Cost of Living scores and indexes are a way to compare the overall price of goods and services between different areas of the United States. The national average is established at 100, so when you look at a place’s COL Index you can instantly see how much more or less, you’ll have to pay to live there. For many this calculation is a key component to deciding where you might want to retire. Of course, there are other critical components to the final decision; such as being close to family and friends, desirable weather conditions, medical care, and the ability to participate in social activities, to name just a few.
If a place has a cost-of-living index of 135, then it is 35% more expensive to live there than the national average. If a place has a cost-of-living index of 85, then it is 15% cheaper than the average for the entire country.
The biggest factor in Cost of Living is housing costs – buying a house or apartment, or renting one.
There are several online “Cost of Living Calculators” that can provide you with a score and alternatively a comparison between two different locations.