AUSTIN, TEXAS — With the expense of holiday gift giving just two week away, this may be the worst possible time to report this: The cost of living in Austin increased more than any other city in the U.S., according to a newly released report.
According to GoBankingRates also known as GBR, Austin ranks second in terms of the biggest percentage increase in its “cost to live comfortably” index among 50 cities studied, yet the highest in terms of actual dollars required. Let’s not sugarcoat it with euphemisms any further: The study finds that the cost to live “comfortably” in Austin skyrocketed 33.92 percent from 2017 to 2018 — a year-over-year increase of $18,532.
Only Colorado Springs, CO ranked higher, percentage-wise, with a 35.61 percent increase. Yet in terms of a dollar amount increase, the $17,596.64 posted for that city was lower than that of Austin. That gives the capital city the distinction most
“Living in a city can be expensive, with everything from rent to the average grocery bill eating up your savings and possibly preventing you from saving up for that first down payment,” GoBankingRates researchers wrote in their study. “And, if that weren’t enough, those costs are going up faster in some cities.”
In a 2017 study by GBR, the “comfortability” figure for Austin was $54,631, up $1,406 from the previous year. While the previous study found $27,316 is needed just for necessities in Austin — a tad on the high side compared to other cities — the median household income was proportional at $57,689. The good news: That was the biggest salary than any other Texas city in the study, yielding a cushion of $3,058 for Austin residents using the 50-30-20 rule.
For the uninitiated, the 50-30-20 budgeting rule divides income into three buckets: 50 percent on necessities, 30 percent on discretionary spending, and 20 percent toward savings.
This year’s study looked at the amount needed to pay for necessities such as food, rent, utilities, transportation and healthcare, as well as the amount one should budget toward savings and discretionary spending. These costs were then consolidated into a “live comfortably” income to determine the places in America that are getting more expensive.
Other Texas cities made the top 20 list in terms of the “cost to live comfortably.” Among them:
Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $13,182.28
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 23.45 percent
“Houston is the fourth-largest city in America and one of the places where it’s hard to buy a home, according to a previous study,” researchers wrote. “The $69,405 annual income needed to live comfortably places the city in the middle of the pack, but that amount is up 23.45 percent compared to last year. So, Houston residents might be finding that their dollar isn’t stretching as far in 2018.”
El Paso, Texas
Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $9,756.80
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 24.15 percent
“El Paso is among the 20 cities where costs are rising the fastest, but it also boasts the lowest cost to live comfortably at just over $50,000 a year. Still, the increase makes El Paso one of the cities where retirees are struggling to get buy.”
Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $12,349.68
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 26.76 percent
“San Antonio has the lowest average annual grocery costs of any city in this study,” analysts wrote. “And, while its cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment is right in the middle, it still ranked among the best big cities for renters due to its high livability score.”
Fort Worth, Texas
Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $15,609.76
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 29.44 percent
“Fort Worth residents saw a $15,000-plus jump to live comfortably in 2018 than they did in 2017, making it one of the six cities in this study that increased at or above that threshold,” the study’s authors wrote. “One of the worst cities to make minimum wage, Fort Worth residents need to make over $68,000 annually to live comfortably.”
Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $14,172.48
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 30.53 percent
“Arlington is the first city in this ranking to break the 30 percent threshold for the increase in its cost of living for 2018. Despite reasonable rents and cheap groceries, Arlington is still one of the worst places to live if you’re trying to save money.”