Often referred to as the “best coast,” the left side of the U.S. can be a pretty amazing place to live. However, it’s also home to some of the most notoriously expensive cities in the country, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
A recent GOBankingRates study revealed the average annual cost of living in the U.S. is $61,334 per year — or $5,111.17 monthly. Of course, this varies according to several factors, including the town where you reside, so it’s important to choose wisely.
Whether you’re planning to move West or already live there, it’s not impossible to find a place that’s both affordable and enjoyable. To prove this, GOBankingRates drew data from various sources to determine which cities on the West Coast have a low cost of living and a high livability score (per AreaVibes). These three cities won out as the best options.
3. Tigard, Oregon
- 2022 One-Bedroom Rent: $1,344
- Livability: 76
- Cost-of-Living Index: 126.3
- Annual Cost of Living: $77,464.84
- Monthly Cost of Living: $6,455.40
- Monthly Expenditures: $7,799.40
At first glance, you might wonder why Tigard made a list of affordable cities. However, this Portland, Oregon, suburb has notable earning power.
Specifically, 29% of residents in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro area earn at least $80,724 per year — assuming a year-round, 40-hour work week — according to May 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Put in context, this likely makes affording life in the city less of a stretch for many.
It’s also worth noting that Oregon doesn’t have sales tax, which allows residents to save big at local shopping centers like Washington Square and Bridgeport Village. As for quality of life, Tigard offers something for everyone, including a professional musical theater company, countless outdoor recreation opportunities and the area’s only public glass-blowing art studio.
2. Richland, Washington
- 2022 One-Bedroom Rent: $1,182.17
- Livability: 80
- Cost-of-Living Index: 98.4
- Annual Cost of Living: $60,352.66
- Monthly Cost of Living: $5,029.39
- Monthly Expenditures: $6,211.55
Ideal for those who love the outdoors, Richland, Washington, has it all. From fishing, boating and water skiing to golfing and a paved five-mile trail, there’s something for everyone.
It’s also part of the Washington’s Tri-Cities area, which boasts more than 200 wineries in a 50-mile radius. Never a dull moment, there’s always more than a few events happening in the area, including community theater, a medieval renaissance fair, an annual classic car and street rod show and outdoor summer movies in the park.
At first glance, the cost of living might seem a bit high, but it’s actually on par with average local earnings. Specifically, the annual mean wage for all occupations is $60,470, as of May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1. Spokane Valley, Washington
- 2022 One-Bedroom Rent: $1,104.67
- Livability: 75
- Cost-of-Living Index: 96.7
- Annual Cost of Living: $59,309.98
- Monthly Cost of Living: $4,942.50
- Monthly Expenditures: $6,047.16
Offering 260 days of sunshine per year, Spokane Valley, Washington, is located just outside the city of Spokane. Ideal for those who enjoy outdoor living, there’s plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, skiing and water sports — a big theme in the Pacific Northwest.
Known for its trails, the 5.1-mile paved Appleway Trail was recently completed and the 40-mile Centennial Trail is beloved throughout the region. Golfers enjoy access to nine courses in the area and families flock to Green Bluff growers — a collection of farms and ranches — for fun events throughout the year. There’s also no shortage of big annual events, including Valleyfest, Northwest Winterfest, Cycle Celebration and Spokane Valley Summer Theatre.
The annual mean wage for all occupations is $55,800, as of May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is roughly on par with the average cost of living in the area.
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Methodology: To find the most affordable cities on the West Coast with a high quality of life, GOBankingRates first used ApartmentList’s data to find (1) average 2022 one-bedroom rents. GOBankingRates then used Sperling’s Best to find cities’ (2) overall average cost-of-living index. Next, GOBankingRates used (3) average annual expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey to determine how much a West Coast renter might spend in each city per month. GOBankingRates then ranked qualifying cities by least to most average monthly expenditure. For a city to qualify for the study, it 4) must have a livability score of 75 or above, as sourced from AreaVibes. All data was collected on and up to date as of July 7, 2022.