For recent graduates, young professionals or folks considering a career change, affordability of housing often becomes the deciding factor in where they choose to look for a job. Of course, we all want to make the highest possible salary, but a souped-up paycheck in a city with sky-high rent won’t do you much good since you’ll have very little left over each month once you’ve paid your landlord.

At BusinessStudent.com, wanted to see which areas of the country, and which specific cities in those areas, give business professionals the biggest bang for the buck, so we compared the highest quoted salaries from over 100 business-related jobs on Indeed.com to average rent for a two-bedroom apartment across America from Rentjungle.com and came up with the top 25 most affordable cities to live and work. 

You can see the full listing below, but here’s a quick summary of what we learned:

  • The average salary for the full top 25 is $72,230, and the overall average income left after rent is about 81 percent.
  • Texas, the nation’s second most-populous state, is by far the overall leader on our list, placing a total of five cities in the top 25. The highest-rated Texas city on our list is Fort Worth, where the average worker has more than 80 percent of their income left after rent.
  • The Midwest placed eight cities on our list, including three in Ohio alone.
  • No spoilers, but you should strongly consider Oklahoma, as the Sooner State boasts two of the top three cities, including the overall No. 1.
  • Dallas had the highest average salary at $82,609, while its Texas neighbor, College Station, had the lowest average salary at just $55,086.
  • The cheapest average monthly rent was $863 in Tulsa, while the highest average rent was Dallas’ $1,422.

Before you start your new job search, be sure to consult this list of the 25 most affordable cities to live and work in the U.S., but you also remember to take into account things like income tax (two of the states on our list, Texas and Nevada, have no personal state income tax), transportation and insurance costs.

Here’s our list, in ascending order, of the 25 cities that provide the highest salary after deducting rent:


25. Tempe, AZ

Average salary: $71,290
Average rent: $1,259
After-rent salary: $56,182
% income after rent: 79%

24. Houston, TX

Average salary: $79,579
Average rent: $1,401
After-rent salary: $62,767
% income after rent: 79%

23. Greenville, SC

Average salary: $68,675
Average rent: $1,201
After-rent salary: $54,263
% income after rent: 79%

22. Dallas, TX

Average salary: $82,609
Average rent: $1,422
After-rent salary: $65,545
% income after rent: 79%

21. Irving, TX

Average salary: $77,527
Average rent: $1,327
After-rent salary: $61,603
% income after rent: 79%

20. Raleigh, NC

Average salary: $78,391
Average rent: $1,323
After-rent salary: $62,515
% income after rent: 80%

19. Cincinnati, OH

Average salary: $74,927
Average rent: $1,260
After-rent salary: $59,807
% income after rent: 80%

18. College Station, TX

Average salary: $55,086
Average rent: $906
After-rent salary: $44,214
% income after rent: 80%

17. Cleveland, OH

Average salary: $72,636
Average rent: $1,168
After-rent salary: $58,620
% income after rent: 81%

16. Columbus, OH

Average salary: $71,341
Average rent: $1,139
After-rent salary: $57,673
% income after rent: 81%

15. Kansas City, MO

Average salary: $73,869
Average rent: $1,178
After-rent salary: $59,733
% income after rent: 81%

14. Detroit, MI

Average salary: $81,197
Average rent: $1,292
After-rent salary: $65,693
% income after rent: 81%

13. Phoenix, AZ

Average salary: $74,519
Average rent: $1,178
After-rent salary: $60,383
% income after rent: 81%

12. Louisville, KY

Average salary: $66,832
Average rent: $1,049
After-rent salary: $54,244
% income after rent: 81%

11. Indianapolis, IN

Average salary: $70,284
Average rent: $1,102
After-rent salary: $57,060
% income after rent: 81%

10. Omaha, NE

Average salary: $65,089
Average rent: $1,009
After-rent salary: $52,981
% income after rent: 81%

9. Grand Rapids, MI

Average salary: $68,546
Average rent: $1,048
After-rent salary: $55,970
% income after rent: 82%

8. Birmingham, AL

Average salary: $73,758
Average rent: $1,120
After-rent salary: $60,318
% income after rent: 82%

7. Fort Worth, TX

Average salary: $75,797
Average rent: $1,108
After-rent salary: $62,501
% income after rent: 82%

6. Columbia, SC

Average salary: $68,541
Average rent: $999
After-rent salary: $56,553
% income after rent: 83%

5. Memphis, TN

Average salary: $69,866
Average rent: $984
After-rent salary: $58,058
% income after rent: 83%

4. Las Vegas, NV

Average salary: $74,199
Average rent: $1,038
After-rent salary: $61,743
% income after rent: 83%

3. Oklahoma City, OK

Average salary: $73,132
Average rent: $958
After-rent salary: $61,636
% income after rent: 84%

2. Lexington, KY

Average salary: $69,917
Average rent: $889
After-rent salary: $59,249
% income after rent: 85%

1. Tulsa, OK

Average salary: $68,147
Average rent: $863
After-rent salary: $57,791
% income after rent: 85%


Conclusion

There’s no doubt you’ll consider probably dozens of factors when thinking about where it is you want to make a life for yourself. But for most of us, having ample disposable income, regardless of what city we call home, is one of the best ways to ensure that we can lead the kinds of lives we want.

If it’s time for you to make your first start, or just a fresh start, a clear-eyed examination of hard data is the best place to begin. Whether you choose the winning entry on this list, Tulsa, or another city, be sure you’ve done your homework and are certain you’ll be able to get a lot of bang for your buck.


Business Jobs Used in Analysis

A career in “business” is broad enough that it can mean just about anything. Hundreds, if not thousands of jobs, can be classified as “business” related work ranging from being an accountant to a chief medical officer. We created an index of 127 “business” careers, where we tracked the average salaries and how they vary by location. While these jobs are by no means comprehensive of all jobs in business, they comprise a representative index of business careers and their highest paying salaries as well as jobs most commonly reported on Indeed.com.

The highest paying job paid $187,000 on average in the United States (Medical Director). The lowest paying business job we track is Security Supervisor, which pays $31,000 per year. The average business job we track pays $75,000 per year.

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Jennifer L. Gaskin
Jennifer L. Gaskin
Jennifer L. Gaskin is an Indiana-based writer & contributing Jobs Editor for BusinessStudent.com. She began her professional career as a do-it-all utility player at a small daily newspaper and has been frequently honored for excellence in journalism. She currently shares her office space with a surprisingly quiet beagle named Baxter.

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