WalletHub thinks you should move to Arizona in 2015

Gilbert Arizona

One day after I wrote about “Best Performing Cities” as per Milken, here’s more “best/worst/greatest/etc.” data for 2015. This is 2015’s Best and Worst Cities for jobs, via WalletHub. The methodology is on that link, and there’s a Forbes summary here. Number 1 is Seattle, which isn’t surprising — I think Seattle was No. 11 or 12 on yesterday’s “Best Performing” list — and is also a cool, if expensive, place to live. After that, the list falls down a little bit in terms of place that a snooty person might want to live; Des Moines is No. 2 (wind energy is everything, yo) and the next two are Gilbert, Arizona (a fast-growing city) and Sioux Falls, SD (which has jobs, but a coastal person would likely scoff at living there). In the top 10, there’s three cities from Arizona — Gilbert, Chandler, and Scottsdale. (Peoria, AZ is at No. 14, too.)

You can always make an argument that all these types of studies should be taken with a grain of salt, because where you live is ultimately about more than your job — it’s about access to family, to airports, to culture, to what values you hold, etc. Very few decisions in the world are made from one single factor, so these things are always inherently incomplete. Still, there are interesting points. 

Look at these two sections of the WalletHub data, for example:

Best Places To Live, Cost Of Living

Highest median annual income — when adjusted for cost of living, which is crucial. I think that’s a good stat to look into. For example, if you read through the WalletHub stuff, basically the most jobs and the highest-paying jobs are in DC, Boston, and San Francisco. But those are coastal places that are desirable to live, so your overall cost of living will be higher. If you adjust for cost of living, which more people should do when thinking about this type of discussion, you’re down to Plano, Gilbert, Fremont, Chandler, and Overland Park — one Texas (naitch), two Arizona, a section of Cali, and a suburb of Kansas City.

Then, if you look at housing affordability, you’re at Corpus Christi, Plano, Fort Wayne, Gilbert, and Peoria — two Texas (naitch), two Arizona (naitch for this survey), and a semi-random city in Indiana.

Take those two things together and it would appear, on surface, that if you want a bunch of disposable income and a cheaper house (with potentially more land), you should live in Gilbert, Arizona or Plano, TX.

Of course, that’s not the entire ball of wax on how to read this — but still, it’s interesting to consider.

Per Zillow, FYI, Gilbert homes average about $261K and Plano is around $256K, give or take. For contrast, Boston is around $458K — nearly double.

Often-ignored fact: we talk a lot about “two Americas” in terms of haves and have-nots or race/gender relations, etc. In reality, almost every slice of America is two distinct groups, including where you live and where you can live, etc.

Ted Bauer