Want to Stretch Your Paycheck? Here’s the Best City in Your State

See where you can get more bang for your buck.

Although some people love the hustle and bustle of the urban lifestyle, the costs can add up quickly. With higher rents and more expensive goods and services, city dwellers often struggle to stretch their income as far as possible.

But, depending on which city you call home, you might be able to get more out of that paycheck in the city than elsewhere, according to a recent GOBankingRates study.

The study — which took into account median household income, median gross rent, cost of living and the median costs of homeownership — ultimately found the city in each state where you could best expect to make your dollars last.

Although the study ultimately compared cities within the same state, all 50 cities were given a final score. And the 10 cities that scored the best among the 50 are:

  1. Fort Wayne, Ind.
  2. Parkersburg, W.Va.
  3. Fort Smith, Ark.
  4. Aberdeen, S.D.
  5. Davenport, Iowa
  6. Springfield, Mo.
  7. Wichita, Kan.
  8. Green Bay, Wis.
  9. Great Falls, Mont.
  10. Rockford, Ill.



The study revealed a number of interesting things about the cities where people are making their wages count. For starters, the median household income in some of the cities is surprisingly low. Of the 50 cities listed here, 12 of them have median household incomes that are less than $40,000 a year. When you consider that the median income nationwide is more than $55,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, $40,000 is relatively low.

That means that the median household income of $80,862 in Anchorage, Alaska, is more than double that of the bottom 12 cities in the study. In fact, while the dozen lowest median incomes on this list are well below national medians, there are almost as many cities (11 in total) that boast median household incomes above national levels.

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One other interesting trend is that the cost of living appears to correlate strongly to the median income levels of the cities. Of the 50 cities the study identified, 15 of them have a cost of living that’s higher than the national average. Of those 15, a dozen of them are among the 15 cities with the highest median incomes, including nine of the 10 richest cities.

Among the 10 cities with the lowest household median incomes, the costs of living are among the lowest and are consistently well below national averages. However, there are two outliers to that trend: Newark, N.J., and Springfield, Mass. Both cities are among the 10 cities with the lowest wages for the most typical worker but still have costs of living that are above the national average.

Here’s a look at which city in each state will allow you to stretch your paycheck the furthest:

StateCityMedian Household IncomeMedian Monthly Owner Costs (w/ Mortgage)Median Gross RentCost of Living
ArkansasFort Smith$35,956$950$61782.10
CaliforniaSan Diego$68,117$2,315$1,377166.00
ColoradoColorado Springs$62,520$1,446$922105.00
IndianaFort Wayne$44,449$938$67081.20
MichiganGrand Rapids$42,019$1,076$78387.20
MontanaGreat Falls$43,497$1,149$61395.40
NevadaLas Vegas$50,882$1,431$975104.50
New HampshireConcord$57,566$1,737$961112.60
New JerseyNewark$33,025$2,158$973111.70
New MexicoLas Cruces$41,215$1,153$74390.10
New YorkBuffalo$33,119$949$69983.70
North CarolinaGreensboro$42,802$1,209$76689.60
North DakotaBismarck$60,320$1,326$752116.60
Rhode IslandWarwick$66,602$1,711$1,064113.20
South CarolinaColumbia$42,875$1,276$83690.90
South DakotaAberdeen$46,330$1,079$60294.70
TexasSan Antonio$48,183$1,258$85693.20
UtahWest Valley City$55,933$1,307$93796.50
West VirginiaParkersburg$34,296$838$60780.20
WisconsinGreen Bay$43,473$1,173$65587.30

Click here to find out why you’re still living paycheck to paycheck.

Methodology: GOBankingRates identified the three largest cities in each state. To determine the city in each state where paychecks go the furthest, cities were evaluated on four factors: 1) median household income, sourced from Census.gov; 2) median monthly homeowner costs (with a mortgage), sourced from Census.gov; 3) median gross rent, sourced from Census.gov; and 4) cost of living, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places.