North Louisiana’s Cost of Living Below National Average

North Louisiana’s cost of living remains below the national average, meaning families here can afford a higher standard of living. The 2019 Annual Average Cost of Living Index shows that the Monroe Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is 88.6 percent of the national average ̶ nearly 12 points below the rest of the nation. The Shreveport-Bossier City MSA is 91 percent of the national average. That means everything from housing, food, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services are more affordable in North Louisiana.

“Families living in North Louisiana can buy a larger house, afford a better car and enjoy a better quality of life than if they lived elsewhere,” said President Scott Martinez, CEcD, North Louisiana Economic Partnership. “The lower cost of living also allows our employers to be competitive in recruiting talent.”

The Cost of Living Index published quarterly by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) estimates the amount of money needed to sustain a certain level of living, including basic expenses such as housing, food, health care, etc. It is based on more than 90,000 prices covering 60 different items collected from hundreds of participating communities. The Cost of Living Index measures regional cost differences in consumer goods and services. It’s often used when comparing how expensive it is to live in one city versus another.

NLEP, an Accredited Economic Development Organization for 14 parishes in North Louisiana, gathers the pricing information for the Shreveport-Bossier City MSA. The University of Louisiana at Monroe Center for Business and Economic Research gathers the data for the Monroe MSA. The information is compiled into a composite index, which is based on six weighted categories – grocery items (13.89%), housing (27.53%), utilities (9.55%), transportation (9.20%), health care (4.31%) and miscellaneous goods and services (35.52%).

The Monroe MSA includes all of Ouachita and Union Parishes. For the Monroe MSA, the two most affordable cost categories are utilities at 80.8% of the national average and housing at 84.0%. The next lowest cost categories are miscellaneous goods and services (89.9%); transportation (92.1%); health care (94.4%); and grocery items (95.6%).

The Shreveport-Bossier City MSA includes all of Caddo, Bossier and DeSoto Parishes. For the Shreveport-Bossier City MSA, the two lowest cost categories are housing at 80.7% of the national average and utilities at 85.9% of the national average. The next lowest cost categories are transportation (92.2%); miscellaneous goods and services (95.7%); grocery items (99.2%); and health care (100.4%).

To see how North Louisiana’s cost of living compares with other communities around the nation, NLEP offers a Cost of Living calculator on our website, nlep.org/COLIcalculator. Go to the Regional Data Center and click Cost of Living. The calculator allows you to determine the level of income you would need to move to Shreveport or Monroe from another community and maintain your current standard of living based on the Cost of Living Index. For instance, if you’re earning $50,000 in Dallas, TX, you would only need to earn $42,418 in Shreveport-Bossier City to have the same standard of living. If you’re earning $50,000 in Atlanta, GA you would only need to earn $43,404 to have the same standard of living in Monroe. The following chart shows how North Louisiana compares with rival communities.