ACCRS Cost of Living Index

Subject: ACCRS Cost of Living Index
From: Mary Reynolds <mreynold -at- NORTEL -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 8 Jul 1998 11:33:00 EDT

I'm on the digest, so pardon this later response.

John David Hickey asked how to determine the cost of living in a town.

ACCRA (American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association) publishes
a quarterly Cost of Living Index. It compares the cost of living in
cities in the U.S. (I'm not sure about Canada) whose chambers of
commerce participate in the project. Usually there are about 300
cities participating, but not all cities participate every quarter.

The ACCRA Cost of Living Index is available at public libraries in
major cities, and also through Chambers of Commerce. You can call them
and ask. There may be something online by now, too.

The average COL for all participating cities is pegged to 100, and
each city's COL is expressed as a variation from that. For example,
if the COL for Dallas is 104, that means the overall cost of living
is 4% higher than "average" in Dallas.

Each component of COL is listed and given a weight. These include
housing, utilities, transportation, medical care, groceries, and
miscellaneous, if I remember correctly. The methodology is fascinating.
The weights are an estimate of the percentage each component takes up
of a middle-class income. Researchers report the cost of a "typical"
home or apartment in each city, and a "typical" grocery basket, haircut,
doctor visit, electric bill, gasoline price, etc. You can then see how
all these costs compare in various cities.

Many companies and individuals use this in determining COL adjust-
ments for relocations. If the COL for Boston is 30% higher than for
Atlanta, then employees relocating from Atlanta to Boston should get
30% more salary. This just accounts for maintaining a comparable
lifestyle. If the relocation involves more skills or the job market is
tighter in the new place, you should expect more than just a COL
increase, of course.

Mary Reynolds
Technical Writer
Richardson, TX
mreynold -at- nortel -dot- ca

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