In a Bloomberg report analyzing data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Wenatchee was determined to be “an underappreciated inflation loser.”

In the Bureau’s report of 389 metro areas from 2010 and 2021, Wenatchee had the highest increase in cost of living, followed by The Villages, Florida.

Both cities moved up more than 150 places on the list of costliest places to live. In 2010, Wenatchee ranked near the middle of the 389 metro areas, but in 2021, it had moved to #36. Still cheaper than Seattle, ranked #5, but not much cheaper than our country’s most expensive zip codes.

Currently, the average cost of rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Wenatchee is around $1300, a 16% increase since last year at the same time. And as home values cool across the county, Wenatchee’s median home sold price was $520,000 by November, 2022, up 11.7% from the previous year.

The minimum wage in Wenatchee sits at $14.49, while the Living Wage Calculator developed at MIT reports that a living wage for a single adult with no children in Chelan county is $15.70 per hour. At our current minimum wage, a single adult would need to spend 56% of their wages to afford a standard one-bedroom apartment. This is a far higher percentage than the generally recommended 30% of income for housing.

But there is good news! Wenatchee still has some of the cheapest electricity in the country, thanks to the abundance of hydroelectric power. The nationwide average residential price per kilowatt hour is 14.46 cents, while residents of Chelan County benefit from an average rate that is 70.99% less at 4.20 cents per kilowatt hour.

The cost of living in Wenatchee has led to an increase in homelessness and students qualifying for free and reduced lunches. While the federal free student lunch program implemented during the covid pandemic has expired, Wenatchee students still receive school-wide free lunches for all students based on the average household income. It is my hope that inflation will cool, affordable housing will be abundant, social services will be available to all who need them, and Wenatchee will once again be a place that is comfortable and affordable for everyone.

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