What is the 'ACCRA Cost Of Living Index - COLI'

The ACCRA Cost of Living Index is a dataset containing key living costs compiled by the Council for Community and Economic Research. Economists can use the index to make an apples-to-apples comparison of the cost of living between two different urban areas in the United States.


The ACCRA Cost of Living Index is a quarterly publication put out by the American Chamber of Commerce Researchers Association and the Council for Community and Economic Research. The index uses a set of broad categories calculated based upon consumer spending on groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and a miscellaneous collection of goods and services that do not fit under other categories. The composite index weights costs based upon spending patterns identified in households with mid-management income, as measured by government surveys.

Price comparison data exist within the index for over 300 U.S. cities, aggregated by county and by metropolitan statistical area.

Using the COLI

The index publishes a national average for the cost of each item in a category and extrapolates an expected expenditure by various family types in a specific area based on the variance from the national baseline across categories. For example, the index looks at a variety of staple grocery items to generate its overall category expenditure, including items such as ground beef, eggs, bananas, coffee and facial tissues. Average rental costs for apartments and average home sale prices yield a cost for housing. A similar approach across categories led to a national average of $5,976 per month in 2017 for a husband and wife with children under six years of age.

Job seekers and human resources departments can use the ACCRA Cost of Living Index to compare salaries and salary requirements in different parts of the country by looking at the deviation from average in a given area. Apartment rent averaged $1,037 per month on a national level in 2017 according to the index, significantly lower than the rent one might pay in Manhattan or other major coastal urban areas. Employers might use COLI data to ensure their pay remains competitive with salaries in other areas or to ensure that job seekers considering a move understand how much farther their take-home pay would go.


The ACCRA Cost of Living Index provides points of comparison between two geographic areas at a single point in time. It has little statistical value in terms of tracking prices over time, or charting inflation, however. For those interested in measuring inflation, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Consumer Price Index, which uses a somewhat similar approach to capture changes in cost of living over time.

  1. Indexation

    Indexation is a method of linking the price or value of an asset ...
  2. Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

    Metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) are regions with largely ...
  3. Import And Export Price indexes ...

    The import and export prices indexes are two indexes that monitor ...
  4. Total Return Index

    Total return indexes include any dividends in the calculation ...
  5. Capitalization-Weighted Index

    Capitalization-weighted index is a market index in which stocks ...
  6. Nasdaq Composite Index

    The Nasdaq Composite index is a market-capitalization weighted ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    How Inflation Affects Your Cost of Living

    How will your wallet be impacted by inflation?
  2. Investing

    Top 6 Factors For Homebuyers

    As a first time buyer, there is much to consider. Here we have a look at some of the factors that may influence your decision, and suggest which factors are worth taking a second look at.
  3. Insights

    The 5 Cities Where $50K Goes Furthest

    If you are comparing cost of living to see where a $50,000 salary will stretch the furthest, these 5 cities are at the top of the list.
  4. Insights

    Standard of Living Vs. Quality of Life

    What is the difference between a standard of living and quality of life? Find out in this breakdown.
  5. Personal Finance

    How Much Rent Can You Afford on a $100K Salary?

    You know your salary, but how much should you be spending on rent? Here's how to figure it out.
  6. Investing

    The Top 10 Cities for Early Retirement

    If you are looking to take an early retirement, find a place where it's easiest to significantly reduce your cost of living.
  7. Trading

    Using index futures to predict the future

    Want to know whether the stock market will open up or down? Learn about index futures and how they can help predict how the market will trade.
  8. Retirement

    Don't Pick The Wrong Type Of Retirement Community

    The names sound similar – continuing care, assisted living – but retirement communities differ widely. How to tell them apart and what you'll need to pay.
  9. Investing

    3 Index Funds with the Lowest Expense Ratios

    Learn about index mutual funds with the lowest expense ratios.
  10. Investing

    The True Costs of Buying Vs. Renting a Home

    The full costs of renting versus buying a home, particularly a high-end one, may come as a surprise.
  1. What is the cost of living difference between the U.S and the U.K?

    Learn what costs British consumers less and more than than American consumers. Read Answer >>
  2. What is the role of an index number in economics?

    Read about the role of an index number in economics and how index numbers can be applied to all kinds of data, such as inflation ... Read Answer >>
  3. Is the consumer price index (CPI) the best measure of inflation?

    The CPI is a sound index to measure inflation, but for a more accurate and comprehensive measure, the PPI and the GDP deflator ... Read Answer >>
  4. How does a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) affect my salary?

    Learn how employers add cost-of-living adjustments to workers' salaries to offset the effects of inflation or aid in a relocation ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center