Colorado Springs isn’t such a bargain anymore, according to the latest data from a national survey.
The cost of living in Colorado Springs, which has been below the national average since the first quarter of 2000, moved to its highest point compared with the national average since the end of 2001 — 99.1 percent, according to a quarterly survey by the Council for Community and Economic Research. As the city was recovering from the last recession, the cost of living was just 91.8 percent of the national average in mid-2011.
But costs have risen as the local economy has gained strength, reaching 95.4 percent of the national average during the third quarter of last year and 98.4 percent of the average in the second quarter this year. The Springs’s cost of living has risen every quarter since mid-2015.
While the numbers show the Springs approaching the national average, the city still remains far less expensive than Denver or other major metropolitan areas. The cost of living in Denver during the second quarter was 114.3 percent of the national average, and major East and West Coast cities are at least 150 percent of the national average.
“For us, it is about the quality of life for the cost, and overall our quality for the cost is very good,” said Tammy Fields, chief economic development officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC. “All of this is very cyclical. When the economy is good, costs are higher and during recessions, costs are lower. In good times, hopefully we are investing in the community to sustain the economy during difficult times. You aren’t gaining ground by having a recession to lower costs.”
The rising cost of housing and utilities has played the biggest role in increasing the cost of living in the Springs during the past year. The components of the council’s cost of living index for the Springs measuring housing rose from 96.6 percent of the national average a year ago to 100.6 percent of the average in the third quarter. The component measuring utilities rose from 75.9 percent to 90.6 percent.
It is important to note that the council’s index doesn’t measure inflation. It compares prices for 57 goods and services used or purchased by households where middle managers live in 268 metro areas. It’s designed to help managers compare living costs when moving to another city.
The cost of living in Pueblo, the only other Colorado metro area included in the survey, rose to 92.4 percent of the national average in the third quarter from 92.2 percent in the second quarter and 89.6 percent a year ago. Until recently, Pueblo ranked among the nation’s lowest-cost metro areas, a list now headed by the Texas cities of Harlingen and McAllen. New York had the nation’s highest cost of living at 240.6 percent of the national average.
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