I find no cheap cities on the tourist trail in either America or Canada. Almost anywhere, I can flush out a decent espresso, but this espresso costs the standard $2.5-3 whether in San Francisco, Ann Arbor, and Missoula. Draft beer is almost always $4-6. Gone are those Austin nights of $2 pint ($1 on Wednesdays if you knew where to look). Cocktails: $10-12. Fancy sandwiches: $8-12. Geography no longer seems to matter.
The big geographic differentiator still is rent. I pay 2-4 times more to live in San Francisco than in Toronto, Yellow Springs, or Billings. My Ohio brother spends a third of what I do on housing but lives in a space twice as big.
I tried to run away from the expense of San Francisco, yet the rest of the country has caught up. If food, drink, and entertainment cost the same everywhere, why then did I leave? I look back to you, dear fountainhead city, for a harbinger. Tell me what comes after ironic mustaches, scotch cocktails, and fixie bicycles.