We don't need to tell you that times are tight (ahem, understatement). So, aren't housing prices supposed to be going down? You'd think so, right? Well, that depends on geography, the type of housing and if you're renting or buying.
In general, it's a good time to be a renter. The priciest enclaves — we're looking at you, New York and California — are seeing major rent reductions, especially at high-end places. But what about the rest of the country? Well, it turns out, some areas are getting cheaper while others are getting more expensive, even in an atmosphere of economic downturn and uncertainty.
We looked at the cost of living at the beginning of the year (pre-pandemic) and toward the end of the year, and these are the places where it's getting more expensive to live. What we found may surprise you.
Our top 10 list isn't peppered with the high-profile cities you might expect to see. Instead, these are cozier enclaves that may just represent the escape many city dwellers are looking for right about now. More space, fresh air and relatively lower cost of living. Ironically, that might drive the prices up in these peaceful pockets of the country.
We looked at housing costs along with food, utilities, transportation and healthcare expenses. And here are the top 10 places where it's getting more expensive to live.
Located just north of Miami on Florida's Atlantic coast, Fort Lauderdale and its nearby communities are probably the least surprising to end up on our list. Why? Um, beaches. What's not to love about white sand, crystal waters and fresh seafood? Vacations may have been on hold for a long time, but who needs to travel when you can walk a few steps and stick your toes in the sand? And it just so happens, Fort Lauderdale is one of the top 10 cities for nightlife in America.
So, why are these Florida hot spots getting so expensive — besides the influx of cooped up Americans who want to live by the beach? Don't blame housing prices, which have actually decreased by 0.8 percent. Grocery prices, on the other hand, are a different story. They've gone up nearly 15 percent, while healthcare costs have risen almost 5 percent.
The secret is out about the birthplace of Motown and its environs. This vibrant area is diverse, creative and super friendly. And yes, unfortunately, it's getting more expensive — pretty much across the board, except for transportation, which costs a wee bit less than it used to.
However! One important thing to keep in mind is that the Detroit area is affordable to begin with. How affordable? Try 84 percent cheaper than other major cities in the U.S. So, get here in a hurry before the rest of the country catches on.
OK, Iowa. We see you. Something's happening in the Hawkeye State. Iowa City is the first of three Iowa cities in our top 10 where the cost of living is climbing. Home of the University of Iowa, you get a lot more than a charming college town here.
For starters, you've got ample agricultural spoils that you can scoop up at a fabulous local farmer's market. It's also the kind of place where public pianos show up outside when the weather's nice, and trees were once dressed in cozy sweaters come winter.
So, what's driving prices up in the eastern corner of Iowa? Beyond housing costs that are creeping up, a hike in transportation prices is pushing the cost of living 3.6 percent higher in Iowa City.
The capital of Missouri oozes charm, with its historic architecture, quaint main street and prime perch on the Missouri River. Oh, and did we mention it's also the most beautiful small town in the U.S.? Thanks, Rand McNally.
And while housing prices in Jefferson City have nudged up 3.7 percent, it's really transportation that's fueling the increased cost of living. We're not sure what's going on here in this Midwestern corridor, but like Iowa City, its neighbor four hours to the north, Jefferson City's transportation costs have ballooned 9 percent in recent times. There's a solution for that — ride a bike.
First, let's get one thing clear. The capital of South Dakota is pronounced “Peer" — a little more drawl and a lot less French influence. It's also the second-smallest state capital in the U.S. (by population). But the only thing you really need to know about Pierre is that it was recently ranked by USA Today among the best places to live in the US. The cozy city took the No. 26 spot out of 50.
While Pierre is known for its low cost of living, prices are starting to creep up. How much? There's good news and bad news. Overall, it's about 3.7 percent more expensive to live here than it used to be. The good news? The cost of utilities, transportation and healthcare are actually going down. Unfortunately, the 12 percent hike in housing costs tips the scales in the wrong direction.
The home of Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and no fewer than eight other parks, Orlando and its environs are about a lot more than theme park thrills. You'll find a vibrant dining scene, quaint historic neighborhoods and, oh yeah, beaches just over an hour away.
