MCOL area Guide – Best Medium Cost of living Areas

MCOL area

Are you someone looking for Medium Cost of Living Areas (MCOL) in the United States? Are you a citizen or an immigrant? Did you just land one or two high-paying jobs and want to leave the current Low Cost of Living (LCOL) city you are?

Are you presently living in one of the High Cost of Living (HCOL) cities, and do you feel you should consider a lower cost? Are you paying too much property taxes than you wish to? Or, are you just looking to live in the big cities for one thing or the other?

MCOL cities are the best for people with high-paying income jobs and who want to live a comfy life. But first, let’s find out what MCOL areas are.

What do Medium Cost of Living Areas (MCOL) mean?

Medium Cost of Living areas (MCOL) are towns, cities, states, or countries with the cost of living that are neither higher nor lower than the national average. They are somehow in between. This makes them neither too cheap nor too expensive to live in.

These areas are your best bet if you were previously living comfortably in a High Cost of Living cities (HCOL), and need a better standard of living at lower costs. But they are a bad idea if you are currently living in a Low Cost of Living area (LCOL) with little problem. Well, unless there is a promise of high-paying jobs in the new area.

What is the Cost of Living?

Before moving into a new area, many findings must be put into motion. The results of these are then used to craft an effective relocation plan. One of these findings is the cost of living in the prospective place.

Cost of living refers to the total amount of money needed by an individual or a household to cover basic expenses in a particular area; calculated within a 12-month window.

These basic expenses include but are limited to the cost of food and supplies, public transportation, electricity, accommodation, clothing, phone bills, healthcare, education, taxes, and lifestyle expenses like entertainment.

The cost of living lacks uniformity and therefore varies from place to place. So, when it comes to relocation you may decide to choose an LCOL area, an MCOL area, or even an HCOL area.

The cost of living often increases rather than decreases over the years. For increment or decrement, there must be some changes in the area, city, state, or country. Some of the factors that influence the cost of living in an area include:

Industrialization

Industrialization of an area in the city is a blessing to the occupants of the city. This is because it creates jobs, and helps people to make money, thereby decreasing the unemployment and poverty rate in the cities. However, there is another side to that coin.

When new companies enter an area, it becomes a place of commerce. As a result, things become expensive gradually because the value of real estate there increases.

One of the first indications is the price of housing, land, or rent. The demands from people willing to live in an industrialized environment increase daily, and with its limited supply, prices skyrocket.

Many people, especially workers prefer to live close to their offices to ease commuting. But this in return will lead to an increase in housing costs as well.

However, too many commuters to industrialized areas increase demand, which then creates another skyrocketing cost of public transportation and other related services.

Civilization and Technological Advancement

Civilization and technological advancement play a major role in the cost of living in an area. Most Low Cost of Living (LCOL) Areas are rural or under-developed or developing areas with limited use and access to technology.

Thus, most basic needs and activities are carried out using natural low-cost means.

However, when there is technological advancement in an area, modern appliances are set to replace the old ones. And most times, these new modern appliances are expensive to purchase and maintain. As a result, it increases the living expenses of individuals or households that use them.

Scarcity

Some areas are underdeveloped or just lacking in some areas of production or distribution. As a result, they will have to rely on getting some basic needs from other cities, states, or even countries.

This makes the cost of production too high for many vendors to afford. But when it comes to necessities, the population cannot do without them. Thus, many businesses that afford to secure procurement may decide to hoard them and sell them for higher prices. Due to the limited supply to balance the unending demands from the public.

When this continues for years without a way to balance the demand and supply, the prices keep skyrocketing, and this leads to a high cost of living – fueled by the high cost of procuring some goods.

Income Level and Taxes

The income level of the population indicates their purchasing power parity (PPP). A very high PPP for the majority of inhabitants in a state or country poses a threat to its economy since it can lead to inflation.

As a result, steps are taken to ensure people get value for what they purchase without hurting the economy. So, the government may decide to impose a higher percentage of income, and property taxes.

Changes in Prices of Goods and Services

Prices of goods and services are the most unstable phenomenon in an economy. These changes are brought about by many factors including but not limited to the ones mentioned above.

