• Greater St. Louis Standard of Living Ranked 7th Highest Among Largest Metros

    Oct 20, 2017

    A new report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis provides further details on a new way to measure standards of living, termed Regional Price Parities (RPP). RPPs compare price level differences, and thus cost of living between states or metro areas.

    St. Louis enjoys a significantly lower cost of living compared to U.S. averages, especially for an area its size. Cost of living indexes provide information about quality of life and general living standards. These indexes are useful for measuring how much an individual can consume. The most well-known cost of living index is the ACCRA Cost of Living Index (COLI) produced by the Council for Community and Economic Research. The COLI measures the relative cost of U.S. metropolitan areas. The following table includes cost index components for the St. Louis, MO-IL metro area. 

    Cost of Living – St. Louis, MO-IL MSA, 2016 Average

    Metro Area

    100% Composite Index

    Grocery Items




    Health Care

    Misc. Goods and Services

    St. Louis








    Note:  U.S. metro average cost of living = 100.
    Source:  “ACCRA Cost of Living Index, 2016 Average Annual Data” Council for Community and Economic Research, Jan. 2017.

    Regional Price Parities are spatial price indexes used to compare costs across different areas, like the ACCRA Cost of Living Index. However, the RPP is better suited to adjusting income for cost of living.

    In 2015, Missouri’s RPP was 89.3, more than ten percent below the national average of 100. The St. Louis region has an RPP of 90.6, considerably below the national average.

    Standards of living can also be measured by per capita personal income. In 2015, the Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked metro areas according to per capita personal income. The region’s per capita personal income in chained 2009 dollars was $44,715 and ranked 67th out of all U.S. metro areas in 2015. However, when adjusted for RPPs, the region’s per capita personal income increased to $49,598, ranking 20th. “On an RPP-adjusted basis, per capita personal income in St. Louis jumped from 1.6 percent above the national average to 12.7 percent above the national average” (1). An article on the report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis stated, “St. Louis has the seventh highest standard of living among 53 U.S. metro areas with populations of more than 1 million” (2).

    Sources: (1) “Living Standards in St. Louis and the Eighth Federal Reserve District: Let’s Get Real” Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, 2017. (2) “St. Louis Standard of Living Ranked 7th Among Large U.S. Metros” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 7, 2017. 


  • Cost of Living

    Feb 04, 2016

    In 2015 St. Louis ranked 2nd lowest for cost of living of the top 20 U.S. metropolitan areas.  With a composite rating of 92.5, St. Louis falls only behind Tampa, at 91.6. This makes St. Louis very affordable, as it is 7.5% less expensive to live in St. Louis than the average U.S. metropolitan area (100.0). It’s also below the higher costs of Dallas (96.1), Chicago (116.2), Boston (144.3), and New York’s Manhattan borough (227.4).

    Every year, the Council for Community and Economic Research releases the comprehensive ACCRA Cost Of Living Index for U.S. metropolitan areas. Composite ratings are produced from the cost of grocery items, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous goods/services for each area.

    St. Louis Metro Cost of Living Index - Components 

    100% Composite Index

    Grocery Items




    Health Care

    Misc. Goods and Services








    *The effect of taxes are not included in the Cost of Living Index due to the difficulty of comparing various taxes across areas.

    St. Louis is especially affordable for housing prices.  St. Louis came in at 72.0 on the housing index, significantly below other cities.  This rating is important, as housing is the largest component of the Cost of Living Index.  Examiners look at newly constructed 2,400 sq. ft., 4 bedroom, 2 bath homes with attached 2-car garages. The average 2015 survey home priced in St. Louis was $207,522, significantly below the average price of $431,884 in Chicago, $232,736 in Cincinnati, and the U.S. at $313,530. This makes it about 51.2% less expensive for a house in St. Louis than in Chicago, 33.8% less than the national average, and 10.8% less than Cincinnati.

    With housing and overall costs, St. Louis’ value and affordability is unmatched for a large metro area. This is one of St. Louis’ main strengths, combined with our educated workforce and other major metro assets.

    For more cost comparisons between St. Louis and other metro areas, check out the ACCRA Cost of Living Calculator. The Calculator makes it easy to compare costs between different urban areas, and it allows for detailed cost comparisons of dozens of items between the St. Louis metro area and many other regions across the U.S.  Click here to access the calculator.