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Cities Where the Average Salary Isn’t Enough To Get By

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The old adage about the three most important things in real estate — location, location, location — speaks to how there’s more to where you live than just geography. From the size of your paycheck to how much your groceries will cost, your location can heavily influence many important aspects of your life.

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In some cases, your home city might provide you with a lot more disposable income to save or invest after paying all of your bills. In other cases, where you live is possibly one of the main reasons why it feels like you’re fighting a losing battle with your budget every month.

That’s why GOBankingRates conducted a study to find out where residents are getting a deal on the cost of living and where Americans are regularly forced to dig themselves out of a financial hole.

To see the regional differences in how much of the typical paycheck is left over after covering costs, the study took the 50 of the most populated U.S. cities according to the United States Census Bureau and compared the average salary with the annual cost of necessities like housing, groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation. Residents in Miami, Florida had the greatest deficit, while residents of Arlington, Texas had the greatest surplus.

The results of GOBankingRates’ study show how your home city plays a huge role in determining a budget that you can live with.

Last updated: July 20, 2021

Make Your Money Work for You
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1. Miami, Florida

  • Median income for a single person: $28,884
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,303
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $15,638
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,557
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,510.36
  • Annual utility cost: $3,039.77
  • Annual transportation cost: $5,482.33
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $31,227

Income left over after necessities: -$2,343
Percentage of income left over after necessities: -8.11%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $62,455

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2. Detroit, Michigan

  • Median income for a single person: $222,275
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $663
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $7,950
  • Annual grocery cost: $2,950.35
  • Annual healthcare cost: $2,995.18
  • Annual utility cost: $2,855.15
  • Annual transportation cost: $6,764.70
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,515

Income left over after necessities: $1,240
Percentage of income left over after necessities: -5.57%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $47,031

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3. New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Median income for a single person: $27,939
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $946
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $11,350
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,288.48
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,027
  • Annual utility cost: $2,778.76
  • Annual transportation cost: $5,027.05
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $25,471

Income left over after necessities: $2,468
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 8.83%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $50,943

Find Out: How To Save Money On All Your Monthly Expenses and Bills

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4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Median income for a single person: $32,433
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,004
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $12,046
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,397.88
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,496.15
  • Annual utility cost: $3,428.09
  • Annual transportation cost: $5,383.69
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $27,752

Income left over after necessities: $4,681
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 14.43%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $55,504

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5. Memphis, Tennessee

  • Median income for a single person: $29,232
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $864
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $10,372
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,092.90
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,496.15
  • Annual utility cost: $3,065.23
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,585.33
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,612

Income left over after necessities: $5,620
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 19.23%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $47,223

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6. Fresno, California

  • Median income for a single person: $31,995
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,021
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $12,246
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,288.48
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,219.02
  • Annual utility cost: $3,577.69
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,858.50
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $26,190

Income left over after necessities: $5,805
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 18.14%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $44,351

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7. El Paso, Texas

  • Median income for a single person: $28,568
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $789
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $9,468
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,049.80
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,080.45
  • Annual utility cost: $3,090.69
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,486.69
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $22,176

Income left over after necessities: $6,392
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 22.38%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $44,351

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8. Tucson, Arizona

  • Median income for a single person: $30,462
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $853
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $10,238
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,165.83
  • Annual healthcare cost: $2,895.70
  • Annual utility cost: $3,163.90
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,665
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,128

Income left over after necessities: $7,334
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 24.07%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $46,257

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9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Median income for a single person: $31,298
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $763
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $9,152
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,079.64
  • Annual healthcare cost: 3,688.01
  • Annual utility cost: $3,221.20
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,873.67
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,015

Income left over after necessities: $8,283
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 26.47%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $46,029

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10. New York, New York

  • Median income for a single person: $48,091
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,613
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $19,360
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,865.29
  • Annual healthcare cost: $4,000.68
  • Annual utility cost: $4,790.42
  • Annual transportation cost: $6,870.93
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $38,887

Income left over after necessities: $9,204
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 19.14%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $77,775

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11. Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Median income for a single person: $36,222
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $961
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $11,530
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,391.25
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,279.42
  • Annual utility cost: $3,265.76
  • Annual transportation cost: $4,875.29
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $26,342

Income left over after necessities: $9,880
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 27.28%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $52,683

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12. Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Median income for a single person: $33,060
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $747
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $8,964
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,145.94
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,890.54
  • Annual utility cost: $3,042.95
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,403.22
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $22,447

Income left over after necessities: $10,613
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 32.10%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $44,893

