GOBankingRates

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

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FG Trade / iStock.com

The adage about the three most important things in real estate — location, location, location — speaks to more than where you live. It’s about how you live, too. From the size of your paycheck to how much your groceries will cost, your location plays a big role in your household finances.

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 each month. 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.

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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. We pared the list to 20 cities where the cost to live “comfortably” outpaces the median income of a person residing in a nonfamily situation.

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

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1. Miami, Florida

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $32,001
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,559
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $18,713
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,720.09
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,473.81
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,103.75
  • Annual transportation cost: $5,410.08
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $34,420

Income left over after necessities: -$2,419

Percentage of income left over after necessities: -7.56%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $68,840

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2. Detroit, Michigan

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $23,484
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $696
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $8,355
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,085.63
  • Annual healthcare cost: $2,963.99
  • Annual utilities cost: $2,915.25
  • Annual transportation cost: $6,675.55
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,995

Income left over after necessities: -$511

Percentage of income left over after necessities: -2.18%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $47,991

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3. New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $28,770
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,019
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $12,225
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,439.26
  • Annual healthcare cost: $2,995.63
  • Annual utilities cost: $2,837.25
  • Annual transportation cost: $4,960.80
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $26,458

Income left over after necessities: $2,312

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 8.04%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $52,916

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4. El Paso, Texas

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $27,694
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $911
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $10,937
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,189.64
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,048.37
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,155.75
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,440.74
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,771

Income left over after necessities: $3,923

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 14.17%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $47,542

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5. Memphis, Tennessee

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $30,493
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $953
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $11,435
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,234.71
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,459.74
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,129.75
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,538.08
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $24,797

Income left over after necessities: $5,696

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 18.68%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $49,594

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6. Fresno, California

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $33,323
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,054
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $12,644
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,439.26
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,185.50
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,653.00
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,807.65
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $26,729

Income left over after necessities: $6,594

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 19.79%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $53,458

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7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $35,827
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,098
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $13,181
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,553.68
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,459.74
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,500.25
  • Annual transportation cost: $5,312.74
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $29,007

Income left over after necessities: $6,820

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 19.04%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $58,014

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8. New York, New York

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $50,460
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,972
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $23,658
  • Annual grocery cost: $4,042.52
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,959.02
  • Annual utilities cost: $4,891.25
  • Annual transportation cost: $6,780.38
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $43,331

Income left over after necessities: $7,129

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 14.13%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $86,662

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9. Tampa, Florida

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $38,591
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,413
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $16,956
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,643.82
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,463.26
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,129.75
  • Annual transportation cost: $4,197.02
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $31,390

Income left over after necessities: $7,201

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 18.66%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $62,780

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10. Tucson, Arizona

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $31,876
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $963
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $11,552
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,310.99
  • Annual healthcare cost: $2,865.54
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,230.50
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,616.70
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $24,575

Income left over after necessities: $7,301

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 22.90%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $49,150

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11. Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $31,698
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $808
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $9,696
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,220.84
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,649.61
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,289.00
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,822.62
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,678

Income left over after necessities: $8,020

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 25.30%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $47,356

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12. Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $37,389
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,127
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $13,521
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,546.74
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,245.27
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,334.50
  • Annual transportation cost: $4,811.04
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $28,459

Income left over after necessities: $8,930

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 23.89%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $56,917

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13. San Antonio, Texas

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $35,786
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,039
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $12,464
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,168.84
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,280.43
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,084.25
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,717.79
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $25,715

Income left over after necessities: $10,071

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 28.14%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $51,430

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14. Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $34,236
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $862
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $10,349
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,290.18
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,850.02
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,107.00
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,358.37
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,954

Income left over after necessities: $10,282

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 30.03%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $47,908

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15. Jacksonville, Florida

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $38,558
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,190
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $14,277
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,439.26
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,414.04
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,341.00
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,796.42
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $28,268

Income left over after necessities: $10,290

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 26.69%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $56,535

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16. Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $35,418
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,010
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $12,116
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,328.32
  • Annual healthcare cost: $2,851.48
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,159.00
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,347.14
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $24,801

Income left over after necessities: $10,617

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 29.98%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $49,603

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17. Baltimore, Maryland

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $39,140
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,089
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $13,070
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,397.66
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,150.34
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,487.25
  • Annual transportation cost: $4,657.54
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $27,762

Income left over after necessities: $11,378

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 29.07%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $55,525

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18. Mesa, Arizona

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $41,160
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $1,295
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $15,536
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,369.92
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,241.75
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,253.25
  • Annual transportation cost: $4,268.16
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $29,669

Income left over after necessities: $11,491

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 27.92%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $59,337

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19. Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $35,966
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $895
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $10,743
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,245.11
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,051.89
  • Annual utilities cost: $2,931.50
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,399.55
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,371

Income left over after necessities: $12,595

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 35.02%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $46,742

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20. Louisville, Kentucky

  • Median income for a nonfamily household: $36,013
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $821
  • Annual rent for a 1-bedroom apartment: $9,854
  • Annual grocery cost: $3,362.99
  • Annual healthcare cost: $3,023.76
  • Annual utilities cost: $3,016.00
  • Annual transportation cost: $3,863.81
  • Total annual cost of necessities: $23,120

Income left over after necessities: $12,893

Percentage of income left over after necessities: 35.80%

Salary needed to live “comfortably”: $46,240

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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 nonfamily Income from the 2020 American Community Survey from the United States Census Bureau; (2) average monthly/annual rent for a one bedroom as sourced from ApartmentList’s July 2022 data; (3) itemized cost-of-living index for groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous expenditure, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2020 Consumer Expenditure Survey for a single person, which were adjusted to each city’s local cost of living, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places. Factors No. 2 and 3 then were 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 Aug. 1, 2022.

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.”