These U.S. Cities Have the Highest and Lowest Average Cost of Living for Singles

Cost of living is a constant concern for working people across the U.S., whether they live in traditionally expensive parts of the country or areas known more for affordability. When it comes to where to live, not all cities (or parts of the country) are created equal. But just how much does it cost to live comfortably across the country as a single person?

A new study from SmartAsset examined a typical 50/30/20 budget, which stipulates 50 percent of income spent on basic needs like housing, transportation and food, 30 percent on desires including entertainment, and 20 percent on savings or debt payment. Using data from 99 U.S. cities, it then determined the average salary needed to live comfortably.

On average, it found that a single adult needs to make $96,500 to live comfortably by the 50/30/20 rule when taking average housing and cost of living prices into account.

Overall, Texas cities fared the best, with locales like Houston, El Paso, Lubbock, and Laredo all cracking the Top 5. Ohio also notched two entries with Toledo and Cleveland, while cities in Wisconsin, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Kansas rounded out the Top 10.

Meanwhile, California dominated the most expensive cities with seven total entries. Still, none were a match for New York City, where a single adult needs to pull in $138,570 to live comfortably according to the metric.

These are the cheapest cities for a single adult to live comfortably:

  1. Houston, TX ($75,088)

  2. El Paso, TX ($75,254)

  3. Lubbock, TX ($75,379)

  4. Toledo, OH ($77,501)

  5. Laredo, TX ($78,458)

  6. Milwaukee, WI ($79,664)

  7. Lexington, KY ($79,997)

  8. Tulsa, OK ($81,078)

  9. Wichita, KS ($81,203)

  10. Cleveland, OH ($81,786)

And the most expensive:

  1. New York, NY ($138,570)

  2. San Jose, CA ($136,739)

  3. Irvine, CA ($126,797)

  4. Santa Ana, CA ($126,797)

  5. Boston, MA ($124,966)

  6. San Diego, CA ($122,803)

  7. Chula Vista, CA ($122,803)

  8. San Francisco, CA ($119,558)

  9. Seattle, WA ($119,392)

  10. Oakland, CA ($118,768)

Check out more of the data in Smart Asset's report here.