10 Best Cities for Return on Salary

10 Best Cities for Return on Salary


Everyone loves a bargain, which is why providers of everything from hamburgers to automobiles trumpet value in their pitch to consumers.

For those value-hunters seeking the most bang for your buck from your very life – specifically, where you live and work – CareerCast.com has 10 suggestions for you. Whether you’re a recent college grad, or someone looking for high paying careers in metropolitan areas with a low cost of living, CareerCast’s Best Places to Live and Work report is a guide to some of the best places to consider.

We cross-referenced the salaries of the 200 careers tracked by our Jobs Rated report, broken down by metropolitan area via the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We then measured average cost of living in cities that paid comparatively well in a broad range of sectors, using Payscale.com’s Cost of Living Calculator, with data via the Council for Community and Economic Research.

RELATED: Take our Best Places to Work Survey

The income a candidate can command is contingent on availability of jobs in a specific region. For example, the San Francisco Bay Area – which ranks behind only New York City for average cost of living – might be your best value if you work in computer science.

That’s because the bulk of the jobs in careers like software engineer are located in Silicon Valley – and the highest salaries for those careers are, too.

Certain regions are best for specific industries; our Top 10 encompasses the most diverse range of high-paying opportunities, coupled with average cost-of-living expenses. One such example is Houston.

Houston ranks in the top 10 nationally for average mean income for jobs spanning different sectors, like business (senior-level corporate executive); energy (petroleum engineer); transportation (airline pilot); and even space exploration (astronomer).

Meanwhile, the city’s average cost of living is 1% below the national average. Throughout the Lone Star State, there are attractive destinations both in terms of pay, diversity of career options and living expense. Austin and Midland have cost-of-living averages 6% and 3% below the national average.

The Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area is right at the national average, and ranks in the top 10 of average salary for three of the Jobs Rated report’s 35 highest-paying jobs: psychiatrist, actuary and veterinarian.

Texas is one recurring theme you’ll find on this list. So, too, are cities with major universities.

Lincoln, Nebraska (University of Nebraska-Lincoln); Tucson, Arizona (University of Arizona); Columbus, Ohio (The Ohio State University); and Durham, North Carolina (Duke University and North Carolina Central University) all appear in our Top 10, as well as aforementioned Austin, home to the University of Texas. All have below-average cost-of-living expenses, and each ranks in highly-paid Jobs Rated careers.

Some qualities people value are worth paying more for daily expenses. However, if you’re looking to maximize your dollar, the following cities might be your best bet.