GOBankingRates

The Minimum Salary You Need To Be Happy in the Biggest Cities

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Can money truly buy happiness? Turns out that it certainly can, according to a Purdue University study, which examined how much money people need to be happy and whether or not happiness rises as one’s income level increases. But there’s a catch.

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The study argued that the optimal amount of money it takes to be happy varies worldwide. “That might be surprising as what we see on TV and what advertisers tell us we need would indicate that there is no ceiling when it comes to how much money is needed for happiness, but we now see there are some thresholds,” said Andrew T. Jebb, a doctoral student and the lead author of the Purdue University study, in a press release.

The research specifically sought to pinpoint the amount where money no longer changes your level of emotional well-being and “life evaluation.” Emotional well-being was measured according to a person’s day-to-day emotions, including happy, excited, sad and angry. Life evaluation was defined in terms of overall life satisfaction and was “likely more influenced by higher goals and comparisons to others.”

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Using the Purdue study’s findings, GOBankingRates predicted how much money you would need to make to be happy in 50 of the biggest cities in America. The Purdue researchers determined that, globally, individuals would need an income of $60,000-$75,000 for emotional well-being and an income of $95,000 for life evaluation. The ideal income for life satisfaction in North America is $105,000, which was used as a benchmark for the “salary needed to be happy” category listed in this study.

Are your finances keeping you from being happy?

Last updated: Sept. 10, 2021

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Albuquerque, New Mexico

  • Salary you need to be happy$103,215
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $93,385
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $58,980-$73,725

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Arlington, Texas

  • Salary you need to be happy: $114,345
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $103,455
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $65,340-$81,675

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Atlanta

  • Salary you need to be happy: $121,170
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $109,630
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $69,240-$86,550

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Austin, Texas

  • Salary you need to be happy: $136,500
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $123,500
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $78,000-$97,500

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Boston

  • Salary you need to be happy: $190,680
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $172,520
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $108,960-$136,200

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Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Salary you need to be happy: $112,035
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $101,365
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $64,020-$80,025
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Chicago

  • Salary you need to be happy: $123,690
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $111,910
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $70,680-$88,350
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Cleveland

  • Salary you need to be happy: $80,955
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $73,245
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $46,260-$57,825
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Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Salary you need to be happy: $118,545
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $107,255
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $67,740-$84,675
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Columbus, Ohio

  • Salary you need to be happy: $94,920
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $85,880
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $54,240-$67,800
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Dallas

  • Salary you need to be happy: $113,085
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $102,315
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $64,620-$80,775
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Denver

  • Salary you need to be happy: $151,410
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $136,990
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $86,520-$108,150
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El Paso, Texas

  • Salary you need to be happy: $91,560
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $82,840
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $52,320-$65,400

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Fort Worth, Texas

  • Salary you need to be happy: $112,665
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $101,935
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $64,380-$80,475
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Fresno, California

  • Salary you need to be happy: $113,190
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $102,410
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $64,680-$80,850
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Honolulu

  • Salary you need to be happy: $211,155
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $191,045
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $120,660-$150,825
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Houston

  • Salary you need to be happy: $110,040
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $99,560
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $62,880-$78,600
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Indianapolis

  • Salary you need to be happy: $92,295
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $83,505
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $52,740-$65,925
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Jacksonville, Florida

  • Salary you need to be happy: $104,475
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $94,525
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $59,700-$74,625

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Kansas City, Missouri

  • Salary you need to be happy: $96,495
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $87,305
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $55,140-$68,925

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Las Vegas

  • Salary you need to be happy: $126,105
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $114,095
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $72,060-$90,075
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Long Beach, California

  • Salary you need to be happy: $188,055
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $170,145
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $107,460-$134,325
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Los Angeles

  • Salary you need to be happy: $204,855
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $185,345
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $117,060-$146,325
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Louisville, Kentucky

  • Salary you need to be happy: $101,115
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $91,485
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $57,780-$72,225
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Memphis, Tennessee

  • Salary you need to be happy: $88,515
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $80,085
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $50,580-$63,225
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Mesa, Arizona

  • Salary you need to be happy: $119,280
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $107,920
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $68,160-$85,200
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Miami

  • Salary you need to be happy: $143,955
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $130,245
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $82,260-$102,825
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Milwaukee

  • Salary you need to be happy: $94,500
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $85,500
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $54,000-$67,500

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Minneapolis

  • Salary you need to be happy: $122,220
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $110,580
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $69,840-$87,300

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Nashville, Tennessee

  • Salary you need to be happy: $115,920
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $104,880
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $66,240-$82,800
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New Orleans

  • Salary you need to be happy: $112,875
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $102,125
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $64,500-$80,625
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New York

  • Salary you need to be happy: $219,765
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $198,835
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $125,580-$156,975
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Oakland, California

  • Salary you need to be happy: $211,260
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $191,140
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $120,720-$150,900
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Oklahoma City

  • Salary you need to be happy: $96,075
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $86,925
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $54,900-$68,625
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Omaha, Nebraska

  • Salary you need to be happy: $99,645
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $90,155
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $56,940-$71,175

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Orlando, Florida

  • Salary you need to be happy: $118,020
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $106,780
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $67,440-$84,300
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Philadelphia

  • Salary you need to be happy: $116,340
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $105,260
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $66,480-$83,100
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Phoenix

  • Salary you need to be happy: $119,070
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $107,730
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $68,040-$85,050
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Portland, Oregon

  • Salary you need to be happy: $155,190
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $140,410
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $88,680-$110,850
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Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Salary you need to be happy: $116,550
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $105,450
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $66,600-$83,250
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Sacramento, California

  • Salary you need to be happy: $133,875
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $121,125
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $76,500-$95,625
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San Antonio

  • Salary you need to be happy: $101,535
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $91,865
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $58,020-$72,525
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San Diego

  • Salary you need to be happy: $186,375
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $168,625
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $106,500-$133,125
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San Francisco

  • Salary you need to be happy: $319,935
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $289,465
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $182,820-$228,525
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San Jose, California

  • Salary you need to be happy: $273,000
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $247,000
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $156,000-$195,000
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Seattle

  • Salary you need to be happy: $214,200
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $193,800
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $122,400-$153,000
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Tucson, Arizona

  • Salary you need to be happy: $104,370
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $94,430
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $59,640-$74,550
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Tulsa, Oklahoma

  • Salary you need to be happy: $94,080
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $85,120
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $53,760-$67,200
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Virginia Beach, Virginia

  • Salary you need to be happy: $121,380
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $109,820
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $69,360-$86,700
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Washington, D.C.

  • Salary you need to be happy: $182,595
  • Salary you need for life evaluation: $165,205
  • Salary you need for emotional well-being: $104,340-$130,425
More From GOBankingRates

      Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the cost-of-living-adjusted minimum salary needed to be “happy” based on various income satiation levels, identified by Purdue University researchers. Global income satiation levels are as follows: $60,000-$75,000 for “emotional well-being” and $95,000 for “life evaluation.” In North America, the income satiation level is $105,000 for life evaluation, according to Purdue, and this benchmark was used to determine the “salary you need to be happy” in the study. GOBankingRates factored in each city’s cost-of-living index, sourced from Sperling’s Best Places. Research was conducted and is accurate as of Oct. 24, 2019.