By Dan Malachowski,
you living beyond your means? Is your paycheck not stretching far
enough? Perhaps you're even having trouble finding a job. Maybe
it's time to jump a plane to one of the cities at the top of Salary.com's
"Salary Value" index. We found the top (and bottom) US
metros for building personal net worth (taking into account local
salaries, cost of living, and unemployment relative to the national
average). Median base pay was correlated across more than 2,500
different benchmark jobs in our calculations. Housing costs, living
costs, and metro unemployment/job growth figures were also used
to rank the metro areas. The results may surprise you.
out the Top 5 and Bottom 5 "Salary Value" cities. Click
to see sample salary ranges (for an entry level accountant) and
cost of living indices. Compare the differences between the metros.
Try out your own job title to see if you should move to one of these
for the full list.
Business, Big Revitalization
cities that topped our list have all been regarded as "Renaissance"
or "revitalized" cities, perhaps as a result of the influx
of large corporations and federal defense spending. Chart-topper
New London, CT is the new research and development headquarters
of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, as well as home to a US Naval and
Coast Guard base (slated to be closed).
AL, which landed second on the list of cities with the best "Salary
Value", has seen a substantial increase in scientists and engineers
who have come to work for NASA and the US Army's Redstone Arsenal.
Increased Homeland Security spending has also drawn highly skilled
workers to the National Security Agency, which is based in the Baltimore
(#3) metropolitan area.
cities on our list have all enjoyed recent industrial strength and
revitalization. Baltimore's Inner Harbor has transformed into a
vibrant scene. New condos and renovated townhouses on the Baltimore
waterfront also carry relatively low price tags. The same is true
for the Harrisburg, PA (#4) metro, which has achieved unprecedented
revival from being ranked the #2 most distressed city in the nation
in the 1980s.
Have you ever considered becoming a resident of the historic whaling
port of New
An old colonial town founded in 1646, New London is set between
New York and Boston and is home to the US Coast Guard Academy, as
well as Connecticut College. But this colonial gem is not stuck
in the past. New London topped our list with salary ranges above
the national average, a low cost of living, and a low unemployment
recent $300 million dollar investment in the Pfizer Global Research
and Development Headquarters has revitalized the New London waterfront
and spurred an increase in jobs, particularly ones calling for highly
skilled labor. Increased defense spending on the US Navy and Coast
Guard may have also helped boost New London to the top of our list.
So reserve your spot today, as the city limits are only 5.5 square
a little more space to store that extra cash? How about Huntsville,
Huntsville is one of the oldest cities in Alabama, and calls itself
the "space capital" of America. That's outer space. Huntsville rocketed
to the #2 "Salary Value" city.
AL is a turn of the century town that has suddenly become a technology
powerhouse partly because of the city's relatively low cost of doing
business. While most of Huntsville's workers were cotton farmers
up until 1950, NASA and the Redstone Arsenal are now luring highly
skilled engineers and scientists to the area. The Huntsville metro
enjoys some of the highest median salaries in the South, as well
as the largest concentration of engineers in the country.
you like the big city feel, but the high living costs of New York
and San Francisco have emptied your bank account. The #3 "Salary
Value" city may be just the place for you. It has the Orioles
and the Ravens, and many other feathered residents at the Baltimore
the largest metro in the Top 5 with 629,000 residents within the
city limits. The newly revived Baltimore waterfront has plenty of
places for the residents to spend their personal wealth.
is not only home to many National Security Agency employees, but
is also becoming a popular place for retirees. Residents have been
drawn to Baltimore by the wide new selection of relatively inexpensive
70 miles north from Baltimore, pick up the Susquehanna River, and
you'll find yourself in the capital city of Harrisburg,
which ranked as the #4 "Salary Value" city. Harrisburg
has recently been recognized as one of the most revitalized cities
in the nation and has come a long way in business and culture from
being considered a distressed city in the early 1980s.
out the Top 5 "Salary Value" cities is the booming Oklahoma
town of Tulsa.
Tulsa is the second largest city in Oklahoma with 393,000 residents
within the city limits, and is expected to gain 30,000 more inhabitants
by 2010. Tulsa isn't your typical Oklahoma oil patch town. It's
one of America's top industry leaders in aerospace, oil and gas,
and technology. Extremely low business and living costs have made
the metro a hotspot for entrepreneurs. A low unemployment rate has
also helped power Tulsa onto our Top 5.
no surprise that the high living costs in metros like New
made them two of the hardest places for employees to make a profit.
More money may be deposited into your checking account every pay
period, but when it's time to pay the rent, your checking account
may be empty. Salaries in New York City are 17% higher than the
national average, but the cost of living is 94% higher. This makes
NYC possibly the hardest place to get your bank account into the
black. Of course, New York's 8 million residents have found other
reasons, such as art and culture, to live in the Big Apple.
living costs also deposited the metros of Stamford,
in the Bottom 5 "Salary Value" cities.
is the leading provider of detailed compensation information. Through
continual analysis, Salary.com tracks up-to-date salary information
for more than 2,500 job titles in all industries and metros. This
information is available online through the Salary
Wizard. Salary.com also tracks cost of living through the Cost
of Living Wizard.
creating the "Salary Value" index, Salary.com correlated the latest
city-by-city pay information against a "market basket" of living
costs that included property values and staples such as food and
energy. Unemployment rates per metro area were also considered.
Metro areas of 250,000 or more residents were included. A metro
area is defined as a radius around the city that is generally commutable
for an employee.