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How far your money goes: Wichita's attractive cost of living

Friday, October 16 2015 9:20 AM

The cost of living in Wichita is low — and we have the data to prove it.

While real estate represents the city’s greatest relative advantage, your education and utility dollars also stretch further in the Air Capital than elsewhere

However, Wichita can be pricier than average when it comes to certain health care costs and international travel options.

American City Business Journals, the parent company of the Wichita Business Journal, conducted surveys in all 43 of its markets to determine what things cost — including everything from the cost of a haircut to a new BMW.

Wichita came in below the national average on all but 10 of the 43 metrics used.

The greatest deviation came on measurements of the cost of real estate — a feather Wichita has held in its cap for much of its history.

For example, the average monthly rent on 6,000 square feet of office space in a multi-story downtown building came in nationally at $13,991.

In Wichita, it was $8,500.

And there is an even greater difference when it comes to residential real estate.

The national average for a 3,000-square-foot home with a three car garage that is less than five years old was $1.58 million.

In Wichita, the same house would cost $319,900 — a staggering 80-percent less than the national average.

The reason housing is such a bargain in Wichita is simple, says Stan Longhofer, director of the Center for Real Estate at Wichita State University.

“Basically, we have an almost limitless supply of land,” he says.

While construction costs don’t vary as much from market to market, Longhofer says, the real difference comes from the cost of land.

Wichita, which is a relatively short commute from any spot to another, still has an abundance of land around it.

“Other places have real constraints to land in desirable places,” he says. “But everything here is close ... and we have plenty of land. That’s not true in San Francisco.”

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