How does Denver’s cost of living compare to 4 other cities?

Alright, let’s get this out of the way — the cost of living in Denver is higher than the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research.

Patios in Cheesman Park. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)residential real estate; house; home; cheesman park; denver; denverite; kevinjbeaty; colorado;

Let’s get this out of the way — the cost of living in Denver is higher than the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research.

In fact, living in Denver is 9.5 percent more expensive than average. But Denver’s also a desirable city where people want to live. So how does it compare to four other cool cities?

Austin is 3.4 percent under the national cost of living average.
Austin is 3.4 percent under the national cost of living average.

Of the four other cities chosen, Denver is the second cheapest. Above the national average, but still significantly cheaper than major coastal cities.

Herein lies part of the problem — Denver’s famously gaining lots of new people every month. Some of them are coming in from the coastal cities where the cost of living is presumably similarly high. Here’s a map of all the new tax returns filed in Denver and where they were previously being filed:

All the while, people who live here watch rents and home prices go up, wondering where they’ll be able to live. Because, yeah, housing is a very important part of cost of living. In CCER’s index, housing costs determine almost 28 percent of your cost of living.

The other catagory is the biggest cost after housing.
The other category is the biggest cost after housing.

And in Denver, housing costs are the highest above average:

Utilities are 6.2 points below the national average.
Utilities are 6.2 points below the national average.

But, yeah, you guessed it, still cheaper than three out of the four other cities I picked.

Denver is actually closer to Portland, 67.7 points above the national average, than Austin.
Denver is actually closer to Portland, 67.7 points above the national average, than Austin.

As for Denver, most reports indicate rising housing costs, so I wouldn’t expect the cost of living to decrease in the future. Hey, but maybe your current costs of living are below what the index expects. Here’s what CCER thinks monthly expenses in Denver are:

HouseholdTotal monthly expenses
Two parents with kids under 6$6,457
Two parents with kids 6-17$6,942
Homeowner$5,576
Renter$4,156

Take heart though, some individual items in Denver are still cheaper. And while you can’t stock up on energy bills, perhaps the Denver preppers in the audience will take their cue to start stockpiling Lipitor.

Good news, parents of little boys!
Good news, parents of little boys!