The cost of living is skyrocketing in cities across the nation. (Courtesy of
The cost of living is skyrocketing in cities across the nation. (Courtesy of

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In three U.S. cities – New York, San Francisco and Honolulu – individuals need to earn a salary of more than $300,000 to take home $100,000 after taxes and cost-of-living adjustments. 

The nation’s capital isn’t far behind, with residents needing at least a $245,000 gross salary to pocket six figures, according to an analysis by SmartAsset, a consumer-focused financial information provider.

SmartAsset adjusted $100,000 for local living costs in 76 of the largest U.S. cities. 

It then used its paycheck calculator, which factored in federal, state, and local taxes for a single taxpayer who earned a yearly salary.

The calculations factored in a worker with no additional withholdings.

“The nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., is a bustling hub for residents, tourists, government officials, businesspeople, and students alike,” analysts wrote in the report.

“The unique mix of people generates a high demand for businesses, services, and space, which has resulted in a staggering 53.4% cost of living adjustment above the national average.”

However, Washington, D.C., is one of many cities with a high cost of living. 

Living costs in New York, San Francisco, and Honolulu are substantially higher than the national average.

New York has a cost of living that is 44% higher than the national average.

With real estate prices that increasingly only the wealthy could afford, high-priced restaurants and bars, and the growing cost of public and private transportation, the Big Apple quickly strains the budget of many of its residents.

To take home $100,000, a New Yorker must gross $312,000, which translates to about 41% in combined federal, state and local taxes and a cost of living 83.6% higher than the national average, the report found.

San Francisco, a hub for tech companies and startups, also has a cost of living that’s 62% higher than the national average.

The city’s booming economy and thriving job market have driven housing demand, leading to skyrocketing prices that have left many residents struggling to make ends meet.a

San Franciscans must earn slightly more than $300,000 pre-tax to take home $100,000 of purchasing power.

Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is another city with a high cost of living, with prices that are 92% higher than the national average.

To take home $100,000 in The Big Pineapple, workers need to earn at least $312,400 pre-tax, SmartAsset researchers found.

The study noted that net pay totals $185,999 — roughly 59.5% less than gross earnings.

“And while Honolulu, Hawaii, is known for its lush mountains and the crystal-clear waters of Waikiki Beach, those beautiful landscapes cannot mask the high cost of living, which is 86% above the national average,” an analyst stated in the report.

They added the reliance on imports for energy, goods, and services.

Researchers asserted that the high cost of living in these cities had been a longstanding issue for residents, making it increasingly challenging for those in the lower-income bracket to make ends meet.

Many individuals and families struggle to keep up with the high expenses of housing, food and other necessities, despite the cities’ robust economies and employment opportunities.

In response to residents’ challenges, local governments have implemented various measures to address the issue, including affordable housing initiatives and tax relief programs for low-income households.

In New York City, for example, the city launched several initiatives to create more affordable housing options for low- and middle-income families.

New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development has also launched several programs that offer financial assistance to first-time homebuyers and renters.

In San Francisco, the city government implemented various policies to increase the supply of affordable housing, including incentives for developers to build more affordable units and rent control laws that limit the amount landlords can charge.

In Honolulu, the state government started several initiatives to increase affordable housing availability, including partnerships with private developers to build more affordable units and incentives for landlords to rent to low-income families.

Despite ongoing efforts to mitigate the effects of the high cost of living, the issue remains a significant concern for many residents and policymakers alike.

“As the demand for housing and other necessities continues to increase, it will be crucial for governments to continue implementing policies aimed at addressing the issue and creating more affordable options for residents,” researchers concluded.

Stacey Brown photo

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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