Cost of Living in Columbia Falls, Montana
Columbia Falls is a city in Flathead County, Montana, with a population of 5,225. The total cost of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities for a single adult in Columbia Falls is $36,108 a year — about the same as the annual cost of living for Montana of $36,457 and less than the national figure of $38,433.
Using cost of living data from the nonprofift think tank Economic Policy Institute, 24/7 Wall St. estimated the cost of living in Columbia Falls and over 29,000 other cities and towns in the US.
Housing Costs in Columbia Falls, Montana
Housing is one of the largest components of cost of living. In Columbia Falls, the median home value is $192,800, less than the national median home value of $204,900.
Renting is a sometimes lower cost alternative to homeownership. In Columbia Falls, some 29.50% of occupied homes are rented, less than the 36.2% national renter rate. The typical renter in Columbia Falls spends $730 a month on housing, less than the $1,023 national median monthly rent.
In addition to home value, one of the largest determinants of housing affordability is area income. While nationwide the price of a typical U.S. home is 3.4 times the $60,293 U.S. median household income, housing affordability ratios range from approximately 1.0 in the least expensive cities to more than 10.0 in the country's most expensive markets. In Columbia Falls, the median household income is $47,716, 4.0 times the median home value.
Transportation Costs in Columbia Falls, Montana
Transportation can also be a significant component of cost of living. In Columbia Falls, 93.70% of commuters drive to work, compared to 85.5% of commuters nationwide. An estimated 70.00% of workers commute to jobs outside of Columbia Falls, a larger share than the 43.7% share of commuters nationwide who live and work in different cities. The average commute in Columbia Falls is 20.2 minutes long, compared to the 26.6-minute average commute nationwide. Taking into account the cost of gas, as well as public transit and car maintenance, the EPI estimates that a single person in Columbia Falls spends $10,797 a year on transportation, more than the national average of $9,760.
Health Care Costs in Columbia Falls, Montana
Out-of-pocket health care costs and insurance premiums — assuming at least a basic level of health insurance coverage — are far higher than they are on average nationwide in Columbia Falls but in line with what they are across Montana as a whole.
For a single adult living in the area, average health care costs come out to $5,211 per year, compared to an average of $5,270 across Montana and $4,266 nationwide.
Child care Costs in Columbia Falls, Montana
For families with children, child care adds thousands of dollars to overall annual spending. In Columbia Falls, the average annual cost of child care for two children — one 4 year old and one 8 year old — is $15,422, about $500 less than the comparable average of $15,951 across all of Montana. Meanwhile, across the U.S. as a whole, childcare expenses for two children averages $15,853 per year.
Food Costs in Columbia Falls, Montana
Food is another every day expense that has a significant impact on overall cost of living. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the cost of food varies from city to city and town to town.
In Columbia Falls, a single adult spends an average of $3,038 on food annually, and a family of four spends $8,773 on average. For context, average annual food expenditure across Montana and the U.S., respectively, are $3,178 and $3,240 for a single adult, and $9,179 and $9,354 for a family of four. These estimates are calculated for a nutritionally adequate diet of food purchased at a grocery store for at-home preparation.
Taxes in Columbia Falls, Montana
Few expenses vary as much from city to city and town to town as taxes. Accounting for state and federal income taxes, as well as Social Security contributions and Medicare payroll taxes, the average adult working in Columbia Falls, Montana pays $6,338 annually — closely in line with the statewide average of $6,420.
It is important to note that these calculations do not include other common taxes such as property, sales, and excise taxes. Accounting for these taxes, while excluding taxes levied at the federal level, Columbia Falls residents live in a state with a low average tax burden. Per capita state tax collections in Montana total $2,772 per year, compared to the $3,151 average across all states.
To estimate the cost of housing, food, transportation, health care, child care, taxes, and other necessities, 24/7 Wall St. assigned county-level Economic Policy Institute data to cities, towns, villages and Census-designated places based on boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. For places that span multiple counties, data was aggregated based on the percentage of boundary overlap.
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