Are you looking to make a move in the near future? Budgeting for your next vacation? Before you go anywhere, check out Wolfram|Alpha’s data on costs of living and consumer goods. Whether you’re simply looking to get the most bang for your buck, or figuring out how your salary needs to change to maintain your lifestyle in a new city, look no further for some quick answers.
Wolfram|Alpha can tell you how expensive it would be to live in different cities around the United States. To find out the cost of living (COL) in Champaign, Illinois (Wolfram’s headquarters), for example, query cost of living in Champaign:
You’ll see that the COL for the Champaign-Urbana area, as of late 2013, is 96.34. One hundred is the US national average, so it would be about 4% cheaper to live in Champaign than in the average US city. (Champaign is inexpensive and a great place to live—and have we mentioned we’re hiring?) A city like San Francisco, on the other hand, has a cost-of-living index of 161.6, meaning that it’s 60% more expensive to live there than in Anytown, USA.
On the calculator results page, you’ll notice some cost conversions for “Average retail prices.” This data provides the basis for the cost-of-living indices, which can be pretty interesting itself.
If you haven’t moved around a lot in your life, you might be surprised by just how much prices for food can vary between different parts of the country. Idaho, for example, is pretty famous for its potatoes. How much cheaper is it to pick up a five-pound bag there than somewhere like Miami?
Turns out that living in the capital of potatoes gets you a 40% discount—and as the historical chart above shows, the price difference would have been even bigger near the end of the last decade. (However, note that some average price changes from year to year may be due to differences in sample sizes or other differences in survey methodology. Actual trends in local prices may vary. This data is intended only to show differences between areas surveyed in a single year.)
If you go to that query and scroll further down, you’ll get a list of some of the other products Wolfram|Alpha can return average prices for. Residents of Alaska and Hawaii know that prices can get a little more ridiculous there than in the other 48 states—how much more expensive are a dozen eggs in Fairbanks than they would be in Atlanta?
If you have other consumer goods that you’d like to see us add price data for, send us your thoughts using the “Give us your feedback” box at the bottom of any Wolfram|Alpha results page. Best of luck comparing prices!