Cost of Living Forum

AppletonLifer92 @appletonlifer92
Joined: 2 years ago

Cost of Living in Appleton for a Long-Time Resident

I’ve lived in Appleton my whole life, but I’m starting to wonder how our costs stack up compared to other places. As an active family of 4 (2 kids in elementary school) living in a 3-bedroom house we own, what are typical monthly expenses here for things like:

– Housing (mortgage/rent, utilities, etc.)
– Groceries and dining out
– Transportation (car, gas, public transit)
– Healthcare (insurance, medication, etc.)
– Entertainment and activities

I’d especially appreciate insights from other long-time residents on whether Appleton is becoming more or less affordable over time. Our household income is around $90K per year if that provides any context. Thanks in advance for your input!

Posts: 25


CheeseCurds4Life @cheesecurds4life
Joined: 2 years ago

I hear you on wondering about Appleton’s affordability these days. Housing is still relatively cheaper than some bigger cities, but it really adds up with utilities, taxes, etc. For your 3-bedroom place, I’d budget at least $1,600-1,800 for mortgage/rent plus another $300 or so for utilities, cable/internet, etc.

Groceries are pretty average – you can get by on $600-800 per month for a family if you stick to places like Woodman’s and Aldi and don’t go too crazy on dining out. Speaking of which, a casual meal out for 4 is probably $40-60 after tip. Gastropubs and chains for a family meal could easily run you $70+.

Transportation is moderate – no major public transit costs, but budget $200+ for gas, insurance, etc. if you have a car. Used cars are expensive though, so that’s a big upfront cost.

Healthcare is where it gets painful – even a good insurance plan could have you paying $500+ per month for a family, plus more out-of-pocket for regular appointments, medication, etc. That’s probably my biggest annual expense as a long-time resident.

For entertainment, it depends on your interests but you can do free/cheap things like parks, libraries, community events. But a families night out at the movies is like $50 after tickets and snacks. Lots of paid sports, music lessons, etc. for kids too.

Overall I’d say Appleton is still quite affordable, but costs have definitely crept up over the past decade across all major categories. The lack of great public transit is also a factor unlike bigger cities. But we enjoy the quality of life here!

Posts: 1
FrozenTundra @frozentundra
Joined: 2 years ago

As someone born and raised here, I’ve definitely noticed Appleton becoming less affordable, especially when it comes to housing. Back when I bought my first starter home 15 years ago, I paid around $130K for a decent 2-bedroom ranch. Those same houses are going for $250K or more now!

Rent has skyrocketed too – don’t expect to find a nice 2-bedroom apartment for less than $1200 these days, and even that’s on the low end. Utilities for an apartment that size will probably run you at least $150-200 per month.

Groceries are still pretty reasonable if you stick to budget stores and avoid too much dining out. $500 is a decent monthly estimate for food at home for a small family. Restaurants have gotten very expensive though – $15 for a burger and $8 for a beer at a casual place is pretty typical now.

You’re spot on about healthcare costs being a killer. Even with insurance, I pay $400 per month for a family plan through my employer, plus more out-of-pocket costs that can really add up. Medications, dentist, etc make it one of my biggest annual expenses too.

Gas has been mercifully lower recently, but car maintenance and insurance is no joke either. Public transit is pretty lacking here unless you live and work right on a bus line.

At the end of the day, Appleton has gotten a LOT more expensive for longtime residents like me who grew up here. The joys of homeownership and raising a family make it worth it, but salaries really haven’t kept up with the rising costs over the past 10-15 years in my opinion. It’s still an affordable AREA compared to major cities, but that gap is closing.

Posts: 23
BrewCityBuckaroo @brewcitybuckaroo
Joined: 2 years ago

I moved to Appleton from Milwaukee about 5 years ago and it’s definitely a more affordable place to live, at least compared to a bigger city. Housing is the biggest factor – my wife and I were able to buy a nice 3-bedroom ranch for under $250K, which would have been $400K+ in the Milwaukee area. Our mortgage, taxes, and utilities come out to around $1,800 per month all-in.

