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What are the real costs of living in your city?

August 8, 2013

by Jeff Pinkerton

As Americans, we are always looking for the best deal. We always want to know which purchase will give us the most bang for our buck. This is a fairly easy endeavor to do in the internet era. We can compare prices for just about any purchase we might want to make.

It is, however, quite a bit more difficult to do when it comes to perhaps our most important purchase, our home. No one understands that difficulty more than Harrisonville City Administrator Keith Moody. Moody just recently completed an exhaustive survey that looks at the true differences in cost of living in the 48 cities in the Kansas City area. The study, which required hundreds of individual interviews, shows the typical costs of taxes and utilities for a typical family that earns $100,000 a year and lives in a $250,000 house.

The overall average for such a family among all cities was $14,503 in total taxes and utilities. The Unified Government (Kansas City, Kan.) and Kansas City, Mo. had the highest costs at just over $16,000. Smithville, Mo. had the lowest cost at $12,819.

City Cost of Living

“Despite the variety in the types of cities that make up our metro — large, small, urban and rural,” Moody noted, “the differences in costs among the cities were not too great.”

Moody also noted that costs are just one variable that weighs in on housing decisions. Families also look at public services (like public schools, parks etc.), location and proximity to work when deciding which home is right for them.

This is the third cost of living report Moody has conducted.  The other two reports were done in 2009 and 2011.

The chart above is only the summary chart for selected cities from the survey. For more detailed information you can access a slide presentation of Moody’s results which includes data for all 48 cities surveyed and breakdowns by taxes and utilities.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Frank Lenk permalink
    August 8, 2013 1:21 pm

    The average value of a home and the average household income differ widely across cities in our region. By keeping value and income constant, this analysis mainly produces a comparison of tax rates, and it is good to know that they do not vary too much across our region. But, I think a much more interesting (though much more difficult to conduct) comparison would be to keep the square footage and age of housing constant. This would be more akin to comparing area cities on their costs of providing a similar standard of living (i.e., similar quality house, on average).

  2. Lew Levin permalink
    August 9, 2013 3:24 pm

    Agree with Frank Lenk’s comments. The study does not consider the difference in housing prices between communities. Even for new homes built, differentials in land costs are not modeled.

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