First Person: The Cost of Living in Illinois is Rising

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I have lived in Illinois all of my life, but only recently did I become aware of how high the cost of living was here. I have been out on my own for the better part of three years and I am stunned at how people are able to live on their own in this state. The cost of gas, groceries, and virtually everything else has soared over the last decade. These are the things that have gone up in recent years, and how it is affecting my family today.

Gas prices

When I first started driving, I remember paying $1.23 for a gallon of gas. I could throw $10 in my gas tank and would be able to drive for a few days. As of now, we are paying $3.93 a gallon. That is a $2.70 increase in a decade. The $10 that let me drive for days is now enough to get me up the street to the store and back. Recently there were some issues with a pipeline here in Illinois and gas jumped 30 cents overnight. If this continues to happen, driving a car will become a luxury that we cannot afford.

Taxes

When I began working at the age of 16, the sales tax here was 6.50%. That was over a decade ago, but I remember because my first job was as a cashier. We went to the store the other day and paid 8.25% sales tax. That is nearly a 2% increase in taxes we are paying, not to mention the higher cost of products. The cigarette tax has skyrocketed to over $2 a pack since 2008. My husband was paying $3.50 a pack when we first met and as of July, he is paying $5.50 per pack. It is shocking to see how fast that went up. I fear it will creep higher and he will be paying close to $7 like they pay in Cook County.

Rent

When I was first out of high school, rent in the area we live in was around $500 a month for a two bedroom apartment. We are out in the far west suburbs of Chicago, surrounded by farmland. When I moved into this area just two years ago, rent was up to $750 for a small two bedroom apartment. That is a 50% increase in just two years. Some believe that rent is higher because of the amount of houses in foreclosure in recent years. While that may be true, the would-be renters are not able to afford what they need. $750 a month for us was a lot, which is part of the reason we moved in with family.

If these trends continue, we may have to look at moving out of state. Luckily my husband is skilled in a trade that is needed everywhere. I am hopeful that things will level out at some point, but as of now the cost of living in Illinois is on the rise, and my family is feeling the increase.

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