Monroe, La. — Northeast Louisiana’s low cost of living means families can afford a higher standard of living. According to the Cost of Living Index recently released for the third quarter of 2016, the Monroe Metropolitan Statistical Area’s cost of living is 97.2 percent of the national average. The Monroe MSA includes surrounding communities in Ouachita and Union Parishes. The Cost of Living Index estimates the amount of money needed to sustain a certain level of living, including basic expenses such as housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services.
“Our region’s low cost of living means families can get more bang for their buck,” said Scott Martinez, CEcD, President of North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP). “Families in the Monroe MSA can afford a better lifestyle. One of the biggest expenses for any family is housing; and our housing costs average nearly 12 points below the national average.”
For the Monroe MSA, the two most affordable cost categories are housing at 88.2 percent and transportation at 90.5 percent, followed by health care at 91.1 percent, utilities at 94.9 percent, grocery items at 95.1 percent, and miscellaneous goods and services at 109.6 percent of the national average.
The Cost of Living Index is compiled by the Council for Community and Economic Research and measures regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services. It is based on more than 90,000 prices collected during the same period by chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, and universities in participating urban areas.
The University of Louisiana at Monroe Center for Business and Economic Research gathers the data for the Monroe MSA. The information is compiled into a composite index, which is based on six weighted categories – grocery items (13.24%), housing (28.04%), utilities (10.31%), transportation (11.16%), health care (4.36%) and miscellaneous goods and services (32.89%).
The Cost of Living Index is often used when comparing how expensive it is to live in one city versus another. As you can see from the chart below, Northeast Louisiana is a much more affordable place to live as compared with competing metros. For example, the cost of living in Northeast Louisiana communities is more than 15 percentage points less than Denver, Colorado.
NLEP’s website provides a useful tool to help families compare the cost of living in Northeast Louisiana versus other communities in the U.S. Copy and paste nlep.org/COLIcalculator in your browser or go to http://www.nlep.org, click Regional Data Center, and go to Cost of Living to access our Cost of Living Calculator. It allows you to determine the level of income you would need to move to Monroe and maintain your current standard of living. For example, if you earned $50,000 in Denver, Colorado, you would only need to earn $42,420 in Monroe to have a comparable standard of living.