Prices change when there is an increase in demand in the absence of a balancing demand. Changes can also occur when the economy declines, such as during inflation.

When there is inflation, the government believes that there is too much money in circulation. To correct this, the government often uses some policies to suck more money out of the public.

In turn, it affects companies by increasing their cost of production; either in taxes or procurement of raw materials. etc.

Higher Paying Jobs

The presence of higher paying jobs in larger HCOL cities further increases the cost of living. Many LCOL cities are known to have moderate housing prices overall, lower property taxes, and enjoy lower income taxes as well.

However, due to income high paying jobs, home prices, and the housing market becomes more competitive. Hence, you will have to increase your housing budget to live in such an area. Plus, you may not be able to live same lifestyle in this more expensive area.

What is a Good Wage for MCOL Area?

A good wage for the medium cost of living areas (MCOL) varies from state to state, city to city, and town to town.

An effective indicator is how much you currently make versus your present area’s cost of living, and the cost of living in your new MCOL area.

For example, if your present cost of living is $80000, and your new MCOL area is $60000, then your $80000 annual wage is good for the MCOL area.

This is because you can comfortably continue with your present lifestyle, and still have more to spare.

However, if your annual wage is $80000, and your cost of living is the same, your wage will not be good for $100000 MCOL areas.

This is because you will need more money to maintain your present lifestyle in the new area. An impossible feat unless you secure a higher-paying job in the area that will cover the extra expenses.

Best Medium Cost of Living Areas (MCOL) or Cities

According to Fred Economic Data, an average person made a personal income of $37,522 in 2021. While according to US Census, the median household income made in 2021 is $69,717.

That said, for our list of best medium cost living areas (MCOL) or cities, our pick will be cities with at least $50,000, and at most $80,000 cost of living.

For clarity and better understanding in layman’s terms, we will not be using the cost of living index or whatnot. We will discuss only monetary value, and percentages (when necessary).

Ada, Oklahoma

Ada Oklahoma is one of the best cities with a medium cost of living. It is in Pontotoc county in Oklahoma with a population of at least 17,399 as of the 2020 census. Ada has a lot of amusement parks and other locations that are sore to the eyes.

The average cost of living in Ada, OK is $52,574, and the average rent hovers around $929 per month.

The median home price in Ada, OK is around $414,600, and you can expect to buy energy for $163.17. Phone bills, and gasoline cost around $181.62, and $5.15 respectively.

For medical services, you can expect to spend $96.73, $100.19, and $164.64 on Doctor, Dentist, and Optometrist visits respectively. While $8.87 should be spared for Ibuprofen, and $453.73 for prescription drugs.

Whole Milk costs around $2.24, while Beer, Wine, and Pizza go for $9.89, $10.37, and $9.45 respectively at grocery stores, and supermarkets.

Additionally, the percentage of Owned Homes vs Rented is 55% vs 45% percentage. This is a good odd as to your chances of buying your own home in Ada, Pontotoc county, Oklahoma.

According to the Niche Scale, Ada OK is graded as follows;

  • Public Schools grade – A minus
  • Crime & Safety grade – C
  • Housing grade – B+
  • Nightlife grade – B minus
  • Good for Families – B+
  • Diversity grade – A
  • Jobs grade – B minus
  • Weather grade – B+
  • Cost of Living grade – A minus
  • Health & Fitness grade – B minus
  • Outdoor Activities grade – B minus
  • Commute – A-minus
  • Overall Grade – A-minus

Broken Arrow, OK

Broken Arrow, Oklahoma is another one of the best medium cost of living (MCOL) areas in the States. It is in Tulsa county with a population of at least 108,875 as of the 2020 census.

One of the main treasures in Broken Arrow is the Rose District which is mainly for entertainment and historic arts.

The average cost of living in Broken Arrow, OK is $51,917, and the average rent hovers around $1,186 per month.

The median home price in Broken Arrow, OK is around $354,005, and you can expect to buy energy for $155.50. Phone bills, and gasoline cost around $194.65, and $3.50 respectively.

