For those value-hunters seeking the most bang for the buck from life – specifically where you live and work – has 10 suggestions: Austin TX; Columbus OH; Durham NC; Ft. Worth TX; Houston TX; Lincoln NE; Midland TX; Pittsburgh PA; Tucson AZ; and Wausau WI.

Whether you’re a recent college grad or someone looking for high paying careers in metropolitan areas with a low cost of living CareerCast’s Best Places to Live and Work report is a guide to some of the best places to consider.

“The income a candidate can command is contingent on availability of jobs in a specific region” says Kyle Kensing Online Content Editor CareerCast. “For example the San Francisco Bay Area – which ranks behind only New York City for average cost of living – might be your best value if you work in computer science.”

Certain regions are best for specific industries. Houston ranks in the top 10 nationally for average mean income for jobs spanning different sectors like business (senior-level corporate executive); energy (petroleum engineer); and transportation (airline pilot). Meanwhile the city’s average cost of living is 1% below the national average.

Throughout the Lone Star State there are attractive destinations both in terms of pay diversity of career options and living expense. Austin and Midland have cost-of-living averages 6% and 3% below the national average. The Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area is right at the national average and ranks in the top 10 of average salary for three of the Jobs Rated report’s 35 highest-paying jobs: psychiatrist actuary and veterinarian.

Cities with major universities are also great places to live and work. Lincoln Nebraska (University of Nebraska-Lincoln); Tucson Arizona (University of Arizona); Columbus Ohio (The Ohio State University); and Durham North Carolina (Duke University and North Carolina Central University) all appear in the Top 10 as well as Austin home to the University of Texas. All have below-average cost-of-living expenses and each ranks in highly-paid Jobs Rated careers.

CareerCast’s 10 Best Cities to Live and Work:


% Below Nat’l

Cost of Living

Median Household




Austin TX




Columbus OH




Durham NC




Ft. Worth Metro TX




Houston TX




Lincoln NE




Midland TX




Pittsburgh PA




Tucson AZ




Wausau WI





Methodology: CareerCast cross-referenced the salaries of the 200 careers tracked by the Jobs Rated report broken down by metropolitan area via the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. CareerCast then measured average cost of living in cities that paid comparatively well in a broad range of sectors using’s Cost of Living Calculator with data via the Council for Community and Economic Research.

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