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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

Price Check on Wolfram|Alpha

April 28, 2014 —
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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:

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.

relocate from champaign to san francisco, ca

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?

price of potatoes in boise vs. 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?

price of eggs in fairbanks, ak vs. atlanta, ga

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!


This appears to calculate for Canadian cities, but the results returned are the same across the country, and that’s not accurate.

Housing, for example, is much more expensive in Calgary, Alberta compared to Brandon, Manitoba.

Posted by Ron April 29, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Thank you for your feedback! Currently we only have data from one city per country other than the US. The data used to project COL in Canada is based on Montreal data.

    Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team April 30, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      So do you also have the data from cities in Europe?

      Posted by Mabie May 9, 2014 at 2:05 pm

        Yes we do, but as stated in the previous comment, we only have data for one city per country outside of the US. Thanks for your question!

        Posted by The Wolfram|Alpha Team May 13, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Love it.

Posted by Nax April 30, 2014 at 12:54 am

Just ran this for Buffalo, NY and was surprised how high the cost of living was. I expected it to be much lower than average as you can buy a house here for less than $50,000. The higher cost for utilities met my expectation as the cost of heating is very high compared to other US cities I have lived in.

Posted by Future Buffalo May 5, 2014 at 9:01 am

Very clever tool, will try this as we live in one of the most expensive capitals in the universe (Copenhagen) :

Posted by Mikkel September 8, 2014 at 5:14 am

Love it tbh! Planning for the upcoming summer holidays just got a little easier 🙂

Posted by Jeppe May 2, 2015 at 5:23 am