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Here Are the 10 Most – and Least – Affordable Cities to Live and Work in the U.S.

Krisanapong Detraphiphat | Moment | Getty Images

Big cities are always attractive places for 20-somethings to live and work, but soaring housing costs and record high inflation might make you think twice about where you want to move next.

The most populated cities in the U.S. tend to be the most expensive places to live – New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, for instance, have higher costs of living compared to smaller cities with cheaper rent prices and lower costs for some goods and services.

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While New York is an expensive place to live, it is actually not the least affordable city in the U.S., according to a 2022 study from GoodHire, a background screening software company in Redwood City, California.

The study, released on Tuesday, found seven other U.S. cities that are even less affordable than New York City to live and work. Those cities include Los Angeles, which ranks at the top as the least affordable, while other cities like Hartford, Connecticut and Corpus Christi, Texas also outrank New York.

"In New York, you might be able to find somewhere that is somewhat affordable to live, and your wages will reflect the city so your earning power is much higher," Sam Radbil, a content strategist at GoodHire, tells CNBC Make It. 

"In other cities, whether it's Corpus Christi or Hartford, Connecticut, earning power is likely to be lower," Radbil added, "With rising home prices and rent costs, this is going to be heavily impacted."

GoodHire's study uses 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis and Department of Commerce. The company analyzed 155 U.S. cities with workforces of more than 150,000 people to find the most affordable and least affordable places to live and work. Some of the cities in the ranking include broader metropolitan areas, such as New York City, where GoodHire includes data from parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The study weighed seven factors – wage growth, unemployment rate, job growth, job openings, rental prices, real estate sale prices and real per capita personal income – to measure affordability in each of the cities.

Topping the list of the most affordable U.S. cities is Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a city of roughly 192,000 people that has one of the country's most affordable housing markets, according to GoodHire's study. Reno, Nevada ranks as the second most affordable option, as the 264,000-person city boasts the best market for job-seekers of any of the cities scouted by GoodHire, based on the number of job opportunities, earning potential, and housing affordability in the city.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made a lot of people question where they want to live and work, GoodHire CEO Mike Grossman tells CNBC Make It, and increased remote work has allowed people to move all across the country. That could soon mean an influx of residents and workers in some of the more affordable cities around the country.

"I think this is going to be consistent as a theme [in 2022], and people are going to the place with the most affordability and best job opportunities," Grossman said.

Take a look a top 10 affordable cities and the 10 least affordable cities:

Most Affordable Cities

1. Sioux, SD

Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Annie Otzen | Moment | Getty Images
Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

2. Reno, NV

3. Provo, UT

4. Madison, WI

5. Huntsville, AL

6. Charleston, SC

7. Fayetteville, AR

8. Ogden, UT

9. Salt Lake City, UT

10. Spartanburg, SC

Sunset over barn in Spartanburg, South Carolina
Teresa Kopec | Moment | Getty Images
Sunset over barn in Spartanburg, South Carolina

Least Affordable Cities

1. Los Angeles, CA

2. Hartford, CT

3. Corpus Christi, TX

4. Bakersfield, CA

5. Shreveport, CA

6. Modesto, CA

Modesto, California
Denistangneyjr | Istock | Getty Images
Modesto, California

7. El Paso, TX

8. New York, NY

9. Rockford, IL

10. McAllen, TX

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