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The Best Places to Live to Have the Most Disposable Income In The United States

Median Income and Rent

Telling someone the area with the best paying jobs doesn’t really mean much if you they spend all that money paying to live in that area. Similarly, when discussing rent, most articles and data visualizations focus on minimum wage earners instead of the median earner. I decided to take two data sets, one for income based on a survey from the US Census Bureau. The other looks at rent prices and is from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

What Determines Disposable Income?

Is it the cost of rent or the total income. According to the data, it depends. Do you want the lowest possible share of your income to go to rent, or do you want to have the highest absolute amount of money left over. While the former is close, with rent playing a larger role in the total share, there is no contest if you want to have more total money left over. You want to be in a high earning area. Preferably working in an industry that is best suited for that area.

The Best Places to Live And Work

Rank County State Disposable Income (Based On Per Capita) Per Capita Income Median Household Income Median Family Income Population Number of Households Median Rent 1 Bedroom Apt Median Income as a % of Income
1 Arlington County Virginia  $      43,286.00 $62,018 $103,208 $139,244 214,861 94,454  $  1,561.00 30%
2 Borden County Texas  $      42,494.00 $50,042 $71,607 $76,250 649 225  $     629.00 15%
3 Howard County Maryland  $      42,364.00 $48,172 $109,865 $128,657 293,821 106,142  $     484.00 12%
4 New York County New York  $      42,146.00 $62,498 $69,659 $84,627 1,605,272 736,192  $  1,696.00 33%
5 Morris County New Jersey  $      41,854.00 $48,814 $98,633 $117,683 495,261 179,665  $     580.00 14%
6 Los Alamos County New Mexico  $      40,580.00 $51,044 $106,686 $124,979 17,979 7,590  $     872.00 20%
7 Falls Church City Virginia  $      40,356.00 $59,088 $120,000 $152,857 12,731 5,020  $  1,561.00 32%
8 Montgomery County Maryland  $      40,134.00 $49,038 $98,221 $117,408 989,474 360,563  $     742.00 18%
9 Somerset County New Jersey  $      39,883.00 $47,803 $99,020 $117,393 326,207 115,531  $     660.00 17%
10 Alexandria City Virginia  $      35,876.00 $54,608 $85,706 $107,511 143,684 65,369  $  1,561.00 34%

The Worst Places to Live And Work

Rank County State Disposable Income (Based on per Capita Income) Per Capita Income Median Household Income Median Family Income Population Number of Households Median Rent 1 Bedroom Apt Median Income as a % of Income
1 Bronx County New York  $  (2,181.00) $18,171 $34,388 $38,843  $ 1,397,315.00 474,842              1,696 112%
2 Orange County Indiana  $     (744.00) $18,576 $38,826 $46,454  $       19,829.00 7,688              1,610 104%
3 Kusilvak Census Area Alaska  $        818.00 $11,210 $40,176 $40,750  $         7,678.00 1,744                 866 93%
4 Bethel Census Area Alaska  $    1,469.00 $18,497 $51,689 $53,224  $       17,356.00 4,358              1,419 92%
5 Douglas County Missouri  $    1,692.00 $16,404 $32,130 $38,312  $       13,647.00 5,178              1,226 90%
6 Adams County Washington  $    2,228.00 $16,940 $43,926 $48,121  $       18,802.00 5,738              1,226 87%
7 Essex County Vermont  $    2,335.00 $20,887 $35,916 $45,000  $         6,276.00 2,774              1,546 89%
8 Wheeler County Georgia  $    2,708.00 $8,948 $24,382 $31,556  $         7,746.00 2,096                 520 70%
9 Jefferson County Mississippi  $    2,739.00 $12,723 $26,028 $32,793  $         7,690.00 2,520                 832 78%
10 San Miguel County New Mexico  $    2,746.00 $17,926 $28,275 $40,284  $       29,093.00 11,435              1,265 85%

I like this chart because it shows a huge issue with the statistics. Obviously, a large number of people who live in the Bronx don’t work there, and vice versa. And the same is probably true for the rest of the bottom 10 list as well. Because of the industries in these neighborhoods, and their proximity to high earning towns, it’s literally impossible for a lot of people to live in the same county that they work.

 

The Best Counties To Live Across The United States

But what’s the best place to live in your state? What about if you plan to move? Don’t worry, I got you covered. Here is a Dashboard I made to help you explore the entire data set, and help you save as much money as possible.

Some Notes About The Data

I used the most up to date county level data available, however that happens to be from 2013. Which means that a few things may have changed since then.
Also, I chose per-capita income instead of household income because as the cost of living increases relative to wages, the number of people living in the same house tends to increase as well. So I assumed that people would like to live in their own 1 bedroom living space, if they were afforded the opportunity. Lastly, you might have noticed there are some counties missing. This is because the naming conventions in the two data sets were slightly off. This is especially true to Louisianan, I tried to reconcile this as much as possible, but stopped short of going line by line in the data. I hope this isn’t too much of an inconvenience.

Download the Data:

Rent To Income Data

A data designer and visual storyteller.




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