States most and least likely to live paycheck to paycheck

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A GOBankingRates study identifies states where you're most and least likely to live paycheck to paycheck.

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States where you're most and least likely to live paycheck to paycheck
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States where you're most and least likely to live paycheck to paycheck

50. Hawaii

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,826.38
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: -$367.09
  • Percentage of leftover income: -12.99%

For the second year in a row, Hawaii comes in as the No. 1 state where you're most likely to live paycheck to paycheck -- and it's not much of a surprise. Despite having the second-highest median household income in the nation ($73,486), the cost of food, housing, transportation and utilities per paycheck are substantial -- with utilities costing more than double the U.S. average. In all, Hawaii has the highest cost of living, making it one of the most expensive states to live in.

See the Results: 10 States Most (and Least) Likely to Live Paycheck to Paycheck

49. California

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,480.77
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $161.59
  • Percentage of leftover income: 6.51%

California is home to a lot of cities where home prices are skyrocketing. As a result, residents need to spend a lot of their paychecks on housing -- $1,277.75, which is more than half. Transportation costs in California are also more expensive than the U.S. average, soaking up more than 17 percent of a person's paycheck. Additionally, this is also one of the states with the highest cost of living.

48. New York

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,340.38
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $299.91
  • Percentage of leftover income: 12.81%

California's housing costs are higher than New York's. Still, at a price of $1,154.17 per paycheck, housing in the Empire State wipes out nearly 50 percent of your paycheck. After deducting your cost of living expenses, you only have about $300 left over from your paycheck for discretionary income, which could be a problem should an unexpected emergency arise. For this reason, New Yorkers should take steps to build a large emergency fund.

47. Massachusetts

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,716.46
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $361.76
  • Percentage of leftover income: 13.32%

Massachusetts has one of the highest household incomes in the country. But high earnings might not be enough to escape the vicious paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

Home values and prices bottomed out in Massachusetts in 2012, but have rebounded markedly with the median listing price surpassing $380,000 as of November 2016, according to Zillow data. But this means residents will have to fork over approximately $1,260.03 per paycheck toward this expense -- and that's almost half of their earnings. In addition, Massachusetts residents face steep healthcare costs, consuming almost 8 percent of their paychecks.

46. Alaska

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,821.35
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $440.51
  • Percentage of leftover income: 15.61%

Alaska is one of the most expensive places to live in -- especially if you're a retiree. Despite the state's substantial median household income of $73,355, the cost of living can chip away large chunks of your paycheck.

Food, housing and transportation expenses drain about 70 percent of each paycheck. Alaska also suffers from high health costs, with nearly 10 percent of income per paycheck going toward health expenses. Utilities will also weigh on your wallet, costing well over $200 per paycheck.

45. Maryland

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,917.19
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $474.93
  • Percentage of leftover income: 16.28%

Maryland's median household income ($75,847) tops the nation, so it's likely you might get a higher paycheck living in this state. Unfortunately, it's not one of the cheapest states to live in. Housing will take quite a chunk of change out of your wallet -- nearly half of your paycheck.

44. Connecticut

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,744.08
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $525.21
  • Percentage of leftover income: 19.14%

Boasting Yale University and wealthy neighborhoods, Connecticut residents need more money to get by because of the relatively high cost of food -- the third-highest in the U.S. at $333.69 per paycheck -- and the high cost of housing, which soaks up more than 40 percent of your paycheck. Like its New England neighbor Massachusetts, Connecticut is also dragged down by high health costs, absorbing almost $200 per paycheck.

43. Vermont

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,191.92
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $464.21
  • Percentage of leftover income: 21.18%

Although Vermont's median household income ($56,990) is higher than the U.S. median, compared to other New England states, it's on the lower side. With higher-than-average food, housing, utilities, transportation and healthcare costs, it's one of the states where you're most likely to live paycheck to paycheck.

If you live in a high-cost state where expenses eat up most of your paycheck, find the best bank to grow your savings

42. New Jersey

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,777.77
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $626.53
  • Percentage of leftover income: 22.56%

New Jersey sports an excellent median household income of $72,222. However, the cost of living really adds up in the Garden State. Not only do food, utilities and health costs take considerable bites out of your paycheck, but housing and transportation costs alone will eat more than half of your paycheck.

