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Do you think you make enough to afford to live comfortably in California?

With high inflation and cost of living expenses, it can be hard to feel financially secure, especially for Golden State residents.  

Using data from the latest MIT Living Wage Calculator and the 50/30/20 budgeting method, Smart Asset calculated the after-tax salary a single person without kids would need to earn to “live comfortably” in 25 of the largest cities in the U.S., including those in California.

The 50/30/20 budgeting method separates one’s budget into three categories: basic living expenses, discretionary spending, and saving or paying off debt.

The budgeting method calls for 50% of the salary to be used to pay for basic living expenses, for example, rent and bills; 30% would be used for personal spending and 20% would be put into a savings account or used to pay down debt.

The data used in the study analyzed the cost of living in each city as of 2022. 

For California cities like Los Angeles, Berkeley and San Diego, a single person must make more than $76,000 to “live comfortably,” the data shows.

This is how much individuals need to make to afford to live in these California cities:

CityAfter-tax salary needed to live comfortably
San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA$84,026
San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA$79,324
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA$76,710
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA$67,060
Smart Asset

It’s not surprising that people living in California needed to have high salaries to “live comfortably” in the Golden State.

In contrast, people in St. Louis, Detroit and San Antonio needed to make between $57,000 to $60,000 after taxes to afford a comfortable life. Those were considered the top three places where a high salary wasn’t needed to “live comfortably” according to Smart Asset.

These places don’t require a high salary in the U.S.:

CityAfter-tax salary needed to live comfortably
St. Louis, Missouri$57,446
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Michigan$58,358
San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas$59,270
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Camden, New Jersey Wilmington, Delaware$61,678
Charlotte – Concord- Gastonia, North Carolina$62,110
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas$62,260
Smart Asset