2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST COST OF LIVING
CALCULATORS


How Far Does Your Money Go? (Best Cost of Living Calculators)

Considering a move? It might be wise to consider whether you can afford to live in your destination before you rent that U-Haul. As you move across the country, you’ll find that the cost of living in each city can vary drastically, and you’ll want to know if your new salary will allow you to live comfortably.

Without spending hours researching the cost of apartments and gallons of milk in a new city, you can make good use of a cost of living calculator.

This can give you a quick comparison of what percentage of your next paycheck will go toward groceries, housing, utilities, and more. On a good cost of living comparison calculator, you can even see the difference between your current area and your new destination.

Best Cost Of Living Calculators Red Award Emblem

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Cost Of Living Calculators

Be financially savvy and prepared for any upcoming moves you might be contemplating. Our ranking of the best cost of living calculators can give you insight into what your new salary needs to be and how much you might spend.

All of this adds up to give you a realistic budget to determine if your finances can handle it.

Ready to start figuring out how far your money can go in a new city? Take a look at these top ranking cost of living calculators to figure out which one suits your needs the best.

See Also: Which Mortgage Calculator Is the Best? Yahoo? Bankrate? Dave Ramsey Mortgage Calculator?



AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Cost of Living Calculators

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the calculator names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that cost of living calculator):


Top 6 Best Cost of Living Calculators | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Cost of Living Calculators

Comparison Categories

Highlights

BankrateGroceries, Housing, Health care, MiscellaneousVery detailed compilation of specific costs of various items
CNN MoneyGroceries, Housing, Utilities, Transportation, Health careEasy-to-read percentage differences across categories

Salary comparison

NerdWalletGroceries, Housing, Transportation, EntertainmentSpecific cost comparison of items within each of the categories
PayscaleGroceries, Housing, Utilities, Transportation, Health careEasy-to-read bar graphs of current expenses versus new expenses

Comparison to major cities

Salary.com Cost of Living WizardOverall costAccounts for living and working in different cities
SmartAssetTaxes, groceries, housingIncludes average cost of each category for cities

Includes taxes as a category for comparison

Table: Top 6 Best Cost of Living Calculators | Above list is sorted alphabetically



Why Use a Cost of Living Calculator?

As you move around the country, you’ll quickly begin to realize that your money may go significantly further or dwindle from your bank account rapidly depending on the area. Anticipating a new move means that you need to plan ahead financially to determine what you can afford in a new locale.

cost of living comparison calculator

Image Source: Pexels

A cost of living comparison calculator can help to stand in the gap by providing you with the information you desperately need.

First, you will need to determine whether or not your current salary or whatever salary is offered to you in your new city will be sufficient. Many of the cost of living adjustment calculator choices provide you with a modified income based on the cost of living in the destination location. With this information at your fingertips, you’ll know what you need to request of your new employer to be at least equal to what you make in your current city.

From there, the best cost of living calculator choices will take a handful of items into consideration when creating a projected cost. They should include categories such as:

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Food

While these are basics that should be included on all of the best cost of living calculators, some will include information above and beyond these categories. You can take a look at entertainment costs, utilities, and health care as well. Each of the cost of living comparison calculator options will provide you with different information about your new city.

It may be a good idea to take a look at several of the cost of living calculators to get a better idea of the total cost of living in a new city.

These cost of living adjustment calculator choices take only a few minutes to fill out in their entirety and can be a rich resource. We would recommend trying a few of the cost of living calculators included on our ranking of the best cost of living calculator choices available.



All-in-One Change Management Tools

Top Rated Toolkit for Change Managers.

Get Your Change Management Tool Today...


AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology

What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the credit cards, financial products, firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top rated lists?

Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.


Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Cost of Living Calculators

Below, please find the detailed review of each calculator on our list of cost of living comparison calculator choices. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these cost of living calculators to score so highly in our selection ranking.



Bankrate Review


For an extremely detailed breakdown of the cost difference between two cities, you’ll want to read through the results of the Bankrate Cost of Living Calculator.

Features

Not much can trump the Bankrate Cost of Living Calculator when it comes to a detailed cost of living calculator comparison. The initial information is easy enough to input, requiring you to select your current city and new city from drop-down boxes. Choose from a vast selection of metropolitan areas that they’ve compiled a detailed database for.

The only other information you’re required to present is your current salary. With this, their cost of living salary calculator can determine exactly what percentage of a decrease or increase you’ll need to maintain your current standard of living. Their cost of living comparison calculator even gives you your destination city’s equivalent income.

The real area where the Bankrate Cost of Living Calculator shines is in their detailed listing of the prices of various items. With categories ranging from home and apartment prices to food and medicine, this is one of the most detailed cost of living comparison calculator choices available.

It specifically lists the cost of an optometrist visit, energy bill, tire balance, a pound of ground beef, a newspaper, a haircut, and so much more. With a fourth column set up to the right, you can view the difference in prices quickly, seeing where your new city shines or pales in comparison to your current living arrangements.

