The Tax Foundation used data comparing costs of living
to look at how much — or how little — you can stretch your dollar across the country. Unsurprisingly, East Coast states like New York and Massachusetts ranked low for affordability, while Southern, Midwestern, and Mountain states ranked high.
The most expensive place on the list isn't what you'd expect (and technically, not a state). In the District of Columbia, $100 is worth only $84.67 in relative terms. While major American cities like San Francisco and NYC have developed reputations for their high costs of living, their states' suburban and rural areas bring down median statewide living costs. And since D.C.’s 'burbs are located in other states, there’s nothing to balance out the high cost of urban living.
The cheapest state, on the other hand, is Mississippi, where the relative value of $100 is $115.34. To put that $30.67 range in perspective, the Tax Foundation points out that would mean someone earning $50,000 after taxes in Mississippi would have to earn $68,000 in D.C. to afford a comparable lifestyle.
While high cost of living often correlates with higher wages, that’s not always the case. The study also found that Nebraskans earn, on average, comparable salaries to Californians. But in California $100 is only worth $88.97, compared with Nebraska’s $110.38. Now if only Nebraska had California’s sun and surf…