Cost of Living in Cedar City, St. George Still at Historic Lows
January 21, 2004
The cost of living in Southern Utah stayed at the lowest levels since 1989 for the past three months, according to the most recent data gathered by Dr. Alan Hamlin, professor of management at Southern Utah University.
The quarterly study, funded jointly by Dixie Regional Medical Center, Valley View Medical Center, WECCO, the Washington County Economic Development Council, and the Iron County Economic Development Office, yields data which is then included in the Cost of Living Index, published by the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association (ACCRA). Costs in Southern Utah can then be compared to prices in other areas around the nation.
The published composite (overall) cost of living for St. George for the third quarter of 2003 was 91.6%, down again from the 92.1% figure of three months ago. 100% is the national average cost. Overall housing costs in St. George, including both the cost for single-family residences and apartment rents, were a very attractive 74.7%, as were utility rates, which came in at 84.7%. Food prices, which have usually been well above the national average, fell last quarter to 99.8% from the previous 104.8%, while healthcare costs have stayed well-below average at 90.7%.
Cedar City’s published composite for the third quarter of 2003 came in at 88.7%, nearly identical to the previous quarter’s 89.3%. Grocery costs were 101.5%, while prices for housing were an attractive 67.6% and utilities were 81.6%. Healthcare costs in Iron County were 87.3%. Both cities continue to maintain very low costs as they continue to grow.
The average price of a new 2,400 square foot home in St. George was $190,000, while the same home in Cedar City was $171,800. Comparable homes in Salt Lake City cost $252,622. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment averaged $542 in St. George, $493 in Cedar City, and $864 in Salt Lake City.
Other cities’ overall cost of living figures were: Denver 105.2, Las Vegas 105.6, San Diego 138.0 and Los Angeles 147.4. A family who moved from Southern Utah to the Los Angeles area would have to make about 61% more income (after tax) to keep the same standard of living as they had St. George.
Local inflation rates continue to be extremely low. The most recent prices collected by Hamlin in the first week of January, showed overall increases of only 0.2% (less than 1% annually) during the past three months for St. George, and 0.16% (a little over half a percent annually) for Cedar City.
“Not only are overall living costs significantly below the national average,” Hamlin says, “ they are actually increasing less rapidly than elsewhere. Hence the drop in relative costs compared to other areas nationwide.”