ST. LOUIS – A new report credits the St. Louis region for being the most affordable among the Top 25 most-populated U.S. metros.

The latest C2ER cost-of-living index gives St. Louis a score of 86.4 in affordability, nearly 14 percent better than the national average score of 100. The Gateway City also scored particularly well for housing (74.1), health care (88.9) and transportation (90.3) costs.

St. Louis holds a major advantage in affordability among large metropolitan areas compared to the scores of New York City (228), San Francisco (179) and Chicago (120). The next closest large U.S. metro in affordability was Houston (92.1).

Advocates say the strong affordability ranking is critical for hiring and attracting workers to the St. Louis area. It also demonstrates how costs for utilities, groceries and other essential items are lower than most parts of the country.

“St. Louis is resurgent, and one of the main reasons is that we have world class amenities, arts, food, and culture and a cost of living that literally can’t be matched by any other major metro in America,” said Jason Hall, CEO of Greater St. Louis, Inc.

“St. Louis is consistently among the most affordable markets, if not the most affordable market in the country, and our work overseeing collection of this data help us tell that story to a national audience,” said Tim Alexander, Senior Director of Business Research and Analysis for Greater St. Louis, Inc.

C2ER’s cost-of-living index covered 265 U.S. metropolitan areas. Harlingen, Texas was named the most affordable with a score of 77.1. New York finished with the highest ranking, more than twice above average, with a 227.7 score.