41. Oregon

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,082.62
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $531.54
  • Percentage of leftover income: 25.52%

Oregon is the No. 10 state where you're most likely to live paycheck to paycheck. The cost of living isn't as high compared to other states, but Oregon's lower median household income ($54,148) means these expenses take up a greater proportion of income.

For instance, Iowa has a slightly higher household median income ($54,736) than Oregon's. But there, housing costs take up only around 20 percent of your paycheck; in Oregon, housing eliminates more than a third of your check.

40. Rhode Island

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,233.58
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $572.17
  • Percentage of leftover income: 25.62%

The smallest state in the nation is also one of the most expensive states to live in, coming in as the 11th state where residents are most likely to live paycheck to paycheck. The reason can mostly be attributed to the relatively high percentage of the median paycheck spent on housing (37.6 percent) and utilities (7.2 percent). With more than 44 percent of their income going to those two necessities, there's a mere quarter of each paycheck left over.

39. New Hampshire

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,703.96
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $822.86
  • Percentage of leftover income: 30.43%

With a median household income ($70,303) well above the national median, New Hampshire residents are wealthier than the majority of other residents. That said, a higher income tends to come with a higher cost of living. Food costs are particularly shocking, absorbing more than $300 -- or more than 11 percent -- per paycheck.

Although you're most likely to live paycheck to paycheck in New Hampshire, you might want to consider raising a family here. A separate GOBankingRates study found it's one of the best states for families to live a richer life.

38. Maine

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,980.54
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $612.25
  • Percentage of leftover income: 30.91%

Our streak of New England states continues with Maine, which has the lowest median household income ($51,494) out of its regional neighbors. On the flip side, Maine sports the lowest housing, utilities, transportation and healthcare costs per paycheck versus all other New England states. As a result, residents have the highest percentage of leftover income compared to these states -- but not the most amount of money left over in their paychecks.

37. South Dakota

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,039.12
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $667.36
  • Percentage of leftover income: 32.73%

South Dakota has the least amount of income leftover per paycheck ($667.36) than other states in the Midwest region. And, it has the highest housing costs per paycheck ($646.53) compared to these states.

See: The Best City in Every State to Buy a Home

36. Washington

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,466.50
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $818.51
  • Percentage of leftover income: 33.19%

Despite being the home of Seattle, where housing prices are rising, Washington's housing costs aren't too unreasonable compared to its median household income. Areas that can soak up more of your income than you'd expect include transportation and health costs. When combined, these costs account for nearly a quarter of your paycheck -- almost as much as housing expenses.

35. Colorado

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,458.04
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $843.73
  • Percentage of leftover income: 34.33%

Colorado has the highest median household income ($63,909) of the Mountain states, which also include Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Idaho and New Mexico. Colorado also ranks the highest out of the Mountain states for another financial factor: housing costs per paycheck. In fact, Colorado residents have to spend almost a third of their paycheck on housing costs.

34. Montana

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,904.19
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $673.78
  • Percentage of leftover income: 35.38%

Montana's median household income ($49,509) falls below the U.S. median, but certain cost of living expenses are cheaper than in other states. Food costs less than $200 per paycheck, and utilities cost a mere 4.7 percent of your paycheck, tied with Nebraska for the smallest percentage.

33. Nevada

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,016.58
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $723.12
  • Percentage of leftover income: 35.86%

Nevada doesn't rank as one of the least likely states to live paycheck to paycheck. Housing costs consume more than a quarter of paychecks. But, that percentage isn't as high compared to other states. Instead, smaller living costs chip away at income. For instance, about 15 percent of paychecks go toward transportation costs.

32. Pennsylvania

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,142.38
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $789.72
  • Percentage of leftover income: 36.86%

Like Nevada, transportation costs in Pennsylvania soak up almost 15 percent of paychecks. However, healthcare costs per paycheck ($118.88) only make up 5.5 percent per paycheck, one of the lowest rates in this study.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Pennsylvania is also one of the best states for health insurance costs, according to another GOBankingRates study.

31. Virginia

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,548.54
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $949.51
  • Percentage of leftover income: 37.26%

Virginia residents have one of the highest amounts of income leftover in our study, with only five states boasting more leftover income. But why did it fall among the half of U.S. states where you're more likely to live paycheck to paycheck?

