Cost of living in Columbia lower than national average

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COLUMBIA - The average living costs in Columbia continue to be below the national average, according to the ACCRA Cost of Living Index.

The report uses an index of $100 for the average U.S. city. According to the index, Columbia residents will pay $98.50, 1.5 percent below the national average.

The index report measures six consumer expenditures: groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and other goods and services.

Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick said the chamber goes out and measures different items each quarter.

"We partner with different grocery stores in town and other services as well. We then go out and work with them to get prices and then we send them to [ACCRA]," McCormick said.

The 2015 average cost of living in Columbia had an index of 95.3, increasing 3.2 this year. McCormick said these year-to-year changes are not directly correlated.

"What services might be measured in the first quarter of this year could be different than what was measured in the quarter you were looking at prior to," McCormick said. "There's a number of things that can be measured, and each time it's a little different.

Health care had the highest rated index with 103.8.

"The higher score speaks highly to the quality of our health care with some of the best services in the state," McCormick said.

John Dethman is a Columbia resident of 15 years, and he said he is not surprised by the report.

"I think [Columbia] has always been very reasonable to me. I come from Seattle and Denver, so coming here, it is a lot cheaper. Even when I hire people from California, they find it really cheap and they can't believe it half the time," Dethman said.

Dethman also said he travels a lot and compares many cities to Columbia.

"It's the most livable city I've ever been in," Dethman said. ""The produce is cheaper here. We get our produce locally but even if it's shipped in, it just seems to be cheaper."