Texas has Some of the Highest and the Lowest Costs of Living in the Country

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Everything is bigger in Texas – including cost of living disparities.

The Atlantic Citylab looked at data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on the price levels of various expenses like food, transportation, housing, and education.  

The analysis shows that in Texas, there are metro regions where the costs of living are among the highest in the country – generally in the major cities of Dallas, Austin and Houston where you'd expect higher costs. On the other hand, there are metro regions along the border where the costs of living are among the lowest in the country.

There are very few states that combine such low-cost and high-cost areas. But then again, there are no states like Texas.

There's more after the jump.It turns out that most of the differences in costs of living across the nation are driven by the cost of rent – not the cost of goods. Case in point: across Texas, the cost of goods is fairly middle-of-the-road, as you can see in the map below.

The disparities start to emerge when looking at rent, which we already know is high in the major Texas cities, but not so much outside of them, as seen in the following map.

According to The Atlantic, “In essence, what it all comes down to is that housing – which makes up one of the largest single expenditures for most American families – is the big driver of variation in costs of living.” So while Texans may still be able to gloat about cheap Shiner and tacos statewide, the rising rents in the major cities make it so that many Texans no longer have low costs of living generally.

In addition to inequality between cities, there is also significant inequality within cities. We previously reported on how Texas cities are some of the most economically segregated, meaning the wealthiest and most educated people are more likely to live separately from the less educated and lower-income.

As Texas reaps the benefits of an economic boom, it's important to keep in mind how the wealth trickles down throughout the state – and what that means in terms of where Texans can continue to afford to live.  

About Author

Emily Cadik

Emily is a Texas ex-pat and proud Longhorn living in Washington, DC, where she remains connected to the Lone Star State through her work on BOR and her enthusiasm for breakfast tacos. She works on affordable housing policy, and writes about health care, poverty and other social justice issues.

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