30 Nov 2016


Among the 261 urban areas that participated in the third quarter 2016 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 McAllen, TX.   The Cost of Living Index is published quarterly by C2ER – The Council for Community and Economic Research.

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

Third Quarter 2016

National Average for 261 Urban Areas = 100

Most Expensive Least Expensive 
  COL     COL
RankingUrban AreasIndexRankingUrban AreasIndex
1New York (Manhattan) NY232.01McAllen TX76.4
2Honolulu HI188.52Harlingen TX78.5
3San Francisco CA181.93Richmond IN80.4
4New York (Brooklyn) NY177.04Kalamazoo MI80.6
5Orange County CA153.05Tupelo MS81.3
6Oakland CA152.46Conway AR81.6
7Washington DC151.67Wichita Falls TX81.6
8Hilo HI147.28Cleveland TN81.7
9Boston MA146.49Martinsville-Henry County VA81.8
10San Diego CA145.710Knoxville TN82.7



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 60 different items for which prices are collected quarterly by chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, and university applied economic centers in each participating urban area. Small differences should not be interpreted as showing a measurable difference.

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


What Do Groceries Cost?

Each quarter, C2ER collects more than 90,000 prices from communities across the US for the Cost of Living Index. With food prices a big part of the national media attention, C2ER decided to once again feature those communities with the most and least expensive food costs as measured by the grocery item index number.  C2ER collects data on twenty-six items from a variety of surrogate categories to represent the grocery item component of the index.

 The Five Most and Least Expensive Places for Grocery Items by Index Number

in the Cost of Living Index (COLI)

Third Quarter 2016

Average for 261 Urban Areas = 100


Most Expensive Least Expensive 
RankingUrban Areas IndexRankingUrban AreasIndex
1Honolulu HI161.81Temple TX77.5 
2Kodiak AK154.32Jackson-Madison County TN77.7 
3Hilo HI146.63McAllen TX80.7 
4Juneau AK141.44Waco TX80.8 
5Anchorage AK136.25Harlingen TX81.6 

The Most Expensive and Least Expensive Cities to Buy One Dozen Eggs

In recent months we have watched the price of one dozen eggs significantly drop in some areas of the country. Whether your favorite style is boiled, deviled, scrambled, or poached, see the chart below for the most and least expensive cities to buy one dozen, large, Grade-A eggs in the U.S.

The Five Most and Least Expensive Places to Buy Gasoline

Third Quarter 2016

Average for 261 Urban Areas = $1.60

Most Expensive Least Expensive 
RankingUrban AreasAvg. PriceRankingUrban AreasAvg.   Price
1Hilo HI$ 4.141Rockford IL$ 0.89
2San Francisco CA$ 4.072Norman OK$ 0.90
3Oakland CA$ 3.993Oklahoma City OK$ 0.91
4Charlottesville VA$ 3.074Danville IL$ 0.92
5Honolulu HI$ 3.015Fargo-Moorhead ND-MN$ 0.93


The quarterly Cost of Living Index is available by subscription for $175 per year for the print version and $165 per year for the PDF.  The electronic version is available for $275 per year. Be sure and ask about our new Expanded Excel version which covers more household and income types. Send check, payable to C2ER, P.O. Box 100127, Arlington VA 22210-0407, or subscribe on the Internet at www.coli.org.


If you need additional information on the Cost of Living Index or other COLI-related products such as the COLI Web Calculator and the COLI Historical Index, please contact Jennie Allison at jallison@crec.net or by phone at 703-522-4980.