Top 50 US Cities - Ranked by Financial
Quality of Life          
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US Cities - Ranked by Financial Quality of Life has examined and ranked the
most populous 50 cities / areas in the US by their financial
quality of life. Financial quality of life is defined here as the
ratio of median income to median expenses, adjusted for
the uncertainty of employment and career advancement,
as gauged by the unemployment rate*.  We have created
a financial Quality-of-Life Index through which we
completed the ranking of these cities. The results are
probably surprising to most. The statistics for the most
populated 50 cities are:

To go to Part 1 - click US Cities - Ranked by Financial
Quality of Life

In some ways the cities at the top of the list may be
considered a surprise, as they may not have previously
been thought of as having a high relative quality of life.  
And some of the more prominent cities in the country (New
York, Los Angeles) are close to the bottom of the list. The
ratio of income to expense for these cities drives this
phenomenon. The highest ranking cities are those where
you get the most for your money - how much money is
earned relative to what general prices are. So a city like
Columbus, Ohio, where the median salary is 43% of  the
price of the median house beats out, by far, a city like LA
where the average income to housing expense is 19%. Not
to mention that Columbus has an unemployment rate of
6.4%, as compared to 10.6% in LA

Of course, this highlights that there are many other
reasons why people prefer one area over another. There
may be many attributes that LA has that few other areas
do. But on a strictly financial level, these figures / ranking
should be carefully considered. These rankings should
only be used as additional information, to be combined
with knowledge of your preferences. If you like beach
towns it may not matter that an inland location is much
easier on your pocketbook, or is much easier to find a job.
But looking at the relative rankings may help you to judge
which shore areas may be the best place for you, for

Similarly, much depends on your specific earning situation.
For example, if you have technical skills that some
particular cities have a much greater demand than other
high ranked cities, then that particular concern would
outweigh other factors in your city location decision. One
can narrow their city preferences by employment criteria
and then supplement this information with this list.

Let’s take a look at the top City / area, Minneapolis, St.
Paul, Bloomington:
Like all of the top rated cities, this city has a relatively high
income relative to housing and other expenses. The
average income in this area is $62,500 a year. The
average house costs $155,000. So the average income
has no problem buying the average house (or renting the
equivalent). It also has a low unemployment rate of 5.5%,
well below the National average of 8.3%. This area has an
unemployment rate equal to what the national rate was
before the financial meltdown of 2008. So people in this
area on average are not constrained with the same level of
economic uncertainty as those in many other areas of the

Let’s compare this to one of the worst areas of the country
as measured by this criteria, the New York-Northern New
Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA area. The average income
in this area is $62,235 a year. Minneapolis actually has
higher median income, and the cost of housing is less
than  half of that in the NY area. The average house costs
$378,700 in NY area. In NY, the average income is not
able to buy the average house (or renting the equivalent).
It also has an unemployment rate of 8.2%, similar to the
national average of 8.3%.

Of course, a lot of different economic experiences in these
cities can be camouflaged by the median/averaging
process that is employed here. This is true. For example, a
city like New York has a very wide range income earners.
The higher earners enjoy an out-sized higher quality of life
relative to the median just as the low earners invariably
have a much lower quality of life. Still, in this largest of
metropolitan areas, there are many average level earners
who strain to live a quality lifestyle in a very expensive
area. The median figures do capture quality of life
concerns for this very large group (at least 50% of the

In Part 2 we’ll discuss more of the underlying points
concerning this study.

Click here for the Complete list of 50 Cities – Ranked by
Financial Quality of Life.

Also, here are some additional links which rank cities by
various quality of life indices:
-  this is primarily from a value perspective, geared toward
low-cost cities especially.

- this is an from an overall perspective including quality of
life, jobs, amenities, etc.  
-  This is from a best place to do business and to work


* Expenses (housing figures) are as of Dec 2011,
unemployment figures are as of January 2012, Income
figures are as of 2010,
- The cities / areas listed conform to the Census Bureau’s
MSA definitions, which usually consist of one or more  
major cities in an area plus the outlying suburbs that lie in
close proximity and economically intertwined with the larger
area’s economy.

