10 Cities With Lowest Salaries for Comfortable Life: Houston, El Paso

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Residents of Houston, El Paso, and Lubbock, Texas, require the lowest salaries to live comfortably, a new SmartAsset analysis found.

Using February 2024 data from the Living Wage Calculator, SmartAsset determined that Houston had the lowest hourly wage, salary for a single adult, and salary for a family of four needed to live comfortably among 99 of the US’s largest cities. The analysis used the 50/30/20 rule for estimating the cost of living of 50% spending on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on paying debt, saving, or investing to determine these amounts.

The typical urban US adult, on average, needs to make $96,500 a year for sustainable comfort according to SmartAsset. For a family with two adults and two children, this number jumps to $235,000 — and skyrockets to over $300,000 in six cities.

The analysis calculated that Houston residents need to pull in slightly over $75,000 to live comfortably, or just over $36 an hour. For a family of four, this increases to $175,219 a year. According to estimates from Payscale, the cost of living in Houston is 8% lower than the national average — and 18% lower for housing. RentCafe estimates show the average rent in Houston is $1,348 a month.

Four cities in the top five are in Texas — El Paso ranked second at $75,254 a year for a single adult or $180,461 for a family of four. Lubbock came in third at $75,739 a year for a single adult. Lubbock ranked fifth on GOBankingRates‘ list of the fastest-growing, most affordable cities, with a five-year growth of 4.4% and a typical home value of $204,500.

Other cities in the top 10 included Milwaukee, Tulsa, and Cleveland, which all have hourly wages below $40 for a single adult.

New York City, perhaps expectedly, ranked as having the highest salary the average resident needs to live comfortably. The average salary for a single adult is $138,750 — which comes out to $66.62 an hour — or $318,406 for a family of four. Per RentHop data, the average one-bedroom apartment costs $4,000, while a two-bedroom apartment costs $4,875.

Seven of the 10 most expensive cities are in California, all of which are well above $100,000 for a single adult’s salary. San Jose, Irvine, and Santa Ana were all above $126,000. San Francisco had the highest total salary for a family of four at over $339,000 a year. Many people have told BI they recently moved from California to states such as Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma for lower costs of living.

Have you recently moved to a new state? Reach out to this reporter at nsheidlower@businessinsider.com.