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November 2020

Residents of Seattle, 13 other cities must earn $100,000 annually to live comfortably

November 5, 2020

Seattle is among 14 U.S. cities where residents must earn at least $100,000 annually to live comfortably as a renter or homeowner, according to an analysis from GoBankingRates.com.

That personal finance website compared the 50 largest metro areas to determine the necessary income to abide by the "50/30/20" rule of budgeting, which says to allocate 50% for needs such as housing, groceries and utilities, 30% for wants (optional items like dinner and movies out or gym memberships), and 20% for savings and investments.

GoBankingRates found the median salary in the 50 largest metros falls short of what is needed to easily buy or rent a home in those areas.

"With the average salary in each major U.S. city falling well short of what's needed to live comfortably there, the study should make it clear that a lot of America's urbanites probably have to make cuts elsewhere to afford living in the big city," wrote business and finance writer Joel Anderson.

A comparison of Seattle with other cities in the Western U.S. shows varying gaps between median income and income needed to live comfortably, whether as a homeowner or renter.


City

Median Income

Income needed if you're a homeowner

Income needed if you're a renter

San Jose

$96,662

$197,502

$143,670

San Francisco

$96,265

$230,286

$164,214

Seattle

$79,565

$144,786

$115,722

San Diego

$71,535

$137,826

$120,786

Austin

$63,717

$98,007

$94,455

Portland

$61,532

$106,256

$97,568

Colorado Springs

$58,158

$84,800

$83,072

Los Angeles

$54,501

$150,392

$136,208

Fresno

$44,853

$79,756

$79,061

Tucson

$39,617

$72,870

$74,070


The findings show it can be difficult to make ends meet even in cities with low housing prices. In Cleveland, Ohio, for example, the average renter needs around $55,000 a year to own a home and about $65,000 to rent. (No city among the 50 largest is cheaper to live in than Cleveland, according to the GoBanking survey.)

Cleveland's median income is just under $28,000, the lowest among the 50 cities in the report. But homeowners would need $55,000 to live comfortably and renters need close to $65,000, which amounts to a shortfall of around $37,000.

The survey uncovered a few cities will relatively small gaps between median earnings and cost of living. Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Omaha, and Columbus are four cities with median incomes of around $50,000 a year that fall within $20,000 of the income homeowners need to get by.

GoBanking used Zillow to calculate housing costs and Sperling's Best Places to estimate prices of other necessities.

GoBankingRates.com is owned and operated by ConsumerTrack, Inc., a Los Angeles-based digital media and marketing company.