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Crist misleads in tweet claiming Florida is ‘most expensive’ state

October 28, 2022 GMT
Democratic candidate for Florida governor Charlie Crist speaks during a televised debate against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, at Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, Fla., Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. A tweet from Crist claimed that Florida is the most expensive state to live in. Experts say this is misleading. While there is no one way to calculate cost of living, Florida does not rank highly in most assessments. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Democratic candidate for Florida governor Charlie Crist speaks during a televised debate against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, at Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, Fla., Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. A tweet from Crist claimed that Florida is the most expensive state to live in. Experts say this is misleading. While there is no one way to calculate cost of living, Florida does not rank highly in most assessments. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Democratic candidate for Florida governor Charlie Crist speaks during a televised debate against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, at Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, Fla., Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. A tweet from Crist claimed that Florida is the most expensive state to live in. Experts say this is misleading. While there is no one way to calculate cost of living, Florida does not rank highly in most assessments. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Democratic candidate for Florida governor Charlie Crist speaks during a televised debate against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, at Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, Fla., Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. A tweet from Crist claimed that Florida is the most expensive state to live in. Experts say this is misleading. While there is no one way to calculate cost of living, Florida does not rank highly in most assessments. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Democratic candidate for Florida governor Charlie Crist speaks during a televised debate against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, at Sunrise Theatre in Fort Pierce, Fla., Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. A tweet from Crist claimed that Florida is the most expensive state to live in. Experts say this is misleading. While there is no one way to calculate cost of living, Florida does not rank highly in most assessments. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

CLAIM: Florida is the most expensive state in the United States to live in.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: Missing context. While there is no one way to calculate cost of living, economics experts say Florida does not rank highly in most assessments. Some lists have singled out the state’s high property insurance costs and expensive housing in certain cities, but many other different factors go into calculating overall cost of living. The states with the highest cost of living are typically considered to be Hawaii, New York, California and Alaska — not Florida.

THE FACTS: During a Florida gubernatorial debate on Monday, Democratic nominee Charlie Crist’s official Twitter account posted a tweet that made a broad claim about the costs associated with residing in the state. Crist, who is running against GOP incumbent Ron DeSantis, has previously served as Florida’s governor and as a U.S. representative from Florida.

“Florida is the most expensive state in the country to live in,” the tweet, published 13 minutes after the debate’s start time, claimed. It had received more than 12,000 likes and nearly 4,000 shares as of Friday.

Sam Ramirez, a spokesperson for Crist’s gubernatorial campaign, pointed The Associated Press to two articles from which she said Crist had sourced his claim. One, from NPR, reported that Florida’s property insurance premiums are three times the national average, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The second, by real estate news outlet The Real Deal, covered a report from listing service RealtyHop, which found that Miami was the country’s most expensive housing market in February.

But while housing and insurance do contribute to a higher cost of living, it is misleading to use them as sole proof that Florida is the most expensive state to live in, economics experts told the AP.

“Florida’s not even in the top 10,” said David Albouy, a professor of economics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, speaking generally about states that are typically ranked as the most expensive. “I’m surprised somebody would make that big a claim because Hawaii and California are almost always at the top.”

Albouy said other metrics such as groceries, utilities, transportation and healthcare should also be factored in.

Steven Deller, a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, agreed with Albouy’s assessment about calculating cost of living. “There’s a lot of other things that you really have to look at,” he told the AP.

Albouy noted that the RealtyHop list/ranking only looks at Miami, not all of Florida, and that it compares housing costs in different cities relative to residents’ projected median household income. Without factoring income into the equation, San Francisco would actually top RealtyHop’s list.

“He didn’t say ‘unaffordable,’ he said ‘expensive’,” Albouy noted. “It’s kind of a little disingenuous to say expensive. Expensive should just be the cost of something.”

Asked for further comment, Ramirez said: “Floridians are struggling to get by,” citing rising property insurance, housing costs and utilities.

There is no one list that declares which state is the most expensive, and cost of living is analyzed by experts using a variety of methods. Regardless, Florida does not generally rank near the top in overall cost of living estimates.

In its quarterly cost of living index, for example, the Council for Community and Economic Research measures regional cost differences of consumer goods and services. No cities in Florida made its list of the top 10 most expensive urban areas in the second quarter of 2022, which ranked the borough of Manhattan in New York City in first.

The Missouri Research and Information Center used the council’s data to calculate a composite cost of living index for each state in 2022’s second quarter. Florida was the 22nd most expensive state on its list, while Hawaii took the top spot.

Hawaii also had the highest regional price parity on the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ 2020 list, the most recent data available. Regional price parity compares regional price levels of goods and services to average national costs. Florida was listed as the state with the 15th highest regional price parity on that list.

“Florida is above the national average, but it’s not even close to the most expensive place to live,” Deller said.

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This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.