The cost of living in 2000 was drastically different than it is today. The iPhone wasn’t even a distant possibility in anyone’s mind, social media was non-existent, and groceries cost just a fraction of what they do now.
Today, many people struggle to cover the basics, like rent, food, transportation, and tuition. But is it just paranoia, or were things relatively much cheaper back in 2000 than they are today?
While inflation is to be expected, the cost of things in 2000 has risen considerably since the dawn of the century, above and beyond what inflation caused. Today, the dollar doesn’t have the buying power it used to.
So, what was life like back in the year 2000? It feels strange to relive today – many of us might not have even been an adult, unaware of the cost of things like rent, groceries, and utilities back in 2000.
But taking a look back, we can see just how affordable things were and how much costs have risen since then.
While household income has also increased, the rise of the cost of goods and basic needs has outgrown it. In 2000, the average annual income was less, but it still put consumers in a better financial position than they are today because the value of the dollar went further.
Wondering what the cost of living was really like in 2000? Here are some reference points to help you step back in time and relive the past, if only for a moment.
A Picture of the Times: 7 Major Events in the Year 2000
Struggling to imagine what life was like in 2000? It was over twenty years ago, so that’s to be expected. Let these seven major events in the year 2000 help bring you back in time to the turn of the century.
- Super Bowl XXXIV: On January 30th, 2000, the St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans in the Super Bowl 23-16 at Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. This was the first Superbowl win for the Rams and has since been their only Superbowl victory. The Titans have yet to win a Superbowl.
- Mad Cow Disease: While Mad Cow Disease didn’t first appear in 2000, the UK faced a major outbreak in over 10 European countries and interest in the growing disease swept the globe.
- Presidential Election: George Bush defeated Vice President Al Gore to become 43rd US president, after a close recount in Florida and a final decision granted by the Supreme Court.
- Upcoming Tennis Stars: Sisters Venus and Serena Williams win gold medals in the Olympics Women’s Tennis Doubles, setting the stage for long, successful careers in the sport.
- The Return of Michael Jordan: Michael Jordan returns to the NBA as a player and part-owner and the President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards after retiring for the second time in January 1999.
- The Sims: The Sims, a life simulation video game, was released in North America on February 4, 2000. It was released in Europe a week later. It went on to sell over 200 million copies.
- GPS: Accurate GPS access finally became available to civilians after being limited to the US military for years. This happened when GPS receivers were switched to allow non-military devices to receive the signals.
Cost of Groceries in 2000
First, let’s get into the cost of groceries in 2000.
What about if you were looking for a refreshing drink on your way home? How much did a can of coke cost in 2000? While we can’t find a reliable source for this one, it was certainly less than it is now.
And when it comes to snacks or quick meals, they were much more affordable as well.
The can of tuna cost in 2000 was much cheaper than it is now, which is about $1.50 per can.
Cost of Utilities
Another aspect of the cost of living that will take you back in time is the cost of everyday utilities that we’ve come to rely on, like a cellphone or gas. Let’s take a look at how much these cost the average consumer in 2000.
First, we’ll start with the cost of a cell phone in 2000, which was around $700 for the Handspring Treo, a combo cell phone/digital personal assistant that was popular when it was released.
Not everyone had a cellphone back then, as things like pagers were more common and texting, social media, and accessing email on a phone hadn’t even been thought of yet.
Then, we see that the average cost of gas in 2000 was just $1.51 per gallon, a price I’m sure we all wish we could get back. But that low price was driven by the cost of a barrel of oil.
How much did a barrel of oil cost in 2000? That would be $30.38, a big difference from today’s cost of $61.09.
Cost of Electronics
As we mentioned earlier, not everyone had cell phones back then like we do today. This was also the same for electronics like computers and TVs, though they were becoming more commonplace in households.
Wondering how much it cost to have a TV, DVD player, or computer at the turn of the century? Let’s find out.
The average cost of a TV in 2000 is different from many of the other costs we’re investigating, as it’s much higher than the cost of one today. While not necessarily 2000, a newspaper ad for a TV in 2001 advertised a price of $7,499 for a plasma screen tv.
Now, we can assume that a TV without the flat-screen feature likely costs much less, but this is the more luxurious model.
Similarly, the cost of a DVD player in 2000 was higher than it is today (for those who still use them), ranging anywhere from $200-700.
If your home was technologically savvy, you might buy one computer and keep it in a “computer room” where everyone could use it as needed – but not if anyone else was on the phone, as you could only use one or the other at a time.
The average cost of a computer in 2000 was $4,513 according to USA Today.
