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Least-Expensive Cities

Several times a year, the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) gathers data from 309 urban areas to rank them in their Cost of Living Index (COLI).

The team looks at pricing data covering 60 consumer goods and services that represent a larger cluster of goods and services — especially within the groceries category, which lists staples including bread, coffee, sugar, ground beef and potatoes. The other categories are housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services.

The average cost of these goods is then compared to the average annual income for professional and managerial households in the top fifth income level.

The resulting standard of living in the most expensive urban area, Manhattan, was more than twice the national average at 223.9 percent, whereas the cost of living in the least expensive urban area is 20 percent below the national average.

Dean Frutiger of C2ER emphasizes these are not absolute values and the rankings are all relative to the total submitted data. The data are collected by volunteers, and they couldn’t get the information for every city.

With that in mind, let’s count down the top 10 least-expensive cities, as culled from the latest available version of the COLI from the third quarter of 2011.

By Colleen KanePosted 13 January 2012

Wesley Hitt | Getty Images