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The Salary You Need to Live Comfortably in 5 Major Cities

Topics: Data & Research

When you’re in the process of negotiating a raise or evaluating a job offer, it makes sense to take a look at the amount of money needed to live comfortably in your particular city. Cost of living varies wildly across the country, so if a potential relocation is in the cards, it’s even more crucial to do your research first.

san francisco

(Photo Credit: Nicolas Raymond/Flickr)

Using the sensible 50-30-20 budgeting rule, GOBankingRates compiled a list of the biggest cities in the U.S. and compared the actual median salary of the population vs. the amount of money needed to live comfortably. Unfortunately, the reality is that a median salary often just doesn’t go far enough. Here are the five most expensive cities to live in if you like having your necessities covered, with discretionary spending and enough then left over for savings.

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San Francisco: $119,570

While the median salary of San Francisco’s residents is $78,378, it takes much more than that to pay for housing, other necessities, and still have some left over to save for a rainy day. As the major tech hub of the U.S., this might not come as too much of a surprise, but might give cause for concern when considering a job offer in the Bay Area.

San Jose: $89,734

The cost of living in San Jose is high, but the median salary is a lot closer to what’s needed in order to live comfortably than San Francisco’s. At $83,787, though, there is still an almost $6,000 deficit, which means locals may not be able to save as much as they’d like for the future.

New York: $87,446

The Big Apple is increasingly reserved for those with big salaries. The median salary is $52,737, but the yearly amount needed to live with comfort is $87,446. Fifty percent of that is required for necessities such as rent and groceries, leaving just over $9,000 from that median salary for savings and other expenses.

Boston: $84,422

With a median salary of $54,485, it actually costs a lot more than that to live a comfortable existence in Boston – around $30,000 more. This unfortunately means that while many living in Boston will be able to cover expenses like housing, food, transport, and medical costs, but there won’t be much left over.

Washington, D.C.: $83,104

The nation’s capital is an expensive place to live and work, but the gap between median salary and what’s needed to have enough money for both necessities and other expenses isn’t as wide as elsewhere. With a median salary of $69,235, there is a $13,869 discrepancy based on the recommended 50-30-20 household budget.

That so many cities around the country have costs of living that can’t be met by the median salary is clearly concerning. It makes it all the more important that you pay attention to how far your potential salary will go when considering a move elsewhere.

When negotiating salary, come to the table armed with information about what your skills, experience, and education are worth on the job market in that area. Take PayScale’s Salary Survey, and generate a free report with all the information you need to pin down a salary range that’s appropriate for the role and location.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you feel about the cost of living in your city compared to the median salary? Are you able to save for the future as well as live a comfortable lifestyle now? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion on Twitter.

Kirsty Wareing
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LuDarren Hurfordkgotso bianca manjinjaShirleyVoice of Reason Recent comment authors
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kgotso bianca manjinja
kgotso bianca manjinja

I’m a electrical lead in a company name Monsanto in south Africa I could like to work in the USA will be happy if you can help me thank you

Ian  Shaw
Ian Shaw

Yes how about Canada believe me $28000 a year for a parent andt three kids is not even close tos surviving


Darren Hurford LOL! I’m in Auckland too and isn’t it horrifically expensive?!

Voice of Reason
Voice of Reason

Ah, how about the nation just North of the US…are we forgotten about in every article written?
Vancouver and Toronto have the highest housing cost, cost of living and lowest wage per capita in all of North America
That’s it, I’m unsubscribing from this site….


You can add Austin to Top 10.

Darren Hurford
Darren Hurford

What is the cost of living Howick Auckland NZ

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