Oklahoma Taxes, Teachers, And Why Cost of Living Matters

Recently, teachers in Oklahoma have staged a series of walkouts in protest over low pay and poor school budgets. Oklahoma taxes have recently increased to help accommodate a $6,000 salary hike. However, is it enough? And does cost of living matter when considering salaries?

It was widely reported that Oklahoma teachers are the lowest paid teachers in the country. Using data from the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the following was found:

Nationally, the average teacher salary across all three grade levels is $59,978.

In Oklahoma, the average teacher salary across all three grade levels is $41,834

That’s a difference of $18,144.

However, some argue there is danger in looking solely at the raw numbers. Does cost of living matter?

On Cost of Living

Although new Oklahoma taxes are on the way to increase teacher salaries, there are some who say that when adjusted for cost of living, Oklahoma is about average.

With about 33 percent of its population living in rural areas, Oklahoma is more rural than two-thirds of the rest of the country. So a cost-of-living index based on professionals living in cities is not a good fit, because the labor market is different. – Politifact

In the Politifact article linked above, some argue that teachers in Oklahoma are moving to Texas.

“The cost of living there is very comparable, and the one is making $14,000 more a year just by driving four or five hours down that way.”

Oklahoma vs Texas

It is difficult to compare cost of living between two entire states because variables such as local tax and home prices vary widely based on location, even within a state. This is why City vs City calculates cost of living at the zip-code level and accounts for all major state as well as local taxes.

However, when looking at statewide costs, here is a breakdown of where Oklahoma and Texas rank. Higher costs in bold.

State Income Tax

  • Texas: None
  • Oklahoma: 0.5 to 5.25%. The highest rate applies to incomes over $7,200.

State Sales Tax

  • Texas: 6.25%  – 8.25% (depending on city, county, and local sales tax)
  • Oklahoma: 4.5%. – 8.375% (depending on city, county, and local sales tax)

Property Tax

  • Texas: 1.86% – Average tax on $185,000 home: $3,435
  • Oklahoma: 0.89% – Average tax on $185,000 home: $1,638

Median Home Value

  • Texas:  $175,800
  • Oklahoma: $116,900

Median Rent, 2 Bedroom

  • Texas: $1,040
  • Oklahoma: $770 / month

Location Matters

The most glaring standout in terms of cost of living is Texas with its lack of state income tax. However, that doesn’t always mean better. Texas rent, housing, and property taxes are higher than Oklahoma. Even state sales tax may be higher depending on location.

What can be drawn from this brief comparison is that cost of living in Oklahoma and Texas may be comparable, but specific location may tip the scales one way or another. For example, home and rent prices will vary widely based on where in each state you reside. A $175,000 home in Dallas will look different from a $175,000 home in Plano, Texas.

City vs City is a powerful cost of living calculator that examines costs at the zip-code level. If you’re a teacher in Oklahoma and thinking of moving to Texas; City vs City will compare your current cost of living with the city in Texas you’ve got your eye on.

As a result, you’ll see a side by side comparison of Texas and Oklahoma taxes, housing expenses, and more. All done at the zip-code level to ensure you aren’t relying on statewide averages and medians.

If you’re thinking of moving, download the City vs City app today.