If you’re wondering, “How much do I need to be rich?” the answer depends on where you live. To be rich in America — or in the 80th percentile of household incomes — you need to earn $103,405, which is significantly less than the amount many Americans think they need to be “rich.” However, in some states, you need to earn even less than that to be among the top earners.
For this study, GOBankingRates defined “rich” as an income in the 80th percentile of households, and determined the states where that amount was less than $100,000. The study also took into consideration states where top-tier homes were affordable. In addition, GOBankingRates looked at living costs, including groceries, utilities, transportation and healthcare. Keep reading to see where you can live a rich life while earning less than $100,000.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $95,395
Michigan has the third-lowest cost of living of all the states, so it doesn’t take much to live richly there. However, it’s not one of the richest states in America.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $94,663
Ohio is one of the states where you might be able to afford a mansion: The median price of a top-tier home in Ohio is $248,000, so you can live in a nice home for a monthly mortgage payment of $1,219.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $94,449
Louisiana is one of the cheapest states to live in, so you can easily live well for less than $100,000 a year. The median price of a top-tier home in the state is $259,700.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $94,160
You don’t need to be a millionaire to be “rich” in Florida. In fact, Florida is one of the best states for the middle class. However, the cost of a top-tier home in the state is on the higher end, with a median price of $402,500.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $92,568
In Missouri, a top-tier home costs a median price of $276,400, which means an average monthly mortgage payment of $1,351. The overall cost of living in the state is well below the national average, making it one of the states where you’re least likely to live paycheck to paycheck.
15. North Carolina
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $92,305
You can be rich making less than $100,000 in North Carolina, and you can buy a top-tier home for $331,000.
14. New Mexico
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $92,115
Although it doesn’t take a lot of money to be a top earner in New Mexico, it’s one of the worst states for the upper class, in part due to its high property crime rates.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $91,883
You can buy a top-tier home in Maine for $379,500, with an average monthly mortgage payment of $1,826.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $91,698
If you make about $92,000 in Indiana, you could be considered rich. And that income can help you live comfortably in this state. The median price for a top-tier home in Indiana — $213,800 — is the fifth-lowest of all the states in this ranking. Plus, the state has the fourth-cheapest groceries in the U.S.
11. South Dakota
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $91,170
South Dakotans can make about $91,000 and still be considered rich here. Although the overall cost of living is slightly above average in South Dakota, the state has the lowest transportation costs in the U.S.
10. South Carolina
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $89,604
South Carolina is the first state on this list where you can be rich making less than $90,000 a year. The median price for a top-tier home in South Carolina is $309,900, and the state has a below-average overall cost of living.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $89,267
You can buy a nice house in Oklahoma for not so much money — the median price for a top-tier home in the state is $215,900, so the monthly mortgage would be just over $1,000. It also has the second-lowest overall cost of living of all the states.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $88,984
Alabama is tied with Arkansas for the fourth-lowest cost of living of all the states, so it’s easy to live well off less than $100,000 a year. It’s also one of the states where $300,000 gets you a larger home: The median price of a top-tier home in Alabama is just $246,400.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $88,339
With a low overall cost of living, you can live richly for less in Tennessee than in most other places. Transportation and healthcare costs are especially low in the state. You can buy a top-tier home in Tennessee for $300,100.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $88,241
Although the cost of living is slightly above the national average in Montana, some costs — like utilities — are among the lowest in the U.S.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $87,048
The cost of living is below average in Kentucky, and grocery costs are especially low: The state has the second-cheapest groceries in the country. And the cost of a top-tier home is only about $250,000, so it might be possible to live richly on a smaller income in this state.
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- “Rich” Income Threshold: $86,701
The overall cost of living in Idaho is below the national average, and the state also has the third-lowest utility costs in the U.S. In addition, Idaho is one of the states where you don’t need a high salary to afford a home. The median price for a top-tier home here is $375,200.
3. West Virginia
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $82,384
Not only does West Virginia have the third-lowest income requirement to be considered wealthy, but it also has the most affordable top-tier homes, with the median price at $187,000. That translates to a monthly mortgage of $937 with a $37,400 down payment.
- “Rich” Income Threshold: $81,917
The median price for a top-tier home in Arkansas is $216,200 — the third-lowest of all the states in this ranking. It also has the fourth-lowest cost of living of all the states.
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- “Rich” Income Threshold: $81,038
It takes less money to be considered rich in Mississippi than in any other state. And with a median price for top-tier homes at $218,000, it requires the fourth-lowest mortgage payment to buy a top-tier house compared to the other states in this ranking. Mississippi also has the overall lowest cost of living in the U.S.
Click through to see how much you really take home from a $100,000 salary in every state.
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- Best and Worst States for Families to Live a Richer Life
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Methodology: Since the general definition of being “rich” or “wealthy” refers to one with more money or assets relative to others in a society, GOBankingRates used the 80th percentile of household income in each state — which means you’re earning more than 80 percent of the people in the state — as our threshold for being “rich.” Additional factors in this ranking included the ability to pay for a top-tier home, defined as a home that falls into the top third of home values within a given region in Zillow’s Home Value Index. The annual cost of groceries, utilities, transportation and healthcare were calculated using data sourced from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.