COL Comparison: Chicago-Boston
My wife and I work full-time in Boston where average* rent is $2152 this year and rising.
*Note, in case you're unfamiliar, that'll get you in a multi-family with quarter-operated laundry in the basement, utilities not included, and parking will be an extra $200, thanks. Move-in will be first month, last month, deposit of one month, and the cost of one month's rent for broker fees ($2152*4 = a cool $8600)
My brother lives in one of these mid-size cities where he's paying off a 3-bed/2-bath house in the middle of downtown at $200 less than what we pay for a 1-bed/1-bath basement. We're technically in the Greater Boston Area which really means our commutes are an hour+, but it also means that our rent is about 2/3 as much as anywhere on the T. You do the math on what my brother pays for his spacious luxury.
He also has two dogs in that white picket mansion, and he didn't have to ask nobody's permission 'bout that.
We have good jobs, good education, and good prospects. The allure of mid-sized cities is stronk.