The Big Philly Affordability Index: What you get for $45,000 a year here vs. other big cities

Cities drawing

Philadelphia is trying to solve its “brain-drain” problem. People leave here after they graduate, or they leave because they find a second job elsewhere. Many young people have doubts they’ll stay here for the long run.

But those who decide to leave Philadelphia for another big city, particularly on the East Coast, had better hope they’re getting a raise. It’s pretty inexpensive here, compared to nearby big cities and those on the West Coast. If you’re looking to move to one of those trendy cities in the South or Midwest, then you could be looking at a pay cut. The cost of living is generally still lower there.

Using a salary of $45,000 (the median starting salary for college graduates of last year according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers was $45,478), Billy Penn has compared how much you’d need to make in other big cities, as well as popular millennial cities, to have the same spending power as $45,000 in Philly. All data comes from CNN Money’s cost of living calculator tool designed to compare cost of living in different cities by looking at metrics like housing, groceries, utilities, transportation and health care.

Austin: $35,667

Breakfast tacos aren’t expensive. There’s a reason everyone is moving here. Surprisingly, though, more people have been moving from Austin to Philly than Philly to Austin the last few years.

Baltimore: $41,259

Our southern neighbor isn’t quite as expensive as here, but it’s because of groceries, utilities, healthcare and transportation. Housing is slightly more expensive in Baltimore, according to CNN. And that’s probably its proximity to super-pricey Washington, D.C.

Boston: $51,876

Inexpensive, compared to the other big East Coast cities like Washington and New York but still plenty more than here.

Chicago: $43,979

Cost of living is essentially equal to here. The winters are not. Chicago’s is much worse.

Dallas: $36,803

Housing is 44 percent less in Dallas than here.

Denver: $40,503

Seeing as much growth for young people as anywhere, and the price reflects it. Housing is almost as expensive in Denver as it is in Philly.

Houston: $37,329

Everything is apparently cheaper in Texas.

Los Angeles: $50,894

Yeah, Los Angeles is more expensive but not by a whole lot. And certainly not as bad as New York.

Nashville: $34,005

The country music lifestyle apparently is as humble as it seems. Nashville is the least expensive city on this list.

New York City: $83,803

Don’t move to New York. Just don’t do it. The groceries and transportation costs aren’t that bad, but the housing will kill you. It’s about 225 percent more on average than it is here.

Phoenix: $36,234

Housing, again, makes a huge difference. Phoenix housing is 31 percent less expensive than Philadelphia housing.

San Antonio: $34,798

How do you do it, Texas? How are you so cheap? Oh yeah, unlimited land.

San Diego: $51,007

Pretty affordable for being so close to the beach.

San Francisco: $63,060

Aside from New York, the most expensive place on this list.

San Jose: $56,675

You’ll need to make more at a Silicon Valley startup than you would need to make for a startup here.

Washington D.C.: $53,350

Utilities, transportation and groceries are less in Washington than in Philadelphia. Housing makes a big difference for cost of living there.

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