Why Cleveland Is Good for Your Wallet

This post is part of a regular series where we’ll spotlight reasons Why Cleveland is the best retirement option you’ve never thought of. From its rich arts and culture and vibrant restaurant scene, to its multiple recreational opportunities and world-class health care, learn Why Cleveland is both an exciting and surprisingly affordable choice for retirement!


When it comes to deciding on a place to live, a host of factors vie for our attention. Is health care available? Is the weather good? What about the mix of cultural and recreational opportunities?

Important considerations, all. But perhaps more than anything else, one question demands a thoughtful answer from a would-be resident: Is this a place where I can afford to live a life I’ll love?

In Cleveland, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!” According to a 2015 study undertaken by Glassdoor, a jobs-and-career-search website, Cleveland is among the nation’s top cities where your paycheck will go the furthest.

As reported by Forbes, Glassdoor considered median salaries for employees in the 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S., as well as median home value, as a measure of cost of living. Then they used the ratio of those two factors to identify the cities where employees get the greatest cost-of-living bang for their earned buck.

On the resulting list of 25 budget-friendly cities, Cleveland checked in at an impressive No. 4. Cleveland’s strong ranking is based largely on the relationship between average housing costs and income. Specifically, the researchers determined that Cleveland’s median home price is a modest $120,300, and the median salary is $41,000. For comparison, Austin’s median salary is $50,000, or just 25 percent higher than Cleveland’s; but its average home price is $226,400 – nearly double!

Here’s another way to look at it: According to CNN’s online cost calculator, it would take more than $89,161 in annual income in Manhattan to replace that average $41,000 Cleveland salary. As you may have guessed, the cost of housing was again the major factor in that equation. In fact, housing costs in Cleveland are an across-the-board bargain: 80 percent below Manhattan prices, 43 percent below Portland, Oregon prices, and 31 percent below Chicago prices.

Of course, housing isn’t the only factor to consider when determining a city’s cost of living. The “big picture” includes costs for items like groceries, utilities, transportation and health care as well. But here, too, Cleveland makes a solid showing.  For instance, according to CNN’s cost calculator, health care costs in Cleveland run five percent lower than Manhattan, seven percent lower than San Francisco, and a whopping 15 percent lower than in Boston. (To learn more about Cleveland’s top-ranked health care, go here.)

In its own 2015 research, Forbes confirmed Cleveland’s status as a wallet-friendly city. Using figures that show Clevelanders have a median household income of $51,304 and a median home price of $131,600, Forbes determined that our overall cost of living comes in at 9.4 percent below the national average.

Nor does this appear to be a fluke.  According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cleveland’s Consumer Price Index – a measure based on changes in prices of food, clothing, shelter, fuels, transportation fares, charges for doctors’ and dentists’ services, drugs, and the other goods and services that people buy for day-to-day living – has actually shown a slight decrease from March of 2013 to March of 2016.

What does all this mean for those of us who choose to live in Cleveland? It means we often have more money in our pockets than our peers in pricier cities – money available for discretionary spending on things like hobbies, entertainment, and recreation at the city’s outstanding restaurants, museums, theaters, orchestras, and park systems.

Forbes quotes Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist. “Many small and mid-size cities offer good economic value today, but I don’t think public perceptions have kept up with that. There are still stereotypes about old industrial cities.”

Once again, Cleveland is breaking down those stereotypes and leading the way toward an exciting urban revival.

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