The United States boasts some of the most affordable and job-opportunity-rich areas in the world.  Some states offer an inexpensive lifestyle across the board, whereas others present more of a mixed bag or high-priced environment. The job market, unemployment rate and career growth prospects are primary factors when evaluating a particular area, especially when considering cost outlay for housing, utilities, groceries, transportation and health care expenses. 

To provide a snapshot into the living expenses and income needed to live comfortably in each individual state, we used data from a Henry Kaiser Family Foundation study, which looked into what a family of four would need to earn in selected urban areas to have purchasing power equal to four times the federal poverty level.

Income levels in this report are calculated based on the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, or COLI, which collects information on relative price levels for consumer goods and services in 265 participating urban areas for a mid-management standard of living. The COLI manual defines "mid-management standard of living" as the cost of maintaining a standard of living appropriate for moderately affluent professional and managerial households.