Are You a Teacher? You Can Live Like Royalty in These States

teacher strike

Detroit teachers stage a sick-out for the second day in a row. They’re looking for a guarantee that they’ll be paid for work they perform. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Teachers are criminally underappreciated. That’s subjective, but anyone that has ever spent the day teaching fourth-graders will believe it as fact. In the United States, strong teachers unions have left many well-compensated with excellent benefits, including pensions. But it’s not so great everywhere, and as a result there are states that have a major need for teachers. Hawaii is a good example, which has a major teacher shortage but also ranks dead last in pay.

Just looking at salaries and benefits don’t tell the whole story, though. Making $55,000 per year in California is different than, say, $55,000 in Ohio. Fortunately, we know the adjusted salaries for teachers, which tells us where dollars go the furthest. Here are the top 10.

10. Delaware

Delaware lighthouse

Cape Henlopen in Lewes, Delware | Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

Adjusted salary: $57,588

Teacher turnover in recent years has led Delaware to focus more on rising up this list. Once rated at No. 14 in the nation, they now come in at No. 10 in adjusted salary. The state has a moderately high cost of living compared to the rest of the nation, but it pales when you look at its New England counterparts, such as New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and even Rhode Island.

In every state, the benefit is going to vary from city to city. But according to Niche, the best district in Delaware to be a teacher (according to several criteria, going beyond pay) is Appoquinimink School District.

9. New York

The New York City skyline.

The New York City skyline | fietstouring/iStock/Getty Images

Adjusted salary: $57,661

Coming in at No. 9 is the state of New York, which is notoriously teacher-friendly. But of course, that number is just the average salary. If you’re living in New York City, for example, the adjusted salary would likely be significantly lower. A starting salary for an inexperienced teacher with a bachelor’s in NYC is $54,000, which is probably just enough to land you a studio apartment and some Ramen noodles. But a teacher with a master’s and eight years of experience will come in over $80,000.

According to Niche, the best school district in New York doesn’t reside in New York City, but Jericho Union Free District in Jericho, New York.

8. Indiana

Indianapolis

Downtown Indianapolis skyline at twilight | iStock/Getty Images

Adjusted salary: $57,696

The actual pay in Indiana for teachers isn’t among the best in the nation, but the fact that the state carries a low cost of living is a major boost in their favor. Actually, it’s the 11th-best in the nation. If you decide to take your talents to the cornfields, you’ll lose out on the glitz and glamour of New York and the laid back attitude of California, but Indianapolis is a solid compromise.

According to Niche, the best school district is West Lafayette Community School Corporation.

7. Georgia

Riverwalk in Augusta Georgia

Augusta, Georgia, downtown scene at River Walk | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

Adjusted salary: $59,289

The southern states are mostly unfriendly toward teachers, but having one of the top-10 lowest cost of living is a major point in their favor. If you like warm weather, southern accents, waffle houses, and the ability to drive to the beach, you could be in luck. The money in Georgia will go pretty far, all things considered. Niche says that the best school district is Buford City Schools in Buford, which has a population under 15,000. In Buford, you’re a short drive from Atlanta, the Chattahoochee National Forest, and about 280 miles from Savannah.

6. Iowa

Des Moines

The Des Moines skyline | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Adjusted salary: $59,341

Iowa comes in at No. 6 on the list thanks in large part to having the fifth-best cost of living in the United States. Although the miles and miles of corn and flat terrain might drive you mad, there are plenty of things to like about Iowa. Des Moines, for example, has a minor-league baseball team and several museums. However, the best school district is actually Ames Community School District. Ames has a population of around 60,000 and is only about 30 miles away from Des Moines.

5. Ohio

Cincinnati downtown early in the night

Cincinnati downtown early in the night | AndreyKrav/iStock/Getty Images

Adjusted salary: $60,656

Another midwestern state with a low cost of living to make the list, Ohio has a lot of benefits. If you want big cities, Cincinnati and Cleveland are good places to be. If politics are your thing, good news! Your vote matters here, as Ohio is known as one of the most prominent swing states. As for the best district, that belongs to Solon City School District. Solon is part of the Cleveland metro area, so you could have a great place to work that’s not to far from a metropolis.

4. Wyoming

Wyoming is a beautiful place.

Wyoming is a beautiful place. | Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Adjusted salary: $62,989

Have you ever met anyone from Wyoming? Us neither. We’re not totally convinced the state actually exists. All joking aside, it’s a great place for teachers and people who love the simple life. Wyoming has a semi-dry climate and mountains, which can make for surprisingly beautiful landscape. The best district is Sheridan County School District No. 2 in Sheridan, which is a small town of around 30,000. Places of interest near Sheridan include Bighorn National Forest.

3. Pennsylvania

Welcome to Pennsylvania road sign

“Welcome to Pennsylvania” road sign | benkrut/iStock/Getty Images

Adjusted salary: $63,221

There are a lot of benefits to living in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh is a big city that has a surprisingly good cost of living. It rains frequently and can get very cold in the winter, but the interstate system makes it easy to navigate. There’s also Philadelphia, of course, where you can run up the steps like Rocky or visit the liberty bell. According to Niche, the best district is Tredyffrin-Easttown School District in Wayne. It’s a small town, but if you crave the big city, Manhattan is right around a two-hour drive.

2. Illinois

Springfield, Illinois

The Illinois state capitol building is located in downtown Springfield. | fotoguy22/iStock/Getty Images

Adjusted salary: $64,232

Despite having the notoriously expensive Chicago taking up a large portion of the state’s population, Illinois falls in the top-20 in the United States for cost of living. In fact, moderately big areas like Springfield have good teacher salaries but very low cost of living. From Springfield, St. Louis is just 90 miles and Chicago just 200. But if you’re looking for the best school district, that belongs to New Trier Township High School District No. 203 in Northfield, which is an affluent suburb of Chicago.

1. Michigan

Lansing, Michigan city

Lansing, Michigan city | Henryk Sadura/iStock/Getty Images

Adjusted salary: $72,424

Michigan easily slides in at No. 1 on this list, thanks to having both a low cost of living and great salaries for teachers. But like most states, it’s all about where you live. The Stevensville and St. Joseph area is nice and will provide fun summer days at the beach. On a clear day, you can even see Chicago across Lake Michigan. The best place for teachers in the state is Birmingham Public Schools in Beverly Hills, which is a small suburb of Detroit.

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