Looking for a Great place to live with low cost of Living?
The index, from the Council for Community and Economic Research, measures prices across six categories — groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous goods and services — during the first quarter of 2012. It shows the Lynchburg area tied with Danville with a composite index of 91.0, the second lowest among the Virginia localities in the survey.Martinsville’s index, at 88.5, was the lowest.
The index sets the national average at 100, so numbers less than 100 were below national average and numbers more than 100 were higher.
Of the 306 metropolitan areas surveyed, only 56 had a composite index lower than Lynchburg’s score of 91.
The low cost of living makes the area attractive for people to move here and can be used to draw businesses to the area, said Rex Hammond, president and chief executive officer of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s one more tool in our kit, one more reason for people to look to Lynchburg for investment or to live,” he said.
The index looks at how prices affect the top 20 percent of earned income in an area — which varies but generally falls between $70,000 and $100,000, said Dean Frutiger, the council’s program manager of the cost of living index. The index began in 1968 to help professionals and managers compare the cost of moving for jobs in other areas across the country, he said.
The survey shows that annual income can buy a lot of house for the money in the Lynchburg area, which had the lowest score for housing, at 78.7, of the 12 Virginia localities that participated.
Because the score reflects how much of a top earner’s wages would be spent on housing, it provides a different comparison than median home sales price. The Lynchburg/Blacksburg/Roanoke region had a median home sales price of $138,000 for the first quarter, for example, while the Southside Virginia category, which includes Danville and Martinsville, had a median home sales price of $78,900, according to the Virginia Association of Realtors.
The housing category is the second most-weighted category for the overall score, behind miscellaneous goods and services. Housing makes up about 28 percent of the composite number.
“That component is such a key part of cost of living (rating),” said Laverne Brown, director of communications for the chamber.
Since 2008, when the chamber began participating in the survey, the rating for five of the six categories has shown a steady decline from the national average for the Lynchburg area. Utilities is the only category above the national average.
Frutiger said the strength of the survey lies in how many communities from across the country participate.
“These are index numbers based on the data that everyone in the country submits,” he said. “They are not absolute values. They are completely dependent on what everyone across the country is submitting.”
To compile the quarterly data for the area, the chamber and Region 2000 gathered information on various prices for each category, Brown said. Prices were noted for items like maintenance, gas prices, haircuts, movies and miscellaneous goods, she said.
Cost of living in Virginia
Composite cost-of-living index for 12 Virginia localities. (A composite index of 100 equals the national average.)
Staunton/Augusta County 93.2
Virginia Beach/Norfolk/Newport News 101.3
Source: Council for Community and Economic Research