Determining Cost of Living

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Regattamom
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Determining Cost of Living

Post by Regattamom » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:54 am

Hi there,

I see a lot of posts with references to VHCOL, HCOL, LCOL, etc. Is there a reference that most people are using to determine the cost of living? Or is this mostly self determined?

The reason I ask is because it seems that a lot of people say they are in a VHCOL or HCOL. And I wonder if it just feels that way to them or if they are actually correct.

Thanks!

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Godot
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by Godot » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:55 am

Regattamom wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:54 am
Hi there,

I see a lot of posts with references to VHCOL, HCOL, LCOL, etc. Is there a reference that most people are using to determine the cost of living? Or is this mostly self determined?

The reason I ask is because it seems that a lot of people say they are in a VHCOL or HCOL. And I wonder if it just feels that way to them or if they are actually correct.

Thanks!
Great question. I live in a MCOL state, in a HCOL city, but a LCOL neighborhood.
“Estragon: I can't go on like this. | Vladimir: That's what you think.” ― Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

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dm200
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:56 am

Regattamom wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:54 am
Hi there,

I see a lot of posts with references to VHCOL, HCOL, LCOL, etc. Is there a reference that most people are using to determine the cost of living? Or is this mostly self determined?

The reason I ask is because it seems that a lot of people say they are in a VHCOL or HCOL. And I wonder if it just feels that way to them or if they are actually correct.

Thanks!
Probably self determined.

I judge my area (Washington DC) HCOL or VHCOL primarily due to the high costs of home ownership (purchase price)

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by RickBoglehead » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:00 pm

Like many terms used on this forum, there are no absolute definitions. Subjectivity is so vast that many of the terms are meaningless.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

KlangFool
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by KlangFool » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:01 pm

OP,

I live in a $200 per square feet housing area. Folks can use this number to decide where it falls in term VHCOL, HCOL, and so on.

I think that is a better and more accurate description of COL than anything else.

KlangFool

smitcat
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by smitcat » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:02 pm

Regattamom wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:54 am
Hi there,

I see a lot of posts with references to VHCOL, HCOL, LCOL, etc. Is there a reference that most people are using to determine the cost of living? Or is this mostly self determined?

The reason I ask is because it seems that a lot of people say they are in a VHCOL or HCOL. And I wonder if it just feels that way to them or if they are actually correct.

Thanks!

I use area calculators such as this one (there are many)….
https://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/

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dm200
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Location: Washington DC area

Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:03 pm

dm200 wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:56 am
Regattamom wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:54 am
Hi there,
I see a lot of posts with references to VHCOL, HCOL, LCOL, etc. Is there a reference that most people are using to determine the cost of living? Or is this mostly self determined?
The reason I ask is because it seems that a lot of people say they are in a VHCOL or HCOL. And I wonder if it just feels that way to them or if they are actually correct.
Thanks!
Probably self determined.
I judge my area (Washington DC) HCOL or VHCOL primarily due to the high costs of home ownership (purchase price)
In our case, though, we bought 40+ years ago - single family house now "worth" about 9 times what we paid! And, as moderate income/asset seniors, we get real estate tax exemption or deferral - depending on the details each year.

RollTide31457
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by RollTide31457 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:06 pm

Usually target non-urban areas with real estate in the $100 per sq ft or so range. These also are usually high quality of life areas in terms of family values.

Topic Author
Regattamom
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by Regattamom » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:08 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:01 pm
OP,

I live in a $200 per square feet housing area. Folks can use this number to decide where it falls in term VHCOL, HCOL, and so on.

I think that is a better and more accurate description of COL than anything else.

KlangFool
But could you choose to live a less expensive per square foot home in the same general area?

DonIce
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by DonIce » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:09 pm

HCOL/VHCOL should really only apply to the few coastal cities where the housing markets are nuts, like SF, NY, DC, Seattle, Boston, San Jose, a couple others. It falls off pretty quick after that. Home prices / rents are by far the number 1 determiner of if a place is HCOL/VHCOL, because all the other prices fade into insignificance in comparison to $1M+ homes or $3000/mo+ rents.

Topic Author
Regattamom
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by Regattamom » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:09 pm

RollTide31457 wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:06 pm
Usually target non-urban areas with real estate in the $100 per sq ft or so range. These also are usually high quality of life areas in terms of family values.
Family values are subjective.

Topic Author
Regattamom
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by Regattamom » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:13 pm

Godot wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:55 am
Regattamom wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:54 am
Hi there,

I see a lot of posts with references to VHCOL, HCOL, LCOL, etc. Is there a reference that most people are using to determine the cost of living? Or is this mostly self determined?

The reason I ask is because it seems that a lot of people say they are in a VHCOL or HCOL. And I wonder if it just feels that way to them or if they are actually correct.

Thanks!
Great question. I live in a MCOL state, in a HCOL city, but a LCOL neighborhood.
This made me laugh! How did you determine this?

KlangFool
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by KlangFool » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:27 pm

Regattamom wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:08 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:01 pm
OP,

I live in a $200 per square feet housing area. Folks can use this number to decide where it falls in term VHCOL, HCOL, and so on.

