Can you afford to ‘live comfortably’ in these US cities?

Do you make enough money to be living in some of the U.S.’s biggest cities? (Getty)

(NEXSTAR) – Are you making enough money to afford your bills, buy the things you want, and set aside some money and pay off debt? Unsurprisingly, where you live can impact just how much wiggle room you have in your budget, especially in some U.S. metros.

A new study reviewed data from the MIT Living Wage Calculator, which estimates the living wage you need to support yourself and various family sizes throughout the country based on “geographically specific expenditure data related to a family’s likely minimum food, childcare, health insurance, housing, transportation, and other basic necessities” and a common budgeting method known as the 50/30/20 rule.

Conducted by SmartAsset, a financial planning website, the study used the required annual income after taxes estimated by the living wage calculator to determine how much you need to earn to “live comfortably” in the nation’s largest cities using the 50/30/20 rule. The budgeting technique allocates your after-tax income to three categories: basic living expenses (50%), discretionary spending (30%), and saving or paying off debt (20%).

SmartAsset used MIT’s estimated living wage salaries as the “needs,” or 50% of one’s budget. They then doubled that salary for their analysis, allowing for an individual to spend the rest on wants, saving and paying off debt. For their analysis, SmartAsset focused on the basic cost of living for an individual with no children for the nation’s 25 largest metro areas.

As they did last year, SmartAsset found cities along both coasts, especially the West Coast, require the highest salary to “live comfortably.” Nine of the 10 metros with the highest post-tax annual salary needed were along the seaboards.

Unsurprisingly, California had the most cities — three — landing in the top 10. San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley had the highest necessary salary at $84,026, according to SmartAsset. Coming in second and about $5,000 behind was San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad at $79,324.

These are the 10 cities where an individual with no children needs the highest salary to “live comfortably,” according to SmartAsset:

RankMetroPost-tax annual salary needed
1San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, California$84,026
2San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, California$79,324
3Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts$78,752
4New York-Newark-Jersey City, New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania$78,524
5Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington$77,634
6Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, California$76,710
7Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, District of Columbia-Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia$76,194
8Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Oregon-Washington$74,086
9Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado$70,892
10Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida$67,740

The most affordable cities were spread throughout central states from the Midwest south to Texas. An individual with no children living in St. Louis, Missouri, requires the smallest post-tax salary at $57,446. Though much lower than the salary needed in San Francisco, it’s up nearly $10,000 over the salary SmartAsset calculated last year for the city.

Just three cities on this year’s list require a post-tax salary of less than $60,000: St. Louis; Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan, and San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas.

You can view SmartAsset’s full list here. Don’t see your city listed? You can find your city, county or state on MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, then find the required annual income after taxes for one adult with no children and multiply it by two.

Nationally, SmartAsset found you need a salary of nearly $68,500 after taxes to live comfortably, up about 20% from last year’s $57,013.


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