By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Norman has been deemed a top 10 city for frugal retirees by MoneyRates.com.
According to the website — which provides information on bank rates, personal finance, savings account and investing — the frugal city rankings emerged by taking the U.S. metropolitan areas with the lowest costs of living based on 2012 data from C2ER and removing the cities that also appear on NeighborhoodScout’s list of the 100 Most Dangerous Cities in America.
Data on property, sales and state income taxes from Tax-Rates.org also are listed, as are home prices along with the area’s median home prices from NeighborhoodScout.
Norman received the ranking of third most frugal city, coming in below No. 1 Harlingen, Texas, and No. 2 McAllen, Texas, but beating out Fayetteville, Ark., and Wichita Falls, Texas.
Norman is cited as having a cost of living that is 85.6 percent of the national average and a median home value of $143,316. The average state income tax in Oklahoma is 3 percent, and the average property tax rate in Oklahoma is 0.74 percent. The state sales tax rate is 4.5 percent, according to the study.
“I do know that our cost of living is relatively low compared to most other cities and cities in the region. I know that our tax rate is below average and our utility rates are the lowest in the region,” Norman Finance Director Anthony Francisco said. “By most measures that I’m aware of, we do have an extremely low cost of living.”
Norman is touted for an educated populace due to the University of Oklahoma.
“This is not just one rating,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said. “The facts show that Norman is a great place to live because of the amenities at a great cost for young people starting out as well as retirees.”
Despite a violent crime rate below the national median, however, Norman’s location in tornado alley is seen as a potential hazard — ironically, a hazard the article doesn’t mention in reference to Wichita Falls.
Tornadoes aside, Norman, anecdotally, appears to be popular with retirees who often choose the city to be close to their adult children and grandchildren.
According to another economic publication, The Fiscal Times, retirees prefer to move south or west and look for cities with universities, good medical care, cultural attractions and access to outdoor beauty.
“There is no question that, as a smaller community, Norman benefits from having Broadway-quality theater, tremendous museums and a broad array of art and cultural opportunities because of the university,” Rosenthal said. “Almost every week, there are two or three different opportunities to hear cutting-edge scholars and thinkers in public lectures.”