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Friday, February 13, 2009

Non-standard deviations: Cost-of-living data all over the place

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     As some of us try to survive the current economy and digest the financial ramifications of selling our deflated homes and putting the equity into another in a more favorable climate, it is a good idea to figure cost of living adjustments into the equation.  Depending on where you own now and what area you are eyeing for your next home, the differences in living expenses and housing fall somewhere between ho-hum and windfall.
    The problem is that some of the widely used sources of data differ wildly in their comparisons.  Where to
Where to Retire says a move from Buffalo to Myrtle Beach will decrease cost of living by 3%; Sperlings says it will increase 53%.

Retire magazine, for example, which boasts 700,000 subscribers, publishes an easy to use chart that provides the cost of living differences between two cities (pages 168/9 in the March/April 2009 issue).   For example, according to the chart, whose data is furnished by the Council of Community and Economic Research's ACCRA Cost of Living index and chambers of commerce information, a move from Milwaukee, WI, to Myrtle Beach, SC, will result in a decrease of 8% across all major expenses, including housing.  But when you make the same comparison at the "Sperling's Best Places" web site, the Milwaukee to Myrtle Beach move indicates a 42% increase in cost of living.  I ran comparisons for other moves to Myrtle Beach, and the results were equally perplexing.  Buffalo to Myrtle Beach a decrease of 3% in Where to Retire and increase of 53% at Sperlings; Boston to Myrtle Beach indicated decreases of 30% and 7%, respectively; and Hartford to Myrtle decreases of 23% and 15% respectively, a narrower gap but still different enough to be less than helpful.
    I have calls into both Where to Retire and Sperlings and hope to reconcile the differences between them in the coming days.  Once I can explain their conflicting conclusions, I'll provide some market-to-market comparisons in this space.  I hope their explanations are simple enough that I won't have to use the word "respectively" again.

Read 2232 times Last modified on Friday, 13 February 2009 09:26
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Larry Gavrich

This blog was conceived and is published by me, Larry Gavrich, a former corporate communications executive who founded HomeOnTheCourse, LLC, in 2005.  Our firm advises baby boomers and others seeking a lifestyle in which golf is a major component.  My wife Connie and I own a home in Connecticut (not on a golf course) and a condo at Pawleys Plantation in Pawleys Island, SC, on a Jack Nicklaus layout.  We began our search for our home on the course more than 15 years ago, and the challenges of the search inspired me to research golf communities and write objective reviews of them.

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