Cost of living comparison international
As you mentioned in your question, you can go to companies like Towers Watson, Mercer, etc.
for international data, but you better be prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get it.
Theres a basic version that you can access from the US State Department site that I have used in developing employee compensation for international assignments in the past.
Links to both:
Salary cost of living comparison
They are sufficiently accurate to the degree that the variance in personal spending habits between people is larger than the degree of error in the tool on online sites like salary.
You dont need better data than what you find online.
,Based on personal experience (I moved here from Minnesota and Pennsylvania), here are the macro factors that will affect your cost of living:,, * Buying a house will result in a mortgage that is huge.
If you buy a house, expect your cost of living to more than double.
n * Rent is very high, but not as high as home prices.
If you rent, expect your cost of living to approximately double.
This is the primary driver of the macro difference in cost of living between San Francisco and most of the Midwest is about 200%.
n * Eating out can be somewhat more expensive, so if you want to eat out more, your cost of living will be incrementally higher.
There are more and better restaurants out here, so its easy to end up doing this.
On the other hand, if you buy raw materials and cook for yourself, your food costs will remain roughly the same.
One big exception to this is the cost of milk, which is unusually high here.
n * Gas is somewhat more expensive, so if you want to drive a lot (depending on where you live/work, you can end up doing a lot of commuting), your transportation costs will be somewhat higher.
I believe insurance rates may also be higher.
On the other hand, if you live close enough to your work, you can avoid a lot of driving.
However, this often requires you to pay a premium in housing because residential areas which are near bu.