- Average credit utilization, percentage-wise – a higher utilization score indicates someone is having a hard time paying off their balance
- Average monthly rent-to-income ratio, percentage-wise
- Regional prices on goods and services
- Local unemployment rate
- State’s scores on debt-friendly laws and policies – local laws against wage garnishment and debt seizure, for example
Cincinnati topped the list, with the lowest cost of goods and services, and the lowest cost of rent compared to income, at 15.9%.
What the other metro areas in the top 10 have in common is a reasonable cost of living, with rent below 20% of income, according to the study. Every metro area but one had below-average prices on goods and services.
Metro areas where it would be difficult to pay off debt include Riverside, California, where a high cost of living collides with high unemployment (9.9%).
It landed last on the list, at #50. Miami (highest rents relative to income), and New York City (high rents overall) are also bad bets if you want to get your money right.