A new economic study of counties in North Carolina conducted by SmartAsset, a financial tools company, found that, across the state, Guilford County ranks 14th among North Carolina counties when it comes to purchasing power – a stat that was arrived at by examining people’s income in the counties compared with what it costs for typical goods and services there.

The new study, which was compiled using data from the US Census Bureau’s 5-Year American Community Survey, a Living Wage Study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and information from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics among other sources, sought to discern the places “where average living expenses are most affordable to the people who live there.”

The study therefore looked at the cost of living relative to income to determine purchasing power.

The study, which is based on a household with one adult and no dependents, found that, in North Carolina, Guilford County – the state’s third largest county in terms of population – did make it into the top 20 percentile of counties in terms of purchasing power, but didn’t make it onto the Top Ten list.

Those at the head of the pack tended to be places where the average income was very high relative to other counties in the state but the cost of living was not excessive.

Wake County, the second largest county in the state, came in first in the study in terms of purchasing power with an average cost of living of         $45,492 and a median income of $73,577.  Next was Orange County, the home of UNC-Chapel Hill, where an individual has typical expenses each year of $40,882 and a median income of $65,522.  Union County, just southeast of Charlotte, came in third with an average annual cost of living of $45,802 and a median income of $70,858.

The other counties that made the Top 10 list in terms of purchasing power were, in order, Camden, Currituck, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Chatham, Davie and Iredell counties.