About Cost of Living
View: Cost of Living Home | About | Methodology | LMI Help
What does it cost to live in Minnesota? The Cost of Living Tool provides a yearly estimate of the basic-needs cost of living in Minnesota, for individuals and families, by county, region, and statewide. The tool uses federal and state data to examine monthly living costs in seven categories: food, housing, health care, transportation, child care, other necessities, and net taxes.
To learn more about where the information comes from and how costs are calculated, see the Methodology.
How do I use the tool?
- Select the region type: County, Economic Development Region, Planning Region, or the entire state. County is the most local level. The map only shows the type of region you've selected-no need to select the map.
- Select whether you are single or have a partner (a spouse or other adult with whom you share income and expenses) and whether one or both of you work. The options are one full-time and the other not working, one full-time and the other part-time, or both full-time.
- Select how many children you have: none, one, two, three, or four.
- The result is a list of the regions you selected, followed by family yearly cost, worker hourly wage, and family monthly costs. If you selected yourself as single with no children, then family means just you.
Why do I need to know the cost of living?
- Employers want to set wages that attract and retain good workers. The Cost of Living Tool can help gauge whether a wage in a certain county will pay the bills and keep workers afloat.
- Job seekers want to know which kinds of work will cover family costs in their county.
- Policy makers and planners want to know if the need for public subsidies is likely to rise or fall. Regional wages that meet or exceed the cost of living can signal reduced need for subsidies.
- Policy makers and planners also want to know if the economy's engine of consumer expenditures is running well. Regional wages that meet or exceed the cost of living can signal conditions conducive to strong consumer expenditures.
- Students want to know what programs of study lead to occupations that provide incomes that will cover the cost of living and raising a family in their region.
What is a good standard selection?
The average family size in Minnesota is three persons and average workweek is less than 35 hours.
Partnered, 1 full-time and 1 part-time worker, 1 child, provides a standard yearly cost and hourly wage need for a typical family, regardless of how the weekly work hours are distributed between the two adults.
Ways to use the tool
- If you are a wage earner thinking about starting a family, try adding a partner or children to your selections.
- If you are a wage earner thinking about how many hours you and your partner should work and at what wage, try different scenarios: 1 full-time worker, 1 full-time and 1 part-time worker, and 2 full-time workers.
- If you are a wage earner thinking about moving, compare your present county to your destination county.
- If you are an employer thinking about expanding in your region or moving into new regions, compare standard family living costs by region to set wages that can attract and retain workers.
What standard of living is it?
Cost of Living results represents neither a poverty-level living nor a middle-class living but rather a simple living that meets basic needs for health and safety.
There is no money built in for savings, vacations, entertainment, eating out, tobacco, or alcohol, even though some of these may be considered part of a normal healthy life. To meet the mandate of a basic-needs living, the study excludes these costs.
Don't surveys already tell us about living costs?
Rather than describing what families are spending, as the Consumer Expenditure Survey does, the Cost of Living tool examines the cost of basic needs. I might spend to buy one apple for my two children and split it in half if that's all I can afford. That's my spending. But my family actually needs two apples. That's my basic need.
And rather than looking at the rate of change over time as the Consumer Price Index does, the Cost of Living tool looks at dollar costs. As shoppers, we don't ask the cashier how many percentage points higher the apple's price is today than the last time we shopped. We ask: How much does the apple cost?
The Annual Cost of Living Study is mandated by Minn. Stat. 2013, Chap. 116J, sec. 013.
To request results for other family compositions beyond those in the online tool, Talk with Our Experts.