ST. CLOUD - The cost to live in the St. Cloud metro area was below the national average in the first quarter of this year. That's according to the "Cost of Living Index" of 265 urban areas.

Overall St. Cloud was 3.9 percent below the national average.

We were 25.5 percent below the average for housing, and 12.3 percent below the average paying for utilities.

However, we were paying above the national average in four other categories. We pay 20.8 percent more for healthcare, 17.4 percent more for our groceries, 2.7 percent more for Miscellaneous goods and services, and 1.9 percent more in transportation costs.

The index is based on more than 90,000 prices covering almost 60 different items. The report was released Wednesday by the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce.