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Cost of living in cities across the world
Old 08-02-2016, 07:17 AM   #1
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Cost of living in cities across the world

We have been living in North Yorkshire, England for the past 3 months and noticed that most things seem to be cheaper than where we live in Texas (The Woodlands). Some major items are significantly cheaper such as property taxes, rent, cell phones, cable TV, house insurance, car insurance, and virtually all the food items we buy.

Yesterday I found this neat website which gives an indication of the cost of living in many cities, allowing a comparison of cities within the same country or in different countries. I've attached a pdf showing the comparison between Middlesbrough and The Woodlands. (We live in a small market town about 10 miles south of Middlesbrough)

Cost of Living
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Old 08-02-2016, 08:10 AM   #2
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This is interesting. However one item that It does not seem to take into account is "Real" Taxes. We do pay a lot less Income Tax in the USA than The UK and Canada. It does talk about disposable income, but in reality, I think it is cheaper overall in sane US Cities. It does say "After Tax". I find it little hard to believe. Maybe it includes RE Taxes etc.
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Old 08-02-2016, 08:25 AM   #3
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We have been living in North Yorkshire, England for the past 3 months and noticed that most things seem to be cheaper than where we live in Texas (The Woodlands). Some major items are significantly cheaper such as property taxes, rent, cell phones, cable TV, house insurance, car insurance, and virtually all the food items we buy.

Yesterday I found this neat website which gives an indication of the cost of living in many cities, allowing a comparison of cities within the same country or in different countries. I've attached a pdf showing the comparison between Middlesbrough and The Woodlands. (We live in a small market town about 10 miles south of Middlesbrough)

Cost of Living
What kind of town is Woodland TX with rents like that?
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Old 08-02-2016, 08:40 AM   #4
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What kind of town is Woodland TX with rents like that?
Expensive. We pay $1,380/mo for a 2 bed apartment with double garage.

Houston is very similar.
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Old 08-02-2016, 08:56 AM   #5
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This is interesting. However one item that It does not seem to take into account is "Real" Taxes. We do pay a lot less Income Tax in the USA than The UK and Canada. It does talk about disposable income, but in reality, I think it is cheaper overall in sane US Cities. It does say "After Tax". I find it little hard to believe. Maybe it includes RE Taxes etc.
Give me a "sane" city and I'll do a comparison. (Houston gives a similar comparison).

There is not much difference in income taxes for us. Being dual citizens we have to pay tax in both countries and take tax credits to avoid double taxation so I've prepared for this in the last few years and moved all our investments into my wife's name as I have pensions which are taxed as regular income. Since the UK taxes each person individually (no such thing as MFJ) then since a significant portion of our income comes from my wife's investment portfolio's qualified dividends and capital gains we only pay ~$3k more income taxes than in the US. (No state income tax in Texas and no payroll taxes in either country as we are retired). The 1st £5k of dividends is tax free then taxed at 7.5%, the first £11.1k of cap gains are free then taxed at 18%.

Healthcare is included in the taxes, free at point of service including free prescriptions for over 60's so I'm no longer paying for my prescription which I transferred over.
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:09 AM   #6
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Healthcare is included in the taxes, free at point of service including free prescriptions for over 60's so I'm no longer paying for my prescription which I transferred over.
Ah! Now that could be the deciding factor. We are contemplating moving to Canada if the November Elections go pear shaped, for that reason alone.

We are Canadian, UK and American citizens, I just could not take the weather in the UK., so Canada wins.
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:46 AM   #7
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Ah! Now that could be the deciding factor. We are contemplating moving to Canada if the November Elections go pear shaped, for that reason alone.

We are Canadian, UK and American citizens, I just could not take the weather in the UK., so Canada wins.
I really only wanted to share the link to that website as there are many threads here on where to retire. Very few folks have the option of choosing a country, but a guide to the COL in various cities of a country can be useful to look at.
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:47 AM   #8
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I could live good in The Woodlands. The only thing more expensive is rent.

Indices Difference Info
Consumer Prices in The Woodlands, TX are 24.07% lower than in Poughkeepsie, NY
Consumer Prices Including Rent in The Woodlands, TX are 9.98% lower than in Poughkeepsie, NY
Rent Prices in The Woodlands, TX are 14.73% higher than in Poughkeepsie, NY
Restaurant Prices in The Woodlands, TX are 26.56% lower than in Poughkeepsie, NY
Groceries Prices in The Woodlands, TX are 27.47% lower than in Poughkeepsie, NY
Local Purchasing Power in The Woodlands, TX is 49.09% lower than in Poughkeepsie, NY
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:57 AM   #9
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That's really interesting, Alan. Would the numbers be different with a weaker dollar (that answer is probably obvious but I couldn't tell from the website if the exchange rate was factored in--but then I just finished mowing the lawn so my brain is sweating along with the rest of me).
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:11 AM   #10
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When traveling overseas, I seldom see anything that's a bargain in any store--food store or otherwise.

And the cost of housing in large European cities is absolutely incredible. They went from was essentially an all renter society to a mix of rents and condos--copying U.S. condominium laws, etc. The B&B we used to stay at in Amsterdam has been broken up into condos--and each 2 rooms sells for what we could buy a 5000 sq. ft. house for.

Whenever I arrive home from a long trip, I realize our middle class existence is like an upper class existence in much of the world.
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:17 AM   #11
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Very interesting. I entered the little flyover city I live in, and compared to London, UK. As expected, most products/services were (considerably) more in London. What was interesting was some things were actually cheaper, I did not expect that. Trivial example but milk was cheaper here, but bread was twice as much here. A health/fitness club in London was 5X the cost where I am! I am sure there are reasons for each example (and I am not seeking explanations), but it hadn't occurred to me that expenses wouldn't be more uniformly higher or lower.

