DC’s cost of living is 53% higher than national average, but housing takes the cake

Nationwide apartment search site ApartmentList has a new online tool that allows people moving to a new city to figure out how their cost of living will change.

It is based on a basket of common expenses, including housing, groceries, health care, utilities and transportation costs.

“The tool really allows for comparisons to the national average and for side-by-side comparisons for different cities, said Chris Salviati, housing economist at ApartmentList. “And we also have a tool that can help you determine if you’re to move to a new city from your current city, what level of income you would need to maintain your current standard of living.”

The D.C. region’s cost of living ranks fourth-highest among the 100 metropolitan areas that ApartmentList studied.

“When we look at Washington, D.C., the overall cost of living is 53% higher than the national average. The housing component, though, is 144% higher than the national average,” Salviati said.

Rental prices, like home prices, continue to be pressured by lack of inventory in the D.C. region and other large metros.

“D.C. is certainly among the most expensive, and that is just simply because we haven’t been building enough new housing to keep up with demand,” Salviati said. “That’s something that has been going on for quite some time now, and so prices have really risen to a point that can one problematic for a lot of households.”

Other costs in the D.C. region are also higher, but not nearly as much as housing.

The ApartmentList tool shows groceries here are 5% more expensive than the national average; transportation costs are 10% more expensive; and utilities are 18% more expensive. However, health care costs are 5% lower than the national average.

San Francisco tops the list of highest cost of living, at 83% higher than the national average with housing costs more than double average. Among the metros studied, Topeka, Kansas, has the lowest cost of living, at 19% below the national average.

The ApartmentList cost of living comparison tool is online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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