Living in Wisconsin is less expensive than it is on average across the U.S. as a whole. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, goods and services in the state cost 8.1% less than they do on average nationwide. Compared with all other states, Wisconsin has the 20th lowest overall cost of living.
In general, living in dense, urban metro areas is more expensive than living in more rural areas. Wisconsin is home to 12 metropolitan areas. The most expensive in the state is the Madison metro area, where the cost of goods and services is 3.4% lower than the national average and 4.7% higher than the statewide average.
Wisconsin Housing Costs
Housing is one of the largest components of cost of living. In Wisconsin, the typical home is worth $173,600, $31,300 less than the national median home value of $204,900. Across the state, the median price of a home built in 1939 or earlier is $131,700, while the median value of a home built in 2014 or later is $339,400.
The typical renter in Wisconsin spends $837 a month on housing, $186 less than the $1,023 national median monthly rent. Monthly rent for a one-bedroom in the state is $677, while the typical rent for a unit with five or more bedrooms is $1,087.
Across the state, 33.1% of occupied homes are rented, less than the 36.2% national average and the 21st lowest renter rate of any state.
Wisconsin Transportation Costs
Transportation can also be a significant component of cost of living. In Wisconsin, 89.1% of commuters drive to work, compared to 85.5% of commuters nationwide. On average, the typical motorist in the state drives 11,278 miles a year. Taking into account average fuel economy and the average cost of gas -- regular fuel cost an average of $2.08 a gallon in Wisconsin in mid-2020 -- the average motorist in the state can expect to spend $967 on gas alone in one year.
Other transportation costs, like car insurance premiums, can vary by state. In Wisconsin, the average car insurance premium is $1,359, less than the $1,517 national average, according to data from Insure.com. And according to data from the EPI, the average single adult in the state spends $10,056 a year on transportation.
Wisconsin Health Care Costs
Out-of-pocket costs and insurance premiums for health care -- assuming at least a basic level of health insurance coverage -- are in line with the national average in Wisconsin. Average health care costs for a single adult in the state total $4,474 per year, compared to the national average of $4,266. For a family of four, average annual health care costs total $13,574 -- $624 more than the comparable national average of $12,950.
Wisconsin Food Costs
Food is another every day expense that has a significant impact on the overall cost of living in an area. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the cost of food varies from state to state.
In Wisconsin, a single adult spends an average of $2,977 on food annually, and a family of four spends $8,596 on average. For context, the nationwide average annual food expenditure is $3,240 for a single adult and $9,354 for a family of four. These estimates are calculated for a nutritionally adequate diet of food purchased at a grocery store for at home preparation.
Wisconsin Child Care Costs
For families, child care adds thousands of dollars to overall annual spending. The average annual cost of child care for a 4 year old child in Wisconsin is $9,791, in line with the national average of $8,903. Similarly, it costs an average of $16,005 to care for a 4 year old child and an 8 year old child per year in Wisconsin compared to the national average of $15,853.
Few expenses vary as much from state to state as taxes. Accounting for state and federal income taxes, as well as Social Security contributions and Medicare payroll, the average adult working in Wisconsin pays $5,741 annually in taxes -- below the national average of $6,542.
Excluding federal taxes and incorporating state and local taxes such as property and sales taxes -- the state and local tax burden in Wisconsin is in line with the average across the U.S. as a whole. Per capita state tax collections in Wisconsin come out to $3,224 per year, compared to the $3,151 average across all states.
Cost of Living by County or County Equivalent
Just as cost of living varies from state to state, it also varies from place to place within states. In Wisconsin, St. Croix County, home to the city of Hudson, has the highest overall cost of living for a family of four at $93,772 per year, well above the statewide average of $81,183 per year.
Meanwhile, Grant County is the least expensive place in Wisconsin. The average annual cost of living for a family of four in the area is just $72,677, $8,505 less than it is across the state as a whole. Platteville is the most populous community in Grant County.
Note that monetary figures are rounded to the nearest dollar and calculated differences may not always add up perfectly to the nearest dollar.
Read More About Cost of Living
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