Corridor's Cost of Living Index lower than national average

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The first quarter results for 2013 were released this Monday for the National Cost of Living Index. The Iowa Lakes Corridor is pleased to announce that the Corridor region's cost of living index is lower than the national average of other small cities who also compile the data.

The Cost of Living Index, or COLI, is designed to provide a useful and reasonably accurate measure to compare and contrast cost of living among urban areas. Recently, ACCRA Cost of Living Index added a small cities feature. The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation has taken advantage of this and has been gathering the COLI for the four county seats in the Corridor region: Estherville, Spencer, Spirit Lake, and Storm Lake.

All four county seat towns separately have a cost of living index under the national average, a composite score of 100, for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The composite score for the county seats are as follows: Estherville: 99.6, Spencer: 99.3, Spirit Lake: 97.0 and Storm Lake: 98.9. The index is measured in five key areas: food, housing, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services. There is a separate index for each area and a composite index.

"The Iowa Lakes Corridor is committed to providing useful data to our area employers as we all strive to keep and attract workers in the region. Cost of living is the most requested information from our area employers," Kathy Evert, president and CEO of Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation, said.

Evert also believes the index for the Corridor region would be even lower if there were new apartment rentals in the region. Three of the four communities have not had any apartments constructed in more than 20 years that meet the criteria of the index. "Housing choices need to be expanded in the corridor region in order to keep and attract residents," said Evert. "For a young professional or a mid-management person with or without a family to relocate here for job opportunities, transitional housing or rental options are not available and are barriers to attracting new people."

A cost of living calculator is available on the Corridor's website, The cost of living calculator uses continuously updated data pulled directly from the highly regarded ACCRA Cost of Living Index to make these comparisons. The ACCRA COLI is based on the prices of more than 60 goods and services, updated quarterly. The ACCRA COLI is highly regarded as the most accurate and reliable source of data comparing costs from city to city.

The Corridor staff will continue to gather and release COLI data each quarter. The next time for information collection is July 20-22. For more information about the Cost of Living Index, contact Kathy Evert at

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