The Economic Policy Institute calculated how much it costs to live in cities across America. See how the Charlotte area fared.
CHARLOTTE, NC — For those of us who live in the Charlotte metro area, we’re accustomed to paying a little more for the privilege of calling the Queen City region home. A new study now tells us how much more we’re paying.
The Charlotte metropolitan area ranks as one of the most expensive places to live in the Tar Heel state, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Perhaps unsurprisingly, living in Charlotte is more pricey than Asheville and the Raleigh metro areas.
The institute recently released its 2018 family budget calculator that estimates how costly it is to live in each of America’s 3,142 counties and 611 metro areas.
Economic Policy Institute estimates that a family of two adults and two children in Charlotte would need to earn a combined $89,330 per year — or $7,444 a month — to live comfortably.
Here’s how that money gets spent:
- Housing: $967 per month
- Food: $762 per month
- Child Care: $1,165 per month
- Transportation: $1,171 per month
- Health Care: $1,575 per month
- Other Necessities: $698 per month
- Taxes: $1,107 per month
Our costs are only slightly more expensive than if we lived in Raleigh but much higher than if we lived in Asheville.
To live in the Raleigh area, the same family would need to earn a combined $89,271 per year, or $7,439 every month, to “attain a modest yet adequate standard of living,” the organization said.
In the Asheville area, the cost would be $85,205 per year.
Coastal Carrituck County came in as the most expensive county in North Carolina. There, the family would need $96,343 per year, or $8,029 per month.
The family budget calculator accounts for geographic differences in cost of living, but does not include many expenses associated with a middle-class lifestyle, including student loan payments or saving for college or retirement.
“Our Family Budget Calculator goes beyond traditional measures like the poverty line to paint a detailed picture of what families need to get by,” EPI Senior Economist Elise Gould stated. “The latest update provides even greater detail on how costs vary throughout the country. It is above all else a tool for policymakers to advocate for ways to raise wages and make their communities more affordable.”
San Francisco ranked as the most expensive metro area in the nation, where that same family would need a whopping $148,439. Of course they’d only need to earn $58,906 to live comfortably in Brownsville, Texas, which ranked as least expensive metropolitan area in the country.
The institute noted that many low-wage workers don’t make enough money to adequately provide for their family’s basic needs. Even after adjusting for higher state and city minimum wages, the group said, there is “nowhere in the country” where a minimum-wage worker would earn enough.
“It’s clear from our analysis that, even in less-expensive areas, many families will struggle to meet their basic needs,” said research assistant Zane Mokhiber. “The good news is we have many different ways to remedy this, from a higher minimum wage to ambitious child care reform. Policymakers should draw on a range of tools to help people meet the needs laid out in the Family Budget Calculator.”
Click here to try out the calculator for yourself. You can change the number of adults and children to see exactly what your household needs to earn to live comfortably in cities and counties throughout the country.