Ease of Use

This cost of living comparison calculator gives you insight with a relatively quick glance. However, if you want to make good use of their detailed product pricing, it may take you a few extra minutes to wade through all of the information.

Products are not necessarily sorted according to category, nor are they in alphabetical order. If there is a particular cost you are most concerned with viewing, you will have to scan the entire list in order to find it. Understandably, there may be no good way to group these items, but it seems that there could definitely be some improvement in this area.

Bankrate - cost of living calculator

Image Source: Bankrate 

The cost of living comparison calculator from Bankrate is best for individuals who have the time and energy to sort through their extensive data and research. It provides a very thorough look at the cost of living adjustments you’ll need to make, but it doesn’t provide it nearly as quickly as some of the other best cost of living calculators.

Don’t Miss: Which Is the Best Mortgage Calculator? Chase? Wells Fargo? CNN?



CNN Money Review


The CNN Money Cost of Living Calculator gives consumers a quick glance into a number of important categories with a unique breakdown and salary comparison.

Features

The CNN Cost of Living Calculator gives you access to a number of cities and locales within each of the states. All you need to do is select your current state and area and your new state and area from the handy drop-down boxes. The final piece of information you need is an adjustment on their sliding scale to mark your current salary.

From there, the CNN Cost of Living Calculator can provide you with a quick comparison of what a comparable salary would be in your new destination. Whether you need to request a raise to accommodate the increase in prices or will feel significantly more affluent there will become apparent in just minutes.

While many of the basic cost of living adjustment calculator choices will show you the difference in cost for food, housing, and transportation, the CNN Cost of Living Calculator goes a step or two further. You can also view the difference in your utilities and health care.

cnn cost of living calculator

Image Source: CNN 

Ease of Use

Understanding the information generated by this cost of living comparison calculator can be a little difficult. The price difference in each category is represented by a percentage increase. For consumers who keep detailed budgets and are aware of what they spend for each category, the additional math and calculations should be no big deal.

Consumers who have no idea what they spend on groceries or transportation each month will have a more difficult time projecting what they will spend in a new city. With a 4% increase on their grocery bill, what will that actually look like?

Overall, this is a solid and easy-to-use cost of living calculator, but it is most recommended for consumers who keep a detailed budget. The more financial awareness you have in terms of your current spending habits, the more prepared you will be to review the results of the CNN Money Cost of Living Calculator.

Related: Which Is the Best Mortgage Calculator? Google vs. Trulia vs. Bank of America



NerdWallet Review


For consumers who want the best cost of living calculator that provides specific examples of anticipated costs, the NerdWallet Cost of Living Calculator is sure to be a top choice.

Features

The NerdWallet Cost of Living calculator gives you a quick glimpse into what life in another city and state may look like. While information is not available for all counties and areas, it does present information on a number of cities that could be useful for comparing various areas.

Their cost of living salary calculator first determines how much your current salary needs to increase or decrease to maintain your standard of living. It provides you with an exact percentage of the overall cost of living difference between the two areas before a more detailed breakdown.

The overall cost of living comparison calculator can vary drastically from the individual categories presented. Percentage differences are provided further in the report generated by this cost of living adjustment calculator. Categories considered include:

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Food
  • Entertainment

Ease of Use

NerdWallet provides a unique function with their cost of living comparison calculator. Instead of providing just a percentage difference for the overall category, they dive into more specific examples of what you can expect.

For example, their sample food costs cover the cost of a loaf of bread, one dozen eggs, one gallon of milk, a 12-inch Pizza Hut pizza, and a McDonalds Quarter-Pounder with cheese. With specific price comparisons (right down to the penny), you can more quickly assess exactly where your spending will differ in your new city.

cost of living calculator comparison

Image Source: NerdWallet

The NerdWallet Cost of Living Calculator provides one of the most detailed breakdowns available, which is what allowed us to categorize it as one of the best cost of living calculators available.




Payscale Review


For consumers who prefer to view their information in graph form instead of charts, the Payscale Cost of Living Calculator gives a quick glance into the cost of your new destination city.

Features

The Payscale Cost of Living Calculator is just as easy to use as many of the other candidates for the best cost of living calculator available. It requires very little information from you, apart from your new city, state, job title, and annual income.

In exchange, it provides you with a detailed bar graph that demonstrates where the expenses of your new city will fall in comparison to those of your current hometown. Your hometown is represented by a horizontal line across the graph that demonstrates where your current spending would be. The six categories they measure are then displayed in relation to that line, coming either above or below current spending.

cost of living salary calculator

Image Source: Payscale

They measure a number of categories above and beyond the basics of just housing, food, and transportation. Similar to the CNN Money Cost of Living Calculator, the Payscale cost of living comparison calculator also provides input for categories including utilities and health care costs.

