(KTLA) — It’s no secret that California is one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S., but a new report shows there are other spots that can be hard on your wallet.

In a recent analysis, Forbes Advisor ranked the best – and worst – places for those trying to save money.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro area finished second, with researchers ranking it second for the highest percentage of income spent on housing (just over 25%) in addition to the percentage of renters who spend at least half of their income on rent (about 30%). 

1996 ad perfectly predicted today’s high cost-of-living. What it means for the next 30 years — and how to plan

L.A. and its surrounding cities also struggle with high debt levels, having the fourth-highest debt-to-income ratio of all fifteen metro areas analyzed by Forbes Advisor. Over 11% of households in the L.A. metro area experience food scarcity – the third-highest percentage in America – and more than a third of households have difficulty paying “usual expenses” as of the third quarter of 2023. 

When it comes to the hardest metro area in the United States to save money in, one does not have to travel far. 

The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area finished above L.A., having the highest debt-to-income ratio of the 15 metros Forbes analyzed (2.59). 

Who is the wealthiest person in your state? Forbes releases new list

The five metro areas where residents are struggling to save the most, according to Forbes Advisor, are:

Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California

Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Florida

New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania

Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, Georgia

Alternatively, Detroit-Warren-Dearborn ranked as the best metro area for those trying to save money. There, researchers determined residents spend the lowest percentage of their income on housing – but residents there also have the lowest hourly living wage of the 15 cities analyzed.

The five best cities on Forbes Advisor’s list were:

Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan

Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Illinois-Indiana-Wisconsin

District of Columbia-Arlington-Alexandria, Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia

Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas

Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington

On the statewide level, the Golden State ranked as the hardest state to save money in, having the fourth-highest cost of living index in America, according to data from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center obtained by Forbes Advisor.

Housing is a “major drain” for Californians, the study noted, adding that many residents struggle with other everyday bills. 

Tract housing in San Bernardino, California as seen in an aerial photo from July 2010. (Getty Images)

Three nearby states were close behind on the list: Hawaii, Nevada, and Oregon. Rounding out the top five was Maryland.

The five states where Forbes Advisor determined residents have a better chance at saving money were within the central U.S. At the top of the list was North Dakota, where less than 15% of income earned is used on housing, on average.

The best saver-states, according to Forbes Advisor, were:

North Dakota

South Dakota




The full study, including the methodology used by the researchers, can be found here

These rankings may not come as much of a surprise. Maryland, Hawaii, and California have among the highest income thresholds to be considered “middle class,” a study released last month determined. Missouri had among the lowest thresholds.

Your financial experience in each state will likely vary based on your career. California, for example, has the highest average teacher salary in the country, an analysis by the National Education Association reports. South Dakota and Missouri had among the worst average teacher salaries.

A review of the cost of living for nurses across some of the nation’s largest cities recently found that those in the District of Columbia and Chicago – ranked among the best cities for savers by Forbes Advisor – have some of the lowest take-home pay. Alternatively, the report determined that nurses in cities primarily in California and Texas had the highest take-home pay.