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Mason City’s cost of living the lowest in Iowa according to new report

MASON CITY — Mason City has the lowest cost of living in the state of Iowa. That’s according to the 4th Quarter Cost of Living Index Report from the Council for Community and Economic Research. 

Mason City Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Robin Anderson says the report uses raw data from 274 metropolitan and micropolitan areas across the country to compare the cost of living in various geographic locations.   “It’s important that we do this research because I think it makes both people who are considering living here and people who already live here feel good about the fact that that they can live in a great community and know it’s costing them less than other places they might choose.”

Anderson says a number of the index’s components scored well for Mason City in the latest survey.  “We scored particularly well in housing. Mason City ranked the third most affordable in the country in apartment rentals, but also our healthcare is less expensive than a lot of places, and we already know that we have one of the top 100 hospitals in the country, so that’s a good thing. Our groceries are also a good bargain.”

Anderson says despite Mason City being the third most affordable in the country in apartment rentals, there’s still a need for more housing to attract people into the community’s workforce.  “We hear anecdotally from a lot of employers that one of the barriers from attracting talent to our community is really the lack of workforce housing. Nice housing for renters and also homes for purchase. There’s a shortage in a certain amount. We can go back to 2008 and recall that we lost 163 homes in the FEMA buyout, and those have never really been replaced.”

Anderson says some of the need for workforce housing is being met by the opening last month of “The River”, a 133-unit housing complex constructed on what used to be the lower level Southbridge Mall parking lot. The early occupancy rate at The River is 60%.

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