You’re currently looking for your first home and your budget is around $250,000. The chart below shows you how much home your dollar can afford:
|Average Salary for Software Engineer||$69,994||$76,677||$103,367||$92,451|
|Square Footage of $250,000 Home (City Center)||1350||800||500||700|
|Cost of Living Index||77.14||85.61||104.16||84.33|
However, these are just estimates. What type of home could you actually buy in each of these cities in the current market within your budget?
If you’re looking to live in Cincinnati, this 1780 sq. ft. downtown apartment is currently on the market and within your budget.
In the Windy City, $250,000 would get you this 865 sq. ft. 1 bedroom apartment near the city center.
Check out the spacious bedroom in this 470 sq. ft. apartment in Seattle! This apartment is also within your $250,000 budget.
This 1 bedroom, 470 sq.ft. apartment is located in San Francisco; however, it comes in over your budget at almost $300,000.
While the Midwest offers a uniquely American experience and diverse communities, this isn’t the only pull for the modern first time home buyer. Whether you’re looking to live in a large city or a small suburb, your dollar will go much further in the midwestern US than any other region.
This is a guest post from Laura Zenni, University of Cincinnati student and intern at The Brandery.