Cost of living for youth

Consider teaching youth about the cost of living to help them plan for their future.

Use the Cost-of-Living Wizard on to help calculate your cost of living in different cities.
Use the Cost-of-Living Wizard on to help calculate your cost of living in different cities.

Students in high school may have plans of moving to a city different than the one they were raised in. Some youth may prefer living in large metropolitan areas; some may prefer living in small cities or even rural areas. As youth are making plans on where they want to live, it’s important to teach them about the cost of living.

What is cost of living? Investopedia defines cost of living as the amount of money needed to sustain a certain level of living, including basic expenses such as housing, food, taxes and health care. It is often used to compare how expensive it is to live in one city versus another locale and it is tied to wages, as salary levels are measured against expenses required to maintain a basic standard of living throughout specific geographic regions.

What does this mean for youth? As youth have desires to live in different cities, learning about the cost of living can help them with budgeting their finances to account for the cost of living in that city. It also may be a factor to help them make a decision on where to work.

For example, a youth graduates from high school or college and receives two job offers. Company A in Muskegon, Michigan, and Company B in Detroit, Michigan, are both offering $50,000 a year. Making these comparisons on shows that the cost of living in Detroit is 2.4 percent higher than Muskegon, and that to maintain the current standard of living for $50,000 in Muskegon, the youth would need to make $51,203 in Detroit (see picture).

How can someone calculate the cost of living? The U.S. Department of State has a Salaries, Costs of Living and Relocation webpage that lists different websites that calculate the cost of living. Michigan State University Extension recommends youth and adults use more than one cost of living calculator to get different estimates on the cost of living. Youth who are still in high school can begin now to check the different cities they want live in.

Helping youth understand about cost of living can help them plan for future living. It provides an opportunity for youth to learn that entering the workforce is more than just a salary and that there are other things to consider when it comes to finding a city to live in. If you’re an adult teaching or mentoring youth in finance and career-related subjects, consider educating them on the cost of living.

MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, including serving in the role of 4-H treasurer, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H career preparation, money management and entrepreneurship programs, read the 2015 Impact Report: “Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Careers and Employment.”

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