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LDRSHIP's avatar

What is the average income in your state and county in the US do you need to live "comfortably"?

Asked by LDRSHIP (1784points) September 19th, 2017


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9 Answers

muppetish's avatar

I’m not in economics, but I figure the answer to this question is highly variable: region to region, state to state, county to county. I currently live in a rural area and the average income to live “comfortably” is way different here than it would be in an urban area of the same state. I’m not sure how precise a number we can get to this question.

LDRSHIP's avatar

@muppetish I updated the question. Also comfortably is up to the person answering to decide.

muppetish's avatar

@LDRSHIP Gotcha! So in my state the median income is approximately 57k (rounding up), but the median for my specific city is around 17k. Minimum wage in my state is set to $11, which brings you a bit over 20k before taxes if you are working full time.

Given that rent for a studio in my area is around 500, a year’s worth rent will run 6k with 14k leftover. This is, of course, presuming that someone is a single income household with no partner or dependents.

Again, not an economist and I suck at math but I feel like someone can get by okay on the minimum wage of our area, but it depends on a person’s priorities: car? phone? cable? pet? partner? family? Once you continue adding various comforts, the minimum wage starts looking less and less comfortable.

Trying to wrap my head around that same minimum wage working in a much more expensive part of the state (with higher poverty, unemployed, and homeless rates) completely boggles my mind.

Muad_Dib's avatar

A few years ago I did the math.

Realistically, if someone were to work full time and maintain an “average” 2-bedroom apartment in my area at the recommended 30% of your income, with a car they own outright and reasonable car insurance payments (public transportation isn’t feasible here), and have a spouse and two elementary aged children, they would need to make $17/hr. And they still wouldn’t have health insurance.

Minimum wage here is $8.05

jca's avatar

I think “comfortably” is something that varies from person to person, family to family.

For me, I’m comfortable in that I can go to restaurants, buy new clothes, take vacations and trips but I don’t live a luxurious lifestyle by any means. I pay a ton for child care, I have a car payment. I don’t know It’s hard to answer this question.

Around here, a studio might go for 1000 a month. A two bedroom might be at least 2k a month. Someone with a decent job probably makes about 70k a year, give or take. Someone with a job that’s not that great here makes about 14 bucks an hour.

These are just some random figures. Like I said, my idea of comfortable might not be someone else’s idea of comfortable.

LDRSHIP's avatar

Thanks for the answers. I would like to have a wife and maybe kids down the road but man this makes me realize how easier financially being single is, granted it is a bit lonely at times.

I am wondering where I should move, cost of living versus quality of area and community etc.

I knew there was differences but didn’t realize there were so massive from state to state. It seems a little ridiculous.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Actually a wife or partner should allow you to get by without roommates. The housing costs in my town are so obscene that they distort every aspect of economic reality. My guess is that a couple might arrive today in this town and expect to lead a middle class existence on a combined income of $180–220,000 a year. A single kid in the package and all bets are off. For long time residents, life here is best described as surreal, as children in the town head the list of endangered species. The city has been closing public schools at the rate 1–2 a year for decades, and I strongly suspect that in most of the city’s neighborhoods the kids in the remaining public grade schools are for the most part from families in subsidized housing and kids whose parents commute great distances to work here and place their kids in local schools surreptitiously.
The Catholic grade school 3 blocks from here closed down some 3 years ago, and our neighborhood leads the city with children per capita. The housing situation is so severe that even with the declining load the city has difficulty recruiting teachers in a city where the median elementary school teacher’s salary is beyond $65,000.

LDRSHIP's avatar

@stanleybmanly It’s interesting when I was kid I remember a million dollars was “a lot” and the show who wants to be a millionaire. Now depending where you live you’re expected to make nearly 1/5th of that yearly.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I remember an old television show titled “The Millionaire”. It was a fantasy program in which this richer than God old coot (you never saw his face). would send his flunky out to lay s million bucks on some unduspecting soul. The rest of the program would follow the recipient and the ensuing drama around all that money. Interesting is not the word that comes to mind for me. It’s more like terrifying. There would be no way in hell that I could live here if I arrived today. You would not believe what passes for a million dollar house in this town. Just consider what the property taxes alone must amount to on a million dollar house. If you had told me in my 20s that I would one day be better off old with medicare and a paid for house, I would have surely told you that sounds like some dystopian horror plot.

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