Free Ebook.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

« Free Moose Tracks Ice Cream | Main | The Best of Money Carnival »

May 09, 2011


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The list is suspect to me. I moved from Illinois (Chicago suburbs) to Texas (Dallas suburbs) and it is waaaaay cheaper in Texas than Illinois (I'm glad I moved before they hiked state taxes in Illinois from 3 to 5% - 67% increase!)

Texas is a great state to live in -- low cost of living, good climate with mild winters, great economy and a responsible government focused on a sustainable future. We moved here over 11 years ago from the upper mid-west... one of the best decisions of my life.

I live in Illinois (not the Chicago area, so COL is much lower) and I'm surprised to see we're #1. I'd like to see the methodology of the study to see how exactly they determined these results.

Still nice to know there's something good about living in Illinois.

I live in NYC, so I am also surprised to not see NY on the list. However, there is a huge income and cost of living disparity between metro NYC and upstate NY.

Ive lived in 3 of the top 10 and owned homes in 3 of the worst 10 so I know 6 of the 20 listed states. I really dont understand how they came up with this list/ it doesnt make a lot of sense to me. Its hard to make money and afford the cost of living in a number of the top 10, where some of the bottom 10 provide a wonderful lifestyle at an affordable price.

I think Boulder CO was ranked the happiest city in America and Huntington West Virginia was ranked the least happy (CBS Sunday morning). It must be hard to make a living in the least happy locations. If you live in one of the happiest places in the country (I think Hawaii was up there) who cares about anything else!

I've lived in California most of my life, and hated it. The cost of living is so high, that you can be making $30,000 a year gross, and barely be able to eat or pay rent. Traffic is crazy-awful, crime is super-high, and if you're low-income like me, renting in any "affordable" area is like living in another country (where the billboards aren't even in English). I was so glad to get out of California.

Tennessee is where I'm dying to go! I've wanted to move there for years, and haven't had the opportunity to yet. Once I get my Masters in Accounting, I'm going to try to get a job near Nashville.

I have lived in Virginia, Texas, Oregon, and California. I also lived in Maryland, very close to Delaware. Delaware has no income tax and a fairly low cost of living - especially compared to other nearby states. (Delaware is actually mid-Atlantic!).

Personally, I have earned the best living in California - both in terms of money left over and money earned. Oregon was the toughest, and I remember that unemployment was a very serious concern there. Frankly, in my area of California, I don't notice many effects of high unemployment - every store, every movie I go to is packed! I was in Florida recently, and I could SEE the effects - lots of closed businesses everywhere.

But I think it's difficult to make accurate generalizations like this for two reasons: 1. states are very diverse from one region to another. Some parts of California have lower cost of living than some parts of Virginia (even when comparing some urban areas). Some areas of a state have better employment prospects than others. My family lives in a region of Virginia that has a 40% unemployment rate.

2. A person's industry and profession has a huge impact on their employment outlook from region to region. California has a high unemployment rate, but certain industries/professions have nearly zero unemployment. If you are in bio-tech research, you might earn the best living in San Diego, despite taxes and costs being higher than Montana. Just because unemployment is low in Montana does not mean a person will find a job in their profession in Montana. :)

Quality of life should be factored into these calculations. I.e., one shouldn't make decisions based ONLY on financial tallies.

For example, the breezy, sunny weather of the seaside resort town of La Jolla, California and the lack of grime, crime, and crowds, for example, I feel make it worth the inflated housing costs. Or, rather, the improved quality of life is precisely why the housing costs are inflated.

I'd rather pay more to live here than save money living in a hot, humid town in, say, central Texas.

I live in Rhode Island now (moved from Illinois) and although I'm not too surprised to see it on the list because of the poor local economy I'm WAY more happy here than i ever was in Illinois. It's an incredibly beautiful states (especially downstate on the coast where I live) and I haven't seen a big difference in living expenses compared to Chicago.

I'm suspicious about Illinois & Washington coming out on top. I'd like to see the methodology. Both IL & WA have relatively high incomes and not super high cost of living so that might be the reason.

They may be looking at state income taxes and ignoring other taxation. Notice they have WA up top 10 and OR in the bottom 10. OR & WA are relatively similar in general but WA has no income tax and OR has a high income tax but no sales tax.

When I moved to Texas (Dallas, then suburbs), I first thought it was the greatest! 75 degrees in February, awesome! Everything is so cheap, jobs so plentiful, awesome! No income tax, awesome! Then summer came. It was 110 degrees every day for months. I'd never had allergy problems, my entire life, until that summer. Air quality is horrendous - heat keeps the pollution laying around. Every day the weather man says, "try not to go outside today" because of the heat and air quality. Crime was unreal. Police were unbelievably corrupt. Traffic AWFUL! Public transportation practically non-existent. I grew to hate Dallas. I know many people who love it, have lived there all their lives, or have moved there from NY, CA, and love it! For me, 4 years and I couldn't stand another day. I wouldn't live there again for 100 million dollars. But that's me. Other parts of the state might be much nicer than Dallas, I don't know; I only lived in that one region.

