TEXAS — Everyone knows everything is bigger in Texas, but does that include the cost of living?
Using data from the Cost of Living Index (COLI), EverythingLubbock.com ranked 18 metropolitan areas in Texas from most expensive to least expensive.
The index is developed and published by the Council for Community And Economic Research (C2ER).
The average Cost of Living Index for all places in the U.S. is 100. That means that anything above 100 is more expensive than the average and anything below is less expensive.
Specifically, if an area has a cost of living score of 82, it is 18% lower than the average cost of living in the U.S. Comparatively, if the score is 123, the cost of living is, on average, 23% higher.
According to C2ER, the index uses six different categories to determine the average cost of living for a certain area: housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous.
The categories were weighted differently, with housing contributing 30.9% of the score.
All of the Texas metro areas we analyzed fell under the national average score of 100 – though some just barely.
According to C2ER, larger differences in cost of living should be what readers really take note of. A difference in scores of two or three points isn’t as significant as a larger difference of 10 or more points.
Because the data used in the ranking was collected in April and released in August, the prices as of October may have changed due to inflation.
The annual inflation rate as of August was 8.3%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means goods and services are, on average, 8.3% higher in 2022 than they were in 2021.
Note: Some areas, such as San Angelo, College Station-Bryan and Laredo did not participate in the COLI and were not included on the list.
18. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington – 99.35
With just over 7.6 million people in the metroplex, Dallas-Fort Worth was the largest metropolitan area in Texas. It was also the most expensive, according to the Cost of Living Index.
With a score of 99.35, the cost of living in the metroplex was barely under the average for the U.S.
The most expensive category in Dallas-Fort Worth was utilities, which were 10% higher than the average price in the U.S and the third-highest in Texas. The average monthly cost for electricity, according to COLI, was $209.
17. Austin-Round Rock – 97
With a population of 2.2 million, Austin-Round Rock was the fourth largest metropolitan area in Texas, and the second most expensive.
Housing in the Austin area was the highest in Texas, with average monthly rent for the area at $1,539. The average house price was also the highest in Austin, at $482,549.
16. Tyler – 95.9
With a population of just over 233,000, Tyler was the fourth smallest metropolitan area on the list, but was the third most expensive.
Tyler did not rank No. 1 in any of the categories the COLI looked at, but was ranked No. 3 in housing and tied with Wichita Falls for the No. 3 most expensive health care in Texas.
15. Beaumont-Port Arthur – 93.6
The average house price in Beaumont-Port Arthur was the second highest in the state at $478,550.
Groceries were also the second most expensive in the metropolitan area, which held just over 397,000 people as of the 2020 census.
14. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land – 93.45
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land was the second-largest metropolitan area in Texas at 7.1 million as of the 2020 census.
Despite this, housing costs in the area were ranked in the middle of the list, with an average home price of $379,077 and average monthly rent of $1,339.
13. Killeen-Temple – 93.2
While Killeen-Temple was the sixth most expensive area in Texas, the health care costs were the highest in the state and 17% more expensive than the average. For a patient without insurance, an average examination by a doctor was priced at $218.
The area, which houses Fort Hood, had a population of just over 475,000.
12. Texarkana – 91.5
Texarkana, which rests along the Texas and Arkansas border, had 147,519 people as of the 2020 census.
The average home price in Texarkana was $308,817 and was the fourth lowest. Prices for miscellaneous items such as take-out, entertainment and alcohol were also the second highest in the state.
11. Midland-Odessa – 90.95
The Midland-Odessa combined statistical area was home to 340,391 people as of 2020. Both Midland and Odessa had slightly different cost of living scores between them.
The biggest disparity between the cost of living in Midland and Odessa was in transportation. Odessa had the highest transportation costs in Texas, while Midland had the fourth lowest in the state.
10. Lubbock – 90.4
Lubbock is home to Texas Tech University and had a population of just over 321,000.
Transportation costs in Lubbock were the lowest on the list at 86, or 14% lower than the national average. Additionally, utilities were the third lowest in Texas.
9. San Antonio-New Braunfels – 90.3
While San Antonio-New Braunfels was the third most populated area in Texas at 2.5 million, it has the ninth lowest cost of living.
Utilities in the San Antonio-New Braunfels area were the cheapest on the list, with an average monthly electricity cost of $136, $89 lower than the city with the highest utilities cost in the state.
8. Corpus Christi – 90.1
Utilities cost in Corpus Christi were ranked as the highest in the state, at an average of $225 per month for electricity.
As of the 2020 census, Corpus Christi had a population of 421,933.
7. Abilene – 90
The Abilene metropolitan area had 176,549 people as of 2020, which was the second smallest on the list.
Abilene also had the second highest transportation costs in Texas behind Midland-Odessa. This was offset by lower costs in other categories such as miscellaneous items, which were the second lowest in Texas.
6. El Paso – 89.9
El Paso, which has a population of just over 868,000 people, had the sixth lowest cost of living in the state. Despite this, grocery costs in El Paso were ranked as the highest in Texas.
However, this evened out, as El Paso had low costs for many of the categories. For example, the average house price in El Paso was $293,000, the third lowest on the list.
5. Wichita Falls – 89.5
Wichita Falls was the second smallest metropolitan area on the list with 148,128 people.
The North Texas city did not rank highest or lowest in any of the categories.
4. Waco – 87.7
Waco, home of Baylor University, had a population of 277,547.
While the cost of living in most categories was low, utilities cost in Waco was 10% higher than the average in the U.S. and the fourth highest in Texas.
3. Amarillo – 84.9
The Amarillo metropolitan area had 268,691 people as of the 2020 census.
The cost of living ranked low in most categories including housing, utilities, transportation and health care.
2. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission – 78.8
Housing costs in McAllen-Edinburg-Mission were especially low at 54, or 46% lower than the average in the U.S.
The area, which housed just over 870,000 people as of 2020, was also the fifth largest in Texas.
1. Brownsville-Harlingen – 77
Brownsville-Harlingen was the cheapest place to live in Texas, according to the index. The cost of living was 37% lower in Brownsville-Harlingen compared to Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington.
The southernmost metropolitan area in Texas, Brownsville-Harlingen had 421,017 people as of 2020.