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Rural Iowa Communities Can Be Pricier Than Metros

keokuk, iowa
WIKICOMMONS / Billwhittaker
Downtown Keokuk.

Conventional wisdom says city-living is expensive. But a new report from an Iowa public policy group finds that's not always the case.

The Iowa Policy Project's 2016 "Cost of Living in Iowa" report finds that even though Iowa cities have higher rents and childcare costs, health insurance and long commutes eat up bigger portions of rural household budgets.

"If you look at Cedar Rapids metropolitan area for example, it's one of the lower cost regions over all. Not because they have lower costs in every category, but because they have moderate costs in pretty much every category," says IPP research director Peter Fisher. "When you put it all together, it's a lower cost of living overall." 

Fisher says towns like Keokuk and Fort Madison in southeastern Iowa have particularly high costs of living, when compared to the rest of the state. 

The report also found that rent and health insurance are two areas that have seen substantial increases in the last couple years.  Fisher says rents have risen 7-to-8 percent, and health insurance premiums have increased 17-to-23 percent.