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35 Cities Where You Can Afford to Live Off Less Than $50,000

Cameron Huddleston
35 Cities Where You Can Afford to Live Off Less Than $50,000

If you’re struggling to make ends meet, it might have something to do with where you live. It can be tough to stretch even a big paycheck far enough to pay for necessities and have money left over for savings — and a little fun — if you’re in a place where the cost of living is high. So, it might be time to move to a place that’s more affordable .

In order to help you pinpoint the cheapest places to live , GOBankingRates compared living expenses in 270 of the largest U.S. cities to find out where you can live on less than $5,000 a month — or less than approximately $50,000 a year.

To calculate the income needed to live comfortably in each city, we used the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, in which 50 percent of income covers necessities, 30 percent covers discretionary items and 20 percent is for savings. For necessities, we used the cost of rent, groceries, utilities, transportation and healthcare. Then, we doubled the cost of necessities to get the total income needed. Keep reading to see how much money you need to live comfortably in these U.S. cities .

35. Baltimore

  • Annual income needed: $49,761.60
  • Monthly income needed: $4,146.80

If you can’t decide if you should live in Baltimore or Washington, D.C. , consider the cost of living. The latter is not a city where you can live on $5,000 or less a month, mostly due to high rent costs.

34. Saint Petersburg, Fla.

  • Annual income needed: $49,637.04
  • Monthly income needed: $4,136.42

Saint Petersburg is one of the cities with the cheapest rent on this list. If you move here, expect to pay nearly $25,000 for necessities and almost $15,000 for splurges. And devote about $10,000 to your savings.

33. Phoenix

  • Annual income needed: $48,628.96
  • Monthly income needed: $4,052.41

You can make less than $49,000 in Phoenix and still live comfortably — for now. Phoenix is also one of the cities where the cost of living is expected to soar.

32. Garland, Texas

  • Annual income needed: $48,382.56
  • Monthly income needed: $4,031.88

Compared to the other cities on the list, Garland has one of the lowest healthcare costs, which is great news for retirees worried about medical expenses. In fact, Garland is one of the best cities to consider for retirement .

31. Savannah, Ga.

  • Annual income needed: $47,552
  • Monthly income needed: $3,962.67

The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Savannah is a little over $1,000. If you’re thinking about becoming a homeowner instead, consider buying a vacation home in this Southern city. Savannah is one of the best cities for vacation homes .

30. Richmond, Va.

  • Annual income needed: $47,437.76
  • Monthly income needed: $3,953.15

Less than $24,000 is needed for necessities in Richmond, and you need only about $14,000 for splurges. Factor in savings, and you can live well making less than $48,000 in Richmond.

29. Mesa, Ariz.

  • Annual income needed: $47,230.40
  • Monthly income needed: $3,935.87

The low cost of living in this Phoenix suburb makes it possible to cover the cost of necessities, savings and discretionary spending if you make less than $4,000 a month. In fact, it’s one of the best cities to live in if you make minimum wage , according to a previous GOBankingRates study. The average cost of basic utilities in Phoenix is among the lowest in this study.

28. Kansas City, Mo.

  • Annual income needed: $46,655.68
  • Monthly income needed: $3,887.97

Kansas City is one of the major cities in America where you can find rent for under $1,000. That’s partially why it’s one of the best cities for those making less than $50,000. Total annual necessities will cost you about $23,000.

27. Arlington, Texas

  • Annual income needed: $45,742.24
  • Monthly income needed : $3,811.85

In Arlington, necessities will cost you less than $23,000 a year, largely thanks to low rent — a median one-bedroom apartment comes in at around $965.

26. Albany, N.Y.

  • Annual income needed: $44,827.68
  • Monthly income needed: $3,735.64

Albany is one of the cheapest major cities in New York. However, living costs could potentially go up in the future in this city. Tech jobs are on the rise here, and some even believe Albany is one of the cities that could be the next Silicon Valley .

25. Omaha, Neb.

  • Annual income needed: $44,816.64
  • Monthly income needed: $3,734.72

Omaha is another one of the best minimum wage cities in America, according to a separate GOBankingRates study. In this study, it scored well thanks to a rent that comes in at less than $900 a month.