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    Area                                                                                                                Index                      Income                        Price                     Expense              Rate
1        Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area           6.17                 $63,215                  $154,700                 40.9%                5.5
2        Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area                                                             5.52                 $52,701                  $123,900                 42.5%                6.4
3        Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area                                     5.35                 $46,762                  $105,100                 44.5%                6.9
4        Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI Metropolitan Statistical Area                                         5.08                 $48,106                  $81,000                   59.4%                9.7
5        Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA Metropolitan Statistical Area                        4.92                 $54,951                  $98,600                    55.7%                9.4
6        Oklahoma City, OK Metropolitan Statistical Area                                                     4.85                 $46,301                  $141,600                 32.7%                5.6
7        Kansas City, MO-KS Metropolitan Statistical Area                                                   4.75                 $55,647                  $133,200                 41.8%                7.3
8        Rochester, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area                                                             4.73                 $49,847                  $119,700                 41.6%                7.3
9        Pittsburgh, PA Metropolitan Statistical Area                                                              4.71                 $46,809                  $125,000                 37.4%                6.6
10        Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN Metropolitan Statistical Area                         4.65                 $52,704                  $122,300                 43.1%                7.7
11        Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ Metropolitan Statistical Area                                  4.58                 $50,371                  $115,500                 43.6%                7.9
12        Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area                             4.37                 $55,710                  $148,900                 37.4%                7.1
13        St. Louis, MO-IL Metropolitan Statistical Area1                                                      4.28                 $52,139                  $121,800                 42.8%                8.3
14        Indianapolis-Carmel, IN Metropolitan Statistical Area                                         4.21                 $51,591                  $123,900                 41.6%                8.2
15        Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area                                       4.08                 $46,246                  $119,200                 38.8%                7.9
16        Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area                       4.04                 $55,290                  $155,700                 35.5%                7.3
17        Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN Metropolitan Stat Area        4.03                 $50,856                  $151,900                 33.5%                6.9
18        Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metropolitan Statistical Area                                         4.02                 $46,084                  $139,800                 33.0%                6.8
19        San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area                            3.96                 $49,458                  $152,500                 32.4%                6.8
20        Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Stat Area        3.94                 $85,036                  $325,400                 26.1%                5.5
21        Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metropolitan Statistical Area                                               3.83                 $45,554                  $112,300                 40.6%                8.8
22        Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area                    3.79                 $55,584                  $193,100                 28.8%                6.3
23        New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA Metropolitan Statistical Area                        3.76                 $44,328                  $153,000                 29.0%                6.4
24        Jacksonville, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area                                                        3.68                 $50,422                  $123,600                 40.8%                9.2
25        Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metropolitan Stat Area             3.67                 $57,448                  $182,900                 31.4%                7.1
26        Baltimore-Towson, MD Metropolitan Statistical Area                                            3.55                 $66,854                  $230,000                29.1%                6.8
27        Richmond, VA Metropolitan Statistical Area                                                           3.49                 $58,977                  $206,100                 28.6%                6.8
28        Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI Metropolitan Statistical Area                   3.36                 $51,697                  $185,200                 27.9%                6.9
29        Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN Metropolitan Statistical Area                        3.29                 $45,015                  $130,400                 34.5%                8.7
30        Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area                          3.28                 $46,959                  $124,900                 37.6%                9.5
31        Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metropolitan Stat Area      2.96                 $59,124                  $210,100                 28.1%                7.9
32        Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI Metropolitan Statistical Area                       2.88                 $56,990                  $176,500                 32.3%                9.3
33        Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT Metropolitan NECTA                         2.88                 $60,028                  $227,600                 26.4%                7.6
34        Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area                 2.84                 $43,766                  $127,800                 34.2%                10
35        Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH Metropolitan NECTA                                    2.83                 $68,541                  $346,200                 19.8%                5.8
36        Las Vegas-Paradise, NV Metropolitan Statistical Area                                         2.70                 $51,427                  $124,700                 41.2%               12.7
37        Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Statistical Area                              2.65                 $59,956                  $231,400                 25.9%                8.1
38        Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metropolitan Statistical Area                2.53                 $54,208                  $219,500                 24.7%                8.1
39        Sacramento--Arden-Arcade--Roseville, CA Metropolitan Stat Area                   2.53                 $55,479                  $167,100                 33.2%                10.9
40        Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area                               2.36                 $63,298                  $285,000                 22.2%                7.8
41        Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC Metropolitan Statistical Area                  2.19                 $51,604                  $189,600                 27.2%                10.3
42        Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL Metropolitan Sta Area                 2.14                 $44,899                  $181,100                 24.8%                9.6
43        Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area                2.10                 $53,157                  $172,300                 30.9%                12.2
44        Providence-Fall River-Warwick, RI-MA Metropolitan NECTA                               1.91                 $52,053                  $217,200                 24.0%                10.4
45        New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA Metrop Stat Area      1.74                 $65,235                  $378,700                 17.2%                8.2
46        San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area                 1.51                 $59,759                  $370,300                 16.1%                8.9
47        San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area                  1.47                 $72,765                  $483,400                 15.1%                8.5
48        Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area            1.45                 $56,836                  $307,700                 18.5%                10.6
49        San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area                  1.37                 $83,833                  $570,000                 14.7%                8.9