10 Cities Where Your Paycheck Goes the Furthest

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Many people dream of living in New York or Los Angeles—rubbing shoulders with celebrities and Instagramming food from the hottest restaurants. They dream of flashy jobs and fat paychecks.

That is, until they scroll through Craigslist or Zillow and determine they could never afford a fourth-floor walk-up above a noisy bar, let alone afford to buy a house in such an expensive city.

If “they” is really “you,” you might want to consider a midsize city where your paycheck will go the furthest.

10 Cities with Excellent Cost-of-Living Ratios

For this list, we turned to a recent report by Glassdoor, which looked at salaries and housing costs for the 50 most populated metro areas across the US.

With that data, Glassdoor determined each city’s cost-of-living ratio—the median annual base salary divided by the median home value.

The results show that where you live and how much you make are directly related.

“Though there are certainly other financial factors to consider when taking into account total cost of living, this data reinforces that pay typically goes further in [midsize] cities versus big metropolitan areas, where there is often tighter competition for housing,” said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist.

It probably won’t surprise you that New York City, Boston, and San Francisco fared poorly, with ratios of 18%, 17%, and 11%, respectively. Some of the winners might surprise you, though. Here are the 10 cities where your paycheck will go the furthest.

10. Louisville, Kentucky

  • Cost-of-Living Ratio: 39%
  • Median Base Salary: $54,000
  • Median Home Value: $137,500

When most people think of Louisville, they think of big hats and baseball bats. But this city has a lot more going for it—not least of all is its southern charm.

UPS employs more than 20,000 people here, and the city has become a major center for the health care and medical sciences industries—both of which are growing fields with good pay.

9. Kansas City, Missouri

  • Cost-of-Living Ratio: 39%
  • Median Base Salary: $58,000
  • Median Home Value: $147,500

Kansas City has the most expensive homes on the list and the second-highest salaries. You’ll find friendly people and a lot of love for the local baseball team here.

Jobs are available in health care, education, and government, and companies such as Garmin, Hallmark, and Sprint have headquarters in the larger Kansas City metro area.

8. Birmingham, Alabama

  • Cost-of-Living Ratio: 40%
  • Median Base Salary: $50,800
  • Median Home Value: $128,000

If you love barbecue, you’ll love Alabama. And Birmingham offers excellent restaurants, easy access to the outdoors, and passionate college football fans.

Its biggest industries are banking and insurance, health care, and logistics and transportation. Major employers include the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Regions Financial Corporation, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz.

7. Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Cost-of-Living Ratio: 40%
  • Median Base Salary: $57,179
  • Median Home Value: $143,400

Even though I’m a Michigan grad and therefore not supposed to like Ohio, I have a soft spot for Cincy. My favorite activity is wandering the scenic riverfront park and then having a picnic while I watch the boats sail past.

Procter & Gamble, the University of Cincinnati, and Kroger are major employers here.

6. St. Louis, Missouri

  • Cost-of-Living Ratio: 40%
  • Median Base Salary: $56,896
  • Median Home Value: $141,900

How aren’t more people flocking to St. Louis? This city’s got it going on.

Thanks to its large student population, it has a bumping nightlife and lots of nice cafes. Another highlight is the City Museum, which is basically a jungle gym for adults and kids.

Big industries include biotech and health care, and Boeing employs more than 15,000 people in the area.

5. Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Cost-of-Living Ratio: 43%
  • Median Base Salary: $56,000
  • Median Home Value: $130,200

My friend’s dad—a well-traveled person—calls Indianapolis his favorite city. Although I’ll never fully understand that, I can see why it’s appealing.

I lived in this affordable city during middle school, and it offers midwestern values, a healthy population of young people, quality sports teams, and a convenient location in the heart of the country.

Its major industries include health care, education, finance, and tourism.

4. Cleveland, Ohio

  • Cost-of-Living Ratio: 44%
  • Median Base Salary: $55,000
  • Median Home Value: $125,500

Downtown Cleveland is cool—and not just because it’s home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. There’s a fun and active culture about the city, as evidenced by the many restaurants on the walkable East 4th Street.

