Cost of Living Resources

When researching compensation and pay through a salary guide, one must consider the cost of living for the particular geography, as living costs are extremely variant; while salaries tend to vary less and generally fall within a fairly narrow range for any given profession.

Cost of living refers to a standardized measurement representing the average cost of the basic necessities of life in an area. These necessities include food, shelter, and clothing. Cost of living data is most frequently used to compare different regions of a country and indicates the minimum income required to afford basic life expenses.

The data is useful to individuals by offering a glimpse of the effects of a move on disposable income and the requisite salary adjustments required to maintain a standard of living. The Internet is a valuable tool for uncovering this information about cities and states throughout the country. One of the most popular tools is the Salary.com's Cost-of Living Wizard. By entering your base salary, current location, and target location, the program gives you a graphical representation of your financial status in both locations and displays the net change in disposable income.

Internationally, the United States is found to have one of the lowest levels in the developed world. Most Western European countries have a cost-of-living up to 20 percent higher than the U.S., while Scandinavia sees rates up to 50 percent higher. By contrast, countries in South America, Asia, the Mediterranean, and ex-Soviet Bloc countries see rates between 20 and 80 percent of that of the United States. Relative to the U.S., worldwide survival costs are trending quickly upwards as economic conditions improve.

In the United States, the costs of living have been on a general rising trend for the last decade. While wages have remained stagnant and unemployment has risen, costs have gone up. Most recently, inflated prices for commodities have contributed toward the rising cost of living. As commodity prices rise, consumers pay more for necessities such as food, gas, electricity, and heating sources.

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