Home prices drive up Bozeman’s cost-of-living


It costs a little more to live in Bozeman than in many places across the nation, mainly because the price of housing is so high, according to new figures released this week.

The cost-of-living in Bozeman was about 1.8 percent above the national average for the 293 urban areas participating during the first quarter of the 2007 ACCRA Cost of Living Index.

The index generally looks at the after-tax cost for an upper-middle class standard of living, measuring six components, ranging from grocery prices to housing.

Bozeman ranked lower than most other communities in transportation costs and prices for groceries and services, but housing was 16 percent above the national average.

Bozeman had the highest cost-of-living among the Montana communities participating in the index, but not by much.

Missoula was 1.6 percent above the national average and Kalispell was 1.2 percent above the average.

Bozeman’s cost-of-living was 2.7 percent above the national average in 2003, thanks in part to higher prices for groceries and other services. That figure dropped to 1.7 percent in 2006.

The index looks at the costs of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and goods and services — a broad category that counts everything from clothing to how much a hamburger costs at McDonald’s.

The six categories are not equal, with housing counting more toward a community’s final score than any other category other than goods and services.

Transportation costs in Bozeman were 9.4 percent below the national average for the first quarter of 2007, while grocery items were 5.6 percent below the average.

But with the cost of housing so high and the category counting so much toward the final score, it pushed the city’s cost-of-living above most other communities.

Manhattan, N.Y., had the highest cost-of-living with a score twice the national average, while Joplin, Mo., had the lowest score at 18 percent below the average.

The index doesn’t look at local wages or income, although Gallatin County residents generally make more money than most people across the state outside of Yellowstone County.

The average wage in the county was $30,905 in 2006, while per capita personal income (which can include other sources of revenue) was $32,434 in 2005, according to the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle


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