How Much One Needs To Make To Live Comfortably In All 50 States

By Shannon
How Much One Needs To Make To Live Comfortably In All 50 States

If you were born and raised in one state your entire life, it might be hard to imagine living anywhere else. After all, your family and friends are all there. But have you ever wondered how your state compares to the rest of the US? Your income may stretch much farther somewhere else, or your retirement savings could last years longer than you would ever expect.

We broke down exactly how much you need to earn to live a comfortable life in every state. We have gathered data from Rent Data, housing prices from Zillow. But of course, you need so much more than just housing costs if you want to live comfortably. The average living wage from GoBankingRates to give you the most comprehensive review of how much it costs to live in each state. 

A “Welcome to Alabama” highway sign. Credit: Shutterstock

50. Alabama: $60,016

Alabama is one of the cheapest places to live in the entire country. A one-bedroom apartment is just $530 per month, and a 4-bedroom rental is $1,068. The median price to purchase a property is $134,300. In terms of housing, these prices are an absolute bargain compared to most states. Alabama has lots of parks, museums, and more. It is also home to the US Space and Rocket Center.

The Chugach Alaska Range. Credit: Shutterstock

49. Alaska: $91,996

For some people, the thought of living so close to the Arctic Circle sounds like a nightmare. But for people who love hunting and the great outdoors, it could be paradise. However, the environment can be harsh, and the cost of heating alone will set you back a pretty penny. There are not very many rentals outside of Anchorage, but if you want an apartment, you need to spend between $911 for a studio and  $1,950 for a 4-bedroom. Buying a house will set you back an average of $326,000. You will need to make $45,000 just to cover the basic necessities. This means that you need to make at least $92,000 if you want to have a bit extra for entertainment.

The Sonoran Desert near Phoenix, Arizona. Credit: Shutterstock

48. Arizona: $68,504

The state of Arizona’s cost of living is 2.3% less than the national average. The median price of buying a home is $257,600. Rents range from $656 for a studio apartment and go up to $1,429 for a four-bedroom. Even in the wintertime, Arizona still averages around 70 degrees, making it a great climate to live if you like warmth all year round. The city of Phoenix has a lot to do, and it just might be a great choice.

Arkansas borders several states. Credit: Shutterstock

47. Arkansas: $68,504

Arkansas is known for having diamonds and quartz in their land, but that doesn’t mean it’s a luxurious place to live. Rent is very affordable at just $493 for a studio apartment and up to $1,032 for a four-bedroom space. And if you wanted to buy a house, it costs an average of $129,500. The state of Arizona’s cost of living is 2.3 percent below average. So it’s actually very typical for the United States. It’s a great place to live if you like to go hiking and enjoy the view of the mountains.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Credit: Shutterstock

46. California: $99,971

California is the most densely populated state in America and is also one of the most expensive. If you want to live comfortably there, you need to make nearly six figures. Unfortunately, it also has a huge crisis of homeless people. This is why “van life” has become so popular in the state. The median cost of buying a home is $550,800. Rent is $992 for a studio apartment and a four-bedroom is $2,322.

A sign welcoming guests to the state of Colorado. Credit: Shutterstock

45. Colorado: $74,215

Colorado is famous for having gorgeous views of the Rocky Mountains and an abundance of nature. Even though it’s beautiful, it is 4.5% more than the national average. The median price of buying a home in Colorado is $381,300. Renting is $745 for a studio apartment. If you want to rent a 4-bedroom apartment or house, expect to pay $1,587.

Connecticut is located on the east coast of the United States. Credit: Shutterstock

44. Connecticut: $90,278

Compared to the rest of the United States, Connecticut has a high cost of living. But it’s a case of “you get what you pay for.” Home of the Ivy League university Yale, the state is known for its highly educated and successful people. There are also beautiful houses, beaches, and it’s close to New York City.  The average rent goes between $870 to $1907. And the median household cost is $244,800.

