Do You Live Here? 3 Cities Where a $300K Salary Feels Like Only $100K

Traffic on Brooklyn Bridge at sunset with Manhattan skyline in the background (New York, USA).
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Many of us aspire to hit the career milestone of earning a six-figure salary, with the expectation that this salary will enable us to achieve a high standard of living and break free of the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Unfortunately, depending on where you live this may not be the case. Once you factor in taxes and high living costs, earning $100,000-plus can feel like much less.

A recent SmartAsset study analyzed annual salaries in 76 cities and adjusted them for taxes and cost of living to find what you would need to earn to have the purchasing power of a $100,000 salary in the average city — and in these three cities, you would need to earn $300,000 or more.

1. Honolulu

High taxes and high living costs mean that workers in Honolulu, Hawaii, will need to earn a salary of $312,400 pre-tax to feel like they are earning $100,00. After taxes, the net pay with that salary is $185,999, and living costs are 86% above the national average.

2. New York

New York is the city that never sleeps, and you may have to be regularly burning the midnight oil to earn enough to get the feel of a six-figure salary. The study found that due to roughly 41% in combined federal, state and local taxes and a cost of living that is 83.6% higher than the national average, workers in New York City need to earn a pre-tax salary of $312,000 to have a purchasing power equivalent to $100,000 in the average American city.

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3. San Francisco

Although salaries tend to be significantly higher in San Francisco than the U.S. median, the cost of living is significantly higher as well. With a cost of living that’s 82.8% more than the national average, workers in this city need to earn just over $300,000 pre-tax to take home $100,000 of purchasing power.

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