Tampa metro area maintains spot as most affordable major market in Florida

June 7, 2016

The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metropolitan statistical area (MSA) has the second lowest Cost of Living Index (COLI) in Florida and the lowest COLI among Florida’s major markets, according to data collected by the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation (EDC) for the first quarter of 2016. With a national average index of 100, the Tampa MSA’s first quarter COLI came in at 92.3, nearly 8 percent lower than the national average.

The Tampa MSA’s cost of living has gone down from this time last year, with the first quarter 2016 score three-tenths of a percentage point less than it was in the first quarter of 2015.

“Tampa Bay continues to be one of the most cost-friendly large metro areas in the nation,” said Randy Smith, director of research for the Tampa Hillsborough EDC. “Our affordability for major expenditures like housing, coupled with Tampa’s consistently high job demand in fields like financial and professional services and information technology, makes this market an especially attractive location for Millennials looking for abundant career opportunities and a great quality of life.”

Compared to Florida’s other major markets, the Tampa MSA is the most affordable. Miami had the second highest cost of living in Florida, with a COLI score of 114.1, with Jacksonville and Orlando at 96.8 and 94.7, respectively. Four Florida markets have become more expensive to live in since the first quarter of 2015: Gainesville, Sarasota, Miami, and Ft. Lauderdale.

The Tampa MSA is also more affordable than competing metro markets in other states, including Atlanta (99.6), Charlotte (92.7), Nashville (96.1), and Denver (109.3). Among 10 of the Tampa MSA’s top competing markets, six have become more expensive to live in since Q1 2015: Dallas, Phoenix, Raleigh, Nashville, Austin, and Denver.

The COLI index score is determined by the individual scores for the prices of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services, which are all weighted differently.

The Tampa MSA’s highest score was for utilities, above the national average at 113.5. Groceries and transportation were second highest at 100.4. Housing prices earned the lowest score, 77.1.

When collecting prices for the index, the EDC’s research team examines everything from the price of steaks to apartment rent to washing machine repairs to bowling.

Here’s how the Tampa Bay area stacks up against the Nashville metro:

T-Bone Steak Home Price Gas Doctor Hair Cut Beauty Salon Movie Men’s Shirt Shampoo
Tampa $11.05 $222,824 $1.879 $87.10 $13.70 $36.62 $9.61 $20.79 $.86
Nashville $9.86 $263,450 $1.697 $78.20 $15.60 $40.00 $10.70 $26.80 $1.08

For more information about the area’s Cost of Living scores, please visit the Tampa Hillsborough EDC’s Data Center: http://tampabayedc.com/quality-of-life/.

About the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation
The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development works to develop and sustain a thriving local economy through the attraction, retention and expansion of high-wage jobs and capital investment in Hillsborough County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace.  Our efforts are focused on growing locally established companies as well as recruiting corporate headquarters and regional operations in targeted industry sectors including Information Technology, Financial and Professional Services, Life Sciences, Defense and Security, Manufacturing, and Distribution and Logistics. The Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation exists because of the generous support of over 100 investors from the local community. For more information, visit tampabayedc.com.