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5 U.S. Cities Where Your Paycheck Goes the Furthest

While our home’s proximity to friends and family is a crucial deciding factor, there are many other factors that influence our decision of where to live. Our jobs, commute, schools, and finances all play a role in where we choose to call home. Looking at the cost of living and income potential in a given region individually doesn’t give an accurate portrayal of where one should live because these two factors have a strong positive correlation and are highly influenced by one another. $20 salads, exorbitant rents, and surge-priced Uber rides in New York City and San Francisco are a direct result of fat paychecks.

After analyzing the data, we compiled a list of the best cities in the United States that have a low cost of living and relatively high per capita income.


Houston, Texas

According to the Census Bureau’s 2017 population estimates (the most recent data available from the Census Bureau), Texas has experienced the nation’s largest population growth for each year between 2010 and 2016. The city of Houston benefits from this high growth rate. As of July 1, 2018, the Texas State Demographic Center estimates that the population of Texas is 28.7 million people. This is an increase of 14.9% or 3.55 million people since 2010.

Houston’s population is growing rapidly, primarily due to its resilient economy. Although Houston is most commonly known as a major oil town, the city has seen job growth in a variety of sectors, including information technology, biomedicine, aeronautics, and manufacturing. The median household income in Houston was $66,552 in 2019, which is relatively high when compared to the cost of living. The city has a fabulous transportation system, relatively affordable housing, and low prices of common consumer goods, which all contribute to the high standard of living.


Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

The Sunbelt also houses the Dallas-Forth Worth hub. The city prospers from high net domestic migration and a nonexistent state income tax.

To maintain the same standard of living in Los Angeles as in Dallas, you would need an income of around $6,569 per month, which is 46% higher. In Dallas, rent prices are 56.17% lower than in Los Angeles, which is the most significant difference between the two cities.


Charlotte, North Carolina

To North Carolinians and Southerners who’ve grown up loving the city, Charlotte may seem off the beaten path to some, but the move seems like a no-brainer. Charlotte is a major U.S. financial center and is the headquarters of Bank of America. The city is home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame and boasts its own NFL football team, the Carolina Panthers, as well as other major industries such as motorsports and energy.

Charlotte ranks as the 11th best place for business and careers in the United States, according to Forbes’ 2019 ranking. A key factor in Charlotte’s affordability is its housing costs, with the median home price coming in at $250,000. The median household income in Charlotte is $62,765. In Charlotte, housing costs are 84% lower than in New York City.


Denver, Colorado

The University of Colorado at Boulder is a short half-hour drive from downtown Denver, a gorgeous, relatively quiet city situated in the mountains. In the region, there are many beautiful, smaller towns where people can hike with their dogs and families free of charge.

As of Jan. 2020, the Living Wage Calculator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology stated that a yearly salary of $129,155 is typical for management jobs in Denver, while business and financial operations workers earn an average salary of $74,437. The calculated “living wage” that individuals must earn to support themselves working full time was $14.26 an hour as opposed to $20.82 in San Francisco. High wages alone, however, do not make a city a desirable place to live. In addition to high wages, Colorado offers a high quality of life which continues to attract lovers of nature and adventure.


Austin, Texas

“The Live Music Capital of the World” and the capital of the Lone Star State, Austin, had job growth of 3.3% in 2018 and a population of about 2.2 million. The knowledge hub of Austin is home to a new wave of workers who vary from “hippie types” to tech-savvy millennials and corporate employees. The University of Texas has turned the city into a tech hub with a lively downtown full of theaters, art galleries, and restaurants.

The median household income in Austin was $76,845 and the median home price came in at $325,000 according to Forbes. A typical annual salary in Austin for a management job is $104,200 and $87,763 for a job in information technology.


The Bottom Line

 The ability to move from city to city has increased due to technological advances, making it easier for people to find jobs in different areas. While this can lead to higher salaries, it also typically results in a higher cost of living. A few of the outliers are highlighted in this list of cities.

In cities located in the middle of the country, such as Texas, workers are in an optimal financial situation. This is due to the net migration, economic boom, and high salary growth rates in these particular hubs. High quality of life can be found in these cities due to low prices and decreased financial stresses while providing an opportunity to find a lucrative career.

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