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11 cities in the US with the biggest difference between median salary and living expenses

Published by Business Insider on Wed, 22 Jan 2020


More US cities are becoming harder to live in, for one big reason: the cost of living is higher than the typical resident's salary.Some of these citiessuch as New York and San Franciscoare understandable, but otherssuch as Pittsburgh and Baton Rougemay be surprising.However, there are options for surviving in a high-rent city, like working remotely and cutting out extra expenses.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.What makes a city unaffordable' One obvious answer is when rents and home prices have climbed to such heights that most ordinary people are completely priced out. But there's another way to look at it that may be even more important: If you move there, will you be able to afford to live'For many major American cities, the answer is probably not. The personal finance site GOBankingRates examined 50 of the most populous cities in the US, comparing median salaries with average rent and other necessary expenses, which include groceries, health care, utilities, and transportation. Note that this figure does not include such extras as eating out, exercise, child care, or even clothing.Nevertheless, in the cities listed here, even rent and other basic necessities totaled up to more than the median salary. That's before figuring in income tax, which is usually withheld from paychecks and really should not be considered an "extra."It's fascinating that when you look at the prices for housing and living expenses in relation to what people actually earn, you get a whole different picture of which American cities should be considered unaffordable. Any list of the nation's most unaffordable cities by expense alone would feature many locations in California, especially San Francisco, San Jose, and other cities in Silicon Valley. San Francisco has the highest rents in the nation, averaging $4,500.But salaries in these places are apparently keeping up with expenses, comparatively speaking, because the only California city near the top of this list is Los Angeles. And some of the other cities, such as Pittsburgh, are not the glamour towns you might expect.More than half your paycheck for rent'The longstanding rule of thumb is that you should spend no more than 30% of your income on housing (rent or mortgage). None of the cities on this list fit under that rule if you compare average rents to median salaries. In some of them, average rents are well over half of average salaries. Some experts say that, for many people, even 30% is too high if they may also be paying for student debt and/or child care, two big monthly expenses that were less of a factor when this rule was created in the 1980s.How do you survive in a city where your salary won't pay your rent and basic expenses' There are many answers to that question. Some people take on extra work to pad their bank accounts, or share housing with roommates, perhaps multiple roommates. Some people live in one place and commute to another. For example, a large percentage of the people who work in New York City live in New Jersey or Connecticut, or in less expensive towns in New York State.But perhaps the best strategyfor those who canis to work remotely for an employer in a high-rent area. For example, if you were working for a San Francisco company and earning the city's median salary of $77,582, but living in otherwise unaffordable Miami, you'd be paying an average of $23,998.29 a year for rent. You still wouldn't quite fit within the 30% rule, but you'd be pretty close.You can find the full list of cities where you can't afford to live on a median salary here. These are the the ones with the biggest gaps:SEE ALSO:The 28 major global cities where workers have the highest salariesDON'T MISS:Here's how long it would take the world's top billionaires to earn your annual salary1. Miami, FloridaMedian income for one person:$25,233Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$1,999.86 per month or$23,998.32 per yearTotal annual cost of necessities:$45,808.56Shortfall: -$20,575.56Average rent as percentage of median salary: 95%2. Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaMedian income for one person:$28,351Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$1,524.29 per month or$18,291.48 per yearTotal annual cost of necessities:$40,951.58Shortfall: -$12,600.58Average rent as percentage of median salary: 65%3. New York City, New YorkMedian income for one person:$43,785Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$2,376.93 per month or$28,523.16 per yearTotal annual cost of necessities:$55,262.10Shortfall: -$11,477.10Average rent as percentage of median salary: 65%4. New Orleans, LouisianaMedian income for one person:$26,927Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$1,360.71 per month or$16,328.52 per yearTotal annual cost of necessities: $36,097.55Shortfall: -$9,170.55Average rent as percentage of median salary: 61%5. Los Angeles, CaliforniaMedian income for one person:$41,568Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$2,370.79 per month or$28,449.48 per yearTotal annual cost of necessities: $50,431.91Shortfall: -$8,863.91'Average rent as percentage of median salary: 68%6. Baton Rouge, LouisianaMedian income for one person:$27,036Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$983 per month or$11,796 per yearTotal annual cost of necessities: $31,094.14Shortfall: -$4,058.14'Average rent as percentage of median salary: 44%7. Honolulu, HawaiiMedian income for one person:$42,568Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$1,728.21 per month or$20,738.52 per yearTotal annual cost of necessities: $45,772.13Shortfall: -$3,204.13'Average rent as percentage of median salary: 49%8. Baltimore, MarylandMedian income for one person:$34,298Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$1,383.71 per month or$16,604.52' per yearTotal annual cost of necessities: $37,371.70Shortfall: -$3,073.7'0Average rent as percentage of median salary: 48%9. Tampa, FloridaMedian income for one person:$34,559Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$1,467.50 per month or$17,610'' per yearTotal annual cost of necessities: $37,351.20Shortfall: -$2,792.2'0Average rent as percentage of median salary: 51%10. Memphis, TennesseeMedian income for one person:$27,919Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$791.43 per month or$9,497.16' per yearTotal annual cost of necessities: $29,355.49Shortfall: -$1,436.49'Average rent as percentage of median salary: 34%11. Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaMedian income for one person:$31,496Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment:$1,095 per month or$13,140' per yearTotal annual cost of necessities: $31,955.73Shortfall: -$459.73'Average rent as percentage of median salary: 42%
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