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Analyzing the Cost of Living in 3 East Coast Cities Using 1993 and 2023 COLI Data

Over the past thirty years, society has progressively changed, but there is one challenge that stands out against everything else: it has gotten more expensive to live. This has made it harder for younger Millennials and Gen-Z to achieve their dreams of home ownership, starting a family, and saving for retirement.

Looking at three East Coast cities, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Raleigh, NC, we tracked how their composite index scores looked in 1993 vs 2023. In New York City, known as the “city that never sleeps” and the “hub of dreams”, the cost of living has become expensive, leaving many native New Yorkers stressed. Similarly, in Washington D.C., our nation’s capital, there have been reports of a rising cost of living. Additionally, in Raleigh, North Carolina, the new hub for tech companies, certain areas have also experienced a spike in living costs, which presents challenges for both long-time residents and newcomers. However, current Cost of Living Index data shows that Raleigh is still below average relative to its peers.

*the cost of living index cannot be used as a time series

When looking at the 1993 data, New York City’s composite index score of 208.6 means that it was 108.6% higher than the national average. At the beginning of 2023, Manhattan’s score was 222.0 (meaning that it is 122% higher than the national average). Washington D.C. had a composite index score that was 34.5% higher than the national average in 1993 and 40.1% higher than the national average in 2023. On the other hand, it seems like Raleigh, North Carolina has stayed just below the national average both in 1993 and 2023. With a composite score of 1.9% below the national average in 1993, and 2.1% below the national average in 2023.

New York City and Washington are consistently above the national average by a substantial margin, whereas Raleigh falls below it. Despite the rising cost of living of the tech hub, Raleigh’s relative affordability still makes it an ideal choice decades later for younger Millennials and Gen-Z seeking a vibrant city life without breaking the bank. With its booming tech job market and lower living expenses, Raleigh provides a compelling option for those wanting to avoid the financial strains of pricier cities while still pursuing opportunities for personal and professional growth.