In Search of the Cheapest American Cities for Beer Drinkers

A new cost-of-living calculator lets you plan your next move based on a city's bar density and price of a six-pack.

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viZZZual.com/Flickr

When planning a move to a new city, it's important to ask yourself a number of questions: What are apartment rentals going for? How good is the public transit system? What's the crime rate?

But just as importantly, how much does it cost to buy beer? If the corner store is shilling six-packs for more than $10, is relocating to this place really worth it?

Folks who use cheap beer as a measure of a city's ultimate livability will get a kick out of this new cost-of-living calculator from Nerd Wallet, a company geared toward helping people make better financial decisions. The calculator lets you compare prices of popular groceries in different cities, so if you're torn between moving to Minneapolis or Memphis, you can see how much of a dent on your wallet each option forebodes. The products range from bread to milk to a 12-inch Pizza Hut pie, but seeing as none of these staples approach the importance of beer to life happiness, let's just get down to the countrywide ranking of suds-friendly cities.

Here is Nerd Wallet's estimation of the best places in America to score a sixer of Heineken (these averages are based on data from the ACCRA Cost of Living Index):

Conversely, here are the worst places:

The list has a few surprises. What the heck is driving up the price of Heineken in Richmond, Indiana, a community of 37,000 people who earn a median household income of $30,000? And why isn't Brooklyn represented on the most-expensive list – are corner-store prices really that much higher in Queens?

There are many other bones you could pick with these rankings. If you're making a killing in New York, do you really care about the cost of beer? You probably just drink gin with artisanal bitters, anyway. And why is Heineken used as a benchmark? A lot of folks who only care about cost would just go with Old Milwaukee or Miller Light. Or if they do consider quality when choosing beer, there are plenty of much tastier brews than Heineken that would sell for about the same amount.

Still, it's fun to play around with this calculator, which if you're not a beer fan offers a caffeinated alternative in the form of Starbucks lattes. There's also a comparison of cities by bar density, helpful for people who prefer social drinking over, you know, demolishing a six-pack at home. By Nerd Wallet's calculations, Los Angeles falls near the bottom, probably because of its sprawl (this graph is based on data from the Yellow Pages):

Top photo courtesy of viZZZual.com on Flickr.

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