The South is notorious for having a cheaper cost of living versus the West Coast and East Coast. Generally speaking, the cost of living in San Francisco or New York is going to be more expensive that somewhere in Texas or Louisiana. As a student at Tulane, my tuition is one of the most expensive in the country. Most people reassured me that the cost of living would be cheaper than in the North and it would even out. I wondered—would it really? That would have to be a very significant discrepancy between my home town of Seattle and New Orleans. I decided to investigate some aspects of my life that I could compare to see if living in the South is actually significantly cheaper.
While I do not have a car in New Orleans, the differences in gas prices are somewhat significant between New Orleans ($2.59) and Seattle ($3.55). If I had a car at school, then I would be saving a little money on gas, however, prices are always subject to change. The street car only costs $1.25 to ride, while the bus price in Seattle is $2.75. However, with my University of Washington ID, I received all public transportation for free. Finally the cost of Uber is generally around the same in both states, and depends on how far I’m going and how frequently I use it.
Housing is usually seen as one of the biggest price differences between the two coasts and all the other states. In Seattle, the average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $1,969, and a two bedroom is $2,754. Obviously it varies neighborhood to neighborhood, niceness of building, amenities etc. The median home price of Seattle as of July 2018 was $735,000. My University of Washington dorm room (in the University District) was around $3,300 per quarter (three months). Comparing these prices to New Orleans, there is a big difference in price and size. Since Tulane is in Uptown, New Orleans, older students live off campus in apartments or split houses that are multiple levels. The average price for a room near Tulane can usually be anywhere from $600-1,200 and the average cost of a one bedroom apartment downtown is around $1,300. The closer to Tulane campus, the more expensive and in higher demand. Taking the time to do your research can ensure the best deal. Along with a cheaper price, your living space will definitely be larger in the South, but might be more old and run down.
Food. The price of food is a tricky one to compare, because obviously it depends on where you shop and go out to eat. My roommates and I usually shop at Trader Joe’s rather than Whole Foods because of the large difference in price, however a Winn-Dixie or Save-A-Lot would probably be cheaper. Prices at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are the same across the country. Restaurants are also hard to compare, however I have noticed that New Orleans restaurants usually have better happy hour deals, as well as slightly cheaper drinks and seafood. With food being one of the biggest pulls for tourism in Louisiana, there are definitely very expensive tradition southern style restaurants, but also very affordable authentic ones as well.
All in all, if someone was looking to move to the South from the from the North, it would be cheaper to live in the South. However there are so many factors that play into everything such as city versus suburbs, what neighborhood, spending habits, etc. I think that the biggest factor is buying a house or apartment later in life, but for me as a college student, it comes down to how much of my own money I choose to spend.
COVER PHOTO: Wikipedia