Thursday, May 19, 2011

Roanoke Cost of Living Is Sweeeeet!

The cost of living in the Roanoke Region is 8.5 percent lower than the national average and the second lowest of any metropolitan area in Virginia, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER).

The first quarter 2011 ACCRA Cost of Living Index (COLI), compiled by C2ER, ranks Roanoke 83rd out of 312 metro areas, meaning that the cost of living here is less than 70 percent of the nation’s metros.

“Our comparative costs are the lowest they have been in three years,” says John Hull, research director at the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “When coupled with the region’s numerous amenities, such as outdoor recreation, strong education and healthcare systems, and a business-friendly environment, our region really does offer the complete package as a great place to live and work.”

The COLI index measures costs comparable to other metros in the country at a given point in time. The Roanoke Region’s cost of living is lower than Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Asheville, N.C.; and many other Southern metros, thanks in part to lower housing and food costs.

“Housing costs are a large part of the index, roughly 30 percent, and a huge cost advantage because the Roanoke Region’s housing prices are 11.1 percent lower than the rest of the nation’s,” Hull explains. This competitive housing cost can’t be attributed to lower home prices that resulted from the nationwide foreclosure crisis, either, as Roanoke ranks in the top 25 percent of metro areas for having the lowest foreclosure rates, according to

Another significant cost advantage the region enjoys is grocery prices. The Roanoke Region’s lower grocery index values are attributable to logistics, specifically the proximity to Interstate 81.

At the same time, the Roanoke Region enjoys transportation costs that are 7 percent below the national average. Fuel expenses are one of the largest components of transportation costs and are influenced primarily by two factors – proximity to the fuel industry’s distribution infrastructure and state gas taxes. Virginia’s gas taxes are 22 percent lower than the national average and the region boasts large fuel distribution centers.

Meanwhile, healthcare costs are helped by the presence of two major healthcare systems.

How far does your income go? The Roanoke Region’s cost-of-living calculator, available at, show how much you’d need to make in the Roanoke region to enjoy the same relative standard of living compared to other parts of the nation.

“People living here or businesses looking to relocate here will be pleasantly surprised by just how far their dollars go in Roanoke,” Hull says.

(Roanoke Regional Partnership press release.)

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