24. Madison, Wis.

  • Annual income needed: $44,771.76
  • Monthly income needed: $3,730.98

In Madison, you can live on less than $3,800 a month. Among all the cities on this list, Madison has some of the lowest grocery costs at $276.94 a month.

23. St. Louis

  • Annual income needed: $44,492.24
  • Monthly income needed: $3,707.69

You can get by on less than $50,000 a year in this city thanks to its affordable cost of living. The median monthly rent is just $895, basic monthly utilities cost $168, and the average monthly cost of groceries is $331.04.

22. Buffalo, N.Y.

  • Annual income needed: $44,473.12
  • Monthly income needed: $3,706.09

Buffalo is one of the cities getting poorer in America — and it’s one of the cheapest as well. Monthly rent is only $900, and the annual cost of gas is one of the lowest in these rankings at $1,763.

21. Columbia, S.C.

  • Annual income needed: $43,939.60
  • Monthly income needed: $3,661.63

Total annual necessities will cost less than $22,000, or $1,830 a month to be exact. According to the 50/30/20 budgeting rule , expect to spend about $13,000 a year on splurges and put aside approximately $9,000 for savings.

20. San Antonio

  • Annual income needed: $43,460.40
  • Monthly income needed: $3,621.70

Although San Antonio is one of the cities where you can live on $50,000 or less, that might not hold true for long. In a separate GOBankingRates study, the Texas city was among the 10 places in America where the cost of living is rising.

19. Las Vegas

  • Annual income needed: $43,454.96
  • Monthly income needed: $3,621.25

Las Vegas still is one of the most affordable places to live. The costs of healthcare, utilities and groceries are cheaper here than in most cities on our list.

18. Oklahoma City

  • Annual income needed: $42,908.56
  • Monthly income needed: $3,575.71

Oklahoma City offers plenty of big-city amenities without big-city costs. For example, it has one of the lowest rents at just $700 a month.

17. Louisville, Ky.

  • Annual income needed: $42,448
  • Monthly income needed: $3,573.33

Louisville is one of the best cities to live on a salary of $50,000 or less. In fact, you can live here on less than $43,000. It has one of the lowest costs for utilities at approximately $142 a month.

16. Memphis, Tenn.

  • Annual income needed: $42,260.16
  • Monthly income needed: $3,521.68

Memphis is one the best places to live on $50,000 or less, largely thanks to the lower cost of utilities and rent. In fact, Memphis is one of the best big cities for renters. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is only $754.

15. Newark, N.J.

  • Annual income needed: $41,948.56
  • Monthly income needed: $3,495.71

Newark is the first city on this list where you can live on less than $42,000 a year. But you’ll likely need a higher salary if you want to be a homeowner instead of a renter; Newark is one of the top 20 cities where home prices are skyrocketing .

14. Columbus, Ohio

  • Annual income needed: $41,750.96
  • Monthly income needed: $3,479.25

Ohio’s capital doesn’t come with a big-city cost of living. It requires an annual income of just $41,750.96 to live comfortably here, and it’s also one of the best places to retire. Plus, it has the No. 2 lowest cost of gas at $1,498 a year — but Newark’s cost is even lower at $803.

13. Tucson, Ariz.

  • Annual income needed: $41,297.84
  • Monthly income needed: $3,441.49

Low rent, gas and utility costs make Tucson one of the best cities to live on a $50,000 salary. The median monthly rent in this city is only $614. That’s a key reason why Tucson is one of the cities where you can realistically live on minimum wage.

12. Billings, Mont.

  • Annual income needed: $41,025.52
  • Monthly income needed: $3,418.79

You can live on less than $5,000 a month in Billings. The city has the No. 2 lowest monthly cost of utilities at $104 and one of the cheapest rents at $675.

11. Rochester, N.Y.

  • Annual income needed: $40,799.68
  • Monthly income needed: $3,399.97

The cost of living in Rochester is much lower than in the state’s biggest city: New York. You need just $40,800 a year — or $3,400 a month — to live in this city. It’s also an affordable place for retirees, ranking as one of the cheapest places to retire in the U.S.