Delaware is one of the smallest states. Credit: Shutterstock

43. Delaware: $71,254

One of the biggest draws to Delaware for people living in the tri-state area is the fact that it does not have any sales tax. Many business owners choose to incorporate in Delaware for the tax breaks. It also has beaches, shopping, and entertainment options. The median price of a house in Delaware is $236,300. If you want to rent an apartment, expect to pay $794 to $1,698.

The Welcome to Florida sign. Credit: Shutterstock

42. Florida: $67,614

If you’re an American, you have probably visited Florida at least once. And plenty decided to move there for retirement so that they can enjoy the warm weather and sandy beaches. Residents do not have to pay any income tax, which helps them save you a ton of money. The cost of purchasing a home is an average of $237,900. Rent is $743 to $1,574, depending on the size of the apartment or house. It’s considered one of the best states to live in if you belong in the middle class.

Georgia is famous for their peaches. Credit: Shutterstock

41. Georgia: $62,074

Living in Georgia costs lower than the national average. It has the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and loads of Southern charm. The average house in Georgia will set you back roughly $193,500. If you want to rent instead, expect to pay $628 to $1,231, depending on the size of the space.

Hawaii is made up of several islands in the Pacific. Credit: Shutterstock

40. Hawaii: $136,437

The most expensive place to live in the United States is Hawaii. And it shouldn’t be surprising, considering it’s literally paradise. Since they are a collection of islands, it also means that everything has to be flown or taken to the island on a boat, which can add up. It is incredibly expensive to own property in Hawaii, with the median cost of a home at $619,000. Even renting an apartment is expensive. A tiny studio apartment costs $1,236 and a four-bedroom can go for $2,926 or more. To put things into perspective, this is like living in New York City. Unfortunately, though, the average income of someone living and working in Hawaii is $75,000. This means that they are living far below what should be needed for them to live a “comfortable” lifestyle.

The Welcome to Idaho sign. Credit: Shutterstock

39. Idaho:  $66,486

Idaho is in the Northwest, so it has plenty of beautiful natural splendor. If you want to buy a house in Idaho, it costs an average of $274,200. Renting a studio apartment is just $564, and a four-bedroom can go for $1,286. While it is under the national average for cost of living, it unfortunately has lower salaries, too. The majority of people who live there make less than what they would need in order to have a comfortable living where they could afford to pay for luxuries like vacations, entertainment, and more.

Illinois is bordering Lake Michigan and several states. Credit: Shutterstock

38. Illinois: $66,847

The average house in Illinois costs $183,500. Rent is just $556 to $1,163 per month, but it can be much more if you are looking to live in the city of Chicago.  Illinois also borders Lake Michigan, which is a beautiful place to visit. The only downside is that the vast majority of residents earn $61,229, which puts them below a comfortable living wage.

Indiana is bordering Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan. Credit: Shutterstock

37. Indiana: $62,086

Rent on an apartment is $549 on a studio and up to $1,165 for a four-bedroom. If you want to buy a house, it will cost around $148,700. The living cost is low compared to the rest of the United States. Browsing through Trip Advisor, you can see that the state has a lot of parks, museums, and nature preserves. The only downside to living in a cheap state is that the vast majority of people make roughly $10,000 less than what they need to live a comfortable life.

The Iowa state flag. Credit: Shutterstock

36. Iowa: $63,397

Iowa is smack dab in the middle of the US and has several states surrounding it. Renting an apartment in Iowa costs between $516 to $1,077. The median cost of buying a house in Iowa is $146,500. This is very cheap compared to the rest of the country, and you can find a great place to live for under $10,000 per year. However, most people still make less than what they would need to buy a house or live a comfortable life buying things outside of their basic needs.

The Kansas state flag. Credit: Shutterstock

35. Kansas: $62,090

Kansas is a Midwestern state that has plenty of wide-open spaces and farmland. Rent is just $545 to $1,125 for an apartment, and the median price of buying a house is $141,500. Even in Kansas City, you can find a luxury apartment in the center of the city for just $1,000. Compared to most other American cities, that is a huge bargain. The only downside is that the median salary is just $55,477. That falls below what you would need for a comfortable living wage.

