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Cost of Living in Columbus Ohio [2024] | 💰 What Is the Average Columbus Cost of Living?

Last Updated on: 7th March 2023, 05:42 pm

Located in the heart of Ohio, Columbus is a bustling and vibrant place to call home. Serving as the state capital, this thriving city has a reputation for being an affordable place to live. Before moving to the area, check out everything you need to know about the overall cost of living in Columbus — including how much you can expect to spend on rent, purchasing a home, groceries, transportation, utilities, and much more! 

Columbus Cost of Living Index

Wondering about what you can expect for the average cost of living in Columbus? There is a myriad of variables that influence what your cost of living in Columbus will ultimately be. Educating yourself with the basic cost of living index data will help you ensure that moving to the city is the right choice for your budget over the long term.

Columbus Cost of Living Index 

Brand new to the concept of the Cost of Living Index (also referred to as COLI)? Developed as a simple, easy-to-understand method of comparing the cost of living in cities across America, this index is a must-use when relocating. When using this resource, it is important to know that the U.S. Average Cost of Living Index (COLI) is always set at 100.

How does the COLI work in practical terms? Intuitively, cities with a Cost of Living Index below 100 are more affordable than average, while those that are above 100 are more expensive than average.

The Columbus cost of living index is 86.4, which means that living in Columbus is significantly more affordable than average. To further help understand the cost of living in Columbus, there are individual categories within the COLI breakdown. 

Unlike most cities around the country, the most affordable part of living in Columbus is the price of housing (COLI = 70.6). Other affordable aspects of life in Columbus include groceries (COLI = 98.8), health care (COLI = 89.5), and transportation (COLI = 90.1). Above average categories include utilities (COLI = 102.1) and miscellaneous expenses (COLI = 107.5).

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Developed in 1921, another established way of helping individuals determine and compare a city’s cost of living is the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Overseen by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the CPI is updated frequently, which is helpful for comparing data in real time. Like all other major cities across the nation, the Columbus Consumer Price Index has experienced increases over the last 12 months. In general, the regional Consumer Price Index increased by 0.8% as of the organization’s latest report.

Consumer Expenditures Survey

A second program from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is the Consumer Expenditures Survey. This initiative releases data on a city’s income, expenditures, and more.

According to data from the most recent Consumer Expenditures Survey for Columbus, the average household spends the following each month:

  • Food: $753
  • Transportation: $1,124
  • Housing: $1,031
  • Health care: $1,164

Family Budget Calculator (Economic Policy Institute)

Wondering how much you’ll need to make from your job to afford to live in Columbus? Answering this question in advance is essential to ensuring a positive experience in your new city.

According to the EPI Family Budget Calculator, households comprising two adults and two children need to make approximately $80,911 per year. Individual expense categories that help create this estimate include food ($753 per month), transportation ($1,124 per month), child care ($1,343 per month), and other necessities ($646 per month).

Cost of Household Items, Food, Gas, and Groceries in Columbus

Columbus is an affordable place to live. Explore some of the current consumer prices in the area, average Columbus utilities, and more — all aimed at the goal of providing an accurate idea of the cost of living in Columbus.

  • Steak, ribeye, 1 pound: $13.55
  • Milk, Whole 1/2 gallon: $1.71
  • Cereal, 1 box: $3.95
  • Ground beef, 1 pound.: $4.86
  • Potatoes, 5 pound bag: $2.68
  • Bread, wheat, 1 loaf: $3.56
  • Movie ticket: $10.66
  • McDonald’s burger, 1/4 pounder: $3.85
  • Average cell phone bill: $183.23
  • Average cost of gasoline, per gallon: $2.716
  • Average cost of utilities in Columbus, per month: $142.48

Public transportation

Public transportation in Columbus is provided by the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). Getting around town via public transportation is affordable, with fares that fit nearly every budget. Standard, frequent, and rush hour bus fare for adults is $2, $1 for children ages 5-12, and free for kids 4 and under. Qualifying individuals are eligible for reduced fare rates (free to $1 per ride). While not an exhaustive list, people who’ve participated in SNAP food assistance, publicly funded childcare, Medicaid, and related programs within the last 12 months often qualify for reduced fare rates.

