The best cities to live in typically have two things in common: a low cost of living and high salaries.
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GOBankingRates analyzed and ranked 100 cities in the U.S. that had both a median household income above the national average and a mean household income above the national average as sourced from the United States Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. We then found the itemized costs of living for necessities, such as annual median housing, groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation to ultimately determine the average monthly living expense for that area. That number then was subtracted from the average yearly income for each city so residents know exactly how much they stand to pocket after the expenses.
If you want to relocate to a place where you can get the most bang for your buck, let this be your guide. Keep reading to see where your paycheck will stretch the furthest.
12. Chesapeake, Virginia
- Average household income: $81,261
- Total necessities: $36,536.41
In Chesapeake, you’ll still have a sizable chunk of change leftover after you pay for your total necessities. Here, your two biggest expenses are groceries and housing. The annual grocery cost here is the same as the national average, $5,259. The annual cost of housing is $15,498.60, a bit higher than the national average.
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11. Round Rock, Texas
- Average household income: $107,314
- Total necessities: $36,341.93
In Round Rock, annual groceries are lower than the national average, at $4,948.72 per month, as are annual healthcare costs, at $5,054.00. While housing and transportation are higher than the national average, that $107,314 in average household income should leave a lot of extra room in your budget after necessities.
10. Pearland, Texas
- Average household income: $123,869
- Total necessities: $36,294.56
This is the second of three Texas cities on the list, a state where salaries run higher. While annual transportation costs are a bit steep here, at $7,091.14, and you’ll pay above the national average for housing, $15,326.25, the average $123,869 still leaves a whopping $87,574.44 remaining after necessities are paid for.
9. Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Average household income: $101,686
- Total necessities: $36,254.73
In Virginia Beach, you’ll pay below the national average on such expenses as utilities, which are $4,100.53 annually and transportation, at $5,568.36 annually. While you do pay a bit above average for healthcare and housing, you’ll have a remaining $65,431.27 after necessities are paid for.
8. Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Average household income: $93,145
- Total necessities: $35,502.35
In Minneapolis, you’ll pay less than average for utilities and healthcare. You might not even mind that you’re paying higher than average for housing, groceries and transportation when you realize you’ll have $57,642.65 left over after necessities.
7. Raleigh, North Carolina
- Average household income: $98,016
- Total necessities: $35,301.79
In Raleigh, you’ll pay lower than average for utilities, at $4,184.99 per month, and for transportation, at $5,034.25 per month. Paying a bit more for other bills like housing and healthcare shouldn’t hurt too much when you realize you’ll have $62,714.21 left over after necessities.
6. Olathe, Kansas
- Average household income: $110,757
- Total necessities: $35,180.49
Olathe, Kansas is a great midwestern city to thrive in. Utilities and transportation costs are below the national average. Paying a bit more for housing and healthcare won’t matter much when there’s $75,576.51 left over after necessities.
5. Midland, Texas
- Average household income: $115,667
- Total necessities: $34,077.02
In Midland, you’ll pay $5,111.75 per month on average for groceries, and $5,517.42 for healthcare. Even with other necessities, this leaves $81,589.99 after.
4. Charlotte, North Carolina
- Average household income: $98,462
- Total necessities: $33,496.87
In Charlotte, not only is the average household income quite good, all the major necessities are at or below the national average in costs. Average annual housing costs are the third lowest on this list, at $13,125.42. And after all necessities are paid, you’ll have $64,965.13 left over.
3. Rochester, Minnesota
- Average household income: $98,609
- Total necessities: $31,918.25
Rochester, Minnesota is another city where your money will go ever farther, and you can live a very comfortable life. Continuing with the trend, all necessities are cheaper than the national average. After paying for them, there is still a nice amount leftover: $66,690.75.
2. Broken Arrow, Illinois
- Average household income: $104,389
- Total necessities: $30,048.38
Broken Arrow is a city where you’ll not only end up with a hefty $74,340.62 after necessities, but where you’ll pay the lowest in average housing costs on this list, at $9,598.79 annually. The remainder of the necessities are all under the national average, except for annual healthcare costs, which are $5,969.94. However, that shouldn’t sting too much when you look at how much you’ll have leftover.
1. Aurora, Illinois
- Average household income: $97,118
- Total necessities: $29,946.70
Your money will go quite far in Aurora. After you pay annually for groceries, $5,059.16; for healthcare, $5,223.02; for housing $10,381.01, for utilities, $4,146.99 and transportation $5,136.53, you’ll still have $67,171.30 left over.
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Lauren Monitz contributed to the reporting for this article.
Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the best places to live with both high salaries and a low cost of living. GOBankingRates first found the 100 largest cities that had BOTH a (1) median household income above the national average and (2) a mean household income above the national average as sourced rom the United States Census Cureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.Then for the 100 qualified cities GOBankingRates found the itemized costs of living for necessities, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places, such as (3) groceries cost of living; (4) healthcare cost of living; (5) utilities cost of living; (6) transportation cost of living; and (7) housing. GOBankingRates then factored out the cost of living indices from facrs (3) – (7) by the 2021 Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey; to find (8) total annual cost of neccessities, whcih was the only ranking factor. All data compiled on September 12, 2022.
Photo disclaimer: images are for representational purposes only and may feature nearby cities.