For medical services, you can expect to spend $98.35, $92.13, and $103.58 on Doctor, Dentist, and Optometrist visits respectively. While $8.95 should be spared for Ibuprofen, and $472.50 for prescription drugs.

Whole Milk costs around $2.28, while Beer, Wine, and Pizza go for $10.01, $10.98, and $11.97 respectively.

Additionally, the percentage of Owned Homes vs Rented is 73% vs 27% percentage. This is an amazing odd as to your chances of buying your home in Broken Arrow, Tulsa.

According to the Niche Scale, Broken Arrow, OK is graded as follows;

  • Public Schools grade – B+
  • Crime & Safety grade – C+
  • Housing grade – B+
  • Nightlife grade – B
  • Good for Families – A-minus
  • Diversity grade – A minus
  • Jobs grade – B+
  • Weather grade – B
  • Cost of Living grade – B+
  • Health & Fitness grade – B
  • Outdoor Activities grade – B
  • Commute – B
  • Overall Grade – A

Manhattan, Kansas

Manhattan, KS is also one of the best medium cost of living (MCOL) areas in the States. It is a city in Riley county and extends to Pottawatomie county. Manhattan has a population of at least 55,045 as of the 2020 census.

It is a great place for fun and retirement due to its peacefulness. Manhattan, KS, also known as Little Apple, is home to Kansas State University.

The average cost of living in Manhattan, KS is $50,110, and the average rent hovers around $920 per month.

The median home price in Manhattan is around $373,275, and you can expect to buy energy for $169.43. Phone bills, and gasoline cost around $194.30, and $2.97 respectively.

For medical services, you can expect to spend $130.63, $106.83, and $161.38 on Doctor, Dentist, and Optometrist visits respectively. While $9.26 should be spared for Ibuprofen, and $491.63 for prescription drugs.

Whole Milk costs around $1.97, while Beer, Wine, and Pizza go for $9.24, $9.49, and $10.12 respectively.

Additionally, the percentage of Owned Homes vs Rented is 60% vs 40% percentage. This is a fair odd as to your chances of buying your home in Manhattan, Kansas.

According to the Niche Scale, Manhattan, KS is graded as follows;

  • Public Schools grade – A
  • Housing grade – B
  • Nightlife grade – A
  • Good for Families – A
  • Diversity grade – B+
  • Jobs grade – B+
  • Weather grade – B minus
  • Cost of Living grade – B minus
  • Health & Fitness grade – A minus
  • Outdoor Activities grade – A minus
  • Commute – A
  • Overall Grade – A+

Miami County, KS

Miami County, KS is another one of the best medium cost of living (MCOL) areas or cities in the States.

It is a standalone county in the east-central part of Kansas City, with a population of at least 34,191 as of the 2020 census. Miami County, KS is home to Hillsdale State Park and Hillsdale Lake.

The average cost of living in Miami County, KS is $51,369, and the average rent hovers around $958 per month.

The median home price in Miami County, Kansas is around $363,990, and you can expect to buy energy for $171.26. Phone bills, and gasoline cost around $204.72, and $4.55 respectively.

For medical services, you can expect to spend $142.50, $98.50, and $125 on Doctor, Dentist, and Optometrist visits respectively. While $9.99 should be spared for Ibuprofen, and $500 for prescription drugs.

Whole Milk costs around $2.58, while Beer, Wine, and Pizza go for $9.69, $7.11, and $11.47 respectively.

Additionally, the percentage of Owned Homes vs Rented is 80% vs 20% percentage. This is an outstanding odd as to your chances of buying a home in Miami County, Kansas.

According to the Niche Scale, Miami County, KS is graded as follows;

  • Public Schools grade – B
  • Housing grade – B
  • Nightlife grade – B minus
  • Good for Families – B minus
  • Diversity grade – C+
  • Jobs grade – B+
  • Weather grade – C minus
  • Cost of Living grade – B
  • Health & Fitness grade – B minus
  • Outdoor Activities grade – C
  • Commute – C
  • Overall Grade – B minus

Birmingham, AL

Birmingham, AL is an MCOL city in the Jefferson County of Alabama. It is also the seat of the county with a population of at least 210,928 as of the 2020 census.

