12 cities with booming economies that you can actually afford to live in

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Jose and Katia. North Korea. Siesta Key: the reality show.

It may seem like we’re on the brink of the apocalypse in 2017.

So here’s some good news you can latch onto for the next few months: Weekly pay, employment and the number of new businesses were all up across the U.S. during the first three months of this year, according to the latest quarterly census of employment and wages from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In fact, a whopping 86% of the largest 345 counties saw an increase in employment from the first quarter of 2016 to the same timeframe this year. Weekly wages in the U.S. as a whole grew 6.6% during the same period.

But where, exactly, do we see the biggest jolt in jobs numbers? And, uh, can we move there?

In the past, The Penny Hoarder has looked at the local winners and losers in economic growth.

This time, we assessed wage growth, the number of new businesses and the average growth in new jobs for each of the first three months of the year. We also looked at the median rent for counties across the U.S., then zeroed in on the dominant city.

12 Affordable Places to Live With Booming Job Markets

1. Rock Hill, South Carolina

Wage growth rank: 1

New businesses rank: 2

Job growth rank: 3

Affordability rank: 5

2. St. Augustine, Florida

Wage growth rank: 2

New businesses rank: 1

Job growth rank: 5

Affordability rank: 10

3. Bentonville, Arkansas

Wage growth rank: 10

New businesses rank: 6

Job growth rank: 1

Affordability rank: 4

4. Bend, Oregon

Wage growth rank: 5

New businesses rank: 3

Job growth rank: 8

Affordability rank: 11

5. Greeley, Colorado

Wage growth rank: 9

New businesses rank: 8

Affordability rank: 6

Affordability rank: 8

6. Denton, Texas

Wage growth rank: 3

New businesses rank: 9

Job growth rank: 12

Affordability rank: 12 

RELATED: Check out hottest jobs that don't require a bachelors degree: 

26 PHOTOS
The 25 highest-paying jobs you can get without a bachelor's degree
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The 25 highest-paying jobs you can get without a bachelor's degree

#25: Aerospace engineering and operations technicians

They operate and maintain equipment used in developing, testing, and producing new aircraft and spacecraft.

Median annual wage (2016): $68,020

Education required: Associate's degree

Projected job openings (through 2024): 3,200

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#24: Magnetic-resonance-imaging technologists

They monitor patient safety and comfort and view images of areas being scanned to ensure quality of pictures.

Median annual wage (2016): $68,420

Education required: Associate's degree

Projected job openings (through 2024): 9,800

Work experience: Less than five years

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#23: Gaming managers

They plan, direct, or coordinate gaming operations in a casino.

Median annual wage (2016): $69,180

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 800

Work experience: Less than five years

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#22: Diagnostic medical sonographers

They use special imaging equipment that directs sound waves into a patient's body to assess and diagnose various medical conditions.

Median annual wage (2016): $69,650

Education required: Associate's degree

Projected job openings (through 2024): 27,500

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#21: Ship engineers

They supervise and coordinate activities of crew engaged in operating and maintaining engines, boilers, deck machinery, and electrical, sanitary, and refrigeration equipment aboard ship.

Median annual wage (2016): $70,570

Education required: Postsecondary nondegree award

Projected job openings (through 2024): 3,500

Work experience: Less than five years

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#20: Postmasters and mail superintendents

They plan, direct, or coordinate operational, administrative, management, and supportive services of a US post office, or coordinate activities of workers engaged in postal and related work in an assigned post office.

Median annual wage (2016): $71,670

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 3,800

Work experience: Less than five years

On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#19: Transportation inspectors

They inspect equipment or goods in connection with the safe transport of cargo or people.

Median annual wage (2016): $72,220

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 7,100

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#18: Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels

They command or supervise operations of ships and water vessels, such as tugboats and ferryboats. 

Median annual wage (2016): $72,680

Education required: Postsecondary nondegree award (Required to hold license issued by US Coast Guard.)

Projected job openings (through 2024): 17,200

Work experience: Less than five years

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#17: Dental hygienists

They clean teeth, examine patients for oral diseases like gingivitis, and provide other preventative dental care.

Median annual wage (2016): $72,910

Education required: Associate's degree

Projected job openings (through 2024): 70,300

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#16: First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers

They directly supervise and coordinate activities of sales workers other than retail sales workers.

Median annual wage (2016): $73,150

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 69,900

Work experience: Less than five years

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#15: Funeral-service managers

They plan, direct, or coordinate the services or resources of funeral homes.

