Cost of Living Index

Citizens and corporations are continually on the move and looking for the best place to call home. Local governments and development organizations are constantly faced with retaining and expanding local businesses and residents. Given these demands, local officials must find various ways to promote and improve quality of life.

Many local and state governments use the C2ER Cost of Living Index to advocate for and market their communities’ quality of life, as well as use the data as a benchmark to other cities. Given the versatility of the Index, scenarios and research questions for data users include:

  • Job Seekers – How does a new job offer in another city actually compare?
  • Human Resource Managers – What is the appropriate salary adjustment of employees in multiple cities?
  • Academic and Market Researchers – How have the average prices changed across the country over time?
  • Chambers of Commerce, EDOs, and Realtors – How does our city compare in cost in the region, state, and country?
  • Site Selectors – Will this community fit my business and lifestyle needs?

What is the Cost of Living Index?

Published since 1968, the Cost of Living Index, published by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), has been the most consistent source of city-to-city cost comparisons available. COLI data is recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and CNN Money. Our data and methodology are described in detail and completely transparent to users. Both data and methodology are reviewed by an Advisory Board composed of academic researchers and government officials. The Cost of Living Index is referenced in the Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the U.S..

Published quarterly, using over 60 goods and services collected at the local level from over 300 independent researchers, COLI is the only local level cost of living index available for the US. Items on which the Index is based have been carefully chosen to reflect the different categories of consumer expenditures. Weights assigned to relative costs are based on government survey data on expenditure patterns for professional and executive households. All items are priced in each place at a specified time and according to standardized specifications.