Is it affordable to live comfortably in your city?

by Ryan Smith25 Apr 2016
Millions of Americans are living in cities they can’t really afford, according to a new study.

The study, from GOBankingRates.com, used the “50-30-20” budgeting rule – 50% of income should be spent on necessities, 30% should be set aside for discretionary income, and 20% should be saved. Using that rule, GOBankingRates.com found 35 cities where the median income is below what’s required for residents to live comfortably, while 15 had median incomes above that mark.

“Too many Americans are barely keeping up with expenses and don’t have enough money left over each month to save for retirement, keep an emergency fund, pay off debt or work toward other vital financial goals,” said Elyssa Kirkham, lead reporter on the study. “It’s true that cities with higher costs of living often have higher incomes as well, but those earnings can be stretched thin quickly in America’s most expensive areas.”

5 most affordable cities to live comfortably
  • Virginia Beach, Va.: $16,072 surplus income
  • Bakersfield, Calif.: $13,416 surplus income
  • Colorado Springs, Colo.: $9,716 surplus income
  • Arlington, Texas: $6,151 surplus income
  • Mesa, Ariz.: $5,605 surplus income
5 least affordable cities to live comfortably
  • Miami: $46,199 deficit income
  • San Francisco: $41,192 deficit income
  • New York: $34,709 deficit income
  • Boston: $29,937 deficit income
  • Los Angeles: $24,689 deficit income
The report also found that Tuscon, Ariz., had the smallest income needed to live comfortably – just under $40,000 per year. Necessities like rent, utilities and groceries are most affordable in Tuscon and least affordable in San Francisco.

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