Roughly 70% of the U.S. adult population considers themselves middle class with more than half having incomes ranging from $50,000 to $125,000 a year, according to recent data from Northwestern Mutual.
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Yet a majority of the “middle class” say they are still struggling to make ends meet—often times living paycheck-to-paycheck, which according to a new study from GoBankingRates, a personal finance website, may have something to do with where you live.
GoBankingRates surveyed living expenses in 270 of the largest U.S. cities to see where people could get by on the average annual salary of $49,630 or less. To calculate the income needed to live comfortably in each city, the company said it used the 50-30-20 budgeting rule, which means 50% of income covers necessities, 30% covers discretionary items (i.e. fun) and 20% savings.
Here are the top 5 cheapest places to live with a $50,000 salary:
1) El Paso, Texas Total salary needed: $40,204. Why? It has the second-lowest median rent at $555 per month and the third-lowest cost of groceries and sixth lowest cost of utilities. Plus, El Paso’s rent prices have been falling this year, representing a decline of almost 15%.
2) Springfield, Missouri Total salary needed: $40,834 Why? Springfield’s median monthly rent—the lowest of all 270 cities—is $495—making it one of the most affordable places to live in the U.S. The city also has a growing job market, a diverse mix of industries, and is home to Missouri State University.
3) Lubbock, Texas Total salary needed: $43,201 Why? It’s the third-lowest median monthly rent of $600 and the city’s economy is closely tied to many agriculture and manufacturing industries as well as being a regional hub for retail, healthcare, and entertainment.
4) Albuquerque, New Mexico Total salary needed: $43,573 Why? Albuquerque’s average monthly health insurance premium is $224, which was the lowest on the list. Additionally, the city is home to several high-tech companies and research institutes, including Intel and Sandia National Laboratory.
5) Detroit, Michigan Total salary needed: $44,080 Why? While Detroit’s median household income is $26,095, making it one of the cheapest places to live and the city is making a comeback. Over the last year, thousands of new jobs have been created in the area, according to the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. This includes funds to help launch new startups and grow existing businesses.