Best And Worst Cities For Adjusted Cost Of Living

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Honolulu and San Jose are both expensive, but high-paying jobs are more plentiful in the California city

November 02, 2016

San Jose, Calif. Photo: Blok 70/Creative Commons

Maybe you’re just better off visiting Honolulu, and not actually living or working there.

The Hawaii city was found to be the worst metro in terms of adjusted cost of living, as determined by the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. The COU Standard of Living Index takes the 2015 mean pay per job in the 106 U.S. metro areas with more than 500,000 residents and adjusts it by cost of living.

Forbes reports that while median annual wages were $48,000 last year, the income was around $34,000 after factoring in costs. Honolulu is one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets, and also suffers from a lack of developable land and the dependency on importing goods.

Housing is just as expensive in San Jose, the nation’s best city for adjusted cost of living. Many people in the Silicon Valley city have high paying tech jobs, so the $112,000 median annual wage translates to a $69,000 income after adjustment.

Other high-ranking cities include Boston, Seattle, and Hartford, Conn. Many low ranking cities are in California: Fresno, Santa Rosa, and Los Angeles.

Durham, N.C., Atlanta, and Detroit scored highly, based on an influx of STEM jobs with moderate to low costs.

In all these areas the cost of living is around the national average, but salaries are higher. You may be surprised by Detroit, but this ranking looks at the total metro area, which is in much better shape than the core city. With good-paying jobs, many connected to the revived auto industry, the Detroit metro area is in far better shape than is commonly suggested.

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