LIFE & STYLE

10 Best Places To Live If You’re Trying To Save (And The 10 Worst)

By Morgan Quinn
GOBankingRates.com.

The city you choose to live in can have a major impact on your finances. Large cities like San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles have become unaffordable for many residents and some have chosen to relocate in search of economic stability, homeownership and a less-expensive lifestyle.

So just where are the best places to live if you want to save some cash, and which cities are the worst for your wallet?

GOBankingRates conducted a survey of the best and worst cities for saving money, based off factors that affect your finances most: sales tax, median home and condo value, median monthly rent, median income, unemployment rates and gas prices.

If you are thinking about making a move to improve your financial future, check out our list of the top and bottom 10 cities for saving money.

PORTLAND, ORE.
_Population: 609,456
_Sales tax: 0 percent
_Median home/condo value: $268,800
_Median monthly rent: $905
_Median Income: $52,158
_Unemployment: 5.9 percent
_Gas: $2.13 a gallon
With relatively low rents, an average unemployment rate and no sales tax, the hipster capital of the United States tops our list of best places to save money. Residents also enjoy bike-friendly roads, easy access to the great outdoors and a vibrant arts scene. Just make sure you don’t spend all your money on the 83 breweries in the Portland metro area.

ANCHORAGE, ALASKA
_Population: 300,950
_Sales Tax: 0 percent
_Median home/condo value: $281,000
_Median monthly rent: $1,184
_Median Income: $72,575
_Unemployment: 5.6 percent
_Gas: $2.53 a gallon
More than half of all Alaskans live in Anchorage and it’s almost the size of Delaware, but this city feels like a small town _ it’s not uncommon to see businessmen waiting for moose to cross the streets. Rents are higher than some of the other cities on our list, but the median income is impressive, the median home price is relatively low and there is no sales tax. Anchorage is also young _ the city was founded in 1915 and the average resident is just 32 years old, which makes it a great place to save some money and get ahead.

LINCOLN, NEB.
_Population: 268,738
_Sales tax: 7 percent
_Median home/condo value: $143,300
_Median monthly rent: $683
_Median income: $48,070
_Unemployment: 3.2 percent
_Gas: $1.93 a gallon
If you can stomach the erratic weather and violent storms, Lincoln, Neb., is one of our top cities for saving money. Median rents are low, unemployment is well below the national average and gas is dirt-cheap. If you have dreams of owning a piece of land, Lincoln has some great deals on property and you can get from the wine bar to the cornfield in five minutes flat. It also helps if you are a football fan: The population is just over 268,000 but the Cornhusker football stadium has a capacity of more than 80,000.

BOISE, IDAHO
_Population: 214,237
_Sales tax: 6 percent
_Median home/condo value: $167,000
_Median monthly rent: $771
_Median income: $47,446
_Unemployment: 4.1 percent
_Gas: $1.90 a gallon
Housing in Boise is less expensive than most major metropolitan areas, but the city still offers many of the same amenities as its larger and more urban counterparts: theater, dining, museums and plenty of access to outdoor recreation. Boise also has relatively mild seasons and low crime; additionally, Sunset Magazine named the North End neighborhood one of the best places to live and work in 2014.

MADISON, WIS.
_Population: 243,344
_Sales tax: 5.5 percent
_Median home/condo value: $206,600
_Median monthly rent: $867
_Median income: $51,180
_Unemployment: 4.3 percent
_Gas: $1.98 a gallon
Madison, Wis., was named the best place to live in 2015 by Livability.com for good reason: Housing costs, unemployment rates, sales tax and gas prices are all low. Residents also enjoy dining at top restaurants, listening to live music and strolling State Street, the iconic downtown center. This mid-sized city offers ample opportunities for people to find work, own homes and live an affordable lifestyle.

OMAHA, NEB.
_Population: 434,353
_Sales tax: 7 percent
_Median home/condo value: $130,400
_Median monthly rent: $760
_Median income: $45,159
_Unemployment: 4.3 percent
_Gas: $1.92 a gallon
Omaha is the second Nebraska city to make our list, with low median housing costs and unemployment and a median income that’s higher than the state median. Residents are known for being friendly and down to earth, but if you really want to get in good with them, just order a Runza and say, “Go Big Red!”

