Cost of Living Is Low in These 10 Cities, But So Are Salaries

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The best cities to live in typically have these two things in common: a low cost of living and high salaries. But often, they don’t go hand in hand. Sometimes, lower salaries accompany a lower cost of living.

Click through to see which cities have low cost-of-living expenses and low salaries.

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Huntsville, Ala.

Yearly salary: $34,425

With a cost of living that’s 5 percent lower than the national average, Huntsville is a great place to put down roots.

Huntsville is also on GOBankingRates’ list of cities with the biggest cost of living decrease, and apartments are available for rent for less than $1,000. Looking to buy a home instead? Housing prices in Huntsville gained an impressive 18.2 percent in 2017.

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Reno, Nev.

Yearly salary: $33,946

Called the Biggest Little City in the World, Reno has some of the biggest housing costs on our list. Still, the cost of living in other areas — utilities, dining and entertainment — are affordable, and employers there are doing their best to invest in people.

Mike Kazmierski, president and CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, told KTVN-TV of Reno that five or so years ago, companies were recruiting for positions making $9 to $10 an hour. Today, some starting wages are now $20 to $21 to bring pay more in line with the cost of living.

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Tucson, Ariz.

Yearly salary: $32,355

In a previous GOBankingRates study, Tucson topped the list of places where it’s possible to live on a minimum-wage salary.

A one-bedroom apartment in Tucson rents for just $66, on average, and staples such as groceries and transportation are less than in other metro areas. If you’re looking at a cost of living comparison by city, the average rental in Tucson is 21.59 percent of the cost of the average rental in New York City.

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Louisville, Ky.

Yearly salary: $30,300

Louisville is one of just eight major U.S. cities where a single-family home costs less than $1,000 a month to rent. If you’re looking to buy, it’s a different story.

Another GOBankingRates study found that rapid economic growth translated to home listing prices increasing by $25,000, on average, in 2017. That said, you can still rent a one-bedroom apartment in Louisville for less than $900 a month.


Pensacola, Fla.

Yearly salary: $29,997

In Pensacola, which houses a major military base, the cost of living by city is drastically lower than in other warm-weather locales. In fact, a one-bedroom apartment in the city costs an average of $892 or even less — $688 — outside the city. As a bonus, Florida residents pay no state income tax, so that puts more money in their pockets.

Find Out: How Much You Really Take Home From a $100K Salary in Every State

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Boise, Idaho

Yearly salary: $29,916

Boise is Idaho’s state capital, biggest city and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It doesn’t take a huge paycheck to live in Boise, making it one of the best cities for cost of living.

Straddling the line between urban and rural, the downtown corridor is booming with new construction and hip restaurants. Everything from the cost of car insurance to monthly energy bills is noticeably lower in Boise — especially when compared to other big cities in the Northwest, such as Seattle or Portland, Ore.

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Knoxville, Tenn.

Yearly salary: $28,224

If you’re considering low cost-of-living cities that still offer a high quality of life, Knoxville’s a popular option. Tennessee doesn’t collect income tax on earnings — just investments — and you’ll also save on gas, basic utilities and meals out.

If you’re looking to pocket even more, consider renting outside the city, where one-bedroom apartments rent for almost $300 less than in the downtown area.

Don’t Miss: The Best Big Cities for Renters

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Albuquerque, N.M.

Yearly salary: $28,117

In Albuquerque, you can live on less than in many other cities. Living in this city costs slightly below the national average. You can rent a one-bedroom apartment in the city for $800, on average, or spend about $675 a bit further from the city center.

The Tax Foundation calculated the real value of $100 in each state and found New Mexico’s purchasing power to be worth nearly $106, giving you about 6 percent more bang for your buck.


College Station, Texas

Yearly salary: $27,864

As College Station’s largest employer, Texas A&M University plays a key role in shaping the local economy. The area is regularly ranked on “best of” lists that cite College Station as a great place to live, raise a family and work. According to Forbes, the cost to live in the city is 3 percent below the national average.

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Athens, Ga.

Yearly salary: $24,000

This college town has the lowest annual salary on this list. And, Athens’ cost of living is a whopping 39 percent lower than in New York, which is partially why Forbes put it on its list of the best places to retire.

Whatever your annual wage, the place for you to settle down should check as many of your boxes as possible. Make a list of what matters most — food, culture, sports, access to jobs, nature vs. urban development and such — and narrow your list of prospective cities. Keep in mind that cities grow and evolve, and the perfect home right now might not be perfect for you in five years.

Up Next: 11 Cities Where Rent Is Cheap, But Cost of Living Isn’t

Methodology: GOBankingRates used Numbeo’s interactive map that analyzes the cost of living in more than 100 cities. To compile this list of cities with low salaries and low costs of living, GOBankingRates included the cities where the cost of living is 35 percent or more lower than the cost of living in New York City and the cities where the cost of living index is about 65 or less. All of the cities on this list have a yearly income that’s less than $35,000, which is lower than the national median household income of $59,039.

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