I moved to San Diego and feared all the California stereotypes - fake people, awful crime, awful traffic, polluted, horribly overcrowded. 5 years here, and I think those stereotypes are about Los Angeles or San Francisco. San Diego has its share of downsides, it is a bit overcrowded, but crime infested it is not. Tree hugger liberal haven it is not. It is the cleanest US city I have ever been seen. Horrendous traffic? Depends on where you are - most of it is not so bad. Housing is overpriced, yes, but actually cheaper than DC. I am lucky enough to afford a middle class neighborhood...if I were in a low income neighborhood, I would probably have a different perspective.

But even putting aside how I FELT about a place, and looking at finances only, I have fared far better here than I did in Dallas.

Delaware does not surprise me. It has very low corporate taxes and many companies are incorporated there. It also has no sales tax. As far as I can tell they get all of their revenue from their extortionist toll on I-95 (J/K there are income taxes in the state).

I'm surprised NYC is not on the list. I live in NJ but have worked and done everything else in NYC for over 20 years. Perhaps the salary one can earn offsets this expensive city depending on what type of work one does.

I’m not surprised that NY didn’t make the list. Sure, NYC and the surrounding area is very expensive, but the rest of the giant state is not. I have a lower cost of living in Central NY than I did living in Kansas City, MO. The economy isn’t great, but there is a lot more to the state than super-expensive NYC.

I have only ever lived in two states, Colorado(2 years) and California(51 years).
I like them both very much, Colorado had very friendly people and the majestic Rocky Mountains.
California is famous for its climate, hi-tech jobs, and the beautiful Sierra Nevada, but unless you arrived as we did in 1960 it's a very expensive place to live.

There are plenty of states that we have passed through in our travels that we would never, ever, consider living in for a variety of reasons, the largest reason being climate, the second reason being the unattractive terrain, the third being the demographics, and the fourth being the political views of the majority.

It works out very well if you happen to like the place where you worked and raised your family but are also very happy to spend your retirement.

I've lived in two of the listed states and several that aren't on either list. I'm surprised to see Massachusetts on the top list since the salaries in Boston for my industry typically end up 15% below comparable in other markets once you control for cost of living. Maybe the strong economy makes up for it?

I lived in Ca and have moved to buffalo, NY. I think the only reason for NY not being on the list in WNY, it is low cost which more than makes up for the low income. We can afford so much more here then we could in Ca. That even makes up for the snow!

You can question the methodology of this study....but assuming it's reasonably accurate, I think it shows that what's important is a mix of things. Ideally, we'd all like to pay low taxes and have a cheap cost of living with a great job market. Realistically, you aren't going to get all of those things in one place. Some high cost areas are good places to make a living because they have strong job markets and high incomes. Some low cost areas are not good places to make a living because prevailing wages can be low while unemployment is high, so the existing housing stock can still be expensive when you take prevailing local incomes into account. It's all about balance.

I've lived and worked in Texas and Massachusetts, and I'm not surprised to see either on this list.

The Massachusetts population is highly educated, there's a motherlode of high-paying technology (software and bio) jobs in the Boston area, and there's not any other major economic sector to drag the average down. Also, while the cost of living is on the high end, it's possible to forgo a car, which helps a lot. Taxachusetts is a myth; income tax rates are national average.

Texas is just incredibly affordable, even in the big cities. I ate quite well on a few dollars a day, and rent was peanuts. Most areas with prices that low are either agricultural or rusting. Texas has four booming urban economies. No income tax! I would have expected it to be #1.

There are 3 states I can comment on:

- California, where I've traveled and where I'll be moving soon. Like Old Limey said: great outdoors! I'll be inland, where the cost of living is supposed to be just under the national average -- that had better be true, as my salary will be just 30k (although I'm counting on increasing that quite a bit).

- Colorado: only been there a couple of days, but the people in the countryside were incredibly nice and genuine. I've never seen anything like that.

- Tennessee: relatively cheap, the weather is not bad but the outdoors doesn't match up to CA and CO

Have lived in 2 'worst' (Mississippi and South Carolina) and 1 'best' (Tennessee). All were comparable in living expenses and quality of life.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Start a Blog


  • Any information shared on Free Money Finance does not constitute financial advice. The Website is intended to provide general information only and does not attempt to give you advice that relates to your specific circumstances. You are advised to discuss your specific requirements with an independent financial adviser. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise. All posts are © 2005-2012, Free Money Finance.