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Inward Investment Guides

The Leading Inexpensive Cities for Business

This slideshow highlights the cities with the 10 lowest costs of living - based on the Cost of Living Composite Index from Q2 2012 - that also ranked within Area Development's Top 50 Leading Locations for 2012, a report we produced this summer that ranked MSAs for economic and job growth. These 10 cities offer a tantalizing combination of inexpensive living and economic growth for expanding and relocating businesses.

Area Development Online Research Desk (October 2012)

Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN (1 of 10)





Population Leading Locations Rank COLI Composite
1,589,934 15 87.9



Next: San Antonio-New Braunfels

San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX (2 of 10)





Population Leading Locations Rank COLI Composite
2,142,508 44 87.9



Next: Lubbock

Lubbock, TX (3 of 10)





Population Leading Locations Rank COLI Composite
284,890 42 89



Next: Columbus

Columbus, OH (4 of 10)





Population Leading Locations Rank COLI Composite
1,836,536 48 89.1



Next: Knoxville

Knoxville, TN (5 of 10)





Population Leading Locations Rank COLI Composite
698,030 18 90.4



Next: Waterloo-Cedar Falls

Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA (6 of 10)





Population Leading Locations Rank COLI Composite
167,819 29 91.7



Next: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA (7 of 10)





Population Leading Locations Rank COLI Composite
2,356,285 12 92.6



Next: Amarillo

Amarillo, TX (8 of 10)





Population Leading Locations Rank COLI Composite
249,881 47 92.8



Next: Lincoln

Lincoln, NE (9 of 10)





Population Leading Locations Rank COLI Composite
302,157 46 93



Next: Columbia

Columbia, MO (10 of 10)





Population Leading Locations Rank COLI Composite
172,786 10 93.8





Chad Sweeney, Director of Corporate Development at leading consulting firm Ginovus, tells us that cost of living is an important factor to be considered when making a site selection decision. So how does one go about measuring it?

C2ER (The Council for Community and Economic Research) produces its Cost of Living Index as a useful and reasonably accurate measure of differences in cost of living among various urban areas. This Index measures relative price levels for various consumer goods and services in participating areas, i.e., areas where chambers of commerce or similar organizations have volunteered to participate. The average for all participating areas, both metropolitan and non-metropolitan, equals 100, and each participating area's index is read as a percentage of the average for all places.

Of course, as Sweeney points out, how much emphasis should be placed on cost of living as a factor in a site selection decision is often dependent on the type of project being considered. In most projects, cost of living, which is sometimes considered as a component of an area's overall quality of life, will not be the driving factor for the location decision. Nonetheless, if all other site selection criteria can be met, the Cost of Living Index can be a useful tool in differentiating communities and making the optimal choice.

This slideshow highlights the cities with the 10 lowest costs of living - based on the Cost of Living Composite Index from Q2 2012 - that also ranked within Area Development's Top 50 Leading Locations for 2012, a report we produced this summer that ranked MSAs for economic and job growth. These 10 cities offer a tantalizing combination of inexpensive living and economic growth for expanding and relocating businesses.
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2014 Leading Locations Sponsors: Location Profiles

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