Morgantown, W.Va. may be a prime location to build your career, but be prepared to dish out your hard-earned cash on the city’s high cost of living.
According to a study by the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research in May 2013, the cost of living in Morgantown, W.Va. is three percent higher than the national average. This is due to none other than sky-high (and continuously rising) housing costs. To be more precise, housing cost is the only factor that makes Morgantown more expensive to live in than Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Tampa, Fla. — nearly 15 percent higher. Researchers found the cost of groceries, utilities, and health care are cheaper compared to other cities, according to WDTV.
A recent Daily Athenaeum article provided insight from both students and landlords on the issue. WVU students believe that these high prices are due to the high demand for convenient location and the increasing population of both WVU and the city of Morgantown as a whole.
“Even though utilities will be included, I think the rise in price has to deal with the fact that my apartment is located so close to the Downtown Campus. Apartment buildings downtown can get away with raising prices because they know students would rather have the convenience at living close to their classes rather than having to drive,” said WVU student Victoria Licata.
According to Rick Biafora, co-owner of Metro Properties, LLC, the significant property tax increase in 2012 is partly to blame.
“Property taxes went up significantly,” Biafora said. “There are increased everyday costs associated with labor to operate. Increased health care costs, increased year-to-year expenses have gone up, and people are starting to calculate these prices.”
…but housing prices in Morgantown have been rising since 2006. Is there any solution?
A Comprehensive Housing Study In The Greater Morgantown, West Virginia Area was conducted in 2011 with a five year (2011-2016) outlook. The document states the obstacles to affordable living are typical to medium-sized cities like Morgantown, and it is not for a lack of trying from the public and private sectors. Instead, it is due to a lack of resources.
The study provides three potential solutions to combat the rising cost of housing over the next couple years:
- Production Solutions: Local government can assist with removing impediments and streamlining the regulatory process in order to promote affordable housing. Suggested actions include: land donation, land banking, land trusts, building development capacity, inclusionary zoning, expediting permitting and revising impact fees.
- Financial Solutions: An affordable housing project can be successful with the utilization of loans, grants, bond financing, tax incentives and utilization of non-profits/foundations.
- Cost to the Individual Solutions: Methodologies such as down payment assistance, closing costs, rental assistance, lease/purchase homes and addressing the affordability gap are designed to benefit the resident directly.
Morgantown’s population will continue to grow, and it’s time that something is done about the rising housing costs (six years later).