703.522.4982 info@coli.org
  Total:   $

Call for Data Collectors

The Cost of Living Index relies on volunteers like you.

Become a Contributor

Comparing Regions in the Commonwealth

Comparing Regions in the Commonwealth

Given that the Cost of Living Index is produced out of Northern Virginia, we decided to take a look at a couple regions in our home state. To do this, we’re comparing two regions in Virginia using two pairs of COLI cities using data from the most recent publication of the Quarterly Index. The first pair is Arlington and Alexandria and the second is Lynchburg and Danville City.

Comparing the two regions head-to-head, it’s clear that Alexandria and Arlington are relatively more expensive to live in, being 24.9% and 32.8% more expensive than the national average, respectively. Meanwhile, Danville City and Lynchburg are 10.7% and 8.1% cheaper than the national average. But let’s break down what makes the northern region more expensive and the southern region less so.

Although both areas have index scores in multiple areas that are higher than the national average, the main driver of cost of living in these areas is housing. Alexandria is strikingly high, being 72.8% more expensive than the national average, but this is surpassed by Arlington, with housing being over double the national average, a shockingly high 103% higher cost on average. Compare that to Danville City and Lynchburg, both of which sit at around 20% lower than the national average, and the reasons for the difference in cost of living becomes clearer.

Neither Danville City nor Lynchburg have a standout category that drives their cost of living down. More so, it’s due to most categories of the Cost of Living Index being 5-10% lower than the national average, as seen below.

So, while the northern region’s more expensive cost of living is driven mostly by housing, the southern region is relatively cheaper overall, and although housing is certainly the cheapest category, it’s not an extreme difference in the way that the northern region’s housing index score is.

One thing to consider is that Arlington and Alexandria are urban areas, whereas Danville City and Lynchburg are more rural, which follows a nationwide trend of urban areas being more expensive. Additionally, both Arlington and Alexandria are near two major airports, – Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport – meaning there is quick access to travel all over the country and the world.

If you want to compare cost of living in your region, or know what drives it, stay up to date with our Quarterly Index publications.

To learn more about other products or how your organization can become a data collection participant for the Cost of Living Index, visit www.coli.org.