The 25 US cities where a middle-class American salary goes furthest

Midwest cities and capital cities are some of the best places to live in on the typical American salary — Des Moines, Iowa, is both.

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Midwest cities and capital cities are some of the best places to live in on the typical American salary — Des Moines, Iowa, is both.
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f11photo/Shutterstock

  • The median household in America earns $55,000 a year, which can go far depending on where you live.
  • SmartAsset recently released a list of the best places to live on a $55,000 salary.
  • Some of the best places to live on the typical American salary are located in the Midwest or are capital cities.

How far your paycheck can really go is often dependent on your geography.

A $55,000 salary – what the median American family earns, according to SmartAsset, citing US Census Bureau data from the 2016 American Community Survey 5-year estimates – may not get you very far in a big city with a high cost of living like New York or San Francisco. But it could stretch for miles elsewhere.

SmartAsset recently released a list of the best places to live on $55,000 a year. To determine this list, it found the cities with a median household income range of $50,000 to $60,000 – 126 cities, to be exact. It then ranked each city based on nine metrics with equal ranking, which it then averaged. This was the foundation for the final score.

Turns out, some of the best places to live on the typical American salary are located in the Midwest – four of the top 10 cities are located in this region. Capital cities also take up four of the top 10 spots; they have strong economies thanks to state government employment opportunities, according to SmartAsset.

Below, see the top 25 places to live in the US on the typical American salary.


25. Springdale, Arkansas

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City of Springdale, AR — Mayor’s Office/Facebook

Median household income: $51,152 Percent of income spent on housing: 18.2% Average commute time: 20.1 minutes


24. New Braunfels, Texas

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Regan Bender/Shutterstock

Median household income: $58,814 Percent of income spent on housing: 24.4% Average commute time: 23.6 minutes


23. St. George, Utah

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Steve Cukrov/Shutterstock

Median household income: $54,210 Percent of income spent on housing: 21.2% Average commute time: 16.8 minutes


22. Parma, Ohio

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Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons

Median household income: $54,588 Percent of income spent on housing: 18.5% Average commute time: 24.6 minutes


21. Metairie, Louisiana

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Chuck Wagner/Shutterstock

Median household income: $58,947 Percent of income spent on housing: 20.9% Average commute time: 21.7 minutes


20. Portland, Maine

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Facebook/Visit Portland Maine

Median household income: $56,326 Percent of income spent on housing: 25.8% Average commute time: 18.9 minutes


19. Sparks, Nevada

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City of Sparks, Nevada Government/Facebook

Median household income: $58,961 Percent of income spent on housing: 25.2% Average commute time: 13 minutes


17 (TIE). Eau Claire, Wisconsin

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mattckaiser/Shutterstock

Median household income: $52,355 Percent of income spent on housing: 18.7% Average commute time: 16 minutes


17 (TIE). Lexington, Kentucky

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View_Point/Shutterstock

Median household income: $56,137 Percent of income spent on housing: 20.2% Average commute time: 20.8 minutes


16. Amarillo, Texas

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Visit Amarillo/Facebook

Median household income: $51,263 Percent of income spent on housing: 19% Average commute time: 18.3 minutes


15. Reno, Nevada

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iStock / photoquest7

Median household income: $57,125 Percent of income spent on housing: 22.1% Average commute time: 20.4 minutes


14. Asheville, North Carolina

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Median household income: $50,184 Percent of income spent on housing: 23.6% Average commute time: 17.8 minutes


13. Des Moines, Iowa

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Katie Haugland Bowen/Flickr

Median household income: $51,355 Percent of income spent on housing: 19.8% Average commute time: 18.7 minutes


12. Wyoming, Michigan

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Wmrapids/Wimikedia Commons

Median household income: $56,774 Percent of income spent on housing: 18.6% Average commute time: 21.8 minutes


11. Sioux City, Iowa

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dustin77a/Shutterstock

Median household income: $53,332 Percent of income spent on housing: 16.3% Average commute time: 16.5 minutes


10. Omaha, Nebraska

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Esme/Shutterstock

Median household income: $56,406 Percent of income spent on housing: 21.6% Average commute time: 18.3 minutes


8 (TIE). Boise City, Idaho

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WHITE.studio/Shutterstock

Median household income: $55,943 Percent of income spent on housing: 20.7% Average commute time: 18.9 minutes


8 (TIE). Little Rock, Arkansas

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Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Median household income: $57,534 Percent of income spent on housing: 20.2% Average commute time: 18.3 minutes


7. Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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City of Cedar Rapids Iowa Government/Facebook

Median household income: $56,096 Percent of income spent on housing: 19.1% Average commute time: 17.4 minutes


6. Cheektowaga, New York

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Town of Cheektowaga

Median household income: $53,502 Percent of income spent on housing: 18.4% Average commute time: 19.5 minutes


5. Lincoln, Nebraska

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Steven Frame/Shutterstock

Median household income: $56,160 Percent of income spent on housing: 20.2% Average commute time: 19 minutes


4. Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Jimack/Shutterstock

Median household income: $57,022 Percent of income spent on housing: 22.4% Average commute time: 18.7 minutes


3. Appleton, Wisconsin

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Appleton Downtown/Facebook

Median household income: $58,374 Percent of income spent on housing: 19.8% Average commute time: 18.6 minutes


2. Billings, Montana

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Gary C. Tognoni/Shutterstock

Median household income: $57,527 Percent of income spent on housing: 20.8% Average commute time: 15.2 minutes


1. Fargo, North Dakota

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David Harmantas/Shutterstock

Median household income: $59,542 Percent of income spent on housing: 18.8% Average commute time: 14.9 minutes