10. Indianapolis

  • Annual income needed: $40,726.80
  • Monthly income needed: $3,393.90

Although it’s the capital of Indiana, Indianapolis is one of the cities where your paycheck stretches the furthest. The median monthly rent is just $775. And the average monthly cost of groceries is among the lowest on this list at $335.

9. Tulsa, Okla.

  • Annual income needed: $40,075.04
  • Monthly income needed: $3,339.59

Low housing costs are a big reason why Tulsa is one of the cheapest places to live. Its median monthly rent of just $595 is the second-lowest on this list.

8. Wichita, Kan.

  • Annual income needed: $39,387.20
  • Monthly income needed: $3,282.27

It doesn’t take big bucks to live in Wichita. In fact, you can live here making less than $40,000 year, or about $3,300 a month. It takes only about $19,700 to cover the cost of necessities here, thanks in large part to a low median monthly rent of $679.

7. Cincinnati

  • Annual income needed: $39,036.80
  • Monthly income needed: $3,253.07

Health insurance costs in Cincinnati are among the lowest on our list, and other affordable necessities make it possible to live here on an income of less than $40,000, let alone $50,000.

6. Albuquerque, N.M.

  • Annual income needed: $38,086.08
  • Monthly income needed: $3,172.34

Albuquerque is easily one of the cities where you can live on $50,000 a year or less. The average monthly health insurance premium of $224 is the lowest on our list. The median monthly rent is $749, and other necessary costs are low enough to get by on approximately $38,000 a year.

5. Lexington, Ky.

  • Annual income needed: $37,729.04
  • Monthly income needed: $3,144.09

Lexington is one of the cities with high salaries and low living costs . With a median monthly rent of $750, housing costs are only $9,000 a year. Combined with other necessities, discretionary expenses and savings, it would take an income of roughly $38,000 to live comfortably here.

4. Fresno, Calif.

  • Annual income needed: $37,465.52
  • Monthly income needed: $3,122.17

In California, you typically need to earn a lot to afford rent and other living expenses. But Fresno is much more affordable. In fact, it takes an income of just $37,466 to cover the cost of necessities, savings and discretionary expenses.

3. Detroit

  • Annual income needed: $34,808.64
  • Total income needed: $2,900.72

Detroit is one of the cheapest places to live, with rent costing just $600 a month and healthcare costing about $230. However, it’s also one of the least tax-friendly cities in America, according to a separate GOBankingRates study.

2. El Paso, Texas

  • Annual income needed: $34,692.56
  • Monthly income needed: $2,891.05

You can live comfortably for well below $50,000 a year, or $5,000 a month, in El Paso. It has the second-lowest median rent at $595, as well as low grocery and utility costs.

1. Springfield, Mo.

  • Annual income needed: $33,175.60
  • Monthly income needed: $2,764.63

Springfield’s median monthly rent of $495 — the lowest on our list — makes it one of the most affordable places to live in the U.S. Other costs are low enough that you can live comfortably here on approximately $33,000 a year, or about $2,800 a month.

Click through to see where your paycheck stretches the furthest .

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Sydney Champion contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed monthly living expenses in the 270 most populous U.S. cities, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates. This cost-of-living comparison included the following factors for a single person: (1) housing, using the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in each city, sourced from Zillow’s May 2018 rental index; (2) groceries, using the recommended amount reported by cost-of-living database Numbeo.com for each city; (3) utilities for a 915-square-foot apartment in each city, according to cost estimates from Numbeo.com; (4) annual gas costs, according to New H+T Index for each city or its nearest metropolitan area; and (5) health insurance premiums as estimated at the state level for 2017 by the Department of Health and Human Services. Monthly costs were totaled and multiplied by 12 to get the annual dollar cost of necessities in each city. This dollar amount for necessities was then doubled to find the actual annual income needed to live comfortably in the city, assuming a person is following the 50/30/20 budgeting guideline, which requires an income double the cost of necessities. The amount of money specified for savings is equal to 20 percent of the total income needed, and the amount specified for discretionary spending is equal to 30 percent of the total income needed.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com : 35 Cities Where You Can Afford to Live Off Less Than $50,000