Although $949.51 might seem like a lot of money left over, it translates to only getting back roughly 37 percent of your paycheck. This percentage is important to note. If certain cost of living expenses were to unexpectedly rise, that leftover income will not remain steady -- it will shrink accordingly.

30. North Dakota

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,329.12
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $881.59
  • Percentage of leftover income: 37.85%

North Dakota's median household income is above the national level, but living expenses can get pricey -- especially transportation ($342.73) and healthcare ($160.72) costs per paycheck.

One notable benefit is the reasonable cost of housing per paycheck ($586.60). Compared to other states where median incomes are $60,000 and more, North Dakota has one of the lowest housing costs per paycheck.

REUTERS/Allen Fredrickson (UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENT DISASTER CITYSCAPE)

29. Arizona

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,980.46
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $767.86
  • Percentage of leftover income: 38.77%

Arizona isn't that great or that bad for your paycheck. With a median household income ($51,492) that's below the national median, residents can enjoy cheaper housing costs per paycheck ($505.59) than 26 other states in the study.

However, when taking into account Arizona's mediocre median household income per paycheck, housing costs still end up costing you more than a quarter of your paycheck.

28. Minnesota

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,441.85
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $949.86
  • Percentage of leftover income: 38.9%

Minnesota has a healthy median household income of $63,488, which is the highest in the Midwest. When you combine that with relatively mediocre housing costs (25.3 percent of each paycheck) and utilities (5.11 percent), Minnesota boasts a solid leftover income of nearly $950 per paycheck -- the fifth-highest amount of income left over after expenses are deducted.

27. Florida

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,901
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $743.16
  • Percentage of leftover income: 39.09%

Although Florida is known for having some of the cheapest cities to retire, it's not the best state if you want to avoid living paycheck to paycheck. Still, it's not one of the worst.

With a low median household income of $49,426, Florida has a median paycheck of just $1,901. And it seems that housing costs per paycheck have improved in the past year. In last year's study, housing costs in Florida absorbed about 33 percent of residents' paycheck; in 2017, housing costs take up about 25 percent of paychecks.

26. Delaware

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,355.96
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $929.07
  • Percentage of leftover income: 39.43%

Delaware is one of 17 states where households earn a median income of $60,000 or more. However, this state has the added advantage of having comparatively cheaper housing costs per paycheck ($603.31) compared to most of the other states with similar incomes.

25. New Mexico

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,745.46
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $696.15
  • Percentage of leftover income: 39.88%

New Mexico actually has cheaper cost of living expenses than many other Mountain states. For example, it has the second-cheapest food and housing cost per paycheck in the region. It also boasts the most affordable transportation and healthcare costs per paycheck out of the eight states in this region.

24. Wisconsin

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,139.92
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $855.59
  • Percentage of leftover income: 39.98%

Wisconsin is one of the Midwest states where you're more likely to live paycheck to paycheck. Indiana has the best score in the region, leaving residents with more than 46 percent of their paycheck left over; South Dakota offers the lowest at 32.73 percent; and Wisconsin does a little better, returning nearly 40 percent of your income after living expenses are taken out.

23. Illinois

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,291.85
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $944.80
  • Percentage of leftover income: 41.22%

Staying within the Midwest, Illinois certainly treats your paycheck better than Wisconsin. Although cost of living expenses in Illinois are not much better than Wisconsin's, Illinois' higher median income ($59,588) translates to about $945 in leftover income from each paycheck. That makes it one of the top 10 states in the study where you will likely have more left over in your paycheck after paying for necessities.

22. South Carolina

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,816.85
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $756.73
  • Percentage of leftover income: 41.65%

Like a number of states in the South, South Carolina doesn't post impressive figures for median household income or income per paycheck. Fortunately for residents, many living costs are very manageable -- even on a median income of $47,238. Specifically, transportation costs amount to a little over 12 percent of your paycheck, which is noticeably lower compared to other states' transportation expenses.

21. Louisiana

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,758.73
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $742.85
  • Percentage of leftover income: 42.24%

Louisiana's median household income ($45,727) is slightly lower than South Carolina's. But, Louisiana residents have a lower cost of living across the board: food, utilities, healthcare and housing costs all consume less money per paycheck in Louisiana than in South Carolina.

