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Local Area Cost Of Living Comparisons

As a followup to my previous post, when deciding where to live during our retirement, one of the important factors is: What Is The Local Area Cost Of Living?

There are several sources on cost of living data. Sperling uses food costs, utilities, and a miscellaneous category to arrive at an overall score for each city or metropolitan area. The individual items are weighted to take the proportion of each dollar normally spent on each into account. The national average is expressed as 100, with each location being compared so as to come in with a cost of living under 100 and therefore less expensive to live in than average, or over 100 and therefore more expensive to live in than average.

Using this method, the following representative cities qualify as the least expensive to live in:

Des Moines, Iowa: Overall Score: 84
San Antonio, Texas: Overall Score: 86
Batesville, Arkansas: Overall Score: 86
Wichita, Kansas: Overall Score: 87
Danville, Virginia: Overall Score: 87
Houston, Texas: Overall Score: 89
Rhinelander, Wisconsin: Overall Score: 90
Green Bay, Wisconsin: Overall Score: 90
Elizabeth City, North Carolina: Overall Score: 90
Tucson, Arizona: Overall Score: 91
Savannah, Georgia: Overall Score: 91
Atlanta, Georgia: Overall Score: 94
Las Vegas, Nevada: Overall Score: 94
Kansas City, Missouri: Overall Score: 94
Lawrenceville, Georgia: Overall Score: 94
Champaign, Illinois: Overall Score: 96
Greeley, Colorado: Overall Score: 96
Shacklefords, Virginia: Overall Score: 96
Johnstown, New York: Overall Score: 99

It is possible to find similar data on almost every city in the US. This information gives us a chance to incorporate the cost of living into our analysis on which area we favor to retire to. Although the cost of living gives us an opportunity to review places that we can live in for less, other factors often mean more to us than others. The following list covers areas that are more expensive than the average of 100 to live in. However, some of them also possess characteristics that make them more desirable places to live in, even though more expensive than average. They are also considered by many as ideal places to live:

Pendleton, Oregon: Overall Score: 101
Surry, Virginia: Overall Score: 102
Hampton, Virginia: Overall Score: 102
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin: Overall Score: 104
Vancouver, Washington: Overall Score: 104
Austin, Texas: Overall Score: 105
Chicago, Illinois: Overall Score: 105
Olathe, Kansas: Overall Score: 106
Sacramento, California: Overall Score: 108
Denver, Colorado: Overall Score: 110
Pullman, Washington: Overall Score: 110
Carmel, Indiana: Overall Score: 114
McFarland, Wisconsin: Overall Score: 114
Scottsdale, Arizona: Overall Score: 120
Bellingham, Washington: Overall Score: 125
Hilton Head, South Carolina: Overall Score: 135
Seattle, Washington: Overall Score: 143
Washington, DC: Overall Score: 143
San Diego, California: Overall Score: 145
Cape Cod, Mass: Overall Score 145
Naples, Florida: Overall Score: 160
Walnut Creek, California: Overall Score: 167
South San Francisco, California: Overall Score: 170
New York, New York: Overall Score: 170
Honolulu, Hawaii: Overall Score: 185

In general, the states with the lowest cost of living are not thought of by most as the ideal places to retire to. This is reflective of the fact that they often have less desirable overall climate characteristics, fewer social and entertainment opportunities, and in general less access to health care. The top ten states chosen by Bankrate’s as the best to retire to are:
1. Tennessee
2. Louisiana
3. South Dakota
4. Kentucky
5. Mississippi
6. Virginia
7. West Virginia
8. Alabama
9. Nebraska
10. North Dakota

This is a good starting point for your analysis, but many more factors need to be considered, and will be discussed in future articles.