The Cost of Living Comfortably

Finder, a personal finance comparison and education site, recently released a report regarding how much people must earn to live comfortably in 78 U.S. cities.

The report, which took into account home value, non-housing expenditure, non-mortgage debt, interest rate, monthly payments and required salary, provides considerable insight into the affordability of living across the United States.

Some key takeaways from the report:

  • San Francisco topped the list, with a huge salary of $180,600 required simply to buy an average home costing $1,119,500
  • The cheapest city analyzed was Jackson, MS, where citizens can live comfortably on $43,265
  • According to the US Census Bureau, the average wage in the US in 2013 was $52,250
  • According to their research, this is a sufficient income to live in 36 out of 78 of the cities analyzed
  • Californian cities took four places in the top 10 most expensive cities analyzed

The complete report can be found at

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. James, I am not surprised because I have lived in CA and now I live in MS. The cost of living is much lower with good reason, but then quality of life is a little better based on things to do.

    • Great combination … lower cost of living and improved quality of life. Thanks for stopping by, my friend and adding to the conversation.

  2. I was surprised to see no MN cities on the list!! Yes, CA is ridiculously expensive. When I was doing mortgage deals, we would occasionally do a mortgage for Los Angeles. A small craftsman-type house there would easily go for over 1m. Crazy!

    • It is hard to believe what people will pay for the ‘privilege’ of being home owners in certain cities.

  3. Nice Post.

    • Glad you enjoyed, my friend.

  4. I agree you don’t necessarily need a home to live comfortably, but I prefer home ownership over renting, as most people generally do. My city is fairly reasonable in terms of cost of living and I’m happy about that. Thanks for the resource!

    • While info believe a [financial] case can be made for renting, like you, I’m more inclined to own.

      Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation.

  5. Wow – I knew there was a high cost to live in San Francisco but I didn’t realize it was anywhere near that. Just shows what the effect of an area being flooded with money can jack up prices quickly.

    • Indeed. I recently recommended a documentary, San Francisco 2.0, that addresses that very phenomenon. You should check it out when you have some extra time. Worth a view.

  6. Maybe accurate if you really want to own a home that badly. I don’t think you need to own a home to live comfortably though. Many of the cities where housing is exorbitantly expensive, you can still find similar quality apartments for rent for much more reasonable prices and invest the rest.
    Interesting read, thanks.

    • “I don’t think you need to own a home to live comfortably … “ Agreed. However, the cost of home ownership is often reflective of the general costs of living in a particular area. As the study notes, non-living expenditures (e.g. Durable Goods such as gasoline and clothing; and Services like transportation and health care) were also considered. Even if someone elects to rent vice buying, there are inherent costs that require a given salary to live comfortably in a given location.

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend and adding your thoughts to the conversation.

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