That cost of living study is useless. It essentially looks at average ratios of prices across a subset of consumer goods. However, when one looks just at housing cost (which in large American cities is the primary driver of high cost of living), NYC is much higher than the study ranks it. I'd rather pay ~$2300/month for an apartment in Copenhagen while paying ~$3 more for my occasional "burger meal" than pay ~$4000/month rent in NYC but have access to cheap burgers. Especially for those at the mid to low end of the income scale, the cost of housing plays a much larger role than the cost of consumer goods. Other than a subsistence level of food, one can always buy less. However, a roof over the head is pretty much a necessity. If they want a useful study, they should look just at cost of housing + one month worth of groceries. Beyond that, cost of living is all up to the liver.