Cleveland’s major industries are advanced manufacturing and health care.

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Cost-of-Living Ratio: 45%
  • Median Base Salary: $56,896
  • Median Home Value: $126,700

With American Eagle, GNC, and Dick’s Sporting Goods headquartered in the area, in addition to several manufacturing and steel companies, incomes are good in Pittsburgh.

So if you want to be in the Northeast and close to major cities such as Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Washington, DC, Pittsburgh makes an excellent home base.

2. Memphis, Tennessee

  • Cost-of-Living Ratio: 46%
  • Median Base Salary: $52,000
  • Median Home Value: $112,100

The birthplace of rock ’n’ roll has a lot going for it: a vibrant culture, mild winters, and excellent southern cooking. With a median home value of just over $110K—the lowest on this list—it’s clear you can get a lot for your money here.

Major employers include FedEx, International Paper, AutoZone, and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

1. Detroit, Michigan

  • Cost-of-Living Ratio: 50%
  • Median Base Salary: $61,500
  • Median Home Value: $123,100

Detroit is on the upswing. I went to college nearby, and I know many people who moved back and are passionate about the city’s growth and success.

Quicken Loans and General Motors have headquarters here, and other major industries with employment potential include health care, finance, and government.

How Major Expenses and Income Affect the Cost of Living

Although I’ve written before about the most affordable cities in the US, Glassdoor’s report provides a new angle on the issue by including income—because the combination of low-cost homes and decent incomes makes a compelling argument for midsize cities. Even if you take steps to drastically reduce your cost-of-living expenses, that pairing is hard to beat.

Still not convinced? The numbers might change your mind.

Let’s say you lived in San Francisco, where the median home value is $806,600, and saved 10% of your $88,000 median base salary. It would take you over 18 years to save a 20% down payment. If you lived in Detroit and saved 10% of your $61,500 income, it would take you only four to save for a 20% down payment on a $123,100 house. So the next time a flashy city calls, think about that.

If you’re ready to pack up and move to one of these affordable cities, it’s a good idea to check out mortgage loan offerings in the area first. Affordable housing is great, but it’s even better when paired with a loan that has a competitive APR. Check out Credit.com’s Mortgage Loan Center to learn more about available loan offerings.

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The World’s Priciest (& Cheapest) Cities to Live in 2017

Will Travel for Affordable Housing?

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The World’s Priciest (& Cheapest) Cities to Live in 2017

Will Travel for Affordable Housing?

Image: Eva-Katalin 

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11 Ways I Saved Money By Leaving New York City

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It was a tough choice when I decided to leave New York City last year, just six years after I moved there. But, like a lot of people my age, I was seeing my future in New York as plagued with constant money frustrations.

The cost of the city isn’t easy to ignore. Every New Yorker (unless you make a seven-figure salary) talks about how expensive it is. It’s a conversation people have at every party, it’s a topic we’re constantly complaining about on Twitter, it’s a daily annoyance that permeates almost every decision you make. After all, you either have a monthly unlimited Metro card, stay in your neighborhood or pay $2.75 to go anywhere (that’s $5.50 for a roundtrip).

The tough part of leaving NYC wasn’t realizing it was outlandishly, unforgivably, unrelentingly expensive. The tough part was leaving the good friends — the family, really — I had in New York. But I knew certain dreams I had, like buying a home, were just not possible in a city where rent on a one-bedroom apartment within an hour’s commute of my office was continually edging closer to $2,000 a month. So I made the leap (or the drive, to be specific) and relocated to Richmond, Va.

Here are the big differences in cost I’ve discovered since leaving the big city for the South.

1. Housing Costs

I tell everyone this fact — my mortgage for a four-bedroom house (including taxes and insurance) is less than my rent for a one-bedroom apartment in NYC ever was. It may be the New Yorker in me (I wasn’t lying, everyone compares their rent price at parties in NYC), but I am still blown away at how much more I can afford outside of the city.

