The ACCRA Cost of Living Index provides a useful and reasonably accurate measure of living cost differences among urban areas. Items on which the index is based have been carefully chosen to reflect the different categories of consumer expenditures. Weights assigned to relative costs are based on government survey data on expenditure patterns for professional and executive households. All items are priced in each place at a specified time and according to standardized specifications.
Interpreting the index: ACCRA Cost of Living Index measures relative price levels for consumer goods and services in participating areas. The average for all participating places, both metropolitan and non-metropolitan, equals 100, and each participant’s index is read as a percentage of the average for all places.
Housing costs were nearly five times the average in New York (Manhattan), more than three times the average in San Francisco, and more than twice the average in Los Angeles. At the other end of the scale, Houston’s housing costs were 16 percent below the average, and Marshall around 20% below the average.