Life in North Iowa is a Bargain

Mason City continues to rank favorably among Midwest communities in the most recent Cost of Living Index Report. The Chamber of Commerce participates in research to assist the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) in producing the quarterly index. Raw data from 273 metropolitan and micropolitan areas across the United States is analyzed to compare the cost of living in various geographic locations. The index is based on six components—housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services.

A score of 100.0 represents the national average; scores over 100.0 indicate a higher living cost, and scores below indicate a lower-than-average cost. Mason City’s score of 88.9 compares very favorably to other cities in Iowa and surrounding states: Dubuque (90.0), Ames (98.7), Peoria (91.1), St. Cloud (101.1), Sioux Falls (103.4) and Lincoln (95.0).

According to Chamber President Robin Anderson, living costs in Mason City continue to be a good value, especially during the pandemic. “Mason City consistently ranks as one of the most cost-effective places to live. In the last report, the cost of groceries was significantly lower than other places in the Midwest,” she said. “With more people at home during the day, and more people cooking meals, this is a significant bellwether.” Mason City’s grocery index is 89.9 compared to Honolulu at 176.8, New York at 151.7, and Juneau at 136.6. So while waiting out the pandemic in Hawaii sounds appealing, supply chain disruptions have resulted in staggering increases in consumable goods.

As a point of reference, the most expensive place to live in the most recent survey is Manhattan in New York City with a composite score of 248.6, which is more than twice the national average. The least expensive is Harlingen, TX with a score of 75.6, which places it more than 20 percent below the national average.

For more information on the Council for Community and Economic Research and the quarterly Cost of Living Index Report, contact the Chamber.

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