Running the Numbers: The Real Cost of City Living in America

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They say the grass is always greener—and now we have the data to find out if that’s true.

NPR created a chart showing how far your paycheck will go in different U.S. cities, using the median annual income adjusted for the cost of living in each metro area.

As it turns out, residents of Danville, Ill., are getting the most bang for their buck. The median income is $30,079, but that number translates to $35,937 when adjusted for the cost of living. Meanwhile, those living in the nation’s capital see the biggest decrease in the value of their paycheck: The average salary in Washington, D.C., is $44,452—but it feels like $35,029 when you factor in the high cost of living.

Residents of Rochester, Minn., earn the highest median wage ($36,279), adjusted for the cost of living, while those living in Bloomington, Ind., have the lowest ($18,309).

The data comes from the U.S. Census and a report by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

When crunching the numbers, NPR notes that certain lifestyle factors were accounted for; for example, even though owning a car is more expensive in New York City than in Kansas City, most New Yorkers don’t own a car, so that number didn’t count as much in the cost of living in the Big Apple.

Considering moving somewhere less financially stressful? Before you hitch a ride to Rochester, take a tip from this woman and consider comparing what your particular lifestyle would cost in one city versus another.