Cost of Living Comparison

The Chamber participates in research to assist the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) in producing the quarterly Cost of Living Index.  Raw data from urban areas across the United States is analyzed to compare the cost of living in various geographic locations.


An index of 100.0 represents the mean; an index lower than 100 means the region’s cost of living is less than the average, and a number higher than 100 indicates the cost is higher than average.  In the most recent survey, Mason City has an index of 88.4.  By comparison, the Manhattan borough in New York City—the most expensive place to live—has an index of 227.  The least expensive locale in the study is McAllen, TX with an index of 76.9.


Here’s an example of how to use this information.  Assume that City A has a composite index of 98.3 and City B has a composite index of 128.5.  If you live in City A and are contemplating a job offer in City B, you can calculate how much of an increase in your after-tax income is needed to maintain your present lifestyle.  In this case, 30.72%, or about a 31% increase in after-tax salary to maintain the same living standard.


We've created a table that illustrates the most recent data for Iowa Micro-Urban communities. The chart compares the cost of living in Mason City to peer Iowa communities. If you'd like to see the table, click here.

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