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How Does The Cost Of Living In Bloomington Compare To The Rest Of Indiana?


The WFIU/WTIU news team is doing a deep dive into questions about Bloomington with our City Limits: Bloomington reporting project. 

David Ellies wanted to know: What is the cost of living in Bloomington compared to other areas of the state? 

The answer is a little bit complicated because there are different ways to calculate that number. 

The basic formula is to check the price for a bunch of things and compare that price across the country. But each formula will differ slightly; one might give the housing category more weight than another, and one might check the price of chicken while another checks the price of beef. 

That's why you might see contradictory cost of living numbers depending on who calculated the results.

For our analysis of Indiana, we used the ACCRA Cost Of Living Index from the Council for Community and Economic Research

That calculator says that it's about 8 percent cheaper to live in Bloomington than the national average, and about 1 percent cheaper than Indianapolis. Bloomington is more expensive than Muncie, Fort Wayne, Lafayette and Richmond. 

So what goes into that number? ACCRA breaks it down into chunks: 

  • Grocery (13.4 percent)
  • Housing (29.34 percent)
  • Utilities (8.94 percent)
  • Transportation (9.22 percent)
  • Health Care (4.26 percent)
  • Miscellaneous (34.84 percent)

While housing in Bloomington is more expensive than most other Indiana cities, health care here is cheaper than other parts of the state. 

And how much you actually spend in each category will drastically change how much it costs you to live in any of these cities. 

Check out some of the specific items this formula compares: the price of beer, a haircut, tennis balls, frozen corn, coffee, washer repair, and veterinary services. Not everyone in Bloomington is buying the same things, or buying the same brand of the same things. 

So cost of living is hard to pin down, and isn't a hard and fast rule. 

Have a question? Ask City Limits:

Our community is changing, from closing businesses, to traffic and road construction, to affordable housing, and we see the impact of these changes all around us.

We want to know: What questions do you have about how the Bloomington of tomorrow will impact your work, your personal life, your community and your future?

Here’s how it works: You submit a question you’d like us to explore about how Bloomington has changed over the past few decades, what you want to see for the city in the future and how ties with IU continue to shape the community.  

So: What do you wonder about how Bloomington is changing and how it impacts your life?

Interested in an ongoing conversation how Bloomington is changing? Join our Facebook group!

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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