Groceries are very reasonable here. We spend $500-600 per month hitting places like Pick N Save, Woodmans, Aldi, etc for a family of 4. Dining out for a family meal is anywhere from $40-80 depending on how fancy you go.

The lack of great public transit is a downside, but we budget $300-400 for car payments, gas, insurance, etc. Healthcare is probably our biggest monthly outlay at over $700 for insurance premiums, medications, etc even with pretty good employer coverage.

There’s plenty of affordable entertainment here too – lots of parks, libraries with activities, community events, etc. Paid stuff like movies, sporting events, etc can add up quick though.

Overall, my wife and I probably spend $4,000-5,000 per month for a pretty comfortable lifestyle here as a family. That would be really difficult to swing in a bigger city. Appleton has gotten gradually more expensive over the 5 years I’ve lived here, but it still feels very livable, especially if you can avoid too many housing costs by buying instead of renting. The trade-off is less amenities and things to do compared to a major metro area.

Posts: 12
LilRevValley @lilrevvalley
Joined: 2 years ago

Affordability has definitely become more of a challenge in recent years if you’re living in Appleton on a modest income. I’m a single mom with 2 kids, making around $45K per year. We currently rent a 2-bedroom apartment and my housing costs alone are over $1,400 per month including rent, utilities, etc.

Groceries are manageable if I stick to budget stores and avoid too much eating out – I spend around $400 per month for the 3 of us buying basics. Even fast food these days is like $30 for a family meal though.

No car payment helps, but gas, insurance, and maintenance probably runs me $150-200 per month. Public transit is okay for getting to/from work and doing basic errands if you live on a bus line. Definitely need a car for most things though.

Healthcare is a killer – my insurance through work has an $800 per month family premium, plus high deductibles and copays. Even routing things like dentist visits can be $100+ out of pocket for me.

We take advantage of low/no cost activities like parks, libraries, community events, etc. But paid stuff even for kids’ sports and activities, movies, etc can easily run $200+ per month extra.

At the end of the day, after housing, healthcare, transportation, and other basics, there’s not a ton left over from my paycheck. Making it work often means tough choices, strict budgeting, and taking advantage of assistance programs when possible for things like childcare, utility bills, etc. I know I have it better than some, but Appleton has definitely gotten less affordable for lower-income folks overall from what I’ve experienced these past 5-10 years.

Posts: 12
DiscGolfDude82 @discgolfdude82
Joined: 19 days ago

As a single guy living in Appleton, I’ve found it to be a pretty affordable place compared to some other cities I’ve lived. My biggest expense is rent – I pay $1,000 for a decent 1-bedroom apartment downtown. Utilities, internet, etc runs another $200ish.

Groceries are super cheap if you know where to shop – I probably spend $200-300 per month max on food buying bulk items, frozen stuff, etc. Dining out a couple times a week adds maybe another $200 to the monthly budget.

Not having a car payment saves a ton of money. I just have gas, insurance, maintenance which is maybe $150 per month for my used sedan. Public transit is pretty limited unless you live/work downtown though.

Healthcare is one area that can get pricey. Even with employer insurance, I pay $150 per month in premiums. And any specialists or procedures can really add to the out-of-pocket costs.

Entertainment is very affordable if you have the right hobbies and priorities. I play a ton of disc golf which is free aside from discs. Joining a gym is only $30/month. Breweries and dive bars are cheap for nights out. Bigger costs would be bigger concert/sports tickets, vacation travel, etc.

Overall, I can live pretty comfortably in Appleton on my $65K salary. No huge complaints on affordability as a single guy without kids. It’s a pretty average small city cost-wise from my perspective over the past 5 years I’ve lived here. Housing and healthcare are the biggest monthly drains for sure.