I think that is a better and more accurate description of COL than anything else.

KlangFool
But could you choose to live a less expensive per square foot home in the same general area?
Regattamom,

1) There are more expensive places.

2) For the cheaper place, the public school is not good enough. So, instead of spending the money with the house, you will spend money on private school.

KlangFool

KlangFool
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by KlangFool » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:29 pm

RollTide31457 wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:06 pm
Usually target non-urban areas with real estate in the $100 per sq ft or so range. These also are usually high quality of life areas in terms of family values.
RollTide31457,

I disagreed. If you want to live in a place that is good for the family, make sure that the public schools are good.

KlangFool

smitcat
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by smitcat » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:29 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:27 pm
Regattamom wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:08 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:01 pm
OP,

I live in a $200 per square feet housing area. Folks can use this number to decide where it falls in term VHCOL, HCOL, and so on.

I think that is a better and more accurate description of COL than anything else.

KlangFool
But could you choose to live a less expensive per square foot home in the same general area?
Regattamom,

1) There are more expensive places.

2) For the cheaper place, the public school is not good enough. So, instead of spending the money with the house, you will spend money on private school.

KlangFool
"2) For the cheaper place, the public school is not good enough. So, instead of spending the money with the house, you will spend money on private school."
- only if you have kids
- and only when they are of school age

bhsince87
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by bhsince87 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:33 pm

As others have mentioned, there are quite a few on line calculators.

My previous employer used this site when setting local wage adjustments.

https://www.bestplaces.net/cost-of-living/
Retirement: When you reach a point where you have enough. Or when you've had enough.

KlangFool
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by KlangFool » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:41 pm

smitcat wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:29 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:27 pm
Regattamom wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:08 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:01 pm
OP,

I live in a $200 per square feet housing area. Folks can use this number to decide where it falls in term VHCOL, HCOL, and so on.

I think that is a better and more accurate description of COL than anything else.

KlangFool
But could you choose to live a less expensive per square foot home in the same general area?
Regattamom,

1) There are more expensive places.

2) For the cheaper place, the public school is not good enough. So, instead of spending the money with the house, you will spend money on private school.

KlangFool
"2) For the cheaper place, the public school is not good enough. So, instead of spending the money with the house, you will spend money on private school."
- only if you have kids
- and only when they are of school age
smitcat,

It depends on what you considered a good neighborhood. In my case, the neighborhood with good public schools is a requirement. So, even if my kids are not of school age, this is still a requirement.

KlangFool

smitcat
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by smitcat » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:42 pm

KlangFool wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:41 pm
smitcat wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:29 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:27 pm
Regattamom wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:08 pm
KlangFool wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:01 pm
OP,

I live in a $200 per square feet housing area. Folks can use this number to decide where it falls in term VHCOL, HCOL, and so on.

I think that is a better and more accurate description of COL than anything else.

KlangFool
But could you choose to live a less expensive per square foot home in the same general area?
Regattamom,

1) There are more expensive places.

2) For the cheaper place, the public school is not good enough. So, instead of spending the money with the house, you will spend money on private school.

KlangFool
"2) For the cheaper place, the public school is not good enough. So, instead of spending the money with the house, you will spend money on private school."
- only if you have kids
- and only when they are of school age
smitcat,

It depends on what you considered a good neighborhood. In my case, the neighborhood with good public schools is a requirement. So, even if my kids are not of school age, this is still a requirement.

KlangFool
Another very localized circumstance.

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dm200
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Location: Washington DC area

Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:44 pm

It depends on what you considered a good neighborhood. In my case, the neighborhood with good public schools is a requirement. So, even if my kids are not of school age, this is still a requirement.
Or "perceived" as being good.

KlangFool
Posts: 12295
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2008 12:35 pm

Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by KlangFool » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:48 pm

dm200 wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:44 pm
It depends on what you considered a good neighborhood. In my case, the neighborhood with good public schools is a requirement. So, even if my kids are not of school age, this is still a requirement.
Or "perceived" as being good.
dm200,

There is a certain group of parents that care about the quality of the public schools. And, we do communicate among each other and check out the schools in our areas. So, I believe it is more than a perception.

KlangFool

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munemaker
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Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by munemaker » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:49 pm

Regattamom wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:54 am
Hi there,

I see a lot of posts with references to VHCOL, HCOL, LCOL, etc. Is there a reference that most people are using to determine the cost of living? Or is this mostly self determined?

The reason I ask is because it seems that a lot of people say they are in a VHCOL or HCOL. And I wonder if it just feels that way to them or if they are actually correct.

Thanks!
A good way to compare COL in different areas is to use the Big Mac Index: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Mac_Index

Topic Author
Regattamom
Posts: 142
Joined: Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:40 pm

Re: Determining Cost of Living

Post by Regattamom » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:46 pm

The calculators above allow you to compare one city to another, which is helpful. But I found this list of cities ranked by their cost of living index, which I really like.

https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/r ... region=021

This would put me in a HCOL. But like any city, there are more expensive areas and less expensive areas to choose from. Overall though, it is more expensive than say, Kansas City, Mo or Dallas, Texas.

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