CDs were king, as tapes were on their way out and the iPod or other portable music players weren’t on the scene yet. The average cost of a CD in 2000 was $18.52, according to Pitchfork.
Cost of Homes and Cars
Now that we’ve covered the electronics, that’s pretty much everything that was more expensive then than it is now. Getting back to the cost of cars and homes, we’ll see much lower prices than we see today in 2021.
For example, the average cost of a new car in 2000 was just $21,850.
Even getting a luxury vehicle was much less than it is today, as seen by the cost of a new Lexus 300 in 2000, which was $33,005.
Moving on to home and rent prices, you may be jealous of how low these prices are compared to today’s rising housing market. Back then, the average cost of rent in Dallas, Texas in 2000 was probably similar to that of the state of Texas, which was $574, according to the U.S. Census.
If you wanted to buy rather than rent, the average cost of a house in 2000 would run you about $119,600.
If you decided against an older home and opted for new construction, the average cost of a new home in 2000 would be even more than the cost of buying pre-built homes.
Even big cities saw big savings when it comes to the cost of buying a home. For example, the average cost of a house in Chicago in 2000 was $169,000.
Cost of Stock Options
Another great way to gauge how different the cost of living was back in 2000 compared to the cost of living today is to take a look at how much popular stocks cost and see how far they’ve risen since then.
Let’s take a look at two of the biggest stocks today – Amazon and Apple – and see how these companies fared when they were much younger (21 years younger, to be exact).
The cost of Amazon stock in 2000 was $69.50 per share, while today it has soared to a whopping $3,218 per share. Similarly, the cost of Apple stock in 2000 was just about $.90 per share, while it’s closer to $132 now.
Cost of Consumer Goods
Even the simple, everyday items and goods we use cost drastically less than they do today. Things like toilet paper, toothpaste, stamps for mail all serve as a hallmark of the times, so let’s see how much some of these consumer goods cost us back in 2000.
First, let’s take a look at the cost of clothing. The average cost of shoes in 2000 is hard to track down, but we can see that in 2005, the average price was $40.33 for athletic shoes, which was likely not much more than it was just five years prior. This price is low, but the cost of shoes today still isn’t that bad, unless you’re buying hyped-up shoes like Yeezys.
What about toiletries like toothpaste? Well, the average cost of toothpaste in 2000 was certainly less than it is now, though a hard figure is not available online. To compare, the cost of a basic tube of Crest today costs the consumer about $3.00, or $9 for a pack of three.
The cost of stamps has steadily risen over time, and we can see just how much they’ve increased by looking at their 2000 cost. The cost of postage stamps in 2000 was $0.33 per stamp.
Smokers today tend to lean toward e-cigarette nicotine devices, but cigarettes are still popular despite the negative health impacts they have been proven to cause. Still, they were much cheaper back in 2000, as smoking was still allowed in many restaurants and public places.
The cost of cigarettes in 2000 was just $3.94 per pack.
Cost of Education and Healthcare
The cost of education and healthcare today is startling. Many people can’t afford either. Was it always this way, or have the costs skyrocketed over the past 21 years or so?
Well, the cost of college in 2000 for a public university was around $12,517 per year. Today, that cost has risen to $21,184. It’s no wonder why so many people have been pushing for a free college education.
What about healthcare? The annual cost of US health care in 2000 was $4843 per year, per person. Today, that cost is closer to $11,582 and that doesn’t even include the rising costs of medications and prescription drugs in particular.
Additional Costs in 2000
While these two snippets don’t fall into any of the above categories, we thought it important to include these to compare to life today.
While streaming has become much more popular than movie theatres today, we still enjoy the movie theatre viewing now and then. But with prices close to X per ticket (not to mention the price of popcorn and candy), it makes sense that we prefer to stay home.
Back in 2000, however, that wasn’t the case. Usually, seeing a film in theatres was the most accessible and affordable way to watch a movie, with the average cost of a movie ticket in 2000 only at $5.39.
Another interesting marker to take a look at is the average cost of a wedding in 2000. Considering that the average wedding today costs around $30,000, paying only $20,000 for a wedding back in the year 2000 sounds too good to be true.
As you can see, a lot has changed since we entered the century back in 2000. So many people thought the world was going to end with Y2K, but instead, we’ve grown, innovated, flourished, and became much more expensive than we used to be.
Taking a look at the cost of living from 2000 puts a lot of things in perspective and makes us thankful to be living when we do with the tools, resources, and technology available to us.
While it’s nice to take a trip down memory lane, it’s most important to make the most of what we have now, whether it costs more than we’d like or not.
Related: Cost of Living in 1957