And did we mention that there's no state income tax? There's plenty more you need to know about living in and around Orlando, from amazing public transportation to the unpredictable weather. It's also getting a little more expensive to live here — about 3.7 percent more expensive, to be exact.
Located just a half-hour north of No. 8 (Iowa City), the second Iowa city to hit our top 10 list is located on the banks of the Cedar River. Expect a friendly Midwestern vibe, picturesque parks and waterfront gathering spots, along with impressive cultural attractions for a city of its size.
While the cost of living in Cedar Rapids is known for being lower than the national average, prices are on the upswing. Overall, the cost of living has risen by nearly 4 percent. Leading the increase? Housing (up 8.1 percent) and transportation costs, which have risen more than 10 percent. On the flip side, the cost of both utilities and healthcare is down.
OK, wait a second. That's not a typo. Sioux City isn't just our third Iowa city to break the top 10, it's also the second South Dakota urban area and the first spot in Nebraska to make the cut. That's right, Sioux City's urban area is spread across three different states — and five counties if you're keeping track. Let that sink in for a moment…
So, what do you need to know about living in Sioux City? Located on the Missouri River (ironic, no — another state!?), you'll be surrounded by picturesque lakes and rivers. Known as “Little Chicago" in the prohibition era, Sioux City is also home to a strong German contingent.
Of all of the Iowa cities on our list, prices in Sioux City are rising the most overall. From housing costs that have skyrocketed by more than 20 percent to utility prices that are actually down 22 percent, the cost of living here has been on a wild ride.
Surrounded by a 1.86 million-acre ponderosa pine forest, this high desert city serves up both sunshine and snow. Oh, and stars. Lots and lots of stars — it's the world's first International Dark Sky City. And before we forget, living in Flagstaff puts you in close proximity to the Grand Canyon. You're only an hour and a half from the spectacular South Rim.
But the fun's not all outdoors here in Flagstaff. From live music to art shows, there are plenty of opportunities to get your culture fix, both indoors and out. So, what's going on with the cost of living here in Northern Arizona? Other than transportation, living costs are up across the board, nearly 5 percent overall.
Located just over the state line from Indiana, this small city (population 31,597) may just be the biggest surprise on our list. A picturesque corner of Illinois, you'll find more than 15,000 acres of parkland and upwards of 100 miles of hiking trails in Danville. So, yes, there's plenty of space to spread out, which seems to be of prime importance at the moment.
Is that why the cost of living has gone up more than anywhere else in the country? Hard to say, though to be fair, the cost of living was low to begin with — nearly 10 percent below the national average. Perhaps the hikes in housing costs (14.2 percent) and utilities (13 percent) won't sting quite as much.
Does it feel like your city should be on this list? Maybe it is. Here are the top 25 places where the cost of living is on the rise.
|Rank||Urban Area||Overall Cost Change||Grocery Cost Change||Housing Cost Change||Utility Cost Change||Transportation Cost Change||Healthcare Cost Change||Misc Cost Change|
|3||Sioux City IA||4.2%||9.1%||20.5%||-22.0%||-10.0%||15.1%||4.1%|
|4||Cedar Rapids IA||3.9%||0.6%||8.1%||-2.6%||10.6%||-0.6%||3.5%|
|7||Jefferson City MO||3.7%||1.0%||2.2%||0.2%||9.0%||-0.4%||5.8%|
|8||Iowa City IA||3.6%||2.9%||2.4%||0.2%||9.0%||-0.5%||4.4%|
|10||Fort Lauderdale FL||3.5%||14.4%||-0.8%||-5.0%||-3.6%||4.8%||8.6%|
|17||Wichita Falls TX||3.1%||10.5%||8.0%||-6.4%||-2.1%||0.4%||1.8%|
|20||Hampton Roads-SE Virginia VA||3.0%||5.1%||4.3%||5.1%||-5.6%||5.4%||2.8%|
|25||Shreveport-Bossier City LA||2.7%||4.6%||5.5%||1.8%||0.7%||-1.9%||1.5%|
To find the areas where it's getting more expensive to live, we looked at cost of living data from The Council for Community and Economic Research from Q1 2020 and compared it to data from Q3 2020, the most recent data available to us. We measured by the percentage change for the main cost of living index to determine the urban areas where it's getting more expensive to live.