Live

Watch CBSN Live

10 cities where a comfortable life is affordable

Getty Images/iStockphoto

By Andrew DePietro/GOBankingRates

You don't need to be rich to live comfortably -- but you do need to make a certain amount of money. The key is to earn enough to cover the cost of your necessities, pay for nonessentials and build your savings.

A good way to gauge whether you can live a comfortable financial life is to apply the 50-30-20 budgeting rule, in which 50 percent of income covers necessities, 30 percent covers discretionary items and 20 percent is for savings. From here, you can figure out whether your income is sufficient to cover cost-of-living expenses in your city.

GOBankingRates conducted a cost-of-living comparison of the 50 most populous U.S. cities based on the median income by city and the dollar amounts required to cover the cost of necessities -- including rent, groceries, utilities, transportation and health care -- in each city. From there, we applied the 50-30-20 rule to determine the recommended salary to live comfortably.

Not surprisingly, some of the biggest coastal cities were the toughest places to live on a typical household budget. Miami was the least affordable, since households living on a typical annual salary would find themselves almost $45,000 in the red. The deficit for New Yorkers living on a typical salary is more than $33,000.

Read on to learn about the top 10 cities where people can easily afford to live comfortably.

10. San Antonio, Texas: $590 surplus

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The median household income in San Antonio stands at $46,744, while residents require slightly less than that for a comfortable lifestyle. Residents in the city would require:

  • 50 percent for necessities: $23,077
  • 30 percent for discretionary spending: $13,846
  • 20 percent for savings: $9,231
  • Income needed to live comfortably: $46,154

9. Columbus, Ohio: $807 surplus

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Columbus residents earning the household median income of $45,659 are ahead of the curve, earning an annual surplus of $807 beyond the amount needed to comfortably cover needs, wants and savings.

  • 50 percent for necessities: $22,426
  • 30 percent for discretionary spending: $13,456
  • 20 percent for savings: $8,970
  • Income needed to live comfortably: $44,852

8. Las Vegas, Nevada: $2,091 surplus

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Las Vegas residents earn a median income of $50,202, which is $2,091 more than the amount needed to live well there. And living in Las Vegas is affordable compared to other cities. For example, the city has some of the lowest costs for groceries and health care.

  • 50 percent for necessities: $24,055
  • 30 percent for discretionary spending: $14,433
  • 20 percent for savings: $9,622
  • Income needed to live comfortably: $48,111

7. Wichita, Kansas: $2,303 surplus

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Wichita offers affordability, but housing costs could be rising. Although still relatively cheap at $551, the median rent for a single-bedroom residence in Wichita increased by more than 17 percent since last January.

But with a median income of $45,947, Wichita's low housing costs help the typical household earn $2,303 more than the income required to live comfortably in the city.

  • 50 percent for necessities: $21,822
  • 30 percent for discretionary spending: $13,093
  • 20 percent for savings: $8,729
  • Income needed to live comfortably: $43,644

6. El Paso, Texas: $2,379 surplus

Brian Wancho, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Although transportation costs are high, other El Paso cost-of-living expenses are low. The city boasts a very affordable median rent for a one-bedroom residence ($563) and the second-cheapest cost of groceries per year. These make it easier for El Paso residents to live well with a $42,772 median income, which is $2,379 more than the income needed to follow a 50-30-20 budget.

  • 50 percent for necessities: $20,197
  • 30 percent for discretionary spending: $12,118
  • 20 percent for savings: $8,079
  • Income needed to live comfortably: $40,393

5. Austin, Texas: $3,058 surplus income

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Austin's cost of living isn't the cheapest in the state, but the city's median household income ($57,689) is higher than every other Texas city that made our list. As a result, most residents can live comfortably on the city's median income, which is $3,058 more than the salary needed to follow the 50-30-20 rule.

  • 50 percent for necessities: $27,316
  • 30 percent for discretionary spending: $16,389
  • 20 percent for savings: $10,926
  • Income needed to live comfortably: $54,631

4. Albuquerque, N.M.: $4,585 surplus income

Getty Images

This city offers some comparatively unique benefits that others can't match. For example, Albuquerque is one of the few cities to simultaneously have one of the cheapest median rents, groceries and health care costs.

  • 50 percent for necessities: $21,222
  • 30 percent for discretionary spending: $12,734
  • 20 percent for savings: $8,489
  • Income needed to live comfortably: $42,445

3. Colorado Springs, Colo.: $5,112 surplus income

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Cost of living in Colorado Springs is on the rise. The rental price of a one-bedroom apartment there increased by more than 14 percent since last year. And the income required to live comfortably rose about $5,000 compared to the amount you needed last year.

The good news, however, is that Colorado Springs still remains affordable. With a median household income of $54,527, the typical resident has a $5,000-plus surplus after allocating money for necessities, discretionary spending and savings.

  • 50 percent for necessities: $24,707
  • 30 percent for discretionary spending: $14,825
  • 20 percent for savings: $9,883
  • Income needed to live comfortably: $49,415

2.  Arlington, Texas: $6,906 surplus income

Getty Images

Of the three cities that form the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area, Arlington is the most affordable when you compare cost of living by city.

The median household income in Arlington is $53,326, which is more than enough to live within your means and then some. Arlington's median income produces a surplus of almost $7,000 compared to the $46,420 needed to live comfortably. Plus, the median income is slightly higher than what the average Texan makes.

  • 50 percent for necessities: $23,210
  • 30 percent for discretionary spending: $13,926
  • 20 percent for savings: $9,284
  • Income needed to live comfortably: $46,420

1. Virginia Beach, Virginia: $13,985 surplus income

Sherry V Smith Photography, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Lower-than-average costs of living and a high median household income ($66,634) make it easier to live comfortably in Virginia Beach. In fact, the city's median income is well above the U.S. median ($53,889) and is $13,984 more than what's needed to live comfortably. That's the biggest surplus of any major U.S. city in this study.

  • 50 percent for necessities: $26,325
  • 30 percent for discretionary spending: $15,795
  • 20 percent for savings: $10,530
  • Income needed to live comfortably: $52,650
View CBS News In