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Report: Chicago Cost of Living Higher than National Average

Published: Friday, May 2, 2014 2:14 p.m. CDT

By Paul Tooher

Looking for a less expensive place to live?

According to Credit Donkey, an online site the covers credit and lifestyle issues, there are 10 cities where the cost of living is low and job prospects are bright, especially when compared with Crystal Lake and the rest of Chicagoland.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Cost of Living Index in the Windy City stood at 116.9 in 2010, the most recent figures available, compared with a national average of 100. Costs in Chicagoland exceeded the national average in the areas of housing, food, transportation healthcare and miscellaneous goods and services. The cost of utilities was below the national average.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the Chicago metro area stood at 8.3 percent in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to a national jobless rate of 6.5 percent.

To create its list of the most affordable cities, Credit Donkey looked at an area’s cost of living and its unemployment rate. In addition, the site compares the cost of living to an area’s average household income.

According to the site, Omaha, Neb., offers the best combination of a low cost of living combined with a low unemployment rate.

“Omaha offers that rare, perfect trifecta of cheap living, reasonable wages, and low unemployment,” Credit Donkey reports. “The unemployment rate is staggeringly low at only 3.6 percent and the cost of living is almost a full 12 percent below the national average. If you’re looking to land a better job to improve your financial situation, the job prospects in Omaha are strong.”

If you’re considering finding a home in a more affordable city, Credit Donkey also includes in its list Des Moines, Iowa; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Huntsville, Ala.; Salt Lake City; Austin, Texas; Dallas; Tulsa, Okla.; Oklahoma City; and Springfield, Mo.

At the other end of the spectrum, the areas of the country where the cost of living is highest include Manhattan, in New York City; Honolulu; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Truckee, Nev.; Stamford, Conn.; Orange County, Calif.; Nassau County, N.Y., Washington, D.C. and Oakland, Calif.

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