Many factors influence where we choose to live. While how close our home is to our friends and family is a crucial deciding factor, where we decide to live is ultimately influenced by our finances. The two main factors that influence where we live are the cost of living and the income potential in a given area. The problem with looking at these two factors individually, however, is that they are often heavily influenced by each other and have a strong positive correlation. Big paychecks in New York and San Francisco translate into $20 salads, sky-high rents and high-priced Uber rides.
When we analyze the data, it is evident that the most affordable cities to live while earning a good living are in the center of the country, rather than along the expensive coasts. We’ve compiled a list of the best cities in the United States that combine a low cost of living with a relatively high per capita income compared to the rest of the nation.
Key points to remember
- The best cities in the United States that combine a low cost of living with high salaries are in the center of the country and not along the expensive coasts.
- Houston’s strong economy shows job growth in information technology, biomedicine and aerospace; wages are also rising and outpacing the region’s relatively low cost of living.
- Low real estate prices are a big draw to Charlotte, North Carolina, which has become one of the major financial and banking centers in the United States.
- Denver is known for its quality of life, natural beauty, and economic stability with job growth in technology, telecommunications, and energy.
The city of Houston enjoys a high rate of internal migration and a high rate of economic growth. According to the 2021 population estimates from the US Census Bureau (the most recent data available from the Census Bureau), Texas had the highest population growth in the country every year between 2010 and 2020. Texas population centerwhich produces annual population estimates for the state and its counties, estimates the population of Texas at 29.5 million as of July 1, 2022. The state added more than 4.38 million people between 2010 and 2022, an increase of 17.4%.
Houston is one of the main areas of population growth in the state, mainly due to its resilient economy. While Houston is well known as a major oil city, the city has seen job growth in various sectors, including information technology, biomedicine, aerospace, and manufacturing. Houston’s average household income was $84,179 in 2020. Income levels for Houston residents generally exceed the cost of living, with a fabulous transportation system, relatively affordable housing, and low prices for consumer goods. currents.
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
The Dallas-Forth Worth hub is also in the Sunbelt. The city enjoys high net in-migration and non-existent state income tax.
In a 2022 cost of living comparison between Dallas and Los Angeles, you would need an income of about $8,151 per month in Los Angeles, California to maintain the same standard of living you can have with $4,500 a month in Dallas, TX. The cost of living in Los Angeles is about 75% higher than in Dallas. The most significant differences between the two cities are house prices, which are 240% higher in Los Angeles than in Dallas.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte may seem off the beaten path to some, but for North and South Carolina residents who grew up loving the city, the move seems like a no-brainer. Charlotte is a major American financial center and is the headquarters of Bank of America. Other major industries include motorsports and energy. The city is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and has its own NFL football team, the Carolina Panthers.
In 2022, Charlotte’s average household income is $94,516. Housing costs are a key factor in Charlotte’s affordability, with the median home price standing at $301,000. Housing costs are 99% lower in Charlotte compared to New York.
Denver is a beautiful and relatively quiet city located in the mountains. Downtown is a short half-hour drive from the University of Colorado Boulder. There are many beautiful little towns in the area where people can hike with their dogs and families for free.
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology living wage calculator as of August 2022, a typical annual salary in Denver for an executive position was $135,055. Business and financial operations employees typically earn a salary of $80,935. The calculated “living wage” individuals must earn to support themselves working full time was $20.31 per hour, compared to $30.81 in San Francisco. Along with high salaries, Colorado offers a high quality of life that continues to appeal to nature and adventure lovers.
Dubbed the “live music capital of the world” and capital of the Lone Star State, the city of Austin recorded job growth of 5.1% in 2022 and a population of approximately 964,000 in 2021. The Austin Knowledge Center is home to a new wave of workers who range from “hippie types” to tech-savvy millennials and corporate employees. The influence of the University of Texas has transformed the city into a tech hub with a vibrant downtown filled with theaters, art galleries, and restaurants.
According to the City of Austin, in 2022 the median household income of four people in Austin is $110,300 and Realtor.com reports the median home price was $659,000. The MIT Living Wage Calculator indicates that a typical yearly salary in Austin for a management job is $111,430 and $96,439 for an information technology job.
Occupational mobility is increasing due to the advent of technology, transportation, and communication systems, allowing the American population to move from one city to another quite easily. Often, high salaries coincide with a relatively high cost of living. This list of cities highlights some of the outliers.
Cities in the center of the country, especially in Texas, put workers in an optimal financial situation. This is due to net migration, economic boom and high wage growth rates in these particular centers. These cities offer a high quality of life due to low prices and less financial constraints while providing the opportunity to find a lucrative career.