Travel

Here's what $100 is really worth around the US

Alright, so people living in rural Tennessee generally don't have too much to hold over the heads of New Yorkers. Well, except moonshine, because nothing's better than bathtub hooch. But when it comes to how far their money goes, people in the supposed "flyover" states have a helluva lot more going for them than people in those snobby urban hubs.

According to an analysis conducted by The Tax Foundation, an independent tax policy think tank in Washington DC, the buying power of $100 varies by as much as 25 percent throughout the United States. The worst bang for your buck in the country: The nation's capital, Washington, DC itself, where $100 only buys you $84.60 worth of goods when compared to the national average.

Large cities skewed the relative purchasing power from state to state, as noted by the bottom five (and yes, we're aware DC isn't a state):

1. District of Columbia, $84.60
2. Hawaii, $85.32
3. New York, $86.66
4. New Jersey, $87.64
5. California, $88.57

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The best state to stretch your dollar furthest? That's right, you guessed it: Mississippi.

1. Mississippi, $115.74
2. Arkansas, $114.16
3. Missouri, $113.51
4. Alabama, 113.51
5. South Dakota, $113.38

Generally speaking, places with high incomes also have high prices. As The Tax Foundation explains, "A person who makes $40,000 a year after tax in Kentucky would need to have after-tax earnings of $53,000 in Washington, DC just in order to have an equal standard of living, let alone feel richer". 

Before anyone gets their undies in a bunch, that doesn't mean Biloxi is better than San Francisco. It just means that relative to the cost of living, your dollars simply buy a lot more outside the country's biggest metro areas. It makes sense.

Check out the full Tax Foundation report here.


Ryan Craggs is Thrillist's Travel Editor. The most $100 bills he's ever had on his person: 32. It was good day. Follow him @ryanrcraggs.