Hmmm. Good question. And for me the answer is yes - to both! LOL
I live in a very high cost of living area - Los Angeles County - so nearly everything is more costly than it would be just about anywhere else in the country, except for maybe San Francisco or New York City. Everything costs more here, from housing, to groceries, to gasoline. However, that said, there are always things you can do to lower your expenses - and living where we do actually helps us do that.
The least expensive grocery store in our area is Aldi; I live literally, three blocks from the store, so I've been able to save a lot on groceries since I started shopping there. It's only been there about a year and a half, and I started shopping there in May, so I'm still finding more ways to save here. If Aldi weren't as close as it is, I still have no fewer than 10 major grocery stores and countless mom and pop grocery stores within a five mile radius of my home. The same goes with gas stations. I don't have to drive out of my way to find the gas station with the lowest gas price in my area - it's within 2 miles of my home and on the way to other places I go on a regular basis.
The library is within easy walking distance of my home - only about a half mile away. Not only can I borrow books from the library, twice a year they have an enormous book sale where I can get 5 books for $1.00. Kevin and I stock up during those sales. The library also offers other sources of entertainment such as live music, movies, crafts, book clubs - all sorts of things! - all free. And that's just the closest library - there are numerous others in our area, too.
Within 5 miles of our home, we have access to several museums, public gardens and countless venues for free music, movies and festivals. If I had the time, or the energy!, I could attend 3 or 4 free events every single day of the week, not to mention weekends.
We don't grow a garden, but we have access to a ton of fresh produce for very reasonable prices. There are numerous farmer's markets that take place around here - without much effort, I could go to one just about every day of the week. The only day I know for certain there is not one close is on Sunday. Other than that, I could go to one every day without traveling more than 6 miles. Because there is competition, the prices are very reasonable.
I think it all depends on your perspective.