Nov 13, 2023 - News

High housing prices set Boston's cost-of-living apart

Cost-of-living index in Boston, Q3 2023
Data: The Council for Economic and Social Research; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Food, services, housing and most everything else costs more in Boston compared to the national average.

  • A new analysis shows just how much more it costs to live here as we enter the holiday season, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

By the numbers: Boston's cost-of-living index value was 48% higher than the national average, as of the third quarter of 2023.

  • Boston's most expensive category was housing, which clocked in at 127% more than the U.S. average.
  • The least expensive category for Bostonions was groceries, which are only 5.9% more expensive than the national average.

Why it matters: Indicators suggest that higher prices are certainly sticking around, and this could be a wallet-busting holiday season for many local families.

How it works: Each quarter, the Council for Community and Economic Research assembles a cost-of-living index designed to measure "regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services."

  • They factor in housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services used by households in the top income quintile.
  • The result: A snapshot in time useful for comparing relative costs across cities.

Goods and services tend to be more expensive in U.S. cities along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as compared to inland areas.

Yes but: Boston isn't the most expensive place to live.

  • Among cities with more than 100,000 residents, Honolulu (79.2% above average), San Jose (71.3% above) and San Francisco (69.5% more) had the country's highest relative cost of living.
  • If Manhattan were its own city, it would hold the top spot, at 127.8% more.

Zoom in: Looking at just relative grocery prices, San Francisco, Fairbanks and Juneau came in highest.

  • Pierre, South Dakota; Houma, Louisiana; and Thibodaux, Louisiana had the lowest.
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