How expensive is Tampa Bay? Less than the rest of Florida

Published Jan. 25, 2016

Tampa Bay is the cheapest place to live in Florida, and the region's cost of living is well below the rest of the country's, according to new figures released Monday.

The cost of living in the Tampa metro area last year was more than 8 percent lower than the national average, the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation said, citing data collected by the Council for Community and Economic Research.

The region's Cost of Living Index stood at 91.6 in 2015, compared with a national baseline of 100.

The cost of living measure compares cities on how much it costs to pay for necessities like housing and health care and make everyday purchases like clothing and gasoline. Some luxuries, like the cost of a T-bone steak or a round of bowling, are also included.

Other large cities in Florida had ratings that skewed closer to, or exceeded, the national average.

Jacksonville and Orlando were both slightly below the national cost of living, and three cities were costlier than average. Sarasota's score was 103.3, Miami's was 112.3, and Fort Lauderdale's was 114.2.

Tampa Bay also topped the list for affordability last year, and it has been in the top two since 2011.