Yuppie Price Index: Phoenix Is The Fourth Most Expensive City

February 07, 2014

(Table by Julie Levin-KJZZ)
This table shows the 15 most expensive Yuppie cities courtesy of information from Locality.com.
(Table by Julie Levin-KJZZ)
This table shows the 15 most affordable Yuppie cities courtesy of information from Locality.com.

Every month, we hear about the consumer price index and what its movement up or down may mean for the economy, but Jay Shek’s reaction to that is generally a big…eh. So, his firm, Locality, came up with an alternative, the Yuppie Price Index. It tracks prices on services most often used by young, urban professionals, things like yoga classes, dog boarding and manicures, and the results are kind of surprising, even to CEO Shek.

Phoenix is the fourth most expensive city for yuppies. More expensive than Seattle, more expensive than Chicago, New York and Boston, to name just a few.

"You look at New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and think those are really expensive places to live, but they are also much bigger cities. So, our working thesis is that in those markets, there’s a lot of demand for all these services, which brings a lot more providers into the market," explained Shek.

Shek said in some of the bigger, less expensive cities, there is a level of luxury services, but also mid-priced ones. But, he said, in cities like Phoenix, those services tend to all be luxury, and we should point out that the Yuppie Price Index only looks at services, not factors like the cost of housing. Shek said his report found Phoenix had the cheapest women’s haircuts of any city surveyed but that gym memberships and yoga classes here were among the most expensive in the country.

So, those are the data, but we wanted to hear from a real, live Phoenix yuppie. So, I met Ryan Tempest at a downtown coffee shop. He is an architect, and co-founder of This Could Be Phoenix, which he describes as a community engagement and urban awareness group. He has lived downtown for the past six years.

When we were talking about this segment with the team that puts "The Show" together, our producer Jon Hoban found himself getting corrected. So KJZZ’s youthful correspondent Nick Blumberg talked to him and a couple other young, cool colleagues to get to the bottom of this burning issue.