Average cost of utilities in Columbus

New residents can expect an average cost of utilities in Columbus that is somewhat higher than the national average. Expect your average Columbus electricity bill to be near $142.48 per month, and an average Columbus cell phone bill runs $183.23 monthly across all major providers.

Average Columbus car insurance premium

The cost of car insurance premiums can fluctuate heavily between cities and counties. Much like most other aspects of living in the city, Columbus has a lower-than-average cost of car insurance. A minimum coverage policy in Columbus costs $641 per year. Keep in mind that this estimate can be higher or lower depending on your driving record, age, and how many people will be driving the vehicle. 

Columbus Real Estate Market

Columbus home prices have increased 2% over the last year, making for a somewhat competitive buying market. According to the latest data from Redfin, the median home price in Columbus is now $229,450. During the same time period, 27.7% of local homes sold above their list price. Some of the most desirable homes spent just 29 days on the market, with average properties spending about 45 days on the market.

Still debating whether you should buy or rent? One of the best ways to make this decision is by assessing the Columbus price-to-rent ratio. You can easily calculate this figure by dividing the median annual Columbus rent price by the median home price. The higher the ratio, the better the market is for renters (with the opposite being true for prospective home buyers). Columbus’s price-to-rent ratio is 16.1, meaning buying is better than renting in Columbus.

Columbus Rental Market – Average Rent in Columbus

The cost of apartment rent in Columbus is $1,184 per month for an 881-square-foot apartment. This figure is significantly lower than the U.S. average monthly rent price of $1,628 for the same size residence.

What are some of the most expensive neighborhoods in Columbus? Rent is highest in Dennison Place, Indianola Forest, Indianola Terrace, and Milo-Grogan (all priced at $1,913 per month). Some of the least expensive neighborhoods in Columbus are South of Main ($739 per month), Willow Creek ($794 per month), and Westbrook ($822 per month).

As reported by the 2022 Rental Affordability Report by ATTOM, it is more cost-effective to rent than buy in Columbus. 

Average Salary & Household Income in Columbus

The median household income in Columbus is $58,202. Exploring local data from Payscale, the average per capita annual salary is $70,000, and the average hourly wage is $19.83.

Income, Sales & Property Taxes in Columbus

Often overlooked, one of the most important considerations when relocating to any new city is the taxes you’ll be expected to pay. Check out a full list of taxes — including income tax, sales tax, and property tax in Columbus.

Income tax

The Ohio income tax rate ranges between 2.850% and 4.797%.

Sales tax

Purchases in Columbus are subject to a sales tax rate of 7.5%.

Sales Tax Breakdown


Ohio State

Franklin County

Special Tax









Property tax

Homebuyers are often confused about how to calculate their property taxes upon relocating to Columbus. Thankfully, learning about a city’s assessed property tax rate makes it easier to determine. Collected by Franklin County, Columbus residents pay an average effective property tax rate of 2.060%. On a home with an assessed value of $500,000, this equals $10,300.

Columbus Cost of Living Versus Cincinnati

Separated by about 100 miles, making the decision to live in Columbus or Cincinnati can be a challenging one. Brimming with top attractions and conveniences, both cities offer residents an excellent quality of life. One way to break the tie between moving to either Columbus or Cincinnati is to compare the cost of living in each city. According to the overall Cost of Living Index, living in Columbus is slightly less expensive than living in Cincinnati. 

Along with its low cost of living, Columbus boasts many other outstanding conveniences and amenities for area locals. At Bell Moving, we’re here to make your upcoming relocation to Columbus one that is quick, simple, and stress-free. Thanks to our top-rated moving services — such as packing, local moving, and long distance moving — we can deliver outstanding customer service alongside our decades of experience.  Contact our team of experts today at 614-503-0035 to get started!


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