Enlightening, thanks.
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:46 AM   #12
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Bread is a strangely regularly marked up food in the US, with limited sales, I can find cheese for $2-3/lb quite often, but bread is almost never greatly on sale in supermarkets, a local bakery actually had better prices for day-old bread (and much better tasting) than anything in the supermarkets/grocery stores. Bread is made from quite simple ingredients and can be made in droves in an automated assembly line, yet they price it at $2.50-$4, when the ingredients are $0.30-0.50. The bakery for example, had a day-old loaf at $2.20. Part of it may have to do with how food is subsidized differently in each country, bread likely receives almost no subsidy in the US, but even so, the prices shouldn't be 5-10x cost, for mediocre quality.
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:14 AM   #13
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$1 or $1.25 a loaf is common in Canada for regular or whole wheat bread. I'm not aware of any bread subsidies in Canada, but I may be wrong.
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:18 AM   #14
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That's really interesting, Alan. Would the numbers be different with a weaker dollar (that answer is probably obvious but I couldn't tell from the website if the exchange rate was factored in--but then I just finished mowing the lawn so my brain is sweating along with the rest of me).
I can't tell what exchange rate they are using. If the dollar was weaker then the that would make a difference.

Take a rent of $1,000/mo.

At today's rate of £1 =$1.3 that would be £769/mo

With a weaker $, say £1=$1.5 that would be £667/mo.

ETA
It looks like the rate used is £1=$1.32
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:16 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Alan View Post
We have been living in North Yorkshire, England for the past 3 months and noticed that most things seem to be cheaper than where we live in Texas (The Woodlands). Some major items are significantly cheaper such as property taxes, rent, cell phones, cable TV, house insurance, car insurance, and virtually all the food items we buy.

Yesterday I found this neat website which gives an indication of the cost of living in many cities, allowing a comparison of cities within the same country or in different countries. I've attached a pdf showing the comparison between Middlesbrough and The Woodlands. (We live in a small market town about 10 miles south of Middlesbrough)

Cost of Living
Thanks Alan, this is an excellent website.

Our local rents have been climbing rapidly. According to Puget Sound Business Journal, the median rent to a 2 bedroom in the city of Seattle is $2300/mo. A one bedroom is $1770.

http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/n...n-seattle.html

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Old 08-02-2016, 01:05 PM   #16
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Thanks Alan, this is an excellent website.

Our local rents have been climbing rapidly. According to Puget Sound Business Journal, the median rent to a 2 bedroom in the city of Seattle is $2300/mo. A one bedroom is $1770.

http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/n...n-seattle.html

Ha
I hadn't remembered seeing the website on er.org so thought I'd post it here.

Our daughter lives in Santa Monica and she pays $2,600/mo for a 1 bedroom apartment, double what we pay for our 2 bed, 2 bathroom, double integrated garage in The Woodlands.
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Old 08-02-2016, 01:11 PM   #17
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I hadn't remembered seeing the website on er.org so thought I'd post it here.

Our daughter lives in Santa Monica and she pays $2,600/mo for a 1 bedroom apartment, double what we pay for our 2 bed, 2 bathroom, double integrated garage in The Woodlands.
For sure. Santa Monica is a wonderful place to live. It helps that it is a city unto itself, not just an LA neighborhood.

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Old 08-02-2016, 04:18 PM   #18
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I looked up the stats for Honolulu and found them to be fairly accurate in most situations. Of course, shopping at places such as Sams or Costco really makes a big difference - on the order of 1/2 price in many cases. However there are few bargains in the apartment or home-ownership expense category (maybe the trusty blue tarp on a beach.)

Most folks will adapt as needed to afford where they live. It might mean a smaller place than is otherwise comfortable, swearing off fresh fruits such as blue berries or eating out less in order to afford more expensive items cooked at home. The point I hope I'm getting to is that many of us have found ways to afford the lifestyle we want by being willing to make certain sacrifices. It's all a matter of priorities. I would be interested in seeing a comparison of what folks ACTUALLY spend in the various locations as opposed to direct comparison of prices. IOW if you move from point A with an inflation index of 100 to a place with an index of 125, do you actually spend the extra money or do you adapt to, say, 110 by changing the mix of things you buy, rent, etc.?
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Old 08-02-2016, 04:26 PM   #19
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I think also in retirement, how much do you need where you live, to live as you want. In Our case we struggle to spend over $30k a year in real after tax money (All In). Based on our current available funds we can draw up to $90k per year well longer than we will need it, of which only 50% is taxable. I think we spend $45k last year including $15k of frivolous completely unnecessary spending.
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Old 08-02-2016, 05:20 PM   #20
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This is interesting. However one item that It does not seem to take into account is "Real" Taxes. We do pay a lot less Income Tax in the USA than The UK and Canada. It does talk about disposable income, but in reality, I think it is cheaper overall in sane US Cities. It does say "After Tax". I find it little hard to believe. Maybe it includes RE Taxes etc.
"Real" Taxes? I can't speak to the UK but I think most comparisons put the individual/family tax burden as comparable in Canada and the US when you look at all in costs. This is comparing Canada with the more populous US states. If you were a 1% it would likely be better to be in the US as the top marginal rate kicks in at a lower threshold in Canada than in the US. For anyone making less than 170K a year there wouldn't be much of a difference. If you were a corporation, it would be much better to be based in Canada from a tax point of view.

It is interesting Alan. I had seen this and similar sites and used them in the past. It goes against my gut feeling of time spent in the UK. DW was born in London and her sister lives near Petersfield. Whenever we visit, we are usually impressed by what seem to be the incredibly high prices on everything from groceries to real estate to renting a car. I guess those impressions are incorrect.
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