Following up on my last post using Mint.com data, I decided to look into living expenses by city. Mint breaks down living expenses for 12 cities in Washington. My guess was that Bellevue would be the most expensive to live in, and Spokane would be the cheapest.
Monthly expenses by city
Turns out that Redmond, not Bellevue, is the most expensive city in Washington. The average Redmond resident spends almost $97k per year. Redmond beat Bellevue by $16k per year, quite a large margin.
The least expensive city: Bellingham turned out to be the least expensive city, costing $33k per year. You could live in Bellingham for three years at the same cost of one year in Redmond.
What drives the cost of living decrease?
Mint only breaks out four spending categories (Travel, Food and Dining, Shopping, and Transportation), but we can use these to identify what drives up the cost of living in Redmond.
Food and Dining: $750
Food and Dining: $600
Interestingly, the cost of food and dining is only marginally higher in Redmond. Food is about 25% more expensive in Redmond, while overall expenses are 3X that of Bellingham.
Transportation is the next closest category: Redmond costs are 40% higher than Bellingham.
But for more discretionary expenses, Redmond costs are much higher. Travel and Shopping are more than 50% higher in Redmond than Bellingham.
Living in Redmond doesn’t have to be 3X the price of Bellingham. When looking at core expenses, it appears it’s about 25% more expensive to live in Redmond.
Higher incomes in Redmond drive up the cost of living due to discretionary purchases. Travel and shopping are mainly optional purchases, and the higher incomes in Redmond, and the higher incomes of residents of Redmond allow them to spend more in these areas.