Kentucky is famous for its horse culture. Credit: Shutterstock

34. Kentucky: $63,086

As you can imagine, the entire state has a huge horse culture. So if you are into riding, it could be a great place to live. Renting an apartment is just $498 for a studio and up to $1,051 for a four-bedroom. Buying a house will cost around $148,400. This makes it one of the cheapest places to live. The only downside is that there are not many high-earning career opportunities. The median salary in Kentucky is just $46,535. This leaves a significant gap in what you need to be comfortable living there.

Louisiana is home to the famous New Orleans. Credit: Shutterstock

33. Louisiana: $63,842

Louisiana is famous for its jazz music, great Cajun food, friendly locals, and warm weather. The average price to buy a home in Louisiana is $147,600, and rent is $617 to $1,228. But as you can probably imagine, it’s more expensive to move to a big city like New Orleans. The average salary for a household in Louisiana is only $46,710. This means that most people are probably struggling to make ends meet.

The Portland lighthosue in Maine. Credit: Shutterstock

32. Maine: $80,336

If you want to purchase a house, expect to pay in the ballpark of $237,800. Rent is far more affordable for most people, with apartments costing just $634 to $1,248. For bigger cities like Portland, it can be a bit higher than average. However, people who live in Maine are likely struggling with high costs. There is a $27,312 gap between what an average person earns in a year, and how much you need to live comfortably. In other words, you are going to see a huge divide between the rich and poor in Maine.

Citizens of Maryland are very proud of their state flag. Credit: Shutterstock

31. Maryland: $92,227

Living in Maryland can be hectic in more ways than one. Driving is stressful because so many people move to the state for high-income work. Many people work in Washington DC, so they have high-salary government jobs. There is also a ton to do in cities like Baltimore and Annapolis. Depending on the area, you can pay between $909 to $1,947 for rent on a one-bedroom. The median cost of a house is $290,500. Even though there is a lot to do, this is one of the most expensive states to live in.

Massachusetts was one of the original colonies in New England. Credit: Shutterstock

30. Massachusetts: $93,895

Massachusetts has Boston, Martha’s Vineyard, and so much more. There is a good reason why so many people love to live there. The median price of a house in Massachusetts is $408,100. Rent on a studio apartment can set you back $1,134, and you can expect to pay in the ballpark of $2,167 for additional bedrooms. Even though it is home to plenty of billionaires, the median income of your average citizen is just $74,167. So most people living there are making less than what they need to live a comfortable lifestyle.

Michigan is famous for bordering the Great Lakes and Canada. Credit: Shutterstock

29. Michigan: $67,712

Surrounded by the Great Lakes, Michigan is great for people who love the water. This state is yet another example of being a really affordable place to live, but the opportunity to make money is very low. Buying a house will cost an average of $154,500 for a property. If you want to rent, that’s just $547 to $1,127. But the median household is making $52,668. This is lower than what you can expect to pay if you want to raise a family to have a comfortable life in Michigan, so many people are probably struggling with money, even with the low living cost.

This way to Minnesota. Credit: Shutterstock

28. Minnesota: $68,944

Minnesota has a reputation of having a lot of friendly people living there, which may or may not have something to do with the fact that it’s so close to Canada. It turns out that it is also very affordable to live there. Rent is $562 to $1,272 for an apartment. And if you want to buy a house, expect to buy $239,900.  The cost of living might be a little bit higher than other states, but the good news is that the average salary is usually high enough to match what people need to live comfortably in Minnesota.

The Welcome to Mississippi highway sign. Credit: Shutterstock

27. Mississippi:  $58,321

All the way down South in Mississippi, you can rent an apartment for just $524 to $1,043 per month. Buying a house will cost an average of just $130,200, which is very affordable for most people who work full-time. This, together with a low cost of food and other factors, makes it the cheapest place to live in the United States. But it also just so happens to be the poorest state. An average household in Mississippi only makes $42,000 per year, which puts them below the average they should be making if they want to get by without struggling.

