A $300,000 Salary Feels Like $100,000 In These Three Expensive Cities, Analysis Finds
Panoramic view of Waikiki Beach and Honolulu, Hawaii as seen from the Summit of Diamond Head Crater on February 20, 2022.
DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

Residents of several cities in the United States require a salary much higher than $100,000 to feel as if they are earning six figures due to elevated costs of living and aggressive taxes, according to a recent analysis from SmartAsset.

The financial technology company found that residents of Honolulu, New York City, and San Francisco require salaries between $310,000 and $312,000 to earn the equivalent of $100,000 in an average part of the country since high earners in the three cities face tax rates above 40% and living expenses more than 80% above the national average.

“Those with a $100,000 salary earn more than double the median individual income for 2021, which might imply financial comfort on first glance. But when accounting for taxes and cost of living in America’s largest cities, those six figures will feel much smaller,” SmartAsset said in the analysis. “Ultimately, to have the purchasing power of $100,000, you will have to earn a substantially higher salary.”

Oakland, Los Angeles, and Long Beach followed the other cities with respect to the gross income needed to “feel like” one takes home $100,000. Residents of the cities see costs of living roughly 50% greater than the national average, partially due to expensive real estate, while income taxes approach 40% in Oakland and nearly 38% in Los Angeles and Long Beach. “California cities require the highest gross incomes of any state,” SmartAsset noted.

With an effective tax rate of 13.5%, California is among the most heavily taxed states in the nation, according to an analysis from the Tax Foundation. The state also has among the most progressive income tax systems, meaning that wealthy households supply an outsized portion of revenues relative to other households, according to an analysis from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

The most affordable cities for high earners, on the other hand, are Memphis, El Paso, and Oklahoma City, where residents need salaries between $117,000 and $120,000 to “feel like” they are earning $100,000. Cities in Texas, such as Corpus Christi, Lubbock, and Houston, are also among the most affordable for individuals earning six figures, who can “feel like” they are earning $100,000 with salaries between $121,000 and $125,000.

“In general, states with no state income taxes have an edge when it comes to overall purchasing power,” SmartAsset added. States without income taxes include Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.

Population trends over the three years since the lockdown-induced recession broadly match the difficulty of earning robust incomes in cities with high costs of living and tax rates, as well as recent trends in crime and the extent to which lockdowns impacted business recovery.


Data released by the Census Bureau at the end of last month demonstrate that counties home to major cities in California, Illinois, and New York witnessed the nation’s most stark numeric population decline last year, while those home to major cities in Arizona, Texas, and Florida saw the largest numeric population growth. An analysis from the Economic Innovation Group noted that domestic outmigration from large urban counties surpassed two million residents in 2021 and 2022, a trend that contributed to a population increase in the suburbs and exurbs.

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  A $300,000 Salary Feels Like $100,000 In These Three Expensive Cities, Analysis Finds