The South might be known for a slow, Southern style, but personal income is growing fast in the region. The Bureau of Economic Analysis recently released its report on real personal income — in simple terms, the income after taking into consideration the effects of inflation on purchasing power — for states and metropolitan areas. The top three metropolitan areas for real personal income growth are in the Southern U.S.
The three top-ranking metropolitan areas — defined as a population greater than 2 million — with the fastest growth in real personal income were:
- Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. (3.4 percent)
- Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. (3.3 percent)
- Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C. and S.C. (3.2 percent)
In comparison, in 2016, the most recent reported year, real state personal income across the nation grew by 1.1 percent, after increasing 4.7 percent in 2015.
Beyond the draw of temperate year-round climates, residents of the three metropolitan areas reap the benefits of a relatively low cost of living with median household incomes that hover around or exceed the national median of $57,617. Here’s a closer look at the three leading metro areas:
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.
- Population: 5,790,210
- Median age: 36.2
- Median household income: $62,613
- Median value of owner-occupied housing units: $197,700
- Mean travel time to work: 32.1 minutes
- Average yearly temperature: 61.5 degrees
- Cost of living: 9th lowest in the nation
- Population: 2,441,257
- Median age: 37
- Median household income: $52,385
- Median value of owner-occupied housing units: $201,600
- Mean travel time to work: 28.7 minutes
- Average yearly temperature: 72.6 degrees
- Cost of living: 26th lowest in the nation
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C. and S.C.
- Population: 2,474,314
- Median age: 37.4
- Median household income: $59,979
- Median value of owner-occupied housing units: $188,100
- Mean travel time to work: 26.5 minutes
- Average yearly temperature: 60.12 degrees
- Cost of living: North Carolina is 18th and South Carolina is 28th-lowest in the nation
The results show that you don’t have to sacrifice living in a bustling metropolis in your search for the best place to live on a budget. Salaries stretch a little further thanks to costs of living that are below the national average and housing that’s affordable in Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.; Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla.; and Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC. and S.C. With a little more money in your pocket, you’ll be able to get out and enjoy more of what each thriving city has to offer.
Click to keep reading about 31 cities where you can afford to live off less than $50,000.