Georgia Cost of Living Comparison Released

| October 8, 2014

business moneyS.E. (Chip) Harp, Valdosta Today Business Editor:

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University released its Cost of Living Comparison for the second quarter of 2014.  Valdosta’s cost of living is slightly higher than the Georgia state average, with Valdosta residents required to spend about 95.5 cents for each dollar required to maintain the living standards of the average U.S. household.

Each quarter, the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER, formerly known as ACCRA) collects more than 90,000 prices for 60 different items including housing, utilities, grocery items transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services from communities across the U.S. for its Cost of Living Index. The second quarter of 2014 survey comparing relative costs of living for “middle management” households among U.S. metropolitan areas and cities shows that it costs 7.1 percent less to live in Georgia communities, on average, than it does to live in the rest of the U.S. Therefore, for each dollar that is required to maintain the average standard of living across the country, Georgia residents are only required to spend about 92.9 cents.

The ten least expensive urban areas participating in the cost of living index survey are located in Texas and no metropolitan area from Georgia appears on either the ‘Least Expensive’ or ‘Most Expensive’ list. Valdosta ranks as the 130th most expensive metropolitan area (out of 279 areas) with a composite index of 95.9. It should be noted that Valdosta’s ranking in the second quarter of 2013 composite index was 174th (out of 300 areas), with a composite index of 97.4.

What does this mean?  Here’s a more practical application.  The cost of living data tell us that the Composite Index for San Francisco, CA is 161.6; for Valdosta, GA it is 95.5. Using this information, we can answer these questions:

  1. What is the Valdosta salary that is equivalent to a San Francisco, CA salary of $50,000?
  2. What is the San Francisco, CA salary that is equivalent to a Valdosta salary of $50,000?

If you earn $50,000 per year in San Francisco, CA, the salary in Valdosta required to maintain your San Francisco, CA standard of living would be $29,548. However, if you earn $50,000 per year in Valdosta, you would need to earn $84,607 in San Francisco, CA to maintain the same standard of living. Two jobs with identical salaries may not have identical purchasing power if one is located in a relatively high-cost city while the other is located in a relatively low-cost city.

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