How we got here
Where does the data come from?
How is this tool different from other resources out there?
Where does the data come from?
  • Core cost of living data is from ACCRA Cost of Living Index from the Council for Community and Economic Research. Price collection by city is conducted in strict conformance with standard specifications at specified times.
  • Demographics data (including population, age, ethnicity, education and gender breakdown) were compiled from the U.S. Census.
  • Quality of life data (gyms, bars and beauty salons per 1,000 residents) were collected from the Yellow Pages. Walkability and public transit scores were obtained from Walk Score.
  • Monthly bus pass costs were obtained from the individual websites of the public transit system for each city. For example, the cost of an unlimited MetroCard in New York was obtained from the MTA website.
  • Education data was provided courtesy of Greatschools, a nationwide ratings system that evaluates schools based on performance on state achievement tests. Private school data was obtained from the Department of Education, and average private tuition was compiled by averaging tuition across randomly selected schools in each city.
  • NerdWallet excluded state and local tax data because tax rates vary by state and metropolitan area, and sometimes within metropolitan area as well. Due to the plethora of state taxes, local taxes, jurisdictions and assessment procedures involved in the assessment of income, property and sales taxes, local tax rates cannot be accurately calculated.
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How is this tool different from other resources out there?
    While other resources provide basic cost comparisons, NerdWallet’s cost of living calculator and accompanying city life tool go one step further by offering information on schools, quality of life and demographics, giving users a one-stop shop to explore new cities.
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Cost of living 101