Ways to Save Money

25 Cities With the Cheapest Groceries (Some We Really Didn’t Expect)

March 14, 2016
by Susan Shain
Senior Writer
how to save money on groceries

While wandering around the Internet the other day, I stumbled across the Robert Half Career City Index.

Though it held a wealth of interesting information about 25 U.S. metropolitan areas, one fact stood out to me: Boston had the cheapest groceries.

Boston? Really?

Since our readers are always trying to save money on groceries and the cost of living, I decided to investigate.

I wrote to Maureen Carrig, senior public relations manager for Robert Half, to ask about these mysterious grocery rankings.

What was it based on? What other cities had cheap groceries?

Here’s what I found out…

25 Cities With the Cheapest Groceries

The 25 cities in the index were selected using “a variety of factors, including the scope of commercial presence and job market dynamics for professionals in each city, in addition to data availability, geographic and regional balance, and market-size variation,” the report explains.

So it’s important to note this ranking doesn’t include every city in the country; it’s just a ranking of the 25 included in the index.

Many of the largest metropolitan areas are included, but notable exceptions include cities like Portland, Jacksonville, Memphis, Austin and Columbus.

The rankings are based on The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Cost of Living Survey, which looks at the “aggregate supermarket cost of white bread, mineral water, potatoes, rice, apples, cheese, milk, fresh chicken, ground coffee and table wine for the metropolitan statistical area from 2015,” explained Carrig.

Now the explanations are out of the way, here are the rankings:

1. Boston

2. Seattle

3. Houston

4. San Francisco Bay Area

5. Atlanta

6. Salt Lake City

7. Cincinnati

8. Indianapolis

9. Denver

10. Miami

11. Dallas

12. Phoenix

13. Raleigh, N.C.

14. Chicago

15. San Diego

16. Des Moines, Iowa

17. Sacramento, Calif.

18. Washington, DC

19. Detroit

20. Philadelphia

21. Cleveland

22. Charlotte, N.C.

23. Minneapolis

24. New York

25. Los Angeles

I don’t know about you, but some of these numbers surprised me. I never would’ve assumed, for example, that Seattle’s groceries would be more affordable than Detroit’s.

One reason certain cities might have lower grocery prices? Strong competition, the study says.

That makes sense: Consumers probably have more choices in Seattle than in Detroit, which could drive prices down.

As for New York and Los Angeles?

Options abound… and costs are still sky-high. Remind me to never live in either of those cities, OK?

Your Turn: Do any of these rankings surprise you?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

by Susan Shain
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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