Posts: 9
FIREcrusher83 @firecrusher83
Joined: 2 years ago

My wife and I are avid participants in the FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) movement, so we’re pretty dialed in on optimizing costs and savings rates in Appleton. It’s definitely a relatively affordable place to live if you’re strategic.

Our biggest monthly outlay is our $1,900 mortgage payment for our 4-bedroom house we bought a few years ago. But appreciation has been solid and it was way cheaper than prices in bigger cities. We keep utilities to $250 or under.

Groceries we spend $500 per month MAX by hitting Aldi, Woodman’s, etc. Dining out even at mid-range places is $50-60 for the two of us.

One car payment of $300 plus another $150 for gas, insurance, etc. Public transit is lacking so we pretty much have to own a car unfortunately.

Healthcare is rough – we pay $550 per month for a high-deductible plan. Thank goodness we’re relatively healthy so far!

We get creative with free/cheap entertainment – breweries, parks, disc golf courses, community events, etc. Paid stuff like movies is a rare treat.

All-in our monthly expenses are around $4,000. Which allows us to save/invest over $8,000 per month from our two $90K+ incomes. Appleton’s affordability has definitely helped accelerate our FIRE path compared to living in a bigger city. It’s not glamorous, but hits the right balance of livability and low cost of living. Key is avoiding lifestyle creep as your income grows!

Posts: 24
BadgerFamilyMan @badgerfamilyman
Joined: 2 years ago

As a long-time resident raising a family of 5 here, I’ve definitely seen the cost of living rise over the past 10-15 years, but Appleton is still relatively affordable compared to bigger cities in my opinion.

On the housing front, we bought our 4-bedroom house about 12 years ago for around $225K. Similar homes in our area are going for $325K-375K now. Our monthly mortgage payment is about $1,500 and another $400-500 for utilities, cable/internet, etc.

Groceries for our bigger family runs $800-1000 per month if we stick to places like Woodman’s, Pick N Save, and Aldi. Dining out as a family becomes very expensive – even a casual chain meal can be $75-100 after tip nowadays.

With 3 cars in the family, transportation is also a big spend – probably $600+ per month for gas, insurance, maintenance, etc. Public transit just isn’t viable for getting kids to all their activities unfortunately.

Healthcare costs have gotten outrageous. Our employer family plan is $750 per month in premiums. And that’s with high deductibles that make any regular doctors visits, medication, etc. very pricey.

For entertainment, we take advantage of a lot of free/cheap community activities, parks, libraries, etc. But paid stuff like sports, dance, etc. for the kids, movies, concerts, etc. can easily run $300+ per month.

The biggest challenge is that income hasn’t kept up with costs for us. We make around $110K per year household which was solidly middle class 15 years ago. But it’s gotten tougher to save and get ahead with increasing housing, healthcare, transportation, childcare and activity costs year after year. Appleton is still affordable relative to bigger cities, but that gap has definitely narrowed over time.

Posts: 1
VitalityYogi @vitalityyogi
Joined: 10 months ago

As someone embracing an alternative, minimalist lifestyle here in Appleton, I’ve definitely found ways to keep my cost of living very low compared to most!

My biggest expense is rent at $675 for a simple one-bedroom apartment. Utilities are maybe another $100 per month. I don’t have any huge cable/internet/streaming costs.

Groceries I keep to $150-200 per month by eating a whole food, plant-based diet, buying in bulk, and rarely dining out. I spend very little on alcohol, tobacco, etc.

Not owning a car is a huge money saver. I take public transit when needed ($35 per month bus pass) or bike/walk most places. Don’t have any car payments, insurance, gas costs, etc.

Healthcare is an area I actually spend very little on. I pay $75 per month for a very basic health insurance plan since I’m relatively young and healthy. Lots of free yoga classes and community wellness activities to take advantage of.

Entertainment is free or very low cost – hiking trails, parks, libraries, community events, etc. I avoid expensive hobbies or paid activities.