20. Utah

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,419.69
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $1,024.08
  • Percentage of leftover income: 42.32%

With a median household income of $62,912, Utah has the 13th-highest median income. And, it has the added advantage of low living costs when compared to other wealthy states.

For example, of the 17 states with median incomes of $60,000 or higher, the average housing cost per paycheck is $934.42. In Utah, however, housing costs will run you only about $557 per paycheck. In the end, Utah residents boast the largest amount of income left over compared to all of the 50 states in our study.

19. Wyoming

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,315.92
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $981.43
  • Percentage of leftover income: 42.38%

Wyoming has the second-highest amount of leftover income after cost of living expenses are deducted. Much like Utah, inexpensive housing costs are the main reason why Wyoming is favorable for stretching your paycheck further, totaling about $521 per paycheck.

18. West Virginia

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,616.12
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $704.66
  • Percentage of leftover income: 43.6%

With a median household income of $42,019, West Virginia housing costs consume close to a quarter of your paycheck. Meanwhile, utilities, healthcare and transportation costs per paycheck are all very inexpensive when compared to their respective totals in other states. So although incomes are fairly low in West Virginia, a low cost of living will help you maximize your paycheck.

17. North Carolina

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,839.62
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $805.42
  • Percentage of leftover income: 43.78%

There are a couple of reasons why paychecks in North Carolina go further than in South Carolina. For one, the state's median household income is slightly higher than South Carolina's. And, housing costs per paycheck in North Carolina are smaller than costs in South Carolina. And lastly, utilities will run you less than $100 per paycheck in North Carolina, helping this state outrank its southern neighbor by a few spots.

16. Ohio

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,964.42
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $860.56
  • Percentage of leftover income: 43.81%

Like North Carolina, utilities ($96.04) won't eat up too much of your paycheck in Ohio. Plus, housing and transportation costs in Ohio consume only about 35 percent of your paycheck combined. Compare that to 42 percent of your paycheck -- which is the overall average of combined housing and transportation expenses in all 50 states -- and Ohio ranks among the top 20 states where you're least likely to live paycheck to paycheck.

15. Nebraska

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,115.23
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $930.67
  • Percentage of leftover income: 44%

Nebraska also turns out to be a great state for making your income last longer. In fact, Omaha is one of the best cities for stretching your paycheck.

Everyday living expenses are pretty reasonable in Nebraska. The cost of housing, for example, accounts for 22.7 percent of your paycheck, which is less than nearly half the states in the Midwest. Utilities are especially cheap, costing less than $100 per paycheck.

14. Idaho

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,856.73
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $817.05
  • Percentage of leftover income: 44.01%

Within the Western region, Idaho holds a number of superlatives, including the cheapest food costs per paycheck ($159.40) and cheapest housing costs ($390.67). And although both Wyoming and Utah -- fellow Western states -- provide residents with more leftover income after expenses, Idaho leaves residents with the highest percentage of total leftover income among the states in this region.

13. Texas

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,140.50
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $956.88
  • Percentage of leftover income: 44.7%

Texas households boast the fourth-highest amount of leftover income from paychecks in the country. That fact is particularly impressive, considering Texas is one of the most populous U.S. states. States similar in size -- such as Florida, California and New York -- fared much worse in the study due mainly to larger housing costs per paycheck.

12. Iowa

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,105.23
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $942.33
  • Percentage of leftover income: 44.76%

Although Iowa didn't rank among the top 10 states where you're least likely to live paycheck to paycheck, your money can go far in this state. Paychecks catch a break due to relatively cheap housing costs ($447.40 per paycheck). When combined with the cost of transportation, these expenses only take up about 34 percent of your paycheck.

11. Georgia

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,970.92
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $901.76
  • Percentage of leftover income: 45.75%

Georgia's median household income per paycheck might fall under $2,000, but housing costs are low enough to help you save money. Costing only $394.93 per paycheck, housing expenses in Georgia take up a comparatively small percentage of earnings.

10. Michigan

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,964.77
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $902.58
  • Percentage of leftover income: 45.94%

Michigan residents enjoy some of the same benefits as Georgia residents. Housing costs in Michigan account for a smaller percentage of paychecks compared to other states. But, Michigan workers have the added benefit of cheaper food costs per paycheck versus Georgia, putting Michigan in the top 10 where you're least likely to live paycheck to paycheck.

