The cost of living in Columbia is below the national average

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Chamber of Commerce released a report saying the cost of living in Columbia is below the national average.

One Columbia resident said Columbia offers the best value out of all the places he has lived.

"You can't get more value for your dollar than living in Columbia," Columbia resident Kris Webber said. "You can't buy a better lifestyle, in my experience, than living in Columbia."

This is the fourth time Webber has returned to live in Columbia after moving around, but said he is now staying in Columbia for good.

The cost of living is represented by a composite index, which looks at six categories: grocery, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous expenditures. The cost of living index, however, does not measure inflation or price change over time.

President of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce Mike McCormick said the cost of living is looked at on a quarterly basis, which makes it difficult to compare each quarter with each other.

"What you end up with is, you have to take into consideration any outside influences into those arenas," he said. 

One thing McCormick said this quarter's numbers show is that Columbia's economy has remained stable, even through the recession. He attributes it to a good make up of the business community.

He said when looking at the bigger picture and seeing how other cities are doing, Columbia is right where it needs to be.

McCormick said a big factor that helps Columbia maintain a low cost of living is the universities in the area.

"The nice thing it does is it continues to attract businesses because it's got that constant workforce," he said. "We've seen growth, particularly this year, in retail and services because of the student population, but also because of what higher education brings to the table."