All-in, I can live very comfortably in Appleton on well under $2,000 per month with my minimalist approach and $35K salary. It does take some sacrifice in terms of housing size, car ownership, dining out, etc. But it’s allowed me to save aggressively while still feeling like I can live fully here. This area is very affordable if you’re mindful of expenses and key recurring costs like housing and transportation.

Posts: 10
RetiredButBusy @retiredbutbusy
Joined: 3 months ago

My husband and I have been retired for about 5 years now and living in Appleton on a fixed income. Overall it’s worked out well as a relatively affordable place to spend our retirement years so far.

On the housing front, we were able to pay off our mortgage before retiring, which is huge. Just have property taxes of around $5,000 per year and utilities of $300-400 per month for our 3-bedroom ranch.

Groceries run us $400-500 per month on average. We take advantage of senior discounts and try to plan meals around sales. Dining out a couple times per month is $40-60 per meal.

We own our vehicles outright, so just have costs for gas, insurance, maintenance which is probably $200-300 per month between the two of us.

Healthcare is definitely our biggest monthly outlay at this stage. We pay $850 per month for supplemental insurance to Medicare. Plus additional out-of-pocket costs for medications and regular doctor visits that can really add up.

For entertainment and activities, we take advantage of all the bargain movie days, community centers, senior events, libraries, and outdoor activities Appleton offers. But we also budget for some travel and paid outings too, probably $200-300 per month.

All told, our monthly expenses run $3,000-3,500 per month off our combined Social Security and pension/investment income. It’s gotten incrementally more expensive over the past 5 years, especially for healthcare, utilities, etc. But Appleton has still be a very livable, affordable place for us as retirees so far compared to bigger cities where costs would be way higher across the board.

Posts: 14

Detailed Price Insights of Abilene, TX

  • Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant – 17.82 $
  • Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course – 48.00 $
  • McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) – 10.50 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) – 3.50 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 5.00 $
  • Cappuccino (regular) – 4.50 $
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.55 $
  • Water (0.33 liter bottle) – 2.00 $
  • Milk (regular), (1 liter) – 0.93 $
  • Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) – 4.20 $
  • Rice (white), (1kg) – 4.13 $
  • Eggs (regular) (12) – 4.07 $
  • Local Cheese (1kg) – 9.92 $
  • Chicken Fillets (1kg) – 14.32 $
  • Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) – 11.38 $
  • Apples (1kg) – 5.94 $
  • Banana (1kg) – 1.19 $
  • Oranges (1kg) – 4.63 $
  • Tomato (1kg) – 4.93 $
  • Potato (1kg) – 2.63 $
  • Onion (1kg) – 2.97 $
  • Lettuce (1 head) – 2.16 $
  • Water (1.5 liter bottle) – 1.39 $
  • Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) – 15.00 $
  • Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) – 1.73 $
  • Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) – 3.50 $
  • Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) – 16.00 $
  • One-way Ticket (Local Transport) – 2.50 $
  • Monthly Pass (Regular Price) – 35.00 $
  • Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) – 3.25 $
  • Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) – 1.40 $
  • Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) – 25.00 $
  • Gasoline (1 liter) – 0.83 $
  • Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) – 37,383.69 $
  • Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) – 27,211.87 $
  • Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment – 160.77 $
  • Mobile Phone Monthly Plan with Calls and 10GB+ Data – 42.67 $
  • Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) – 57.48 $
  • Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult – 15.99 $
  • Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat – 11.50 $
  • Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child – 2,170.00 $
  • International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child – 45,450.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) – 40.00 $
  • 1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) – 25.00 $
  • 1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) – 90.66 $
  • 1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes – 106.66 $
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre – 1,550.00 $
  • Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre – 1,050.00 $
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre – 1,800.00 $
  • Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre – 1,616.67 $
  • Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre – 2,357.00 $
  • Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre – 2,357.00 $
  • Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax) – 4,519.00 $
  • Mortgage Interest Rate in Percentages (%), Yearly, for 20 Years Fixed-Rate – 6.53
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