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Cost of living in Colorado Springs surpasses national average

Getting by continues to get more difficult for many Colorado Springs residents, based on the results of a recent survey.

According to the Virginia-based Council for Community and Economic Research, the cost of living in Colorado Springs during the second quarter of this year is nearly 1% above the national average.

That may not seem like much until you consider it’s the first time in 19 years that the city’s cost of living has been that high, and it continues a steady increase since 2016, when the city was around 7% below the national average.

“I just moved here from Florida,” said Regina Harvey, who’s looking for a job. “The job I had didn’t work out. My rent was $200 cheaper just a few months ago. I have two friends back in Florida who want to move here. I may ask them to reconsider it.”

Also seeking work is Dafe Gray, who recently moved to town from New Mexico.

“I came here to further my education,” he said. “I’ve applied for 160 jobs and have gotten only one call back so far. I didn’t expect it to be this tough.”

Surprisingly, the city’s red-hot housing market is only a minor factor in the cost-of-living trend because housing costs decreased when compared to the national average.

The biggest increases in the city’s cost of living factors are for utilities, health care and miscellaneous goods and services.

Complicating the matter is that wages have failed to keep up with the trend, as the average weekly pay in El Paso County is around 13% below the national average — which is a 3% improvement, at least, since 2016.

Denver is nearly 11% above the national average for cost of living but is decreasing slightly.

Pueblo is more than 5% below the national average but has risen 3% since 2016.

“Sometimes, I feel like we’re going to get charged for the air we breathe,” said Taylor Gilliard, part of a family of 10. “That’s how ridiculous the situation is.”

Is there an end in sight to this trend?

El Paso County Treasurer Mark Lowderman said an increase in filings for home foreclosures would hint at a changing trend but that’s not happening yet.

“The public trustee’s office had 15 staff members during the 2008 recession,” he said. “Right now, there are just three.”

Lowderman said the number of foreclosures filed in the county has decreased from nearly 1,300 in 2016 to 900 last year.

“We’re on pace to have even fewer this year,” he said. “A job loss, a divorce or a death in the family often are the reasons behind a foreclosure. I don’t think people are living beyond their means. These double-digit increases in property tax volumes, I don’t see how they can continue.”

Lowderman recently was appointed to be the county’s public trustee in charge of handling foreclosures.

“People are telling me we’ll eventually have a market correction instead of a full-blown recession.”

The city’s rising cost of living may eventually lower its rank in many quality-of-life indicators, which include living costs as a factor.

“Things will get better,” said Carryn Caddell, a lifelong city resident who’s disabled. “It’s pretty bad as it is.”

KRDO Only 2019

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