WICHITA, KAN.
_Population: 386,552
_Sales tax: 7.15 percent
_Median house/condo value: $118,400
_Median monthly rent: $661
_Median income: $43,776
_Unemployment: 6.2 percent
_Gas: $1.82
We aren’t the only one who thinks Wichita is a great city for saving money. MSN Real Estate ranked it as the No. 1 most affordable city. The high unemployment rate hurt Wichita’s rank in our study, but the affordable median housing, rent and gas prices make this city a very attractive option. Wichita’s Old Town is full of brick-exposed apartments, bars, restaurants, theaters and shopping. Make sure to pick up a pair of cowboy boots while you’re there.

FORT WAYNE, IND.
_Population: 256,496
_Sales tax: 7 percent
_Median house/condo value: $98,900
_Median monthly rent: $634
_Median income: $42,540
_Unemployment: 6 percent
_Gas: $2.04 a gallon
Fort Wayne is just one of the Midwestern locations that made our list of best cities to save money. The Indiana Business Research Center says Fort Wayne saw a significant population increase between 2010 and 2013.
Maybe it’s the insanely low cost of living, historic architecture, family friendly festivals and activities, or perhaps people are finally catching onto the fact Fort Wayne is home to the famous BBQ RibFest, an annual event that draws BBQ masters and fanatics from across the country.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS
_Population: 379,577
_Sales tax: 8 percent
_Median house/condo value: $129,100
_Median monthly rent: $814
_Median income: $51,285
_Unemployment: 5 percent
_Gas: $1.87 a gallon
Arlington is one of two Texas cities that made our list of best cities for saving money. The city dropped two places from last year’s GOBankingRates study, where it was ranked the No. 7 best city for saving money. Nestled between Dallas and Fort Worth, this city offers low housing prices coupled with a relatively high median income. In fact, Forbes named Arlington as one of the best places to buy a home in 2014, and WalletHub listed it as the fourth-best city to find a job.

CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS
_Population: 316,381
_Sales tax: 8.25 percent
_Median house/condo value: $113,900
_Median monthly rent: $840
_Median income: $49,336
_Unemployment: 4.9 percent
_Gas: $1.83 a gallon
Corpus Christi is the final Texas town on our list. The sales tax is fairly high, but the unemployment rate is low, and the median rent, home values and income will have you “living in high cotton.” The city is also near popular travel destinations like Padre Island, Mustang Island and King Ranch, one of the largest ranches in the world.
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Unlike our top 10 cities for saving money, residents in our 10 worst will pay more in taxes and rent, spend more on their houses, earn less and be less likely to be gainfully employed. Americans interested in saving money should stay far away from California. Nine of the 10 worst cities for saving money are in the Golden State. Here’s our list of the bottom 10.

SAN FRANCISCO
_Population: 837,442
_Sales tax: 8.75 percent
_Median house/condo value: $727,600
_Median monthly rent: $1,512
_Median income: $73,012
_Unemployment rate: 4.6 percent
_Gas: $2.66 per gallon
According to real estate marketplace Zumper, San Francisco takes the title of most expensive city, surpassing New York for the first time ever. Housing costs have skyrocketed, rent is almost totally unaffordable and sales tax and gas prices are some of the highest in the country. On the flip side, the local tech industry keeps unemployment rates fairly low and the city is home to some of the best restaurants, nightlife and culture in the United States, but residents pay a high price to call San Francisco home.

LOS ANGELES
_Population: 3,884,307
_Sales tax: 9.0 percent
_Median house/condo value: $421,700
_Median monthly rent: $1,148
_Median income: $46,803
_Unemployment: 9.1 percent
_Gas: $2.46 a gallon
Los Angeles is second of the numerous California cities on our list, with a staggering unemployment rate, high sales tax and gas prices, and unaffordable housing. It’s actually more expensive to own a home than rent in Los Angeles, which is contributing to a full-blown rental crisis in many areas. According to one analysis, a Los Angeles resident earning the median income would have to spent 47 percent of his earnings on rent _ well above the recommended 30 percent.

IRVINE, CALIF.
_Population: 236,716
_Sales tax: 8 percent
_Median house/condo value: 630,400
_Median monthly rent: $1,849
_Median income: $96,278
_Unemployment: 3.9 percent
_Gas: $2.45 a gallon
Irvine, Calif., has an impressive median income and low unemployment rate, but it’s another California city with high median property values, high median rent, and high sales tax and gas prices. The city is known for its excellent public school system, easy access to beautiful beaches and cultural diversity, but you’ll have to make a huge financial sacrifice to live there.

