Corn and the Cost of Living

Business Speak

People often ask if Seattle is expensive. Yes. My reply is yes – it is. The follow-up is often “what does that mean?”  I offer economic babble about Amazon-driven job growth, housing, we’re land-locked between ocean and mountains, etc. Such talk tends to cause glazed eyes if not disinterest.

So I think I’ve found a simplified way to calculate Seattle’s cost of living compared to other regions: the price of an ear of corn. Here is what I mean. I like to BBQ and lately I’ve been grilling an ear of two of corn as a side dish (yummy!). Back on the Llama Ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas I can purchase fresh ears of corn for $0.25 cents each. When I purchase ears of corn on Bainbridge Island, the price is more than double at $0.59 each (on sale down from $.0.69). That’s a 136% difference. And its reflective of the cost of living between the two regions: low-cost Central Texas and expensive Puget Sound, Washington.

corn and the cost of living index

Figure 1: Corn Prices

I’ve casually correlated the above finding to real estate values. For example, a $900,000 house on Bainbridge Island, WA would fetch around $400,000 in Dripping Springs, Texas.

I end with emotions. A day in the life of a Harry is Seattle always has me feeling like “damn – it’s expensive here” after a few out of pocket expenses such as a doppio espresso for around $3.50-ish. In Texas, I feel like I have some “found money” with coins jingling in my trouser pockets. Perception is a big part of reality in addition to the quantification of the cost of living above.

BTW – about 18-months ago I published a piece HERE on inflation as measure by the Breakfast Burrito Index (BBI). Enjoy the read.