What determines a good living wage? The answer varies widely around the country. What works in Miami may not work in Chicago. A good salary in Manhattan, Kansas is nothing compared to what you’d need to earn in Manhattan, New York in order to survive.
Using data from MIT, NBC has compiled a list of what constitutes a good living wage in each state.
As the chart demonstrates, your mileage may vary. Not surprisingly, large urban centers along the coasts tend to be more expensive places to live. Rural parts of the south and mid west often have a lower cost of living.
The Highs and Lows
States in the red (high cost of living) areas tend to have higher taxes and home costs. At the same time, the opposite is true for the lighter shaded states. There are other factors to consider, but cities and states with large cities tend to be more expensive to live in.
The state with the lowest cost of living wage? Kentucky, where a yearly salary of $43,408 is enough to constitute a good living wage. At the same time, Kentucky has a median household income of $46,659; meaning that for the most part, residents are earning above the “good” living wage.
The state with the highest cost of living? Hawaii ranks as the state with the highest necessary wage with $60,700. Due to Hawaii’s remote status, the cost of living has been going up. Hawaii is frequently cited as one of the most expensive states in the country, and one of the most difficult to earn a good living wage.
Not to be outdone, Washington, D.C. ranks as the most difficult place in the country to earn a good living wage. Whereas a Kentucky resident needs to earn $43,000 to live comfortably; D.C. residents must earn a staggering $68,000!
Keep in mind, we aren’t talking about living richly. These numbers are only what a resident must earn to live “comfortably” rather than exorbitantly.
Moving Up Or Out?
Cost of living varies greatly, not only from state to state; but city to city as well. There are expensive parts of Kentucky to live in the same way there are less expensive neighborhoods in Washington, D.C.
How do you know which city works best for you? That’s where City vs City can help. Our powerful cost of living calculator examines costs at the zip-code level. We factor after tax income, savings, expenses, and all major state and local taxes.
As a result, City vs City shows you a side by side comparison of your chosen cities and reveals the true cost of living in both. So whether you’re thinking of moving from Honolulu to Manhattan, Houston to Hartford, or any point in-between; City vs City can help!