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Old 08-04-2014, 10:59 AM
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What are some cities that you would say have a strong job market and a solid salary to cost of living ratio (meaning that not all of your salary has to go towards housing, groceries, etc.)? Bonus points if it's in a beautiful natural setting.
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Old 08-04-2014, 11:17 AM
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I believe in a national ranking of metro areas, Des Moines, Iowa was the "richest" metro in the country in regards to a very low cost of living, but fairly high salaries due to the fact it's a government and insurance/white collar city.
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Old 08-04-2014, 11:41 AM
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This may help in terms of COL and average annual pay for the top 100 metros: Here are the highest-paying markets for employees in all jobs - The Business Journals


More info: Where Wages Have Grown the Most (and Least) Since the Recovery - CityLab

BEA Regional Economic Accounts
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Old 08-04-2014, 11:52 AM
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I think level of "disposable income" is another nice indicator. Check out the cities with the most after housing budget...

The U.S. Cities With the Most Leftover to Spend ... After Paying for Housing - CityLab
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:32 AM
Location: Winter nightime low 60,summer daytime high 85, sunny 300 days/year, no hablamos ingles aquí
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The CityLab info is a good start, but as always, it does not tell the whole story.
It boils down to: what is your profession and how much you are making?
Ultra-expensive San Jose is listed as the city "with the most money left over after paying for housing"
It sounds a bit counter-intuitive, but can be explained by the fact that San Jose is the heart of "Silicon Valley" , where legions of tech workers make salaries well into 6 figures.
Good for them, but Heavens forbid you are not in IT industry.. Then your mediocre paycheck (say, $30K/year) will land you strictly in the "working poor" category there, where you'll be sharing an apartment with 3 roommates.

Same for places like San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, NY or Washington-Arlington-Alexandria.

As far as places where $30K\year will still allow you a decent standard of living and, per OP request, with a beautiful natural surroundings, here are my West Coast picks:
-Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WA
-Corvallis, OR
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