Do you earn enough to “live comfortably” in these cities? : analysis
Editor’s note: This story has been updated by clarifying paragraph 8 to indicate that the income needed was after tax.
(NEXSTAR) – Do you feel like you earn enough to cover your bills, buy the things you want, and put some money aside? A new analysis has revealed how much it takes to be able to afford to live in some US cities.
Using data from the MIT Living Wage Calculator and a common budgeting method, SmartAsset calculated how much a single person needs to earn to “live comfortably” in the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas.
MIT’s Living Wage Calculator estimates the living wage needed to support individuals and families using “geography-specific expenditure data related to a family’s likely minimum food, child care, home care, health insurance, housing, transportation and other basic necessities. Living wages have been calculated for each state, the District of Columbia, and several counties and metropolitan areas across the United States
Using the required annual after-tax income estimated by the Living Wage Calculator, SmartAsset has determined how much you need to earn to “live comfortably” in the nation’s largest cities using the 50/30/20 rule.
A common budgeting technique, the 50/30/20 rule divides your after-tax income into three categories: basic living expenses, discretionary spending, and savings or debt repayment.
SmartAsset used MIT’s estimated living wages as “needs,” or 50% of its budget. They then doubled that salary for their analysis, allowing an individual to spend the rest on their needs, savings, and paying off debts.
For example, the calculator shows that someone living in the Houston metro area should earn $25,574 after taxes. Assuming that covers basic living expenses, SmartAsset says someone living in the Houston area would need to make $51,148 to be comfortable following the 50/30/20 rule.
In its analysis, SmartAsset found that cities on the East and West Coasts need the most after-tax income to live comfortably. Nine of the top 10 metros fall on one of the coasts.
At the top of the list, unsurprisingly, a California metro: San Francisco-Oakland-Berkley. SmartAsset found that a single worker would need an annual after-tax salary of $74,282 to live comfortably in and around the city by the bay.
Boston-Cambridge-Newton came in second, where a single individual would need to earn $68,630.
In the end, the most affordable metro area was St. Louis, where a salary of $46,864 is enough to satisfy the 50/30/20 rule. St. Louis edged out the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn area, where a salary of $46,914 is considered adequate.
Cities in the South and Midwest also make an appearance on SmartAsset’s list. In 22 of the 25 cities on the list, an after-tax salary of more than $50,000 is considered enough to live comfortably.
The average salary needed to live comfortably in all major metropolitan areas is $57,013, according to SmartAsset.