The welcome to Missouri highway sign. Credit: Shutterstock

26. Missouri: $60,858

Missouri has been nicknamed the “Show Me State,” but it doesn’t have much to present. Besides botanical gardens and amusement parks, there are few major landmarks that people go to Missouri to visit. It comes in with an average income of just $51,532. But at the very least, it’s affordable to live there. Apartments are a mere $484 to $1,062. And if you want to buy a house, it’s an average of $163,700.

Bison roam free in the mountains of Montana. Credit: Pixabay

25. Montana: $70,719

Montana is one of the Northern states along the border of Canada. Rent is very affordable at just $561 to $1,286 per month, and buying a house will set you back $242,100. They are called “The Big Sky State” because of their mountain ranges and beautiful views of the stars. Unfortunately, there is a big gap between income and cost of living. Most households in Montana make $50,000 per year, even though it has been estimated that they need $70,719 to live comfortably. 

The beautiful sunset in Wahoo, Nebraska. Credit: Shutterstock

24. Nebraska: $65,162

Nicknamed the “Cornhusker” state, Nebraska is full of farmland. Rent is just $480 to $1,063 per month, depending on the number of bedrooms. Houses in Nebraska are an average of $169,900. The median salary of a household in Nebraska is $56,675. This does not sound like much, but it is actually very close to the average living wage.

Las Vegas is a tourist hot spot in Nevada. Credit: Pixabay

23. Nevada: $75,902

Las Vegas is an international vacation destination for people who want to have an epic bachelor party or get married in less than an hour. As for the rest of Nevada, this desert state is also home to the famous Lake Tahoe. The great news is that it is also very affordable to live in. Rent is just $610 to $1,454 per month. And if you want to buy a house, it will cost $291,800. Unfortunately, though, most residents make less than the living wage where they would feel comfortable without struggling financially.

There are beautiful historic houses in New Hampshire. Credit: Pixabay

22. New Hampshire: $74,415

New Hampshire has been nicknamed “The Granite State” because of its number of granite quarries in the area. The state sits between Maine and Massachusetts, which makes it yet another high earning state in the New England area. There are some beautiful mountains and parks, which means that it gets a lot of people trying to escape big-city areas like Boston and settle down for a life in the country. The median cost of a house in New Hampshire is $280,400. Renting an apartment is decently affordable at $757 to $1,687 per month.

New Jersey is the second most populated state in the USA. Credit: Shutterstock

21. New Jersey:  $86,244

If you want to live in New Jersey, expect to pay 20% more than everywhere else in the United States. Jersey is close to both Philadelphia and New York, so many people commute in and out of these major cities for work. They also have the Ivy League Princeton University.  Compared to most, New Jersey is small, but people continue to move there, which makes it the second-most densely populated state. To put things into perspective, there are so many people, that the entire state of New Jersey is considered to be an urban metropolitan area.

The average house costs $329,000, and unfortunately, they have the highest property taxes in the country. The average rent is $1,013 for a studio and up to $2,159 for more bedrooms. Prices on living can vary dramatically depending on the area. The lower the rent, the higher the crime rate. So, in reality, you should expect to pay at least $1,500 for a one-bedroom apartment if you want to feel safe. The median household income is $76,475, which means that many people are living there for less than what they need to live comfortably.

The Red Rocks in Northern New Mexico. Credit: Shutterstock

20. New Mexico: $63,629

For a lot of people, when you bring up New Mexico, you immediately think of Breaking Bad, and Walter White’s misadventures around Albuquerque. The town has actually become a tourist destination because of the series. Good thing for residents of New Mexico, they can rent an apartment for just $604 to $1,296 per month. And buying a house is doable within the ballpark of $197,400. The median income is pretty low at just $46,718. Sadly, this is much lower than the living wage, which means a lot of people are most likely struggling to survive. (This may be why it was such a fitting setting for Breaking Bad.) 

