Costs of Living in the 10 Most Populated U.S. Cities
As much as living in major U.S. cities is glorified in TV and film, the reality can be untenable for most American families. Depending on on one's marital status, health care, child care, transportation, and needs for every day sustenance, some cities are twice as expensive as others just to satisfy basic living necessities. Experts used MIT's living wage calculator to assess the minimum income required to live in these 10 major cities. The calculations are based on a family of two adults and one child, and they don't include any leftover funds for dining out at restaurants, taking vacations, or adding to savings. Additionally, banking experts used the 50-30-20 rule (50% necessities, 20% savings, 30% disposable income) to assess what incomes are necessary to live comfortably in these major cities, including perks like dining out and putting money aside for the future.
1. New York
Living wage: $67,817
Living comfortably: $99,667
The Big Apple certainly has one of the highest rents in the country, averaging $2,295 a month. Groceries and healthcare also contribute to a high cost of living.
2. Los Angeles
Living wage: $65,963
Living comfortably: $87,260
With rent averaging $2,050 a month, property costs consistently present a challenge for affordable living. There's currently a $51,538 difference between median income and what's needed to I've comfortably.
Living wage $59,215
Living comfortably: $76,086
Chicago's sprawling public transit system gives the city the second-lowest transportation costs among the 50 most populated cities in the U.S.
Living wage: $55,777
Living comfortably: $88,967
With rent averaging $2,100 a month, property and food costs are especially high in Boston. However, the city has one of the lowest annual transportation costs.
Living wage: $50,049
Living comfortably: $76,049
Atlanta's recent tech boom is also driving up costs of living. Unfortunately, this means there's about a $26,651 difference between median household income and the minimum salary to "live comfortably."
Living wage: $55,600
Live comfortably: $73,005
Housing is the most expensive aspect of living in Philadelphia, with the median cost of a home averaging $147,000.
Living wage: $56,258
Live comfortably: $77,562
Not too long ago Denver was considered the fastest growing city in the U.S, which drove the cost of living higher. Now the difference between median income and a comfortable salary is still over $20,000.
Living wage: $54,638
Live comfortably: $73,163
Between 2017 and 2018, Austin's booming popularity sparked a large spike in cost of living. Transportation costs and healthcare are particularly expensive.
9. San Francisco
Living wage: $78,386
Live comfortably: $123,268
Out of the 50 most populated U.S. cities, San Francisco is the most expensive. With an average cost of $3,300 per month for rent, that's almost $40,000 a year for property alone.
Living wage: $58,423
Live comfortably: $79,397
After a recent explosion in popularity, the cost of living in Portland has risen with higher rent and property costs. Additionally, transportation is particularly expensive to get around the sprawling city.
When you're contemplating re-locating or settling down for the first time, the cost of living you should budget for can vary wildly depending on your family size, your vocation, and your needs. Consider your health care costs, means of transportation, and whether you plan to rent or own before you commit to a new city.
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Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmedwww.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight:
Pack your bags — Southwest Airlines is having a major sale! Fares are as low as $59 one-way if you book by October 3rd.
This end-of-summer super sale is a game-changer for your travel plans through the end of the year. Summertime travel gets all the glory. But why not take advantage of your long weekends, holidays, and PTO this fall. You’ll be surprised at how much travel you can fit in. Keep the fall/winter season exciting with domestic trips that give you all the excitement without breaking the bank. All thanks to Southwest.
Here’s the breakdown:
Where can you go?
You’ll find discounted tickets to and from most airports. Sale fares apply to cross country travel, and even Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean! Whether you’re visiting a new city or revisiting your last beach vacation, this sale has fares to make your travel dreams come true.
What do the fares cover?
Southwest Airlines has multiple fare tiers, each with various benefits. Wanna Get Away fares start at $59, while Wanna Get Away Plus fares start at $89. You can also find great deals on Anytime fares, which offer priority boarding and express lanes. Then there’s Business Select tickets for a luxe experience at an affordable price point.
Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member?
You may think these sale fares are too good to be true. Is there a catch? Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member to access them? You’re in luck — anyone can attain these fares for a limited time.
But, insider tip, you should consider signing up for Southwest Rapid Rewards. With a free sign up, you earn points and miles with each trip you take. And with this sale, each dollar you spend on these discounted tix can stretch super far until you eventually earn free travel. The only thing better than a sale is free stuff.
I’ve been browsing the Southwest Airlines site, checking out flights and dreaming.