How Much Money You Need to Live in 10 Big U.S. Cities

August 14th 2015

Sarah Gray

For the Americans who can afford it, many are migrating to cities, especially in the sunbelt—the Southeast and Southwest U.S.

By 2010, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population lived in metropolitan areas, ATTN: writer Thor Benson reported back in April, despite the fact in the last decade overall migration has slowed down to the lowest levels since WWII.

Metropolitan areas, however, have a higher cost of living than rural areas. Everything from entertainment to food is generally more expensive in an urban area—particularly for a family. Factor in an individuals' monthly rent payment, which according to a new report from Zillow has skyrocketed to a 36-year high, and you can see that rent can also have its own complications.

"The median rent nationwide now takes up 30.2 percent of the median American’s income, the highest cost burden recorded by Zillow since the real estate firm began tracking the figure in 1979," ThinkProgress reported on Thursday.

Here's Why Your Rent Is Too Damn High

Here's why your rent is too damn high.

Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, August 5, 2015


The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has a family budget calculator that "measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes."

"The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children)," EPI explains.

The research engine FindTheBest (now known as Graphiq) used that information to calculate the cost of living for a two parent, two child family for more than 600 U.S. metropolitan areas. (They are all indexed here.)

According to FindTheHome, which used the "50-30-20 rule" to do it's calculations, here's how much a family should make to live a comfortable life in one of the following metropolitan areas. The rule indicates that 50 percent of a paycheck (after taxes) should go to certain necessities (for example food and transportation); 30 percent of said take-home pay post-taxes should go to "discretionary spending"; 20 percent of the pay should go into savings. Per FindTheHome and Business Insider, here is what a family of four should earn to live in 10 major U.S. cities:

1. San Francisco


The graph above shows the estimated monthly expenses for a family of four (two parents, two kids). The data suggests that to live comfortably for an entire year, a family needs to bring in $153,552.

2. Miami


Be prepared to spend more than $800 per month on childcare, and just over $1,000 per month on housing in Miami, Florida. And per the "50-30-20 rule" a family should save $26,280 per year and make $131,400 per annum to live a secure lifestyle.

3. New York City


While you take a bite of the "Big Apple" New York take a bite out of your wallet—especially if you're living in a family of four following the "50-30-20 rule" of finances. To live a modest, yet comfortable life in New York, a family should make $169,944; they will spend an estimated $84,972 on basic necessities, and they should save $33,989 per year.

4. Baltimore


In comparison to New York, the estimated cost of living—to live comfortably and within the set parameters of the financial rule—Baltimore looks doable. However, it is still expensive. A family of four should take home about $142,392 per year, and will spend and estimated $1,244 on childcare alone per month.

5. Los Angeles


If a family of four lives in Los Angeles, it is estimated that they will spend $70,704 on necessities per annum. It is suggested that families save $28,282 per year, and bring home $141,408 per year in pay.

6. Boston


Boston is another pricey city for a family of four following the "50-3-20 rule." It is estimated that childcare costs will be nearly $1,500 per month.

7. Washington, D.C.


Our nation's capital is the second most expensive city on our list. For a two-parent, two-child household, it is suggested that yearly take-home pay is $160,440.

8. Chicago


The above pie graph shows how much a family needs to live a life in Chicago, Illinois, and as the rule suggests, you should bring home $131,400 per year.

9. Houston


Everything is bigger in Texas including how much it will cost you to live in Houston. The cost of living index suggests that you should take home $131,400 per year (and save over $26,000 per year).

10. Seattle


It is suggested that to live in the birthplace of Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Amazon, a family of four should bring home $133,320 per year. Monthly costs are broken down per the "50-30-20 rule" in the graphic above.

h/t Business Insider