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2022’s Most Affordable Places To Live & Work In The US

A man dressed in a suit is walking down the street in one of the best cities to live and work in the US.

GoodHire analyzed data from 155 US cities — those with a labor force of more than 150,000 — to uncover the best cities for opportunity and affordability in 2022. Join us as we dig into the key factors that make American cities great places to live, work and flourish financially.


2021 was a tumultuous year for many Americans. Across the country we dealt with continued restraints and restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, threats to an already shaky labor market, spiking housing costs, and record inflation that saw prices increase at the fastest rate in 40 years. Many Americans have struggled this past year, and those same people are looking for financial relief in 2022. 

So, what is the source of that relief? Will financial relief for Americans arrive in the form of a new job, a salary raise, cheaper rent, or a refinanced mortgage? Will it necessitate relocation to a new city with increased opportunities for financial stability? Our research shows the latter may indeed be the case.

Data from North American Moving Services shows that 20% more Americans moved in 2021 compared to 2020. Additionally, U.S. News & World Report shared that “2021 brought an acceleration of moves to smaller, midsized towns and cities,” because of a desire to leave high density areas due to risk of COVID-19 infection, but also due to Americans perception of work flexibility in 2022. Add in the cost of a home or rent in major cities, and a 2022 move to more affordable cities that also offer great work opportunities makes sense.

Therefore, if a person needs to make a major move in 2022, what guides their decision, and ultimately, where would they like to go?

To provide answers, data scientists at GoodHire crunched the numbers using data sourced from the US Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the US Department of Commerce. 

We dug into seven key factors for cities in the US with a labor force of more than 150,000 people. Each of the following seven key factors were weighted appropriately and scaled. Our data scientists then calculated the weighted sum of the factors to obtain the final score and create a list of the most affordable places to live and work in America in 2022. 

  1. Wage Growth (20% weight)
  2. Unemployment Rate (10% weight)
  3. Job Growth (20% weight)
  4. Percentage of Jobs Open (10% weight)
  5. Renter Affordability (15% weight)
  6. Homeowner Affordability (15% weight)
  7. Real Per Capita Personal Income (10% weight)

Now, let’s check out some of the key findings. 

Graphic showing the most and least affordable cities in the US

America’s Most (& Least) Affordable Cities In 2022

Let’s start by taking a look at the most and least affordable cities. 

Graphic showing the most and least affordable cities in the US

Above you’ll see that Sioux Falls, SD is the big winner in 2022, with the best total score and the top ranking among all US cities. Reno, NV, Provo, UT, Madison, WI, and Huntsville, AL round out the top five. 

Joining them on the top ten list are a few southern gems—Charleston, SC, Spartanburg, SC, and Fayetteville, AR, along with two popular Utah cities—Ogden and Salt Lake City. 

On the other end of the spectrum, it’s no surprise that Los Angeles, CA lands as the least affordable city in 2022 and is joined in the bottom ten by the Big Apple—New York City. 

Other cities on the bottom ten list include: Hartford, CT, Corpus Christi, TX, Bakersfield, CA, Shreveport, LA, Modesto, CA, El Paso, TX, Rockford, IL, and McAllen, TX. 

If you’re relocating and looking for the most bang for your buck, these least affordable locales are not your best choices. 

America’s Best Jobs Markets In 2022

Map showing the top 10 best job markets in the US

We combined the factors of job opportunities, earning potential, and housing affordability, and that allowed us to uncover the most affordable places across the country. Now, let’s take a look at the major factors individually. First up, job markets.  

With many people across the country getting called back to the office, it’s important to make sure you’re comfortable in a city with plenty of employment opportunities. You never know when your perception of the meaning and purpose at work might change, subsequently leading to an immediate job hunt in your city.  

If you’re moving and looking for a city with endless job openings and career opportunities, look no further than the top five employment score leaders, including Reno, NV, Spartanburg, SC, Savannah, GA, Provo, UT, Boise, ID. And don’t forget about the cities rounding out the top ten—Naples, FL, Ogden, UT, Salt Lake City, UT, Phoenix, AZ, and Palm Bay, FL. 

