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Stranger Things: What did Life Cost in Hawkins, Indiana in 1983 vs Today?

Lane Kareska is a Digital Marketing Director at OppLoans. He holds a degree from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA from Southern Illinois University. His work has been widely published in national journals and media outlets. His areas of focus include personal finance, consumer credit access, and the prime and subprime lending industry. 
Updated on April 9, 2021
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The cost of living in the 80s was basically Barb: not worth thinking about too much.

Time to tune up that Huffy bike, tie on your Rambo-bandana, and charge up your walkie-talkies. It’s almost time for the next round of monster hunting, eighties nostalgia and exploring the Upside Down. Netflix‘s (@Netflix) Stranger Things season 2 is just around the bend… and, come on, the kid in you couldn’t be more excited.

But that kid lives inside a grown up now. And while you’re obviously always going to have a special place in your heart for scary movies, Star Wars action figures, and those sweet, sweet frozen breakfast foods—you also have adult concerns now, like what that magical childhood costs.

So we asked… How much did life cost in 1983 Hawkins, Indiana of Stranger Things versus now? Well, point your childlike sense of wonder to what we’ve uncovered!

(By the way, Hawkins, Indiana doesn’t… actually… exist. So we used Fort Wayne, Indiana as a stand in. We’re sure they’re cool too. Go Mastodons!)


As you can see, prices have, um, risen. The total rate of inflation between 1983 and 2017 is 149%. That means that one hard-earned dollar in 1983 had the same buying power as $2.44 today.

So let’s look at some “stranger things” to see how costs compare:

Item1983 price2017 price
Millennium Falcon toy$18$150
Christmas Lights$10.51$25.65
1,500 lbs of Salt$349.89$862.50
Blonde Wig$6.39$15.76
Walkie Talkie Set$32.77$79.99
Comic Book$0.60$2.99
Dungeons and Dragons Set$11$26.84
Fast Food Meal$2.74$6.75
Star Wars Action Figures$2.99$7.99
Atari System$28.47$69.49

And let’s also look at some broader items:

Item1983 price2017 price
Typical Home Price$68,700$201,155
Average Household Income$25,862$63,121
Basic Monthly Utilities$73.03$180.02
Average Monthly Salary$1,132.33$2,791.25
Can’t get enough Stranger Things? Neither can we! Check out our other favorite artifacts from the Upside Down!

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