Cost of Living in St. George, Cedar City Still At Historic LowsJanuary 20, 2005
Author: Renee Ballenger
Category: Community Outreach
CONTACT: Dr. Alan Hamlin, 435.586.5417
COST OF LIVING IN ST. GEORGE, CEDAR CITY STILL AT HISTORIC LOWS
The cost of living in Southern Utah stayed at levels comparable to 1989 for the past three months, according to the most recent data gathered by Dr. Alan Hamlin, Professor of Business at Southern Utah University. The quarterly study, funded jointly by Dixie Regional Medical Center and Valley View Medical Center, WECCO, the Washington County Economic Development Council, and the Iron County Economic Development Office, yields data which are then included in the Cost of Living Index, published by the American Chamber of Commerce Researcher's Association (ACCRA). Costs in Southern Utah can then be compared to prices in other areas around the nation.
Southern Utah Costs:
When Hamlin began the study in 1989, the overall cost of living in St. George was 92.5% of the national average. Cedar City was 89.1%. Today, 16 years later, the costs are 95.1% for St. George, and 89.7% for Cedar City, virtually the same for both. This means that, in spite of rapid growth, high prices of oil and gasoline, and volatile healthcare costs, the two cities have kept their overall costs in check compared to those around the nation. There are six categories which make up the composite score--food prices, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous items.
In St. George, grocery costs are currently 98.6% of the national average. This is significantly less food prices of the past few years. Hamlin believes that this is due to competition from discount stores which carry food products. St. George housing costs, including the cost of new homes and apartment rents, have risen during the past year, but no faster than the rest of the country. Overall housing costs remain an attractive 85.3% of the national average. Utility costs are 83.4%, and though transportation prices have increased due to gasoline price hikes, they remain at national average levels, 97.8%. St. George healthcare costs decreased relative to national norms, to 93.0%. Lastly, miscellaneous items (a market basket of goods ranging from hamburgers to tennis balls) rose slightly to 104.2%.
For Cedar City, the cost of living remains very attractive. Food costs have dropped to below the national average, at 98.6%. Housing costs, though rising, are still an attractive 75.5%. Utilities came in at 85.4%, transportation was 95.7%, and healthcare prices were only 88.2%. Miscellaneous goods were at 98.3% of the national average.
By comparison, the cost of living in Salt Lake City is 97.3%, Denver is 104.8%, Las Vegas is 113.3% and Los Angeles is 155.8%. A person moving from St. George to Los Angeles would have to make 68% more income, after taxes, to retain the same standard of living they had in Southern Utah.
Hamlin has just completed collecting data for the January 2005 ACCRA report. The average price of a new 2400-square foot home in St. George was $259,725, while the same home in Cedar City was $211,200. Rents for a two-bedroom apartment averaged $599 in St. George, and $516 in Cedar City.
Through its more than 100-year history, Southern Utah University has evolved from a teacher training school into its current role as a comprehensive, regional university to 6,000 students from across the globe. It serves the southern region of Utah and contiguous counties in surrounding states with undergraduate and graduate programs in six colleges. People of the region look to the University for outreach services, culture, economic and business development, higher learning, regional history, public affairs, major academic specialties, and significant entertainment and recreation. Accentuated by the notable, economic value of its services, SUU's hallmark is its quality staff, faculty and academics.