15 U.S. Cities With High Salaries and Low Costs of Living

Say goodbye to financial stress in these affordable yet prosperous U.S. cities.

colorful houses
Updated May 28, 2024
Fact checked

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

It can be hard to find an affordable city with high-paying jobs that will help you move beyond living paycheck to paycheck.

However, there are some gems where you can find both affordability and good pay. Check out a few cities to see if they might appeal to you.

All cost-of-living and median home price data comes from Redfin and is for June.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

Minneapolis, Minnesota

stevengaertner/Adobe minneapolis skyline

Minneapolis might be cold, but the job market is hot. This is a good place to find high-paying jobs and an affordable cost of living. The median home sale price is a modest $340,000, compared to a national median price of $439,716.

The area serves as headquarters for big companies such as General Mills, Best Buy, and 3M. Here, you should be able to find work that pays enough to let you crush your debt or build up your savings.

Huntsville, Alabama

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe huntsville alabama usa skyline

Huntsville is home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, which brings high-paying science and tech jobs to the area.

The city is also relatively affordable, with the median sale price for a home coming in at $322,500.

Raleigh, North Carolina

Mark Alan Howard/Adobe downtown raleigh north carolina

Raleigh makes up part of the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Three research universities are nearby, making the area an excellent place to find great jobs.

The median sale price for a home in Raleigh was $442,000. The city also has a cost of living that is 4% lower than the national average.

Earn a $250 travel bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and you can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

You can earn additional points just by using this card for your everyday purchases — unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel or dining purchases.

If you want to travel and dine out more, the Travel Rewards card can help you get where you want to go.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

Cedar Park, Texas

Jacob/Adobe aerial view of cedar park

Austin, Texas, has grown in recent years, with more high-paying jobs moving into the area. Several cutting-edge companies call the city or nearby cities home, including Dell Technologies, Oracle, and Tesla.

However, Austin’s housing market can be expensive, with a median sale price of $587,250. So, it might be better to check out cheaper options nearby, such as Cedar Park.

Cedar Park has a median home sale price of $540,000. The cost of living in the city is also 1% lower than the national average.

Lincoln, Nebraska

Jacob/Adobe downtown lincoln nebraska

Lincoln is home to the University of Nebraska and Nebraska Wesleyan University, making it a good place for academic jobs and other lucrative work.

The city has a cost of living 8% lower than the national average and a median home sale price of $290,000.

Norfolk, Virginia

Col. Wilson/Adobe aerial view of norfolk virginia

Norfolk is on the Chesapeake Bay, and Naval Station Norfolk is the largest naval station in the world. That brings jobs that pay well to the area.

The median home sale price is $315,000.

Aurora, Illinois

jonbilous/Adobe paramount theater in aurora

Aurora is about an hour outside of Chicago, and you can drive to the big city in around an hour if you find a great job there.

Then, you can bring back the dollars you earn to an affordable spot such as Aurora, where the median home sale price is $320,000.

Bloomington, Indiana

Hank + Tank/Adobe bloomington indiana

Bloomington is another college town on this list. It's home to Indiana University, which provides many good jobs.

The city also boasts an affordable housing market, with a median sale price of $302,500.

Ames, Iowa

Jacob/Adobe aerial view of downtown ames

The parade of college towns continues with Ames; the city’s largest employer is Iowa State University.

Homes are affordable in the area, with a median sale price of $305,000. The cost of living in Ames is 5% lower than the national average.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Bentonville, Arkansas

Sono Creative/Adobe modern houses in bentonville

Bentonville is home to Walmart's headquarters. You'll find plenty of top-paying jobs at Walmart's corporate office and other businesses in the area.

It's also affordable to live there. The median home sale price is a bit high ($454,064), but the cost of living in the city is 8% lower than the national average.

Jefferson City, Missouri

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe missouri river

Jefferson City is the state capital of Missouri, and there are plenty of top-paying jobs in government offices there. The college town of Columbia — home to the University of Missouri — is nearby and offers great jobs as well.

The median sale price for a home in the area is $259,900, while the cost of living is 16% lower than the national average.

Greenville, South Carolina

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe greenville south carolina

Greenville is home to the North American headquarters of Michelin Man, and the tire manufacturer provides some jobs with solid incomes.

The city also has an affordable housing market, with a median home sale price of $455,000 in June.

Madison, Wisconsin

nejdetduzen/Adobe madison city street view

Madison is the state capital of Wisconsin and home to the University of Wisconsin, which attracts good jobs to the area.

The city also had a 2% unemployment rate in December, which was below the national rate of 3.7% for the same month, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Home prices are on the rise in the area, but you can still get an affordable house. The median sale price for the city is $425,000.

Midland, Michigan

Jacob/Adobe michigan during summer

Midland is the home of Dow Chemical Co., which helps boost the pay for jobs in the area. The city also has a mean hourly wage of $30.14, compared to a mean hourly wage of $29.76 in the U.S., according to the BLS.

The city is also affordable, with a median home sale price of $245,000 in June.

Beaumont, Texas

gchapel/Adobe aerial view of beaumont texas

Beaumont is a center of the oil and gas industry, so there are plenty of high-paying jobs in the area that can help you build wealth.

Homes in Beaumont are affordable, with a median sale price of $173,000. The cost of living is 5% less than the national average.

Bottom line

fizkes/Adobe pay bills online via e-bank

There are some great cities where you can get a good-paying job without having to turn around and spend all your money just so you can afford to live there.

The cities on this list can help you get ahead financially by offering the best of both worlds: affordability and great career opportunities.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards

Benefits

Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
4.1
Apply Now

on Bank of America’s secure website

Read Card Review

Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

$0

+

Why we like it

Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.