A:

Texas and California are two of the largest states in the union, both in terms of population and in terms of geography. The cost of living can vary significantly between individual counties or cities within either state. That said, the average Californian faces higher costs of living than the average Texan.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology tracks living wage calculations for cities and states across the United States, defining a living wage as the "approximate income needed to meet a family's basic needs." MIT further defines basic needs as "food, clothing, housing, and medical care." According to its 2014 figures, an individual has to earn 27.8% more income to earn a living wage in California than in Texas.

Measuring Cost of Living

When economists or statisticians are measuring the cost of living for a given country or region, they are measuring the amount that consumers need to spend in order to reach a certain average standard lifestyle. Put another way, the cost of living measures how much food, shelter, clothing, health care, education and fuel can be bought with one unit of currency.

Comparing Typical Expenses in Texas and California

MIT compares the costs of six different typical expenses for each state: food, child care, medical, housing, transportation, and "other."

Food was the only area where there was no clear difference between Texas and California. The average single adult could expect to eat with $242 a month in either state.

It is 23% more expensive to raise one child in California than in Texas. What is interesting, however, is that the difference drops to 6% with two children and just 0.5% with three children.

On average, Texas also has less expensive medical care than California. Here, the difference is roughly 11%.

Housing is the largest single expense category in MIT's calculation; it is also the area where Texans see the largest advantage. Housing costs are an impressive 54.2% higher in the Golden State than in the Lone Star State. The difference is more pronounced for larger families, where normal housing expenses for two adults and three children are 71% higher for Californians.

California does win out on transportation costs. The average adult in Texas spends 11.5% more on getting around than his Californian counterpart.

Lumping expenses such as entertainment, dining out, pet care and other possible expenses together, the "Other" category is another win for Texas; its average residents spend 34% less here.

Problems with Cost of Living

Cost of living averages do not address the quality of the goods or services available. It could very well be that shoes cost 25% more in one state than in another, yet they last 50% longer. Perhaps food prices are the same between two states, but on average the food in one state tastes better and is healthier to consume. Nevertheless, the data does suggest that it is relatively less expensive to live in Texas than in California.

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