The “Survey Says” looks at various rankings and scorecards looking at geographic locations, while viewing these grades as a mix of artistic interpretation and data.
Discussion: Finding a cost of living “deal” in California is becoming an even more elusive quest, and only two of the state’s 26 metro areas weren’t among the nation’s 100 Most Priceless Places to Live.
Source: My trusty spreadsheet reviewed the annual Cost-of-Living Index by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis tracks a comprehensive sample of expenses for 382 metropolitan areas—including 26 in California. Comparable cost growth came from the average of the three most recent years – 2018 to 2020, the period of growth and pandemic cold – versus a decade earlier – 2008 to 2010, the period before the period around the Great Recession.
The bureau’s “price parity” index is another metric that shows how living in California has become even more expensive than in other parts of the country.
Consider that between 2008 and 2010, only nine of California’s 26 metropolitan cities had a cost of living that was out of the 100 most expensive US communities according to this federal math. Fresno was the 110th most expensive location among the 382 metropolitan cities, followed by Redding (111), Yuba City (113), Bakersfield (116), Hanford (120), Madera (128), Merced (154), Visalia (176), . and El Centro (197).
In 2018-2020, that shortlist was reduced to only Hanford (101) and El Centro (193).
Monterey County suffered the largest cost to the state in this 10-year period, by yardstick.
The decade’s 5.5-percentage-point jump – the third largest in the nation – pushed Monterey County’s cost of living to a level of 10.9% above the country average. This makes it the eighth most valuable place to live.
The California metros with the biggest cost increases were a decidedly northern group…
Sacramento: This expense ratio rose by 4.4 points, the second highest nationwide and No. 13 nationally – 6.8% higher than the 2018-20 average (number 20 of all US metropolitan cities).
San Francisco: The average rose 3.9 points to 18.6% (No. 1).
Modesto: Up 3.7 points above the 3.3% average (No. 38).
Merced: 3.6 points above 0.1% below average (No. 72).
Ventura County: 11.9% (No. 6), 3.6 points above average.
Stockton: 4.4% (No. 29), 3.6 points above average.
San Luis Obispo: 9.6% (No. 17) 3.5 points above average.
Visalia: 3.2 points above 1.3% below average (No. 84).
to red: 2.9 points above the 0.8% average (No. 62).
An interesting collection of eight California metropolises shows a decade-long decline in this measure in terms of how living expenses compare across the country. Note that most of these California markets are among the most pricier places to live in the US…
inland Empire: Costs fell 0.3 percentage points over 10 years to 4% above the 2018-20 national average – ranking 33rd highest.
Los Angeles-Orange County: 10.7% (No. 11), 0.6 points below average.
El Centro: 6% (No. 193), 1.1 points below average.
Measured: 11.9% below 2 points above average (No. 6).
San Jose: 12.5% below average by 2.1 points (No. 4).
Santa Rosa: 10.6% down 2.6 points above average (No. 13).
Vallejo: 2.9 points below average, 9% (No. 18).
Santa Cruz: That state’s biggest drop in 10 years – 10% above the average by 3.7 points (No. 14).
California’s cost of living has expanded to “affordable” inland cities away from the Bay Area, famous for Southern California’s huge population centers and pricey lifestyles.
This means that even the cheapest communities in California are significantly more expensive nationally – another reason why California attracts new residents so poorly.
Here’s how other California metro areas tracked, based on expense-ratios, grew over 10 years…
Fresno: Costs rose 2.9 percentage points over 10 years to 0.8% above the US average in 2018-20 (ranking No. 61 among all metros).
Santa Barbara: 2.9 points up 10.9% above average (No. 9).
Chico: 2.6 points above the 2.4% average (No. 47).
Yuba City: 2.4 points above 0.1% average (No. 70).
Bakersfield: 2.3 points above 0.1% below average (No. 71).
Madera: Up 0.7 points below the 2.1% average (No. 98).
San Diego: Up 0.4 points above the 12.1% average (No. 5).
Hanford: 0.3 points above the 2.2% average (No.101).
Jonathan Lancer is a business columnist for the Southern California Newsgroup. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org