COUNTY — The Indian River County Chamber of Commerce announced that it costs 1 percent more to live in Vero Beach, Sebastian, Fellsmere, Indian River Shores Orchid or unincorporated Indian River County than it did in 2008.The composite index is based on six components – housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services and the figures used were from January, February and March of 2009, prior to the recent electric utility increases being felt by those forced to buy power from the City of Vero Beach. Among the 309 U.S. communities participating in the first quarter 2009 Cost of Living survey, Indian River County was slightly above the national average for professional/managerial after-tax cost standard of living expenses. The New York-Manhattan area ranked as being the most expensive place to live in the U.S., having an overall composite index of 219.3, more than twice that of the national average, while Jonesboro, Arkansas ranked the lowest with an index of 85.5.
The ACCRA Cost of Living Index is compiled and published by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). It measures differences between participating areas throughout the U.S. in the cost of consumer goods and services, excluding taxes and non-consumer expenditures, for professional and managerial households in the top income quintile. Prices are collected for 60 items, with pricing surveys conducted quarterly by chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, university applied economic centers, and other similar organizations in each participating urban area. The Index was first published in 1968. With assistance from its member volunteers, the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce has participated in this program since 1996.In comparing the local area’s overall composite index to other Florida communities, Indian River County has an overall index of 101.4, slightly higher than the national average of 100.0 and slightly higher than what was reported in the third quarter of 2008, the last survey published. As compared to the first quarter in 2008, the county’s cost of living index has risen by one point. Of the 13 Florida communities that participate, the Fort Lauderdale metro area had the highest composite index of 120.9. In terms of new home prices, Indian River County’s average index was well under the national average, with an index of 93.5. According to the ACCRA Index, the average 4BR/2BA new home sales price in the local market was $273,398, a slight increase of approximately $1,000 from the first quarter 2008. The 2009 first quarter results showed the Ft. Lauderdale area as having the highest home prices of the participating Florida cities, with an average new home cost of $502,029. West Palm Beach was the second highest with new homes selling at an average of $371,527. Across the U.S., Manhattan has the most expensive housing of survey participants, where the average cost of a new home is $1,168,000. Tulsa, Oklahoma had the least expensive new homes, with an average cost of $196,183.The Chamber offers a Cost-of-Living calculator on its website, www.indianriverchamber.com, comparing Indian River County to other participating communities, based on the current price indexes. For more information on the ACCRA report, or other statistics pertaining to Indian River County, please call Helene Caseltine, Economic Development Director with the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, at (772) 567-3491, ext. 121. The Indian River County Chamber of Commerce is a county-wide organization representing the business community by providing services, benefits and leadership for positive growth and change.