CoL is quantitative. "I don't want to live in X" is qualitative, highly subject to individual ignorance. NYC is what I have experience with, having lived there off and on for 20 years. Most people I talk to there have absolutely no clue about anything south of Maryland or north of Connecticut. Jokes have been published to this effect. I'm honestly not sure they ARE aware how much they're paying, and have considered what they're getting in return.
If you're married and have a family, CoL is probably the single most important metric. It determines how much free cash you'll have for luxuries, how you'll be able to put your kids through college and generally your overall quality of life. Every few years we fly back to NYC to visit the inlaws, we see a play, the kids get to see the sights. We're as happy to leave as we were to arrive after about 2 weeks. It's a nice place to visit, but I don't want to live there anymore. And this is why we don't measure non quantitative things. I have friends who could not stand to live in a suburb, who don't have or want families and who will not be happy staying at home and entertaining themselves within.