NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Living Costs Vary and Shift Across Nation

April 5, 2000

A recent analysis by Regional Financial Associates which takes into consideration regional differences in consumption -- such as fuel to heat homes -- shows that living costs vary widely and have shifted appreciably since 1991.

  • The most expensive metropolitan area in the country is New York City, where costs run 34 percent above the national average.
  • Brownsville, Texas, is the cheapest city -- with costs 12 percent below average.
  • Cities with average costs include Cleveland, Atlanta, Nashville and Baltimore.
  • Although California and the Northeast were especially hard-hit in the last recession, they remain the costliest regions in the nation -- even though their relative costs have actually declined since 1991.

Over the past decade, costs jumped in the Rocky Mountain states -- particularly in Colorado and Utah. In cities in the Midwest, relative costs have risen -- although they still enjoy a cost advantage.

The cheapest areas in which to live are along the Gulf Coast in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama -- and in smaller cities in Florida and Georgia.

Source: Gene Koretz, "The Living is Easy -- in St. Louis," Business Week, April 10, 2000.


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