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Old 03-11-2018, 01:27 PM   #1
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Latest EPI Cost of Living update

The Economic Policy Institute put out an update to it's cost of living per geographic area calculator. From their email blurb: "EPI released an update to its signature Family Budget Calculator, which shows what’s required for families to attain an adequate—but modest—standard of living in communities throughout the country. The updated calculator contains data on the cost of living for 10 family types in all 3,142 counties (and county equivalents) and in all 611 metro areas. The Family Budget Calculator is a stark reminder that many workers in low-wage jobs do not earn enough to meet their family’s basic needs. Even after adjusting for higher state and city minimum wages, there is nowhere in the country where a minimum-wage worker—even a single adult without children—earns enough to meet the requirements of their local family budget. See where you metropolitan area stands "»


https://www.epi.org/resources/budget...eid=ea60b8b1bd
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Old 03-11-2018, 01:51 PM   #2
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I don't think it's accurate. I just checked my county against another one near by. My county is much cheaper to live in, mostly due to housing, transportation and taxes. Yet they have my county as costing the same as the more expensive one.
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Old 03-11-2018, 02:17 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SheitlQueen View Post
I don't think it's accurate. I just checked my county against another one near by. My county is much cheaper to live in, mostly due to housing, transportation and taxes. Yet they have my county as costing the same as the more expensive one.
That's the first thing I did also: compared adjacent areas and also places where I have recently lived. In my case the data matched my perception in all the checks. But the study is large, so undoubtedly there will be some places that are not reported quite right.
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Old 03-11-2018, 02:18 PM   #4
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Averaging things out by county seems to render the data useless (at least in my part of the country).

In my county there is a wide range of towns with a wide range of housing options. Some are wealthy towns, others aren't at all.
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Old 03-11-2018, 07:55 PM   #5
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I looked at a couple cases and thought their numbers were reasonable except for transportation. They have almost $1,000 per month or $12,000 per year for a single person living in Des Moines Iowa.

The Consumer Expenditure Survey says that single people with incomes between $30k and $50k actually spend a little less than half that. (that's a nationwide number)
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Old 03-11-2018, 08:21 PM   #6
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I put in my county - these numbers are absurd. I'm in a rural ex-urb and it suggests almost twice the average U.S. household income for a "modest" standard of living.

Just another think tank peddling their propaganda.
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Old 03-11-2018, 08:42 PM   #7
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Well my County came in at 140k for a family of four. If they think its pricey now, wait till next year when with the loss of most of the SALT deductions.
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Old 03-12-2018, 08:55 AM   #8
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To a large extent, there is circular reasoning in this type of analysis. They target "adequate--but modest". How do we define that?

If it's what the median worker can afford, then by definition 50% of workers can't afford it.
If it's what the 30th percentile worked can afford, then 30% of workers can't afford it.
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Old 03-12-2018, 11:01 AM   #9
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Looks reasonable for my metro area.
I see that the more rural counties reflected the lower housing cost but higher transport costs. Showed a bit of reality. I wouldn't want to live in that less than $40k budget though.
Wonder if our members in San Diego can verify the cost to live there is acurrate?
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Old 03-12-2018, 11:11 AM   #10
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The estimate is pretty close to the area in which we live, although I disagree with a few of the category totals. I realize it's a median approximation, however the housing definition puzzles me.

The number (for us) is pretty close to what we estimated we would spend in order to ER. What the study defines as "modest" may actually be close to our "Millionaire Next Door" lifestyle, YMMV.

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Old 03-12-2018, 11:45 AM   #11
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Wonder if our members in San Diego can verify the cost to live there is acurrate?
Here's what it gave me for 2 adults, no children. For housing, there aren't many apartments renting that low, though there are a few in some older communities. The other numbers look o.k. if transportation is an older used car and you get health insurance through your employer.

HOUSING $1,297
FOOD $538
CHILD CARE $0
Transportation $1,053
HEALTH CARE $596
OTHER NECESSITIES $740
TAXES $727
Monthly Total $4,951
Annual Total $59,415
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Old 03-12-2018, 01:35 PM   #12
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Every county I check Transportation costs more than housing using this
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Old 03-13-2018, 03:45 AM   #13
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I guess I'd quibble about a thing or two, but overall, it seems pretty accurate for our two areas. My guess in our (primary) location, Honolulu metro, the relatively low housing cost ($1423) for 2/0 is because it's typical to have two or more generations sharing housing. Otherwise, the housing for that amount would be very basic indeed. I know a guy who pays $1000+ for a converted garage. YMMV
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Old 03-13-2018, 08:03 AM   #14
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My county is, per pretty much all online sites, and "average" cost of living place in the US (cost index between 98 and 101 out of an average 100 depending on where you look). However, a family of four requires $84k/year to have a "modest" style of living per that calculator. With an average income close to the national average for the county, according to EPI the majority of households in the county are living significantly below a "modest" life. I don't think they'd agree however..
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Old 03-13-2018, 08:57 AM   #15
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I looked at a couple cases and thought their numbers were reasonable except for transportation. They have almost $1,000 per month or $12,000 per year for a single person living in Des Moines Iowa.