America’s Most Affordable Housing Markets In 2022

Map showing the most affordable housing markets in the US

In 2022, many Americans have found great joy and purpose via the opportunity to work remotely. Additionally, that same ability to work from anywhere in the country has prompted many Americans to consider making a move to cities with more affordable housing and rent. 

Why stick around New York City or Los Angeles where home and rent prices are through the roof when you could reduce your expenses by finding a new home in one of the most affordable housing or rental markets in the country?

If that’s what you’re looking for, then the winners above—cities with the highest affordability score—should be on the top of your list, especially the top five cities, including Fayetteville, AR, Sioux Falls, SD, Green Bay, WI, Cincinnati, OH, and Davenport, IA. 

Additionally, the rest of the top ten—Pittsburgh, PA, Des Moines, IA, Omaha, NE, Columbus, OH, and Madison, WI—are fantastic choices as well for families, new college graduates, and others looking for a more affordable city to call home.

Finally, let’s take a look at the full rundown of all US cities and how they stack up in terms of opportunity and affordability. Americans can use this list to pursue employment opportunities in cities where life is simply more affordable. 

The Full List Of The Most Affordable Cities To Live & Work In 2022

RankCityTotal Score
1Sioux Falls, SD Metro Area80.1
2Reno, NV Metro Area79.7
3Provo-Orem, UT Metro Area78.0
4Madison, WI Metro Area77.5
5Huntsville, AL Metro Area77.3
6Charleston-North Charleston, SC Metro Area76.4
7Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR Metro Area76.1
8Ogden-Clearfield, UT Metro Area75.3
9Salt Lake City, UT Metro Area74.4
10Spartanburg, SC Metro Area72.6
11Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA Metro Area71.4
12Durham-Chapel Hill, NC Metro Area71.0
13Boise City, ID Metro Area70.7
14Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA Metro Area70.2
15Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN Metro Area70.0
16Raleigh-Cary, NC Metro Area69.9
17Oklahoma City, OK Metro Area69.5
18Green Bay, WI Metro Area69.2
19Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN Metro Area68.4
20Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN Metro Area68.0
21St. Louis, MO-IL Metro Area66.9
22Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX Metro Area66.5
23Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA Metro Area66.4
24Columbus, OH Metro Area66.3
25Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI Metro Area66.2
26Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ Metro Area66.0
27Kansas City, MO-KS Metro Area65.3
28Fort Wayne, IN Metro Area64.8
29Greenville-Anderson, SC Metro Area64.7
30Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA Metro Area64.6
31Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC Metro Area64.0
32Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL Metro Area63.6
33Knoxville, TN Metro Area63.4
34Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC Metro Area63.3
35Lincoln, NE Metro Area63.3
36Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA Metro Area63.2
37Naples-Marco Island, FL Metro Area63.1
38Ann Arbor, MI Metro Area62.9
39Springfield, MO Metro Area62.4
40Tulsa, OK Metro Area62.1
41Salem, OR Metro Area61.6
42Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO Metro Area61.1
43Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA Metro Area60.9
44Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI Metro Area60.4
45Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC Metro Area59.9
46Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL Metro Area59.7
47Savannah, GA Metro Area59.6
48Pittsburgh, PA Metro Area59.5
49Jacksonville, FL Metro Area59.5
50Tucson, AZ Metro Area59.2
51San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA Metro Area58.9
52Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI Metro Area58.7
53Colorado Springs, CO Metro Area58.3
54Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX Metro Area58.0
55Columbia, SC Metro Area57.9
56Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metro Area57.5
57Port St. Lucie, FL Metro Area57.3
58Tallahassee, FL Metro Area57.1
59Lexington-Fayette, KY Metro Area56.5
60Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN Metro Area56.0
61Canton-Massillon, OH Metro Area55.3
62Boulder, CO Metro Area55.0
63Evansville, IN-KY Metro Area54.8
64Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL Metro Area54.6
65Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metro Area54.5
66York-Hanover, PA Metro Area53.8
67Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Metro Area53.3
68Lancaster, PA Metro Area52.7
69San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA Metro Area52.6
70Birmingham-Hoover, AL Metro Area52.3
71Wichita, KS Metro Area52.2
72Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metro Area52.1
73Greeley, CO Metro Area51.9
74Cleveland-Elyria, OH Metro Area51.7
75Chattanooga, TN-GA Metro Area51.6
76Trenton-Princeton, NJ Metro Area50.4
77Portland-South Portland, ME Metro Area50.0
78Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL Metro Area49.8
79Dayton-Kettering, OH Metro Area49.5
80Lansing-East Lansing, MI Metro Area49.2
81Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metro Area49.1
82Albuquerque, NM Metro Area48.6
83Asheville, NC Metro Area48.5
84Lubbock, TX Metro Area48.2
85Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL Metro Area48.0
86Kalamazoo-Portage, MI Metro Area48.0
87Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metro Area48.0
88Killeen-Temple, TX Metro Area48.0
89Wilmington, NC Metro Area47.9
90Fort Collins, CO Metro Area47.7
91Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI Metro Area47.4
92Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA Metro Area46.9
93Toledo, OH Metro Area46.7
94Winston-Salem, NC Metro Area46.4
95Gainesville, FL Metro Area46.3
96Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area46.2
97Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD Metro Area46.1
98Roanoke, VA Metro Area45.7
99South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI Metro Area45.6
100Eugene-Springfield, OR Metro Area45.3
101Visalia, CA Metro Area45.3
102Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY Metro Area45.1
103Rochester, NY Metro Area44.9
104Baton Rouge, LA Metro Area44.8
105Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL Metro Area44.5
106Anchorage, AK Metro Area44.4
107Montgomery, AL Metro Area44.4
108Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area43.9
109Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metro Area43.6
110North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL Metro Area43.5
111Flint, MI Metro Area43.1
112Reading, PA Metro Area43.0
113Memphis, TN-MS-AR Metro Area42.8
114Peoria, IL Metro Area42.8
115Richmond, VA Metro Area42.3
116Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ Metro Area42.0
117Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC Metro Area41.9
118Akron, OH Metro Area41.7
119Syracuse, NY Metro Area41.6
120San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX Metro Area41.3
121Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA Metro Area41.1
122Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC Metro Area40.7
123Gulfport-Biloxi, MS Metro Area40.5
124Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA Metro Area40.4
125Greensboro-High Point, NC Metro Area39.6
126Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX Metro Area39.6
127Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metro Area39.4
128Lafayette, LA Metro Area39.2
129Stockton, CA Metro Area39.1
130Fresno, CA Metro Area37.7
131Salinas, CA Metro Area36.6
132Jackson, MS Metro Area35.7
133Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL Metro Area35.0
134Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA Metro Area34.5
135Salisbury, MD-DE Metro Area34.5
136Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX Metro Area33.6
137Vallejo, CA Metro Area33.5
138Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL Metro Area33.4
139Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA Metro Area33.4
140San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA Metro Area33.4
141Brownsville-Harlingen, TX Metro Area32.0
142New Orleans-Metairie, LA Metro Area32.0
143Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, PA Metro Area31.9
144Mobile, AL Metro Area31.7
145Urban Honolulu, HI Metro Area31.6
146McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metro Area31.4
147Rockford, IL Metro Area29.8
148New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area29.5
149El Paso, TX Metro Area29.3
150Modesto, CA Metro Area28.9
151Shreveport-Bossier City, LA Metro Area28.5
152Bakersfield, CA Metro Area27.4
153Corpus Christi, TX Metro Area26.9
154Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT Metro Area25.7
155Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metro Area23.5

For more information on GoodHire’s research or to request graphics or an interview about this study, please contact press@goodhire.com.  

SURVEY METHODOLOGY

To rank America’s most affordable places, GoodHire analyzed seven key factors from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, and U.S. Department of Commerce. These factors make up a formula to determine the most affordable places to live and work in 2022. The factors include: wage growth, unemployment rate, job growth, percentage of jobs open, renter affordability, homeowner affordability, and real per capita personal income. Each factor was weighted appropriately by GoodHire’s data science team and scaled, giving each a value between 1 and 100. Only cities with a labor force of more than 150,000 were included in this analysis. 

About GoodHire

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The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.


About the Author

As GoodHire’s managing editor, Sara Korolevich produces educational resources for employers on a variety of employment screening topics, including compliance and screening best practices, and writes about GoodHire’s company and product news. Sara’s experience stems from 20+ years working as a B2C and B2B PR and communications professional.