Money Problems? The Best Cities to Make Your Paycheck Last Longer

home model with calculator above dollar bills

Does your paycheck leave money left over after buying a house? | iStock.com/ziquiu

Location, location, location. It matters when you’re choosing where to live, how much you earn, and what your overall cost of living will be. In some cities, the cost of living is extremely high simply because renting an apartment or buying a house costs exorbitantly more than it does in other cities. In others, housing is cheaper, allowing your paycheck to stretch further.

To explore this in detail, Glassdoor wanted to see if there is a definite relationship between location, housing costs, and how much of your paycheck you get to keep after paying for a place to live every month. If you’re spending 30%, 40%, or 50% of your income just to put a roof over your head, you’ll obviously have less money left over to go toward your monthly expenses, not to mention your savings account. As it turns out, housing costs tend to be the largest factor in determining how much money you’ll get to keep after paying your bills — even more than the size of the paycheck itself.

Glassdoor ranked the 50 most populous cities in the United States based on each city’s cost of living ratio, which they determined by the ratio of median annual base salary to median metro home value. (A higher ratio is better for your bank account.) Though paychecks are higher in some of the largest cities in the nation, Glassdoor found that it can’t compensate enough for the extremely expensive housing markets that often come with them. “This report shows that where you live and how much you earn are directly tied to one another,” said Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist, in a release. “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 mid-sized cities versus big metropolitan areas where there is often tighter competition for housing.”

If you’re looking to move to a new city, or simply want to see how your home stacks up, take a look at the 25 cities where your paycheck will stretch the furthest.

25. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Raleigh Skyline in North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina | iStock.com

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 30%
  • Median Base Salary: $62,000
  • Median Home Value: $209,400
  • Number of Open Jobs: 22,339

24. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

Minneapolis downtown skyline

Minneapolis downtown skyline | iStock.com/RudyBalasko

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 30%
  • Median Base Salary: $65,000
  • Median Home Value: $219,400
  • Number of Open Jobs: 64,026

23. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida, USA downtown

Jacksonville, Florida, USA downtown | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 30%
  • Median Base Salary: $50,000
  • Median Home Value: $165,900
  • Number of Open Jobs: 18,205

22. Richmond, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia, USA

Richmond, Virginia, USA | iStock.com/SeanPavonePhoto

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 31%
  • Median Base Salary: $59,800
  • Median Home Value: $191,500
  • Number of Open Jobs: 21,454

21. Hartford, Connecticut

City of Hartford

Hartford | Thinkstock

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 32%
  • Median Base Salary: $68,000
  • Median Home Value: $215,800
  • Number of Open Jobs: 19,025

20. Tampa, Florida

Tampa

Tampa, Florida | iStock.com

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 32%
  • Median Base Salary: $52,000
  • Median Home Value: $163,600
  • Number of Open Jobs: 40,830

19. Chicago, Illinois

Downtown Chicago, including the Sears Tower, is seen from the air from Air Force One as US President George W. Bush flies from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to Los Angeles 30 January 2008. AFP PHOTO/Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Chicago, IL | SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 33%
  • Median Base Salary: $63,000
  • Median Home Value: $193,800
  • Number of Open Jobs: 155,173

18. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Dallas, Texas cityscape with blue sky

Dallas, Texas cityscape with blue sky | iStock.com/f11photo

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 33%
  • Median Base Salary: $61,000
  • Median Home Value: $182,100
  • Number of Open Jobs: 121,241

17. Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, NC | iStock.com

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 36%
  • Median Base Salary: $58,000
  • Median Home Value: $159,800
  • Number of Open Jobs: 37,180

16. San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, Texas | Sean Pavone

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 37%
  • Median Base Salary: $55,000
  • Median Home Value: $150,200
  • Number of Open Jobs: 28,378

15. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta, Georgia, USA downtown city

Atlanta, Georgia | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 37%
  • Median Base Salary: $60,000
  • Median Home Value: $163,000
  • Number of Open Jobs: 90,739

14. Columbus, Ohio

The Scioto river reflects Downtown Columbus Ohio

The Scioto river reflects Downtown Columbus Ohio | iStock.com/David Rigg

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 37%
  • Median Base Salary: $57,000
  • Median Home Value: $154,600
  • Number of Open Jobs: 30,728

13. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

oklahoma city

Oklahoma City | SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 38%
  • Median Base Salary: $50,000
  • Median Home Value: $132,500
  • Number of Open Jobs: 16,388

12. Houston, Texas

Downtown Houston Texas Cityscape

Houston | iStock.com

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 38%
  • Median Base Salary: $65,000
  • Median Home Value: $172,100
  • Number of Open Jobs: 72,033

11. Buffalo, New York

A view of downtown Buffalo from Ft. Erie near the Peace Bridge

A view of downtown Buffalo from Ft. Erie near the Peace Bridge | iStock.com/Miklmar

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 39%
  • Median Base Salary: $50,000
  • Median Home Value: $128,100
  • Number of Open Jobs: 13,599

10. Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville - manhole cover

Louisville, Kentucky | iStock.com/benkrut

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 39%
  • Median Base Salary: $54,000
  • Median Home Value: $137,500
  • Number of Open Jobs: 22,693

9. Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri | iStock.com/tomofbluesprings

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 39%
  • Median Base Salary: $58,000
  • Median Home Value: $147,500
  • Number of Open Jobs: 35,639

8. Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama on a map | iStock

Birmingham, Alabama on a map | iStock

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 40%
  • Median Base Salary: $50,800
  • Median Home Value: $128,000
  • Number of Open Jobs: 15,299

7. Cincinnati, Ohio

Cincinnati downtown early in the night

Cincinnati downtown early in the night | iStock.com/AndreyKrav

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 40%
  • Median Base Salary: $57,179
  • Median Home Value: $143,400
  • Number of Open Jobs: 32,605

6. St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis downtown

St. Louis downtown | iStock.com/f11photo

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 40%
  • Median Base Salary: $56,896
  • Median Home Value: $141,900
  • Number of Open Jobs: 35,300

5. Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis skyline

Indianapolis | iStock.com

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 43%
  • Median Base Salary: $56,000
  • Median Home Value: $130,200
  • Number of Open Jobs: 33,090

4. Cleveland, Ohio

downtown Cleveland by the Veterans Memorial Bridge

Downtown Cleveland by the Veterans Memorial Bridge | iStock.com/PapaBear

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 44%
  • Median Base Salary: $55,000
  • Median Home Value: $125,500
  • Number of Open Jobs: 29,304

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Skyline of downtown Pittsburgh

Skyline of downtown Pittsburgh | iStock.com/f11photo

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 45%
  • Median Base Salary: $56,896
  • Median Home Value: $126,700
  • Number of Open Jobs: 46,379

2. Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Skyline

Memphis | iStock.com

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 46%
  • Median Base Salary: $52,000
  • Median Home Value: $112,100
  • Number of Open Jobs: 17,982

1. Detroit, Michigan

Detroit Skyline during the evening

Detroit | iStock.com/Steven_Kriemadis

  • Cost of Living Ratio: 50%
  • Median Base Salary: $61,500
  • Median Home Value: $123,100
  • Number of Open Jobs: 54,808

The biggest bang for your paycheck

Payslip mock up on a table

Paycheck | iStock.com

As you can see from Glassdoor’s list, Detroit takes the spot for top value when you compare home prices with median paychecks. However, other states offer a larger chance of landing in a spot where you’ll still have plenty of money left over after purchasing a home. For example, both Ohio and Texas both have three cities in the top 25 list. Though states can vary greatly based on geography, those states evidently balance the cost of living well with what their economies offer in terms of take-home pay.

You probably noticed that some of the nation’s largest cities didn’t make the list at all. Chicago made the list, as did Houston and Dallas. However, cities like New York, Boston, and San Francisco didn’t crack the top 25. New York’s cost of living ratio was 18%, and Boston and San Francisco were 17% and 11%, perspectively. As Glassdoor reports, those lower ratios can be blamed on astronomical housing costs, which even higher-than-average paychecks can’t compete with.

In other words, your pay might be great in a larger city, but you won’t get to keep a huge portion of it as you pay back your mortgage.

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