Costs of Living in the 10 Most Populated U.S. Cities

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.

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.

3. Chicago

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.

4. Boston

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.

5. Atlanta

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."

6. Philadelphia

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.

7. Denver

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.

8. Austin

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.

10. Portland

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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