Tampa Bay: Very Affordable Place To Live, Work

The Tampa Bay region remains an affordable place to live, as measured by the ACCRA Cost of Living Index (COLI).

Results for the year-end 2011 ACCRA COLI found the Tampa Bay region's composite index at 91.8 percent, more than eight percent below the national average. This is the third year in a row that the Tampa Bay region registered below the national average.

Measuring relative price levels for consumer goods and services in more than 300 cities across the United States, the average for all participating cities in each quarter equals 100 while each participant's index reads as a percentage of the average.

“Historically, the Tampa Bay area has benefited from reasonable living expenses. In the past years, affordability was driven primarily by lower land costs which has made housing reasonably priced,” says Randy Smith, director of research at Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation (EDC). “After home prices started to creep higher in recent years, the speculative bubble burst for residential properties and now Tampa's pricing has returned to traditionally lower levels.”

The COLI composite index is based upon six major categories: Housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous goods and services. This year's year-end survey ranged from a high of 218.8 percent in Manhattan, New York to a low of 81 percent in Harlingen, Texas.

“Many of the factors that influence pricing are dependent on the general economy and Tampa is fortunate in that it benefits from an attractive quality of life, as well as reasonable living costs,” Smith says. “Local government has played an important role in improving our infrastructure and amenities which enhance our affordable lifestyle.”

In Florida, the Tampa Bay region measured at the lowest percentage at 91.8 percent. Jacksonville came in second at 93.9 percent while Orlando measured third at 97.3 percent. Miami remained the highest percentage in Florida, measuring in at 107.1 percent.

“In the course of our economic developments at Tampa Hillsborough EDC, affordability is one of the factors evaluated by companies to relocate to our area,” Smith says. “In addition, Tampa has an abundance of other significant assets for business and residents. We just need to project this message more on a national and international level to build future growth for our community.”

Writer: Alexis Quinn Chamberlain
Source: Randy Smith, Tampa Hillsborough EDC
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