The famous yellow taxi cabs in New York City. Credit: Pixabay

19. New York: $95,724

New York is the third most expensive place to live in the United States, after Hawaii and California. Of course, you would be nearly impossible to get anything under $2,000 in Manhattan. The average cost of a house is $669,500. But good luck finding anything decent under $1 million in New York City. People move there from all over the globe with big hopes and dreams. While it’s true that there are plenty of work opportunities and the median salary over the average household is  $62,765, that is still not enough for the high cost of living. Many people who work in New York City have to commute from New Jersey because they cannot afford the sky-high prices.

A field in North Carolina. Credit: Pixabay

18. North Carolina: $64,406

North Carolina is a great state for Southern charm, nature, and beaches. It’s really affordable to live in the beautiful “Tar Heel State,” too. One of the best tourist attractions in the state is the Biltmore Mansion, which was built for George Washington Vanderbilt. Rent in North Carolina is just $627 to $1,269, and buying a house costs around $189,900. The only downside is that most people make less than the living wage.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Credit: National Park Service

17. North Dakota: $69,085

If you want to buy a house, it costs an average of $210,000. Rent would be far more affordable for most, with apartments going for just $596 to $1,202 per month. The average salary and living expenses are almost even, making the average resident able to live comfortably. The only downside is that there is not much to do in North Dakota outside of going to a park and taking in the gorgeous sights of nature.

The Ohio Theater in Columbus. Credit: Pixabay

16. Ohio: $63,204

Besides the city of Columbus, there is not much going on in Ohio to attract a lot of tourism. This may be one of the reasons why rent is very cheap, at just $540 to $1,107 per month. The median household income is $52,407, which is just enough to afford the average housing price of $142,600. However, most residents are making more than what you would say is a comfortable living wage.

Oklahoma City. Credit: Shutterstock

15. Oklahoma: $60,318

Oklahoma is really just a lot of farmland, but people still seem to like it. Rent is very affordable in the Sooner State, costing just $531 to $1,103 per month. Houses are low, too, with the average being just $125,400. Even with the cheap housing, most people are earning at least $10,000 under what can be considered a comfortable living wage.

The neon sign in Portland, Oregon Old Town. Credit: Pixabay

14. Oregon: $93,285

If you have ever seen the TV show Portlandia, you already know that Portland, Oregon has a reputation for being chock full of Millennial hipsters. The active artistic community in the area, combined with the beautiful landscape made housing prices go up. Rent costs $716 to $1,697 per month. Buying houses costs an average of $350,600. This makes Oregon one of the most expensive states to live in.

The skyline of Philadelphia, PA. Credit: Pixabay

13. Pennsylvania: $68,581

Outside of the major cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, the state of Pennsylvania is huge. It has plenty of open farmland and space for people to call home. Rent is very affordable at just $616 to $1,217 per month. And buying a house is $176,500. Philadelphia is home of Penn, an Ivy League University. So you have a lot of educated and qualified people living there, but even city apartments are affordable, especially compared to New York City. Unfortunately, though, people are still struggling most of the time. The average income is $11,630 less than the living wage.

A historic lighthouse in Rhode Island. Credit: Pixabay

12. Rhode Island: $83,942

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the US. It’s famous for its beautiful vintage lighthouses and nautical living. But if we learned anything from New Jersey, it’s that having a crowded space means that the cost of living goes up. Rent costs $812 to $1,663 for an apartment, and an average house is $284,200.

The Morris Island Lighthouse in South Carolina. Credit: Pixabay

11. South Carolina: $65,953

South Carolina is full of southern charm, especially if you plan to visit the city of Charleston. Many people call it a great place to live. Even better is that rent is just $610 to $1,231 per month in an apartment. And if you want to buy real estate, you can get a house for an average of $170,700. The downside is that the living wage for maximum comfort is over $17,000 higher than what the average citizen earns in a year.

The Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Credit: Pixabay

10. South Dakota: $67,657

South Dakota is full of mountainous parks. It’s also home to the famous Mount Rushmore. If you want to rent an apartment, it costs just $513 to $1,149 per month. Houses hold a median price of $194,700. But considering that the median income is $54,126, it is less than what most people need to earn a living wage.

