OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – First reported by Velocity OKC, Oklahoma City has taken the top spot for the lowest cost of living in the country among cities with a population over 500,000. This is from a recent report by the council for community and economic research.
“I can’t promise that it’ll last forever, but I do think it will last for a few more years and we should enjoy it while we have it,” Oklahoma City mayor David Holt said.
It’s exciting news for Oklahoma City residents and for the big league city as a whole. However, it still comes as a surprise to some.
“We’ve seen rents going up dramatically over the last couple of years,” said Executive Director for the Oklahoma City Housing Authority Mark Gillett.
Velocity OKC uses a comparison to Seattle. They have about 46,000 more people than Oklahoma City. If you earn $44,000 after taxes there, your comparable income to OKC for the same standard of living would be just below $26,000.
“You can go to Thunder games, you can have James Beard award winning cuisine, you can go to great art museums, you can have great economic opportunities, but you’re going to pay a lot less to live,” Holt said.
A huge topic, even admittedly by Holt, is affordable housing.
“Two things can equally be true. We have the most affordable housing of any big city and it’s not affordable enough for some people,” Holt said. “We want to be here to support them as well.”
“We need to build more affordable housing,” Gillett said.
Gillett said the MAPS projects should help build more affordable housing. But rent prices rising can also cause issues for the OKC Housing Authority. For instance, it can inhibit them from issuing a full supply of section 8 vouchers.
“The voucher is only worth so much,” Gillett said. “So you can’t pay as much with that voucher for rent. So, an individual is not able to utilize that voucher for affordable housing.”
Holt said aside from staying on top of infrastructure and the MAPS projects, there isn’t much we can do to control the cost of living, since with growth comes higher cost and economic changes. However, both he and Gillett said they are working for more affordable housing for the city.