Median annual wage (2016): $73,830

Education required: Associate's degree

Projected job openings (through 2024): 7,400

Work experience: Less than five years

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Shutterstock

#14: Nuclear medicine technologists

They use a scanner to create images of various areas of a patient's body. They prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients undergoing the scans.

Median annual wage (2016): $74,350

Education required: Associate's degree

Projected job openings (through 2024): 4,200

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#13: First-line supervisors of fire fighting and prevention workers

They directly supervise and coordinate activities of workers engaged in fire fighting and fire prevention and control.

Median annual wage (2016): $74,540

Education required: Postsecondary nondegree award

Projected job openings (through 2024): 33,400

Work experience: Less than five years

On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#12: Power-plant operators

They control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.

Median annual wage (2016): $74,690

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 14,100

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#11: Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers

They inspect, test, repair, or maintain electrical equipment in generating stations, substations, and in-service relays.

Median annual wage (2016): $75,670

Education required: Postsecondary nondegree award

Projected job openings (through 2024): 3,900

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#10: Commercial pilots

They pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft on nonscheduled air-carrier routes or helicopters. Requires commercial-pilot certificate.

Median annual wage (2016): $77,200

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 15,100

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#9: Detectives and criminal investigators

They conduct investigations related to suspected violations of federal, state, or local laws to prevent or solve crimes.

Median annual wage (2016): $78,120

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 28,300

Work experience: Less than five years

On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#8: Elevator installers and repairers

They assemble, install, repair, or maintain electric or hydraulic freight or passenger elevators, escalators, or dumbwaiters.

Median annual wage (2016): $78,890

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 5,900

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: Apprenticeship

Photo credit: Getty

#7: Nuclear technicians

They assist physicists, engineers, and other professionals in nuclear research and nuclear production.

Median annual wage (2016): $79,140

Education required: Associate's degree

Projected job openings (through 2024): 2,800

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#6: Radiation therapists

They check equipment, observe patients' reactions to treatment, and document sessions.

Median annual wage (2016): $80,160

Education required: Associate's degree

Projected job openings (through 2024): 6,200

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#5: Power distributors and dispatcher

They coordinate, regulate, or distribute electricity or steam.

Median annual wage (2016): $81,900

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 3,900

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#4: First-line supervisors of police and detectives

They directly supervise and coordinate activities of members of a police force.

Median annual wage (2016): $84,840

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 43,000

Work experience: Less than five years

On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#3: Transportation, storage, and distribution managers

They coordinate transportation, storage, or distribution activities in accordance with organizational policies and applicable government laws or regulations.

Median annual wage (2016): $89,190

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 27,100

Work experience: Five years or more

On-the-job training: None

Photo credit: Getty

#2: Nuclear-power-reactor operators

They operate or control nuclear reactors, move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, record data in logs, and implement emergency procedures when needed.

Median annual wage (2016): $91,170

Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent

Projected job openings (through 2024): 2,600

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

#1: Air-traffic controllers

They monitor and direct the movement of aircraft. Median annual wages of air-traffic controllers are the highest of any occupation in which workers typically do not need a bachelor's degree.

Median annual wage (2016): $122,410

Education required: Associate's degree

Projected job openings (through 2024): 7,500

Work experience: None

On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training

Photo credit: Getty

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7. Idaho Falls, Idaho

Wage growth rank: 11

New businesses rank: 12

Job growth rank: 2

Affordability rank: 1

8. Titusville, Florida

Wage growth rank: 6

New businesses rank: 10

Job growth rank: 7

Affordability rank: 9

9. Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Wage growth rank: 7

New businesses rank: 5

Job growth rank: 9

Affordability rank: 6

10. Caldwell, Idaho

Wage growth rank: 8

New businesses rank: 4

Job growth rank: 11

Affordability rank: 3

11. Provo, Utah

Wage growth rank: 4

New businesses rank: 7

Job growth rank: 10

Affordability rank: 7

12. St. Cloud, Minnesota

Wage growth rank: 12

New businesses rank: 11

Job growth rank: 4

Affordability rank: 2

Ready to break your lease and move to one of these cities? They may have scored high on our analysis, but you should probably at least make sure you have a job there first.

Make sure to keep an eye on The Penny Hoarder Jobs Page on Facebook for tons of opportunities.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. He got married in St. Augustine, and would totally move there someday.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites. We help millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. In 2016, Inc. 500 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the U.S.

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