Economists base cost of living figures on the price level of everyday items. Taking into consideration common expenses consumers share, the average cost of living in Illinois depends on the part of the state in which one resides. Residents in different geographic areas of the state pay different prices for the same goods and services. Taken as a whole, the cost of living is highest in the northeastern section of the state and lowest in Southern Illinois, specifically the area known as "Little Egypt."
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Northern and Southern Regions
A cost of living index that sets the national average at 100 shows the Kendall area, in northern Illinois, with an overall cost of living index of 109, the highest in the state. What this means is that everyday expenses are 9 percent higher in the Kendall area than the nationwide average. Living expenses in central and southern areas of the state, collectively, are less than the national average. For example, the Macoupin County metro area in southwest Illinois has an overall cost of living index of 90. These figures consider the costs of food, housing, transportation, child care, health care and taxes.
Tale of Two Cities
In comparing two cities from different areas of the state, specifically Chicago in northern Illinois with Carbondale in southern Illinois, statistics from The Council for Community and Economic Research show that cost of living is less in Carbondale. Groceries cost 7 percent less on average and housing 40 percent less. Utilities in Carbondale average 6 percent less than in Chicago and the cost of transportation 18 percent less. However, when comparing salaries, a $50,000 annual salary in Chicago is comparable to $40,333 in Carbondale, meaning that for the same job a worker could expect to be paid less in Carbondale than in Chicago.
Costs Above Other States
Based on averages across the United States, residents of Illinois, taken as a whole, pay more for some ordinary consumer goods and services than residents of other states. As a statewide average, Illinois charges the highest property tax rates in the nation. The state also ranks near the top, in fifth place, in the cost of college tuition. When measured as the percent of income residents pay in state and local taxes, Illinois ties for 10th among all states based on the 2013 tax year.
Prices consumers pay for a gallon of gas in Illinois rank in the middle among U.S. states at 31st. Home prices, based on averages at the end of 2013, place Illinois 32nd in rank. The state holds the 29th spot in the U.S. for health care costs per capita.
Best Prices in the Nation
Illinois residents do have some cost of living figures that place the state below the majority of others. For example, the state ranks 38th in the cost of car insurance, based on the cost of insuring a 2013 vehicle. Residential energy bills in the state rank toward the bottom of the nation, with Illinois holding the 47th spot.
Comparative Income and Expenditures Figures
The average annual income for Chicago residents was $74,908 before taxes in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is more than $10,000 higher than annual average income in the Midwest as a whole -- $64,195. Average annual expenditures for Chicagoans were $57,919, compared with the annual average in the Midwest region at $49,592. However, when comparing the percentage of income spent by Chicagoans with other residents of the Midwest, the difference is a mere seven-tenths of 1 percent.