Birmingham is the home to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham-Southern College, and the Jefferson State Community College – Shelby-Hoover Campus.

The average cost of living in Birmingham, AL is $50,876, and the average rent hovers around $992 per month.

The median home price in Birmingham, Alabama is around $358,171, and you can expect to buy energy for $177.39. Phone bills, and gasoline cost around $186.59, and $2.93 respectively.

For medical services, you can expect to spend $90.74, $122.63, and $90.93 on Doctor, Dentist, and Optometrist visits respectively. While $8.88 should be spared for Ibuprofen, and $455.40 for prescription drugs.

Whole Milk costs around $2.58, while Beer, Wine, and Pizza go for $9.69, $7.11, and $11.47 respectively.

Additionally, the percentage of Owned Homes vs Rented is 54% vs 46% percentage. This means you have a fair chance of buying a home in Birmingham, Alabama.

According to the Niche Scale, Birmingham, AL is graded as follows;

  • Public Schools grade – D+
  • Crime & Safety grade – C-
  • Housing grade – C+
  • Nightlife grade – B+
  • Good for Families – C
  • Diversity grade – A-minus
  • Jobs grade – C+
  • Weather grade – B
  • Cost of Living grade – B+
  • Health & Fitness grade – B minus
  • Outdoor Activities grade – B+
  • Commute – A-minus
  • Overall Grade – B minus

Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, GA is an MCOL area or city in Georgia. Being the capital of the state, it has a population of at least 497,642 as of the 2020 census.

Atlanta is a good place to live as a result of its low cost of living, and the presence of high jobs in the city.

The average cost of living in Atlanta is $56,736, and the average rent hovers around $1,450 per month. The median home price in Atlanta, Georgia is around $460,519, and you can expect to buy energy for $128.11. Phone bills, and gasoline cost around $187.29, and $3.14 respectively.

For medical services, you can expect to spend $117.69, $119.54, and $122.80 on Doctor, Dentist, and Optometrist visits respectively. While $9.45 should be spared for Ibuprofen, and $477.14 for prescription drugs.

Whole Milk costs around $1.90, while Beer, Wine, and Pizza go for $11.15, $12.98, and $10.95 respectively.

Additionally, the percentage of Owned Homes vs Rented is 55% vs 45% percentage. This means you have a fair chance of buying a home in Atlanta, Georgia.

According to the Niche Scale, Atlanta, GA is graded as follows;

  • Public Schools grade – B
  • Crime & Safety grade – C-
  • Housing grade – C
  • Nightlife grade – A+
  • Good for Families – A-minus
  • Diversity grade – A
  • Jobs grade – B
  • Weather grade – B+
  • Cost of Living grade – C+
  • Health & Fitness grade – A
  • Outdoor Activities grade – A
  • Commute – A-minus
  • Overall Grade – A

Other MCOL areas or cities

  • Douglasville-Douglas County, GA – average cost of living – $51,260 | median home price – $313,783 | apartment rent – $1,353 | annual property tax – $2,855
  • Fayetteville-Fayette County, GA – average cost of living – $52,026 | median home price – $424,232 | apartment rent – $1,201 | annual property tax – $3,861
  • Winchester, VA-WV – average cost of living – $53,560 | median home price – $391,284 | apartment rent – $1,141
  • Bloomington, IN – average cost of living – $54,819 | median home price – $429,156 | apartment rent – $1,265 | annual property tax – $3,176
  • Chicago, IL – average cost of living – $67,744 | median home price – $564,342 | apartment rent – $2,661 | annual property tax – $11,795

What is the Average House Cost in MCOL Areas?

From the list above, we can conclude that the average house cost or house median price in medium cost of living (MCOL) areas is $500,000. However, taxes should also be considered.

For example, Chicago, IL from Cook County will charge $11,795 in property taxes annually. This is excluding income or company taxes. This further bloats up your average house cost in MCOL areas.

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