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Cities in Every State Where Your Paycheck Stretches the Furthest

Joel Anderson
·9 min read
GabrielPevide / Getty Images
GabrielPevide / Getty Images

In a world where it feels like however much you earn is never enough, plenty of Americans will spend most of their lives dreaming about financial stability. This has come to the front of mind for even more people, with the coronavirus pandemic leaving a huge swath of the U.S. dependent on unemployment insurance.

See: Best Places To Live on a $50K Salary in Every State

The circumstances of this lockdown also help illustrate an important financial lesson: it’s not just what you make — where you live matters a lot, too. Because, while you might never be earning as much as you’d like, reducing your basic cost of necessities can function like getting a raise. Securing a roof over your head and enough for your family to eat can cost significantly more (or less) than in communities a town or two over.

To help make your existing lifestyle cost less, GOBankingRates gathered data for the five biggest cities in each state and found the one where the combination of good wages and low cost of living allows you to stretch your paycheck the farthest.

A cost-of-living index score from Sperling’s Best Places was used to help with this assessment. This score, using 100 as the baseline, compares the cost of living in a respective city to the national average; so, for example, a cost-of-living index score of 110 would mean the city has costs 10% higher than the national average.

All of the data was then scored to determine which locale has the ideal combination of higher earnings and lower costs.

So, if you’re looking for a way to make that paycheck last longer, take a long look at which city in your state provides the most opportunities to earn more and spend less.

Last updated: April 16, 2021

Huntsville Alabama downtown
Huntsville Alabama downtown

Alabama: Huntsville

  • Median household income: $53,840

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,253

  • Median rent: $804

  • Cost-of-living index: 86

Watch Out: The Cost of Living Is Quickly Rising in These 20 US Cities

Knik-Fairview Alaska
Knik-Fairview Alaska

Alaska: Knik-Fairview

  • Median household income: $88,644

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,799

  • Median rent: $1,406

  • Cost-of-living index: 121.6

Read: These Are the 50 Best Cities for Renters

Chandler is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, and a prominent suburb of the Phoenix, Arizona, Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Chandler is a city in Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, and a prominent suburb of the Phoenix, Arizona, Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Arizona: Chandler

  • Median household income: $80,716

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,633

  • Median rent: $1,246

  • Cost-of-living index: 113

SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS—MAY 2017: Roadside sign surrounded by plants in Springdale, the fourth largest city dubbed as a “playful city” in Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, ARKANSAS—MAY 2017: Roadside sign surrounded by plants in Springdale, the fourth largest city dubbed as a “playful city” in Arkansas.

Arkansas: Springdale

  • Median household income: $50,192

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,130

  • Median rent: $762

  • Cost-of-living index: 86

Fresno, California, USA - November 14, 2015: Fresno downtown in Central California.
Fresno, California, USA - November 14, 2015: Fresno downtown in Central California.

California: Fresno

  • Median household income: $47,189

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,518

  • Median rent: $969

  • Cost-of-living index: 102.6

From California to New York: The Cost of Living Across America

downtown Colorado Springs Colorado
downtown Colorado Springs Colorado

Colorado: Colorado Springs

  • Median household income: $61,324

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,504

  • Median rent: $1,072

  • Cost-of-living index: 104.5

Connecticut, Waterbury
Connecticut, Waterbury

Connecticut: Waterbury

  • Median household income: $41,617

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,598

  • Median rent: $959

  • Cost-of-living index: 93.8

Middletown Delaware historic district
Middletown Delaware historic district

Delaware: Middletown

  • Median household income: $89,354

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,710

  • Median rent: $1,202

  • Cost-of-living index: 123.1

florida-jacksonville
florida-jacksonville

Florida: Jacksonville

  • Median household income: $52,576

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,341

  • Median rent: $1,029

  • Cost-of-living index: 93.5

georgia-columbus
georgia-columbus

Georgia: Columbus

  • Median household income: $45,389

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,262

  • Median rent: $877

  • Cost-of-living index: 74.4

hawaii-hilo
hawaii-hilo

Hawaii: Hilo

  • Median household income: $60,120

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,510

  • Median rent: $1,013

  • Cost-of-living index: 130.3

Look: This Is the Living Wage You Need in All 50 States

The beautiful Snake River running through Idaho Falls in Idaho.
The beautiful Snake River running through Idaho Falls in Idaho.

Idaho: Idaho Falls

  • Median household income: $50,482

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,116

  • Median rent: $748

  • Cost-of-living index: 87.7

Downtown Naperville Riverwalk in Illinois
Downtown Naperville Riverwalk in Illinois

Illinois: Naperville

  • Median household income: $118,187

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $2,624

  • Median rent: $1,462

  • Cost-of-living index: 129.6

Bell tower and lake at Coxhall Garden in Carmel Indiana at sunset after snow in the winter of 2019 - Image.
Bell tower and lake at Coxhall Garden in Carmel Indiana at sunset after snow in the winter of 2019 - Image.

