Up and out

Op/Ed Editor Austin Mai looks at costs of living around the country

Up and out

Story by Austin Mai, Op/Ed Editor

College has been fun and in many ways exactly what I expected it to be. Despite how much I’ve enjoyed the social side of the UW-Eau Claire, the time will come when I’m handed my degree and the rest of my life will begin.

As much as I’m looking forward to it, I’ve realized how unprepared I was for a future which might include moving to find a job. So I took to the internet, CNN specifically, to determine how different the costs of living are from Eau Claire and the rest of the United States.

I started my research looking at large cities in the midwest and found Minneapolis. The price difference is generally five to ten percent higher for most categories including cost of groceries, utilities, transportation and health care. Housing costs increase by 45 percent, which is modest compared to the other large cities.

I shot down south to Chicago and found similar costs for groceries, housing and health care. However, the windy city has a 22 percent price increase in transportation and 73 percent increase with housing costs.

I plan to pursue sports writing and NFL media is located right outside of Los Angeles. To my surprise, housing is only 152 percent more than in Eau Claire. What looks like an absurd number seems low considering Los Angeles’ reputation as being one of the big cities the United States has to offer.

The deeper I went with my research, I learned the major difference between most cities in the U.S. was housing costs. For example, housing costs increase 268 percent to live in San Francisco and 212 percent to live in Washington, D.C.

Then I found the Big Apple. New York and its egregious housing costs. Moving to Queens? Expect increases of 48 percent in utilities costs and 188 percent in housing costs. How about Brooklyn? Housing costs increase 289 percent.

Finally, I found the price difference in Manhattan frightening. Average costs of groceries increase 47 percent and utilities by 51 percent. Most alarming of all, housing costs increase 455 percent. In other words, a $50,000 salary in Eau Claire is the same as a $140,000 salary in Manhattan.

Chances are, if and when you leave Eau Claire, you won’t land in one of the largest cities in the country. Regardless, understanding the differences in costs of living is important before you walk off the graduation stage at Zorn Arena.