With lower-than-average rents and utilities, Tampa Bay is one of the most affordable areas of its size in the nation. At least, according to new data released this week.

A recent report from the Council for Community and Economic Research found that Tampa Bay now has the lowest cost of living out of all of Florida’s urban areas. It’s also the cheapest region out of more than a dozen similarly sized metro areas around the nation analyzed by the nonprofit Tampa-Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

The report calculated Tampa Bay’s Cost of Living Index score based on six categories: housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services. Prices for goods and services from each of these services are added up to create the index. The baseline, 100, is the average of all of the prices from the participating areas.

Publix employee Jackie Ortegon, 52, of Tampa scans grocery items in the dairy section during the grand opening of the Publix on USF's campus in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]
Publix employee Jackie Ortegon, 52, of Tampa scans grocery items in the dairy section during the grand opening of the Publix on USF's campus in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times ]

The Tampa Bay area (which includes Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas) scored 89.1 on a 100-point scale. That’s a 6-point drop from our score from last year.

Here’s how we compare to other metro areas of a similar size across the nation.

Breaking down the cost of living

Tampa Bay had the lowest housing score and the second lowest utilities score. This helped to bring down our overall cost of living score.

The areas where Tampa Bay pays more than most of the other regions? Groceries and transportation.

Use the drop down menu to see how Tampa Bay compared to the other areas in 2018.

How does Tampa Bay compare to other urban areas in Florida?

Families visit on South Beach in Miami. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Families visit on South Beach in Miami. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

The Tampa Bay area also has the lowest overall cost of living index compared to other urban areas around the state. Fort Lauderdale had the highest index with 119.8.

Tampa Bay has one of the lower housing scores, while Miami-Dade County and Fort Lauderdale have the highest. We also had lower utility costs compared to the other areas.

Again, Tampa Bay has a higher than average cost of groceries, though that is the case for many of the areas around the state.

For more on the Cost of Living Index Score and the methodology behind it, click here.

Contact Gabrielle Calise at [email protected] Follow @gabriellecalise.