The Consumer Expenditure Survey says that single people with incomes between $30k and $50k actually spend a little less than half that. (that's a nationwide number)
More on this.

Kia will finance a brand new Kia Rio for a $2,000 down payment and about $225 per month for 60 months. The car has a 5 year/60,000 mile warranty.

KBB says average trade in after 60 months for a base Rio is $4,000.

During those 60 months, you'll have gasoline, oil changes, wipers, one set of brake pads and one set of tires.

If you can keep the mileage down to 800 miles/mo, gasoline might be a little over $100/month.

So I'm at $350/month for the car. Add auto insurance.

That's a lot less than $1,000.
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Old 03-13-2018, 12:28 PM   #16
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More on this.

Kia will finance a brand new Kia Rio for a $2,000 down payment and about $225 per month for 60 months. The car has a 5 year/60,000 mile warranty.

KBB says average trade in after 60 months for a base Rio is $4,000.

During those 60 months, you'll have gasoline, oil changes, wipers, one set of brake pads and one set of tires.

If you can keep the mileage down to 800 miles/mo, gasoline might be a little over $100/month.

So I'm at $350/month for the car. Add auto insurance.

That's a lot less than $1,000.
Even buying a camry or accord you can get way under 1k all in per month. I could do that for about $600
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Old 03-13-2018, 01:26 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by SheitlQueen View Post
I don't think it's accurate. I just checked my county against another one near by. My county is much cheaper to live in, mostly due to housing, transportation and taxes. Yet they have my county as costing the same as the more expensive one.
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I put in my county - these numbers are absurd. I'm in a rural ex-urb and it suggests almost twice the average U.S. household income for a "modest" standard of living.

Just another think tank peddling their propaganda.
I don't think it is accurate either. I live in an older but rather nice urban inner suburb of New Orleans. ALL of my spending comes to only $6,075 more than what they say is minimal for my community. Good grief. The Amazon thread is my proof that I'm not living the life of a monk with vows of poverty. Quite the opposite - - you all know what I spend, and honestly I feel like I spend like a drunken sailor these days. I could easily get my spending down to $5,000-$10,000 less than what they specify for my community without any hardships at all, and still afford a couple of dental implants each year. Without the implants? Shave off another $7K or whatever. And bear in mind that I am living in my "dream house", not the kind of place poor people would live in, and eating lunch at a restaurant every single day. The people who determined the budget for my area are living in la-la land I think.

Perhaps their figures are influenced by some agenda or other.
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Old 03-13-2018, 03:05 PM   #18
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I don't think it is accurate either. I live in an older but rather nice urban inner suburb of New Orleans. ALL of my spending comes to only $6,075 more than what they say is minimal for my community. Good grief. The Amazon thread is my proof that I'm not living the life of a monk with vows of poverty. Quite the opposite - - you all know what I spend, and honestly I feel like I spend like a drunken sailor these days. I could easily get my spending down to $5,000-$10,000 less than what they specify for my community without any hardships at all, and still afford a couple of dental implants each year. Without the implants? Shave off another $7K or whatever. And bear in mind that I am living in my "dream house", not the kind of place poor people would live in, and eating lunch at a restaurant every single day. The people who determined the budget for my area are living in la-la land I think.

Perhaps their figures are influenced by some agenda or other.
Yeah we live on less than half of what this thing says.
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Old 03-13-2018, 03:24 PM   #19
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Not very accurate here either. We're quite comfortable on a couple thousand a month less than their estimate. Since there is no zoning here housing costs are all over the map, from many-millions mansions to tired-looking single-wide trailers. So I guess it's possible from an aggregate of the numbers to come up with what they did.
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Old 03-13-2018, 04:59 PM   #20
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It is not accurate for here and also in WI or KS where I lived previously and still visit regularly because of friends that live there. KS is super cheap even if you live in the biggest town which is Wichita.
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