Living in Carson City proves costly

The cost of living in Carson City was 11.4 percent above the national average last quarter and higher than in Reno/Sparks, Las Vegas or Elko, the other Nevada areas in a nationwide survey.

In local cost of living has steadily increased for Carson City since the survey was first taken here a decade ago, but that is not inhibiting business or people from coming here, according to Larry Osborne, executive vice president of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce.

"It's the areas where the cost of living is 10 or 20 percent below the national average that raise concerns," Osborne said Saturday. "People look at that and say, 'What's missing there?'"

Many of the more desireable places to live and work, such as Boulder, Colo., have high costs of livng than average, Osborne said.

And businesses continue to open in or relocate to Carson City, even as housing availability has become tighter and some prices have risen, Osborne said.

Osborne pointed out that Carson City costs for housing are lower in Reno/Sparks, for utilities are lower than in Elko and for transportation and health care are lower than in Las Vegas.

He also noted that transportation costs documented in the survey are substantially higher for western cities than the rest of the country. He attributed much of that to the price of gasoline in the West.

"We have a lot of tourists coming in buying gas, long distances to drive, other market factors that affect gas prices," he said.

The quarterly report is based on a survey of 59 basic items such as groceries, clothing, rents and utilities and is collected by Chambers of Commerce or similar organizations in 310 areas throughout the country.

The report does not itself document cost of living changes from year to year, but Osborne said Carson City's index was in the mid- to high-90s a decade ago. He cited some examples of changed costs in that period.

An 1,800-square-foot home on an 8,000-square-foot lot in Carson City was $116,128 a decade ago, but averages $160,040 now. The price of a day in a semi-private hospital room here increased from $290 to $505. And a T-bone steak that went for $4.012 a pound in 1989 is about $6.31 a pound these days.

The Carson chamber gathers the information for the quarterly survey by ACCRA and published the results in its November newsletter.

Osborne, a past president of ACCRA, said the organization formerly was known as the American Chamber of Commerce Research Association, but dropped its name to just its acronym because a number of members area economic development organizations and other non-chamber groups.

The ACCRA cost of living index was named one of the "best sources of marketing information" in 1995 by American Demographics magazine.

Text box--survey info

Composite Index Grocery Items Housing Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc. Goods and Services

Carson City 111.4 116.8 110.5 103.5 126.7 121.8 105.3

Reno/Sparks 109.5 109.0 117.4 94.9 124.3 122.7 100.2

Las Vegas 106.6 115.1 96.8 87.0 131.8 125.1 105.1

Elko 106.4 112.5 98.3 113.9 107.8 121.1 105.8

Sacramento 113.1 120.0 107.8 116.0 131.8 144.6 103.0


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