NEW YORK
_Population: 8,405,837
_Sales tax: 8.875 percent
_Median house/condo value: $478,400
_Median monthly rent: $1,196
-Median income: $50,895
_Unemployment rate: 7.7 percent
_Gas: $2.43 a gallon
New York is the only city on our list of worst places to save money that isn’t in California. Though it makes for an affordable summer vacation destination, New York City is one of the most expensive places to live in the country, infamous for its high rent and property values, high sales tax and unemployment, and low median income. Still, more than 8 million people choose to live here, making it the largest city in the United States.

OAKLAND, CALIF.
_Population: 406,253
_Sales tax: 9 percent
_Median home/condo value: $399,700
_Median monthly rent: $1,075
_Median income: $48,196
_Unemployment rate: 9 percent
_Gas: $2.47 a gallon
Oakland was once an affordable alternative for people looking to escape the high cost of living in San Francisco, but now it is considered one of the most expensive places in the Bay Area. Between 2012 and 2013, the median sale price for a home in Oakland jumped 76 percent, which is a larger increase than San Francisco saw during the same time period.

SAN JOSE, CALIF.
_Population: 998,537
_Sales tax: 8.75 percent
_Median house/condo value: $537,400
_Median monthly rent: $1,466
_Median income: $80,900
_Unemployment: 6 percent
_Gas: $2.47 a gallon
Thanks to the tech boom, rent in San Jose is one of the highest in the country, and the median housing value isn’t much better. The unemployment rate has fallen over the last five years and is now only slightly higher than the national average, but the high cost of housing, coupled with high sales tax and gas prices, makes this one of the worst cities for saving money.

LONG BEACH, CALIF.
_Population: 469,428
_Sales tax: 9 percent
_Median house/condo value: $402,400
_Median monthly rent: $1,070
_Median income: $47,387
_Unemployment: 9 percent
_Gas: $2.39 a gallon
High sales tax and gas prices, a 9 percent unemployment rate and staggering housing prices make Long Beach, Calif., one of the worst cities for saving money. This might not come as a surprise to those who know the city well _ it’s just outside Los Angeles, the second-worst city on our list. The Long Beach weather might always be sunny and warm, and the beach is just a stone’s throw away, but you could be throwing your savings goals off for a little sand and sun.

FREMONT, CALIF.
_Population: 224,922
_Sales tax: 9 percent
_Median house/condo value: $582,100
_Median monthly rent: $1,613
_Median income: $100,574
_Unemployment: 4.2 percent
_Gas: $2.83 a gallon
Fremont is popular due to its close proximity to Silicon Valley, the fact that it’s home to many top-rated schools and better weather than many surrounding Bay Area cities, but living there can set you back financially. The median rent is even higher than San Francisco’s and the median home value is higher than in Los Angeles. Still, the unemployment rate is lower than the national average and the median income is a breath-taking $100,574, which you’ll need to offset the housing costs.

STOCKTON, CALIF.
_Population: 298,118
_Sales tax: 9 percent
_Median house/condo value: $156,600
_Median monthly rent: $895
_Median income: $43,321
_Unemployment: 12.7 percent
_Gas: $2.33 a gallon
Stockton has been described as one the most miserable and violent cities in California. Its real estate values were annihilated during the financial crisis and the city has an unbelievable 12.7 percent unemployment rate. Residents maintain that the locale is welcoming and has a strong sense of community, but that won’t do your savings account any favors.

SANTA ANA, CALIF.
_Population: 334,227
_Sales tax: 8 percent
_Median house/condo value: $329,400
_Median monthly rent: $1,267
_Median income: $53,593
_Unemployment: 8.4 percent
_Gas: $2.41 a gallon

Forbes might have listed Santa Ana as one of the safest places to live, but it’s still one of the worst cities for saving money. Low crime rates are great, but high housing costs, unemployment and gas prices, and low median income make for an expensive combination.
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Ranked: 100 Biggest Cities
Survey Methodology: Cities are ranked according to the GOBankingRates Indicator, which scored the 100 largest U.S. cities by population in each of the following: population, sales tax, median house/condo value, median monthly rent, median income, unemployment rate and gas prices. Each criterion was weighted equally and scores in each category were combined to calculate final rankings.

Additional Sources: Unemployment rate, Bureau of Labor Statistics; Sales tax, sale-tax.com; Median home/condo price, median monthly rent, median household income and unemployment rate, City-Data.com and Zillow.com; average daily gas prices, gasbuddy.com.
NOTE: Official rankings are adjusted to accommodate ties, some numbers might be skipped in order to reflect a range of 1-100.
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ABOUT THE WRITER
Morgan Quinn writes for GOBankingRates.com, a leading portal for personal finance news and features, offering visitors the latest information on everything from interest rates to strategies on saving money, managing a budget and getting out of debt.

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