Indiana: Carmel

  • Median household income: $116,867

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $2,013

  • Median rent: $1,199

  • Cost-of-living index: 113.9

Cedar Rapids is the second-largest city in Iowa and is the county seat of Linn County.
Cedar Rapids is the second-largest city in Iowa and is the county seat of Linn County.

Iowa: Cedar Rapids

  • Median household income: $59,152

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,246

  • Median rent: $751

  • Cost-of-living index: 81.6

Kansas: Olathe

  • Median household income: $85,318

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,687

  • Median rent: $990

  • Cost-of-living index: 104.2

Lexington Kentucky
Lexington Kentucky

Kentucky: Lexington-Fayette

  • Median household income: $54,918

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,321

  • Median rent: $864

  • Cost-of-living index: 89.1

Lafayette is a small City in the State of Louisiana - Image.
Lafayette is a small City in the State of Louisiana - Image.

Louisiana: Lafayette

  • Median household income: $50,182

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,401

  • Median rent: $874

  • Cost-of-living index: 87.7

Auburn is a city in and the county seat of Androscoggin County, Maine, United States.
Auburn is a city in and the county seat of Androscoggin County, Maine, United States.

Maine: Auburn

  • Median household income: $48,924

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,371

  • Median rent: $758

  • Cost-of-living index: 86.5

Columbia Maryland
Columbia Maryland

Maryland: Columbia

  • Median household income: $105,815

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $2,344

  • Median rent: $1,687

  • Cost-of-living index: 121.6

massachusetts-springfield
massachusetts-springfield

Massachusetts: Springfield

  • Median household income: $36,730

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,392

  • Median rent: $847

  • Cost-of-living index: 89.7

Sterling Heights, Michigan
Sterling Heights, Michigan

Michigan: Sterling Heights

  • Median household income: $63,126

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,408

  • Median rent: $1,000

  • Cost-of-living index: 101.4

minnesota-rochester
minnesota-rochester

Minnesota: Rochester

  • Median household income: $70,749

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,428

  • Median rent: $942

  • Cost-of-living index: 94.1

Find Out: How Does Your Salary Measure Up To the Average American Income?

Mississippi: Southaven

  • Median household income: $61,181

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,203

  • Median rent: $1,025

  • Cost-of-living index: 87.2

Independence, Missouri
Independence, Missouri

Missouri: Independence

  • Median household income: $48,331

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,136

  • Median rent: $839

  • Cost-of-living index: 84

Montana-Butte
Montana-Butte

Montana: Butte-Silver Bow

  • Median household income: $42,174

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,039

  • Median rent: $619

  • Cost-of-living index: 80.1

Grand Island Nebraska
Grand Island Nebraska

Nebraska: Grand Island

  • Median household income: $52,642

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,201

  • Median rent: $737

  • Cost-of-living index: 85

Henderson Nevada best weather
Henderson Nevada best weather

Nevada: Henderson

  • Median household income: $69,940

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,641

  • Median rent: $1,226

  • Cost-of-living index: 117.7

Rochester is a city in Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States.
Rochester is a city in Strafford County, New Hampshire, United States.

New Hampshire: Rochester

  • Median household income: $58,427

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,598

  • Median rent: $998

  • Cost-of-living index: 93.5

Toms River, New Jersey
Toms River, New Jersey

New Jersey: Toms River

  • Median household income: $77,401

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $2,115

  • Median rent: $1,405

  • Cost-of-living index: 105.8

Read: How Far a $100,000 Salary Goes in America’s 50 Largest Cities

Roswell New Mexico
Roswell New Mexico

New Mexico: Roswell

  • Median household income: $43,481

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,009

  • Median rent: $772

  • Cost-of-living index: 78.6

new-york-buffalo
new-york-buffalo

New York: Buffalo

  • Median household income: $35,893

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $967

  • Median rent: $757

  • Cost-of-living index: 79.5

Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA skyline at dusk.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA skyline at dusk.

North Carolina: Winston-Salem

  • Median household income: $44,311

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,167

  • Median rent: $782

  • Cost-of-living index: 81.3

Fargo, North Dakota , USA - July 27,2010: It's a beautiful summer day in the city of Fargo.
Fargo, North Dakota , USA - July 27,2010: It's a beautiful summer day in the city of Fargo.

North Dakota: West Fargo

  • Median household income: $81,051

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,631

  • Median rent: $859

  • Cost-of-living index: 94.1

True City Living: The Most Affordable Downtowns To Live In Across America

Akron, United States - May 29, 2014:  Downtown Akron skyline with the words "Akron"on a sign in the center, and a colorful mural to the right.
Akron, United States - May 29, 2014: Downtown Akron skyline with the words "Akron"on a sign in the center, and a colorful mural to the right.