To see how your new city will rank in comparison to the six major cities in the United States, Payscale provides a different measurement. You can see a side-by-side comparison of this with Phoenix, Miami, Anchorage, Dallas, New York, and Knoxville.

Ease of Use

Unfortunately, the Payscale Cost of Living Calculator doesn’t serve so much as a cost of living salary calculator. It doesn’t provide an equivalent salary or necessary increase or decrease to maintain your current standard of living. Savvy consumers who know their current spending habits may be able to ascertain what needs to happen in regards to their current salary.

In a cost of living calculator comparison, the Payscale Cost of Living Calculator does rank as one of the best cost of living calculators. It provides thorough information regarding your new city in a unique format that is easy to read and glean information from.

However, those looking for more concrete answers to potential salary adjustments will want to select an option that functions more as a cost of living increase calculator or a cost of living salary calculator.

Popular Article: Which is the Top UK Mortgage Calculator? HSBC? Santander? NatWest? RBS?



Salary.com Cost of Living Wizard Review


For individuals who don’t live and work in the same city or metro area, the Salary.com Cost of Living Wizard provides a solution to help you sort out your finances with their cost of living comparison calculator.

Features

The major draw to the Salary.com Cost of Living Wizard is the ability to select both the city you reside in (or are moving to) and the city you work in. This provides you with the cost of living at home, as well as the likelihood of earning a specific salary in the city where you’ll work.

Their cost of living increase calculator makes it easy to see how you can benefit from being employed in one city over another. Instead of basing the numbers on the cost of living exclusively, it compares typical salaries found within that city. It is represented both as an overall number and as a percentage that you can use to figure out additional calculations if necessary.

cost of living calculators

Image Source: Salary.com

Information is represented in a bar graph demonstrating the difference in cost of living at home side-by-side with the typical work salaries for the requested areas. You’ll also see a net change in your disposable income based on the cost of living comparison calculator data.

Ease of Use

The Cost of Living Wizard does provide helpful information for consumers who are highly considering working in an area different from where they reside. The consideration that not everyone lives and works in the same city makes this one of the best cost of living calculators to consider using. However, it doesn’t provide the detailed statistics and breakdowns that are available from other choices for the best cost of living calculators.

Consumers who were hoping to see the difference in their grocery bill, the cost of an apartment, or the price of gas will be disappointed by the more general features of this cost of living comparison calculator.

This cost of living comparison calculator is best used for those who are just considering moving and want to get a quick glimpse at the price changes.

Read More: Top Cards for Very Bad Credit | Ranking | Cards for Damaged, Horrible, and Really Bad Credit Histories


Free Wealth & Finance Software - Get Yours Now ►


SmartAsset Review


With colorful graphs and a relatively interactive program, the SmartAsset Cost of Living Calculator gives you a quick glimpse into a handful of expense categories.

Features

The SmartAsset Cost of Living Calculator is one of the easiest to use. When you first enter the page, their pop-up boxes walk you through each step of filling out the necessary information. You’ll select information regarding your current status as well as the city you hope to move to:

  • Your city
  • Household income
  • Number of adults
  • Number of children

As the pop-up boxes disappear, a new bar graph comes into play with various tabs that allow you to view expense categories in slightly more detail. The overall cost of living increase calculator is provided at the top, with a percentage difference and a salary equivalent for the new city.

The tabs below cover the average tax, housing, and food costs for your current city and expected city. Not only does their cost of living comparison calculator give you a percentage difference; it also displays the average amount spent by consumers like you in each category. For example, it can tell you that residents of New York, New York, typically spend $16,555 per year on housing compared to the average for your current city.

cost of living increase calculator

Image Source: SmartAsset

Ease of Use

Compared to many of the best cost of living calculators, the SmartAsset Cost of Living Calculator is more user-friendly. You can adjust your individual living situation to fit the appropriate circumstances. You can even have a general idea of how much you may spend in a category without needing to refer to your budget.

Overall, this cost of living comparison calculator gives individuals a quick glance into the changes they will need to make with their finances before moving. It doesn’t require a ton of prior knowledge regarding your spending habits, though that information would be useful for you.

This cost of living calculator is an easy candidate for the best cost of living calculator because of its unique addition of the tax expense in each city as well.


Conclusion—Top 6 Best Cost of Living Calculators

What do you know about your current city and the city you hope to move to? If the answer is less than you would hope for, it may be time for you to investigate using one of the best cost of living calculators to help you figure it out.

Find out whether your current salary will be enough to allow you to maintain your standard of living in a new town. Use a cost of living calculator comparison to research how much you’ll spend on a new apartment, a pound of ground beef, or a gallon of milk. All of the data you can compile regarding a potential move will be beneficial for your finances in the long run.

These cost of living calculators require only a few minutes to test out the data you have at your fingertips. Test one of the best cost of living calculators or test all of them for an even better idea of what you may spend.

Before you hire the movers and pack your first box, you’ll want to take a closer look at a cost of living calculator to determine if you can afford your new destination.



AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.