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Career & Money

How Much Money Do You Need To Make To Live Comfortably? A Recent Study Says $97K.

The way the cost of living is steadily on the rise, with no sign of salaries coinciding with those increases, there's no wonder many Americans are asking themselves, what does it truly mean to live comfortably? The truth is, a comfortable life can be different things depending on your priorities or where you are in life. For some, living comfortably could mean having lots of disposable income. For others, living comfortably could mean being debt-free, having a fully funded emergency fund, and owning a home.


Generally speaking, to live comfortably typically alludes to financial security. When you are financially secure, you can cover the obligations of essential expenses (50% of your income), tap into the pleasure of nonessential spending (30% of your income), and do those things while not sacrificing putting away at least 20% of your income for savings and investments (in other words, the 50/30/20 budgeting method). You can do this without the strain of living paycheck to paycheck, hence the "comfort" in "living comfortably."

Suffice it to say, income plays a significant role in anyone's ability to obtain financial security. And what is the magic number to live comfortably in 2024? According to a recent SmartAsset study, $96,500 is that number. Yes, you read that right. In order to sustain a comfortable living in a major U.S. city, a person's average salary has to be close to six figures. And that's just for single folks. For families with dependents (two parents and two kids), the study suggests a need for a combined income of $235,000.

In their study, SmartAsset compiled the pre-tax salaries needed to live a comfortable and sustainable life for 99 cities across the U.S. based on the 50/30/20 rule and the MIT Living Wage Calculator. Keep reading to learn what income is needed to live comfortably in 20 of those major cities featured on the list, ranked highest to lowest.

1.New York City

If you're single: $138,570

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $318,406

2.Boston, Massachusetts

If you're single: $124,966

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $319,738

3.San Francisco, California

If you're single: $119,558

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $339,123

4.Seattle, Washington

If you're single:$119,392

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $283,712

5.Oakland, California

If you're single: $118,768

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $316,243

6.Atlanta, Georgia

If you're single:$107,453

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $230,880

7.Charlotte, North Carolina

If you're single: $101,338

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $235,123

8.Virginia Beach, Virginia

If you're single: $100,131

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $226,886

9.Miami, Florida

If you're single: $100,922

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $215,904

10.Orlando, Florida

If you're single:$100,298

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $212,160

11.Washington, DC

If you're single: $99,424

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $275,642

12.Chicago, Illinois

If you're single: $98,550

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $241,280

13.Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you're single:$92,726

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $231,379

14.St. Louis, Missouri

If you're single:$89,357

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $231,379

15.Memphis, Tennessee

If you're single: $85,696

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $194,106

16.Baltimore, Maryland

If you're single: $84,989

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $218,733

17.Detroit, Michigan

If you're single: $84,947

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $219,898

18.New Orleans, Louisiana

If you're single:$81,869

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $191,942

19.Dallas, Texas

If you're single:$91,770

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $208,000

20.Houston, Texas

If you're single: $75,088

If you're a two-parent, two-child household: $175,219

Learn how the above U.S. cities ranked among 99 and read the SmartAssets study in full here.

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Featured image by Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

 

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