12 U.S. Cities Where Your Paycheck Will Go The Furthest


Stretching your paycheck is a major concern for most of us while wanting to live decently in a sophisticated metropolis. In a recent study by Glassdoor.com, they conducted a study where a person’s salary goes farthest, based on the ratio of salary and home value.

When Americans or any citizen for that matter, consider moving to another part of the country, they are forced to make a tough choice. Should they go to a city with the best job opportunities or a less economically active area that offers a better standard of living, particularly more affordable housing?

Are you one of those in a dilemma? Then you’ve come to the right place. There are still plenty of metropolitan areas in the U.S. where you can get the best of both worlds. Check out the cities on the list to help you decide on your next home. Here are the 12 U.S. Cities Where Your Paycheck Will Go The Furthest.

12. Detroit, MI
  • Cost of Living Ratio: 50%
  • Median Base Salary: $61,500
  • Median Home Value: $123,100

Opening our list is Detroit, Michigan. Detroit is the most populated city in the U.S. state of Michigan, the fourth-largest city in the Midwest and the largest city in the United States–Canada border.

After a publicly declared bankruptcy, Detroit has focused on restoring its downtown. Quicken Loans set up shop in the city a few years ago, and foundations, corporations and the federal government have invested billions in helping to turn the city around.

Some people opt for Detroit because of work, while for others it’s the low cost of living. If you’re a writer, the Write A House project gives houses to writers for free. How cool is that? Now, who says writers can’t live decently?

11. Memphis, TN
  • Cost of Living Ratio: 46%
  • Median Base Salary: $52,000
  • Median Home Value: $112,100

Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee and is the youngest of Tennessee’s major cities. A resident of Memphis is referred to as a Memphian, and the Memphis region is known, particularly to media outlets, the Mid-South.

Memphis is known for country music, rock ‘n’ roll and the blues. It is also a modernized city with a growing reputation as a tech hub. Memphis is home, as well, to FedEx (FDX), which is the largest employer in the city.

10. Pittsburgh, PA
  • Cost of Living Ratio: 45%
  • Median Base Salary: $56,896
  • Median Home Value: $126,700

Pittsburgh is the 63rd largest city in the U.S. and the second-largest in Pennsylvania next to Philadelphia. It is known as the “City of Steel” for its more than 300 steel-related businesses and as the “City of Bridges” for its 446 bridges.

It is also known as a tech hub with Google, Apple, Bosch, Facebook, Uber, Nokia, Autodesk, and IBM among the 1,600 technology firms creating billions in annual Pittsburgh salary. Pittsburgh is also home to research and development frontrunners Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.

In 2015, Pittsburgh was listed among the “eleven most livable cities in the world” and is a Center for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, sustainable energy, and energy extraction. No wonder Millenials have been moving there.

9. Cleveland, OH
  • Cost of Living Ratio: 44%
  • Median Base Salary: $55,000
  • Median Home Value: $125,500

Once painfully known as the “Mistake on the Lake,” Cleveland has spent the past few decades recovering from a drop in the steel and manufacturing industries back in the 1970s and 1980s. Investment in areas of the city such as the University Circle has renewed the city. Cleveland is also home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The city is also attracting millennials, thanks to a reasonable cost of living and job opportunities. Downtown Cleveland is among the top 10 U.S. cities in the growth rate of college-educated millennials, according to the Cleveland Foundation. The city has many nicknames, the oldest of which in present use being “The Forest City”.

8. Indianapolis, IN
  • Cost of Living Ratio: 43%
  • Median Base Salary: $56,000
  • Median Home Value: $130,200

Indianapolis is the second most populous city in the Midwest, after Chicago, and 14th largest in the U.S. which covers 372 square miles (960 square kilometers), making it the 16th largest city by land area in the U.S.

This midwestern city has a walkable downtown and offers plenty of sports and culture. So if these are your interests then you’ll find what you want here. The city is possibly best known for yearly hosting the world’s largest single-day sporting event, the Indianapolis 500.

