Special Report

Best Places to Live on a Budget of $30K

The cost of living has been rising just about everywhere. With wages not rising as quickly, many people have found themselves priced out of places they could once comfortably afford.

Experts often suggest that individuals should spend no more than 30% of their monthly income on rent. However, in a country where the federal minimum wage is set at $7.25 an hour, this can be very difficult in many places with higher rents. There has been a push for an increase in the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour, but as the cost of living in cities rapidly climbs, even this minimum wage can be difficult to live on.

In some metro areas, the cost of living went up by over 20% between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The cost of housing and food both increased nationwide by more than 20% according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Wage increases, meanwhile, though they vary by occupation and earnings level, generally did not go up by even 10% during the same time period. The pandemic has certainly reshaped the work world, and wages are expected to rise somewhat for a number of reasons. Here are the 16 states where incomes are rising fastest.

As the cost of living has continued to climb in most places, and with the rapid expansion of remote work, many people can relocate to places within their budget. In turn, this can help pump money into smaller cities but can also create problems by pricing out those that already live there but don’t make big city wages from remote work jobs.

24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of the 20 best metro areas to live on a budget of $31,000 a year by reviewing data from Move.org, a site that compares and reviews moving companies and quotes. Move.org ranked metro areas based on an index that includes four measures: median gross rent, monthly food cost, violent crime rate, and property crime rent. Metro areas with a median monthly rent over $886 and metro areas with missing crime data from the FBI were excluded. 

These cities are spread across the country and can be good for someone looking for a new start or a place to settle down on a fixed income. They are generally (more) affordable and have low crime rates. None of them have over 1 million residents but they range in size from medium to small cities. (This is the state where retirees are most likely to move).

Click here to see the best places to live on a budget of $30k

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