Ohio: Akron

  • Median household income: $37,533

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $987

  • Median rent: $735

  • Cost-of-living index: 69.5

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA - April 27, 2018: Daytime view of shops and buildings along S Main Street in the historic Rose District.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, USA - April 27, 2018: Daytime view of shops and buildings along S Main Street in the historic Rose District.

Oklahoma: Broken Arrow

  • Median household income: $72,686

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,352

  • Median rent: $1,026

  • Cost-of-living index: 90.9

Hillsboro Oregon skyline
Hillsboro Oregon skyline

Oregon: Hillsboro

  • Median household income: $78,144

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,755

  • Median rent: $1,358

  • Cost-of-living index: 122.1

View of Erie Pennsylvania from Dobbins Landing Tower.
View of Erie Pennsylvania from Dobbins Landing Tower.

Pennsylvania: Erie

  • Median household income: $36,882

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $995

  • Median rent: $698

  • Cost-of-living index: 74.6

Not Earning Enough? Tips To Live Comfortably on a Budget

Pawtuxet Village is a section of the New England cities of Warwick and Cranston, Rhode Island.
Pawtuxet Village is a section of the New England cities of Warwick and Cranston, Rhode Island.

Rhode Island: Warwick

  • Median household income: $70,490

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,704

  • Median rent: $1,132

  • Cost-of-living index: 101.5

Columbia South Carolina Finlay Park Fountain
Columbia South Carolina Finlay Park Fountain

South Carolina: Columbia

  • Median household income: $45,663

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,272

  • Median rent: $910

  • Cost-of-living index: 84.3

aberdeen-south-dakota
aberdeen-south-dakota

South Dakota: Aberdeen

  • Median household income: $49,471

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,191

  • Median rent: $669

  • Cost-of-living index: 78.6

Clarksville is a city in and the county seat of Montgomery County, Tennessee.
Clarksville is a city in and the county seat of Montgomery County, Tennessee.

Tennessee: Clarksville

  • Median household income: $53,007

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,175

  • Median rent: $946

  • Cost-of-living index: 85.6

Related: 10 Best and Worst Things To Do When Looking For a Place To Retire

San Antonio, Texas, USA downtown city skyline
San Antonio, Texas, USA downtown city skyline

Texas: San Antonio

  • Median household income: $50,980

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,351

  • Median rent: $958

  • Cost-of-living index: 89.7

Kennecott's Bingham Canyon Mine Seen From the Point.
Kennecott's Bingham Canyon Mine Seen From the Point.

Utah: West Jordan

  • Median household income: $75,481

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,568

  • Median rent: $1,191

  • Cost-of-living index: 115.3

Rutland is a city in Rutland County, Vermont, United States.
Rutland is a city in Rutland County, Vermont, United States.

Vermont: Rutland

  • Median household income: $45,229

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,446

  • Median rent: $776

  • Cost-of-living index: 83.3

Boats exiting the Great Bridge Locks.
Boats exiting the Great Bridge Locks.

Virginia: Chesapeake

  • Median household income: $75,790

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,828

  • Median rent: $1,235

  • Cost-of-living index: 106.4

washington-spokane
washington-spokane

Washington: Spokane

  • Median household income: $47,822

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,266

  • Median rent: $842

  • Cost-of-living index: 92.3

Also See: 30 Best Cities for Young Professionals

Wheeling West Virginia
Wheeling West Virginia

West Virginia: Wheeling

  • Median household income: $42,489

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $977

  • Median rent: $646

  • Cost-of-living index: 75.9

wisconsin-green-bay
wisconsin-green-bay

Wisconsin: Green Bay

  • Median household income: $47,797

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,156

  • Median rent: $701

  • Cost-of-living index: 82.3

Rock Springs Wyoming
Rock Springs Wyoming

Wyoming: Rock Springs

  • Median household income: $75,441

  • Median monthly homeowner costs: $1,478

  • Median rent: $883

  • Cost-of-living index: 96.2

More From GOBankingRates

Methodology: GOBankingRates looked at the five biggest cities in each state by population and scored each on four factors to determine where your paycheck will stretch the furthest. Each city was scored on: (1) median annual household income, (2) median monthly homeowner costs, including mortgage, (3) median monthly rent and (4) cost-of-living index score. Population data and factors No. 1-3 were taken from the United States Census Bureau American Community Survey’s 2018 five-year estimates, and factor No. 4 was taken from Sperling’s Best Places. Factors No. 2 and 3 were weighted at half the other factors. All data was collected on and up to date as of May 29, 2020.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Cities in Every State Where Your Paycheck Stretches the Furthest