7. St. Louis, MO
  • Cost of Living Ratio: 40%
  • Median Base Salary: $56,896
  • Median Home Value: $141,900

St. Louis is an independent city and major U.S. port in the state of Missouri. The economy of metro St. Louis relies on service, manufacturing, trade, transportation of goods, and tourism. Its metro area is home to major corporations, including Anheuser-Busch, Express Scripts, Centene, Boeing Defense, Emerson, and Energizer to name a few.

This city has also become known for its growing medical, pharmaceutical and research presence. With its iconic arch, St. Louis rises as the historic gateway to the west. The city today also provides a gateway to a secure quality of life, thanks to a low cost of living.

6. Cincinnati, OH
  • Cost of Living Ratio: 40%
  • Median Base Salary: $57,179
  • Median Home Value: $143,400

Cincinnati is sometimes thought of as the first purely “American” city. This Ohio city was once called the “Paris of America,” but now it’s gaining confidence among millennials as a city with an affordable cost of living. One local company, Total Quality Logistics, ranked among Fortune’s list of the best workplaces for millennials, while the city has an intern program to attract young workers.

5. Birmingham, AL
  • Cost of Living Ratio: 40%
  • Median Base Salary: $50,800
  • Median Home Value: $128,000

Did you know that most of the original settlers who founded Birmingham were of English ancestry? The city also ranks as one of the most important business centers in the Southeastern United States and as one of the largest banking centers in the nation.

Birmingham is home to the University of Alabama School of Medicine (formerly the Medical College of Alabama) and the University of Alabama School of Dentistry since 1947. This southern city combines urban living with outdoor access since the town has more green space per capita than any other major U.S. city. If you love urban outdoors then this is the city for you.

4. Kansas City, MO

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

Kansas is named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. By 2015, Kansas was one of the most productive agricultural states, producing high yields of wheat, corn, sorghum, and soybeans.

This city might be known for jazz and barbecue, but it also offers a relatively low cost of living. The cost of living ratio which is the median salary divided by the median home value stands at 39 percent, much better than San Francisco’s ratio of 11 percent.

3. Louisville, KY
  • Cost of Living Ratio: 39%
  • Median Base Salary: $54,000
  • Median Home Value: $137,500
  • Louisville is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the 30th-most populous city in the United States. Many modern skyscrapers are located downtown, as well as older preserved structures. It combines the charm of old and contemporary structures.

    According to the Greater Louisville Association of Realtors, the area with the lowest median home sales price is west of Interstate 65, in the West and South Ends, the middle range of home sales prices are between Interstates 64 and 65 in the South and East Ends, and the highest median home sales price are north of Interstate 64 in the East End.

    2. Buffalo, NY
    • Cost of Living Ratio: 39%
    • Median Base Salary: $50,000
    • Median Home Value: $128,100

    Have you always dreamed of living in New York but doubt if you could afford it? Then you have to consider Buffalo, NY. It is New York state’s 2nd-most populous city after New York City.

    After an economic downturn in the latter half of the 20th century, Buffalo’s economy has transitioned to sectors that include financial services, technology, biomedical engineering, and education. Residents of Buffalo are called “Buffalonians”. The city’s nicknames include “The Queen City”, “The Nickel City” and “The City of Good Neighbors”.

    1. Oklahoma City, OK
    • Cost of Living Ratio: 38%
    • Median Base Salary: $65,000
    • Median Home Value: $172,100

    Oklahoma City is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Located in the Great Plains region, Oklahoma City features one of the largest livestock markets in the world. Downtown Oklahoma City is currently seeing an influx of new private investment and large-scale public works projects, which have helped to restore a central business district left almost deserted by the Oil Bust of the early 1980s. The centerpiece of downtown is the newly renovated Crystal Bridge and Myriad Botanical Gardens, one of the few elements of the Pei Plan to be completed. Good things lie ahead for this bustling city.

    Glassdoor’s chief economist, Dr. Andrew Chamberlin said, “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.”

    Many of these cities are found in the Midwest and southern states, said Jessica Jaffe, community expert at Glassdoor. Although salaries may be lower than in more expensive cities, housing costs are often a fraction of what an apartment in New York City or San Francisco would get. Now that you’ve seen the list, which ones do you see yourself living in?