2. I Ended My Reliance on Seamless

Everything in NYC is just a little bit harder than everywhere else. It’s the same for other big cities, I’m sure, but every time I’d look at an elderly woman walking with her cart down the block to get groceries, I was reminded that there are conveniences other Americans are privy to that New Yorkers aren’t. One of those things is making food at home. I found it so hard to plan meals in advance and instead ended up relying on Seamless. I lived in Queens — one of the most diverse counties in America — and that diversity is reflected in the endless delivery options. Want a burger? There were at least four dozen places to get one. Sushi? Same thing.

The Seamless delivery options for my first apartment when I moved to Richmond? 11 total, mostly pizza places. And a few of them had a $9 delivery fee, making it an easy choice to stop ordering.

3. My Crock Pot Is My Best Friend

It’s hard to have a lot of appliances in your kitchen as a New Yorker. You’re lucky if you have enough counter space for a toaster oven, let alone a crock pot or a stand mixer or a juicer. Don’t get me wrong — people make it work, but it wasn’t until I moved to Richmond that I got appliances that have made spending less money on food easier.

My crock pot is a saving grace. I spend about $120 on groceries for a week and that provides every meal. I work from home, so I now wake up in the morning and, in the time I would have spent commuting in NYC, my husband or I get everything into a crock pot and turn it on. Dinner is ready hours later, and I don’t have to rely on high-cost but high-convenience options like fast food.

4. Drink Costs

Going out in a city where you drive everywhere naturally limits how much you drink while out. Also, instead of the average cocktail being $12, I’m paying $8 a drink. For a 20-something like myself, it adds up quickly.

5. Ubers/Lyfts/Taxis

A taxi ride home after a night out was my “splurge” in NYC. And by splurge, I mean all my discretionary income would end up going toward taxi rides. It was a vice. I have my own car now, so I drive everywhere. You might be saying, “but your car costs more than a monthly Metro card!” and you’re right. But when you add up what I spent on subway fares, cab rides and Ubers, I spend less every month on my car loan payment, gas and car insurance.

6. I Broke My Starbucks Addiction

I used to buy a venti skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks most days. Another vice. It was on the way to the office every day (in fact, there were two on my walk from the subway exit to my office door). Add it up — $5 a day (roughly) x 5 days a week x four weeks a month = $100 month. I make my own coffee now (Blanchard’s Dark As Dark, for any Richmondites). It’s $9 a bag and a bag lasts me and my husband a week. Total cost a month = $36. That’s a nice little savings.

7. Commuting

I work from home, I don’t commute. Monthly savings: $116.50 (price of an unlimited 30-day Metro card)

8. The ‘Walk From the Subway’ Splurge

Every now and then I’d walk home from my subway stop and see a really delicious-looking napoleon in a bakery window, or a sale sign on artisanal soaps or a new hair product that looked like it would make my hair longer, better, stronger, less frizzy. I’d stop and swipe my card. The daily temptation was hard to avoid, and it added up pretty quickly. When you walk by a store at least 10 times a week, it’s easy to stop in once in a while and justify it as a one-off expense.

9. Movie Tickets

A movie ticket in NYC was close to, if not more than, $15 per person. That means a night out with my husband was $30 minimum. In Richmond? Under $10 per person. A small savings, but we’re movie buffs and go to the movies often enough that it makes a small difference.

10. Buying In Bulk

Costco! I can’t tell you how much I love Costco. Granted, I’m a new devotee so the shine may have worn off for others, but I have really started to crunch the numbers and am figuring out how much buying in bulk can save me, especially for things I know won’t expire, like cleaning supplies. In New York City, I could’ve shopped at Costco, but I couldn’t store a massive pack of paper towels in my tiny apartment, so bulk buying wasn’t really an option.

11. Trips Home for the Holidays

I used to spend $600 a year getting a flight home to Ohio for the holidays. My husband would spend about the same to join me. Now, we can drive home. It takes a little longer, but with gas prices about $1.50 a gallon in our area, we drove home this year and back for less than $75 in gas costs. $75 in gas vs. $1,200 in plane tickets. It’s a big savings, especially around the holidays when everyone’s credit card balances are up (potentially hurting their credit scores — you can see if your credit scores are taking a hit for free on Credit.com).

Should everyone leave NYC? No! But leaving the city has its appeal.

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