Money

The 12 most affordable states for the middle class

The American middle class is shrinking. Although 70 percent of citizens consider themselves a part of this group, only about 50 percent qualify based on income, according to a 2015 report from Pew Research Center.

For those whose income hits that sweet spot — two-thirds to double the U.S. median household income, as defined by Pew — certain locations prove more advantageous than others for living comfortably and raising a family.

GOBankingRates found the most affordable places for middle class families by looking at three factors: income trends, including the change in median household income of middle class families between 1999 and 2014; higher education trends, including tuition costs and graduation rates; and housing trends, including mortgage and homeownership rates.

Below, check out 12 U.S. states where it's possible to thrive on a middle class salary:

12. Arkansas

Median household income for middle class families: $71,245
In-state tuition and fees: $8,250
Monthly mortgage payment: $754

Little Rock, Arkansas
CWells Photography | Flickr | Getty Images
Little Rock, Arkansas

11. Minnesota

Median household income for middle class families: $76,310
In-state tuition and fees: $10,950
Monthly mortgage payment: $1,097

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Education Images | Getty Images
Minneapolis, Minnesota

10. Missouri

Median household income for middle class families: $72,646
In-state tuition and fees: $8,630
Monthly mortgage payment: $794

"The Runner" in front of the Old Courthouse and Gateway Arch in St. Louis
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"The Runner" in front of the Old Courthouse and Gateway Arch in St. Louis

9. Indiana

Median household income for middle class families: $71,352
In-state tuition and fees: $9,200
Monthly mortgage payment: $755

Indianapolis, Indiana
f11photo | Getty Images
Indianapolis, Indiana

8. Wyoming

Median household income for middle class families: $75,811
In-state tuition and fees: $5,060
Monthly mortgage payment: $1,087

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
WitGorski | Getty Images
Jackson Hole, Wyoming

7. Mississippi

Median household income for middle class families: $71,391
In-state tuition and fees: $7,410
Monthly mortgage payment: $812

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Dosfotos /Design Pics/Getty Images

6. Oklahoma

Median household income for middle class families: $72,249
In-state tuition and fees: $8,030
Monthly mortgage payment: $825

Oklahoma City, OK.
Ray Hendley/Getty Images
Oklahoma City, OK.

5. North Dakota

Median household income for middle class families: $75,801
In-state tuition and fees: $7,880
Monthly mortgage payment: $817

Downtown Fargo, North Dakota.
Ben Harding/Getty Images
Downtown Fargo, North Dakota.

4. Nebraska

Median household income for middle class families: $74,432
In-state tuition and fees: $7,880
Monthly mortgage payment: $903

A host of innovation programs with state backing have given small businesses in Omaha a boost.
Andrew Reese | Getty Images
A host of innovation programs with state backing have given small businesses in Omaha a boost.

3. West Virginia

Median household income for middle class families: $70,838
In-state tuition and fees: $7,490
Monthly mortgage payment: $718

Charleston, West Virginia
Henryk Sadura | Getty Images
Charleston, West Virginia

2. South Dakota

Median household income for middle class families: $77,176
In-state tuition and fees: $8,140
Monthly mortgage payment: $981

People walk down historic Main St. in Deadwood, South Dakota.
John Elk III/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
People walk down historic Main St. in Deadwood, South Dakota.

1. Iowa

Median household income for middle class families: $75,953
In-state tuition and fees: $8,270
Monthly mortgage payment: $787