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13. Baltimore, Maryland

  • Median income for a single person: $37,046
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $976
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $11,710
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,248.70
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,183.49
  • Annual utility cost: $3,415.36
  • Annual transportation cost: $4,719.74
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $26,673

Income left over after necessities: $10,893
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 28.24%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $55,347

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14. Mesa, Arizona

  • Median income for a single person: $38,566
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,139
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $13,664
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,222.18
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,275.87
  • Annual utility cost: $3,186.18
  • Annual transportation cost: $4,325.16
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $27,673

Income left over after necessities: $10,893
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 28.24%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $55,347

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15. Witchita, Kansas

  • Median income for a single person: $32,025
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $639
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $7,668
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,149.25
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,627.61
  • Annual utility cost: $3,294
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,050.38
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $20,790

Income left over after necessities: $11,235
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 35.08%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $41,579

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16. Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Median income for a single person: $33,929
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $844
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $10,132
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,102.84
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,084
  • Annual utility cost: $2,871.07
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,444.95
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $22,365

Income left over after necessities: $11,294
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 33.29%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $45,270

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17. San Antonio, Texas

  • Median income for a single person: $35,587
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $921
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $11,056
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,029.91
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,314.95
  • Annual utility cost: $3,020.67
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,767.44
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $24,189

Income left over after necessities: $11,398
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 32.03%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $48,378

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18. Jacksonville, Florida

  • Median income for a single person: $37,643
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,007
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $12,078
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,288.48
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,449.96
  • Annual utility cost: $3,272.12
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,847.12
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $25,936

Income left over after necessities: $11,707
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 31.10%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $51,871

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19. Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Median income for a single person: $34,500
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $851
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $10,210
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,182.40
  • Annual healthcare cost: $2,881.48
  • Annual utility cost: $3,093.88
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,915.41
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $22,570

Income left over after necessities: $11,740
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 34.03%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $45,519

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20. Louisville, Kentucky

  • Median income for a single person: $34,468
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $786
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $9,430
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,215.55
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,055.58
  • Annual utility cost: $2,953.82
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,915.41
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $22,570

Income left over after necessities: $11,898
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 34.52%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $45,141

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21. Los Angeles, California

  • Median income for a single person: $46,419
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,542
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $18,506
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,450.92
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,176.38
  • Annual utility cost: $2,982.47
  • Annual transportation cost: $6,217.48
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $34,387

Income left over after necessities: $12,032
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 25.92%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $68,775

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22. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

  • Median income for a single person: $37,207
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $821
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $9,848
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,139.31
  • Annual healthcare cost: $4,164.12
  • Annual utility cost: $3,090.69
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,623.27
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,865

Income left over after necessities: $13,342
Percentage of income left over after necessities: 35.86%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $47,731

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23. Kansas City, Missouri

  • Median income for a single person: $38,091
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $937
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $11,246
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,208.92
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,357.59
  • Annual utility cost: $3,227.56
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,365.28
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $24,405
  • Income left over after necessities: $13,686
  • Percentage of income left over after necessities: 35.93%
  • Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $48,811
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24. Omaha, Nebraska

  • Median income for a single person: $38,176
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $827
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $9,920
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,202.29
  • Annual healthcare cost: $4,629.56
  • Annual utility cost: $3,138.44
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,099.70
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,990
  • Income left over after necessities: $14,186
  • Percentage of income left over after necessities: 37.16%
  • Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $47,980
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25. Arlington, Texas

  • Median income for a single person: $41,039
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,034
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $12,410
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,252.02
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,531.68
  • Annual utility cost: $3,183
  • Annual transportation cost: $4,347.92
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $26,725
  • Income left over after necessities: $14,314
  • Percentage of income left over after necessities: 37.16%
  • Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $53,449

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Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article. 

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined cities where the average salary isn’t enough to get by, by looking at 50 of the most populated cities according to the United States Census Bureau along these criteria: (1) Median Non-family Income from 2019 American Community Survey from the United States Census Bureau; (2) average monthly/annual rent for a one bedroom as sourced from ApartmentList’s 2021 data; (3) itemized cost of living index for groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous expenditure, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey 3rd quarter 2019 through 2nd quarter 2020 for a single person, which were adjusted to each city’s local cost of living, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places. Factors (2) and (3) were then combined to give each city a (4) total annual necessities cost, which was then subtracted from each city’s on-family median income to give each city (5) leftover income after necessities. All data was collected and is up to date as of July 12, 2021.

The United states Census Bureau defines a nonfamily household as “a householder living alone (a one-person household) or where the householder shares the home exclusively with people to whom he/she is not related.”