The streets of Nashville, Tennessee. Credit: Pixabay

9. Tennessee: $60,682

Home of Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee is known for being the heart of country music. Rent costs $565 to $1,168 per month. And if you want to buy a property, expect to pay $170,800. While this might seem very affordable, the median income is $12,000 less than what most people need to be comfortable.

The Rio Grande River in Texas. Credit: Pixabay

8. Texas: $63,469

As one of the largest states in the US, Texas could be its own country. The Wild West culture is still strong there, and most citizens are very proud to call it home. Rent is affordable at $608 to $1,295 per apartment. And it’s possible to buy a decent home for $199,900. If you want to see more Texas real estate, look no further than the show Fixer Upper. There are several cities and towns where people can live comfortably for under $50,000, but the average overall is $63,469.

Monument Valley Utah Credit: Pixabay

7. Utah: $67,807

Known for its mountains and wide-open spaces, Utah has lots of national parks to explore. Monthly rent is just $592 to $1,396 depending on the number of bedrooms you need. However, there is a surprising leap to purchasing a property, with the average home costing $351,100. The amount of money people earn on average matches up almost exactly with the cost of living. This means that most people in the state earn enough to be happy and comfortable in their surroundings.

Christmas in Burlington, Vermont. Credit: Pixabay

6. Vermont: $83,878

Known for its amazing ski resorts in the mountains, Vermont is yet another area of New England that can be expensive to live in. Many people go there for vacation in the wintertime, and fewer people choose to live there full-time. Cost of living is 20% higher than the rest of the United States. Housing costs are not so bad, with rent being $764 to $1,494. Buying a house will set you back $210,600.

The Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Credit: Pixabay

5. Virginia: $69,886

Virginia is considered being in the South, but it is still close enough to Washington DC so that it has the best of both worlds. Outside of the Greater DC area, you can find cows and miles of open land and mountain ranges. Rent costs an average of $760 to $1,571. If you want to buy property in the state, it costs around $264,200. Keep in mind that these figures change drastically depending on where you are in the state, with rural areas being the cheapest. But no matter where they live in the state, most people are making enough to comfortably get by.

The skyline of Seattle, Washington at sunset. Credit: Pixabay

4. Washington: $77,207

Not to be confused with Washington DC, the state of Washington is one of the northern states that is known for having a lot of beautiful nature. One of their biggest cities is Seattle, which has become famous for being the home of Amazon and Microsoft. This has potentially driven up the price of living, similar to what we have seen in California. To rent an apartment, you can pay between $745 to $1,742. But if you want to buy real estate, you will need to pay up significantly more, with a median price of $393,800 per house. Considering that the average income is $66,174, there is a gap between what most people make and what can be considered a comfortable wage.

Fayette Station Bridge in West Virginia. Credit: Pixabay

3. West Virginia: $62,635

West Virginia is mainly run on the coal mining industry, and it has a lot of blue-collar workers. Rent is just $560 to $1,116 per month, and houses average only $99,000. Since it is so cheap to live there, if you have a good job, you can get a huge house for a fraction of the cost compared to other parts of the US. For the majority of the citizens, they only make $44,061, which is far less than what you would need to be comfortable living there.

An illustration showing everything you can enjoy about Wisconsin. Credit: Shutterstock

2. Wisconsin: $67,667

Since Wisconsin borders The Great Lakes, a lot of its attractions have to do with spending time out on the water. Its capital city, Madison, doesn’t have too many things that call tourists to go there, which is probably why rent is so cheap at just $554 to $1,180 per month. And if you want to buy a house, expect to pay an average of $191,600. Unfortunately, though, the average person earns $11,000 less than what you would need to be considered “comfortable” with money.

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Credit: Pixabay

1. Wyoming: $61,788

Most people visit Wyoming when they are visiting Yellowstone National Park. So the state is bringing in lots of tourist dollars, and the citizens get to enjoy the gorgeous scenery on the regular. Renting a house or apartment is just $621 to $1,423 per month. And if you want to buy a house, it will cost around $236,100. The great news is that the vast majority of people earn enough money living in Wyoming for them to have a living wage, which puts them ahead of the curve compared to most other states. 

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