Cost of Living Q1 Update

The Cost of Living Index (COLI) measures relative price levels for consumer goods and services in participating areas. The average for all participating places, both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan equals 100 and each participant’s index is read as a percentage of the average for all places. It is important to note that the COLI Index is not a good indicator of inflation or deflation since the index is a relative measure. For a more accurate representation for inflation see CDRPC’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI) Index.

Since CDRPC’s last COLI update in Quarter 4 (Q4) of 2022, the cost of living index in the region has fluctuated in all categories. From Q4 to Q1 there were decreases in Misc. Goods and Services, Grocery Items, Composite Index, Healthcare, and Transportation. There were increases in Housing and Utilities from Q4 to Q1.

From Q4 2022 to Q1 2023 the index cost in the Capital Region changed as followed:

  • Utilities increased by 5.06%
  • Transportation decreased by 5.26%
  • Housing increased by 3.06%
  • Health Care decreased by 9.31%
  • Composite index decreased by 1.99%
  • Grocery Items decreased by 7.30%
  • Goods and Services decreased by 2.20%

National Rankings

In comparison to Q4 of 2022, Orange County and Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA have overtaken Washington DC as more expensive places to live. During Q1, San Diego secured the tenth position among the most costly urban areas, displacing Oakland, CA from the list. Meanwhile, Decateur, IL has climbed from the fifth to the second least expensive urban area to live in. Harlingten, TX retains its top spot as the most affordable urban area according to the COLI.


Source: The Council For Community and Economic Research (C2ER)

Comparison to Peer Communities

One of the benefits of using the COLI index is that it makes it possible to compare changes across the country. CDRPC determined peer communities in the 2015 Capital Region Indicators Report. These communities were selected on the criteria that they are within 40% of the Albany-Troy-Schenectady MSA or if they contain a state capital.

In Q1, the majority of the selected peer communities experienced below-average indices across most categories, with Des Moines, IA, Hartford, CT, and Buffalo MSA, NY recording the lowest values. In contrast, Albany-Schenectady-Troy reported higher values than the average in most categories. Notably, Hartford, CT displayed a significant deviation from the average in the Utilities category, with an index of around 120.0, making it the highest among these metro areas. Housing in Des Moines MSA, IA, on the other hand, stood well below the average with an index of approximately 69.0.