9. Kentucky

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,739.04
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $799.16
  • Percentage of leftover income: 45.95%

Food costs per paycheck ($157.02) are low in Kentucky. And, they only absorb 9 percent of your income per paycheck -- a minimal percentage compared to the rest of the country. Plus, lower housing and healthcare costs per paycheck help Kentucky rank among the top states where you're least likely live paycheck to paycheck.

8. Missouri

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,932.23
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $887.99
  • Percentage of leftover income: 45.96%

Missouri's median household income is less than the national median. However, with housing expenses totaling $379.52 per paycheck, Missouri is one of only four states where housing costs less than 20 percent of your paycheck.

7. Kansas

  • Median household income per paycheck: $2,073.31
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $958.78
  • Percentage of leftover income: 46.24%

Kansas proves to be one of the states where you're least likely to live paycheck to paycheck. With a median income of $53,906, housing in Kansas costs only around 20 percent ($418.73) per paycheck. Even better, housing and transportation combined still costs less than a third of your paycheck.

These affordable expenses contribute to Kansas' high placement on our list. The state's leftover income per paycheck is the third highest in the nation.

6. Alabama

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,721.73
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $801.61
  • Percentage of leftover income: 46.56%

Alabama might have a low median household income, but its cheap cost of living makes the roughly $1,700 per paycheck go far. Housing expenses are a boon to your income, at a cost of $332.72 per paycheck. That translates to about 19 percent of your paycheck, which is easily one of the smallest percentages in our study.

5. Indiana

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,943.54
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $905.97
  • Percentage of leftover income: 46.61%

Indiana is one of the states with the lowest cost of living expenses. Housing costs are less than $400, or about a fifth, of your paycheck, which is cheaper than the majority of states. Food costs are also noticeably more affordable in Indiana, requiring less than 10 percent per paycheck.

4. Tennessee

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,818.27
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $854.97
  • Percentage of leftover income: 47.02%

Indiana residents have more leftover income from their paychecks than Tennesseans: $905.97 vs. $854.97. However, thanks to slightly cheaper living expenses, Tennessee residents have a greater percentage of their income left over. This makes Tennessee one of the cheapest states to live in.

3. Oklahoma

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,868
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $891.52
  • Percentage of leftover income: 47.73%

Perhaps because Oklahoma benefits from some of the lowest gas prices in the country, according to Gas Buddy, transportation costs per paycheck in the state are among the cheapest. So, you'll have more of your paycheck to put toward housing expenses -- which are also remarkably cheap ($326.96 per paycheck) in comparison to other states.

2. Arkansas

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,615.19
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $775.37
  • Percentage of leftover income: 48%

Arkansas residents' median household income of $41,995 might not sound like a lot -- it's the second-lowest median income in the country. But, this state has one of the lowest cost of living expenses, which means your paycheck can go far. Housing is relatively inexpensive at 20 percent of each paycheck, as are food costs (9.3 percent) and utilities (5.4 percent). It all adds up to nearly 50 percent of each paycheck left over for you to spend as you please.

1. Mississippi

  • Median household income per paycheck: $1,561.27
  • Total leftover income after cost of living expenses: $766.06
  • Percentage of leftover income: 49.07%

And finally, the No. 1 state where you're least likely to live paycheck to paycheck -- which also happens to be one of the cheapest states to live in.

Mississippi's median household income ($40,593) is the lowest out of the 50 U.S. states. Luckily for residents, Mississippi boasts record lows for cost of living expenses. Housing, utilities and food costs per paycheck are all lower in Mississippi, while the state's health and transportation costs are also affordable.

Up Next: 50 Cheapest Countries to Live or Retire

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Methodology: Based on each state's median household income, states were ranked according to the percentage of the median paycheck that was left over after subtracting the following: (1) average housing cost per paycheck, (2) total amount spent on food per paycheck, (3) total amount spent on utilities per paycheck, (4) total amount spent on transportation per paycheck and (5) total amount spent on health per paycheck. The states' median household income figures were sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's 2014 and 2015 American Community Surveys.

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