One hundred dollars is one hundred dollars, no matter where you spend it. Right?
Well, not exactly. A gallon of milk bought in New York costs significantly more than a gallon of milk would run you in Mississippi. Why that is, isn't easy to explain. It comes down to some rather complicated supply-and-demand factors, population numbers, age ranges and so on.
If you've ever wondered what the difference in $1, or perhaps in $100, is across the United States, the Tax Foundation has put together a map that compiles this information in a fascinating way. Instead of showing the cost of goods or property, Tax Foundation has reverse engineered the $100 bill to show what the value of $100 is across the nation, compared to the national average.
When looked at this way, the best states to live in financially are Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Alabama and South Dakota. In those states, $100 is worth $115-113 compared to the national average. The most expensive places to live include the District of Columbia, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey and California. The value behind $100 is only worth $84-88 in those states. Those are the places where you have to make more money a year to maintain the same standard of living that costs less elsewhere.
This standard of living data correlates directly to income, and therefore to how much residents of those states pay on annual taxes. It also affects the fairness of federal welfare programs, where residents in different states might get very different results despite making the exact same amount of money, dollars-wise.
Take a look at the map below to see how far a Benjamin goes in your neck of the woods, and then compare it to other states in the Union.