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How much more expensive is Md.? New data sheds light

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

Housing costs are among the biggest drivers of why Maryland is so expensive. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

Living and buying in Maryland is expensive – and it looks like it’s going to stay that way.

According to recent data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, prices in Maryland are more than 10 percent higher than the national average. The biggest driver? Rent and housing costs – Maryland homes cost 26 percent more than most homes in the United States.

Maryland’s neighbor, the District of Columbia, claims the top spot in overall regional price parity, with prices 18 percent higher than average. Rent in the district is more than 60 percent above average.

“D.C. is not only a district, but it’s a metropolitan area,” said BEA economist Eric Figueroa. “In general, metropolitan areas have higher rents.”

Maryland prices are 7 percent less overall than in D.C. – prices include goods (anything from food to clothing), rent and services (legal services, dry cleaning, restaurants). Virginia falls below both Washington and Maryland, with prices only 2 percent above average despite the fact that it’s home to some of the top 10 riches counties in the country .

While Virginia is home to some wealthy areas, Maryland still boasts the highest median household income in the country at almost $75,000. Wages and salaries in the Maryland-Washington- Northern Virginia area recently felt a bump as well, going up 2.5 percent over the past year.

High salaries and cost of living aren’t unrelated – in locations with higher incomes, land usually costs more. But, the relationship can work the other way – if employers notice that cost of living is higher, they might raise their pay.

Between cities like Annapolis and Baltimore and affluent regions like Howard County, living in Maryland isn’t cheap. The median value of homes in Maryland in 2014 was 63 percent more than the national average. Utilities cost more in Maryland than in the neighboring states of Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association.

“There isn’t a county in Maryland with an average list price under $100,000. The least-expensive homes are in Allegany County, which has an average listing price of $103,360. The priciest homes are in Talbot County, where the average listing price is $649,953,” according to an article on financial website Smart Asset.

Higher prices are probably here to stay – and with rising home and rent prices, inflation may just be around the corner, according to Forbes. The Board of Trustees for the Social Security Trust Funds estimates its Cost of Living Adjustments (what determines Social Security) to go up almost 3 percent in 2017, a big increase from the past few years when there has been virtually no change.

What’s a Maryland resident to do? Load up on your relatively cheap gas, try not to think about the fact that $100 is more like $90 in the Old Line state and hope for a raise soon.