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2018 Annual Average Cost of Living Index Release


Beginning with the fourth quarter of 2007, C2ER has annually published an unweighted average of prices accumulated from the previous three quarters. This analysis uses average prices submitted for the first three quarters of 2018.

Among the 270 urban areas that participated in the 2018 Cost of Living Index, the after-tax cost for a professional/managerial standard of living ranged from more than twice the national average in New York (Manhattan), NY, to almost 25 percent below the national average in Harlingen, TX.   The Cost of Living Index is published quarterly by C2ER – The Council for Community and Economic Research. 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary year of the publication.

The Ten Most and Least Expensive Urban Areas
in the Cost of Living Index (COLI)

Year-End Review of Three Quarters in 2018

National Average for 270 Urban Areas = 100

 Most Expensive  Least Expensive
Ranking Urban Areas COL Index Ranking Urban Areas COL Index
1 New York (Manhattan) NY 248.5 1 Harlingen TX 75.8
2 San Francisco CA 196.3 McAllen TX 77.4
3 Honolulu HI 189.7 3 Richmond IN 79.6
4 New York (Brooklyn) NY 181.7 4 Kalamazoo MI 79.6
5 Washington DC 162.6 5 Memphis TN 80.6
6  Seattle WA 154.8 6  Knoxville TN 81.7
7  Oakland CA 154.5 7 Muskogee OK 81.8
8  Arlington VA 153.1 Conway AR 81.9
9 New York (Queens) NY 152.6 9  Joplin MO 82.3
10 Boston MA 150.0 10 Wichita Falls TX 82.3

The Cost of Living Index measures regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services, excluding taxes and non-consumer expenditures, for professional and managerial households in the top income quintile. It is based on more than 90,000 prices covering almost 60 different items for which prices are collected three times a year by chambers of commerce, economic development organizations or university applied economic centers in each participating urban area. Small differences in the index numbers should not be interpreted as significant.

The composite index is based on six components: housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services.