In the following two city cost-of-living comparison graphic, we examine a move from Houston, TX, to Seattle, WA, using data from ERI’s Relocation Assessor. The analysis is based on an earnings level of $125,000 in Houston. ERI uses the base city’s earnings level to determine the spending pattern. When this value is modified, the base city’s spending pattern changes accordingly, as does the relative cost to purchase the same lifestyle in the destination city. So, what does it cost to duplicate the $125,000 Houston lifestyle in Seattle?

With a 16.8% higher cost-of-living in Seattle, it would take $146,032 to replicate a $125,000 lifestyle in Houston, a $21,032 differential. These figures are based on a family of 4 owning a 2,200 sq. ft. home and 2 cars with a total value of $26,000.

Seattle’s higher cost of living is significantly influenced by housing, with an approximate $15,000 difference in annual housing expense between the two locations. The differential is buffered by higher property tax rates in Houston, as well as more expensive homeowner’s insurance as a result of Houston’s vulnerability to hurricanes.