State cost of living differences

With rising gas and other prices, people are very concerned with the cost of living. But does the money it takes to live differ by where you live? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden answers.

“It sure does. …. For a long time a particular organization in the country, now this is a private sector organization, has tracked cost of living differences between states. We just got the numbers for 2011. It does show a wide variation. For example, it costs 86 percent more in terms of what you need to spend to achieve a certain standard of living in Hawaii than in Oklahoma.

“Now some would say well that’s Hawaii. Hawaii’s different. Well, let’s just look in the continental U.S.: The spread there is 50 percent. So we do see a significant difference in the cost of living, even within the continental U.S.

“Now where does North Carolina rank on this one? Well, fortunately for those of us who live in North Carolina, we rank on the low side. We are actually the 21st least costly state to live in, according to the recent data.

“Now these differences are important to consider when, for example, a person may be considering alternative job offerings between states. It may be that you get a higher job offer in terms of salary in one state, but that may be all eaten up by differences in the cost of living.

“So it’s important to consider that as well as different amounts of spending between states.”


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