Photo: fizkes (Shutterstock)
For younger millennials or Gen-Zers who want to live on their own for the first time, it’s not always easy to figure how much money you’ll need to live comfortably. There are all sorts of expenses to consider, and they often vary based on where you want to live. Fortunately, a new tool calculates these costs and estimates the minimum income needed to live in every state or major city in the U.S.
How the living wage tool works
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage tool determines whether a person’s income is enough to live in a given area, using local expense estimates for food, child care, medical costs, housing and transportation. The numbers are broken down by the number of children and the number of working parents in a household.
The calculator displays a given state or city’s “living wage” needed to survive, a “poverty wage” (the salary threshold required for federal assistance), as well as the minimum wage in that state or city. While the term “living wage” typically refers to the minimum annual income needed to be exempt from federal programs, the tool factors in additional costs not usually part of these calculations, like healthcare or the costs of daycare. It’s still a bare minimum estimate, however, as the tool does not account for discretionary costs like entertainment or vacations.
The difference between regions can be stark: The minimum annual living wage needed to live in Manhattan is $41,600, which is $12,000 more than you’d need to live in Texas (the numbers are based on the assumption of 2,080 hours worked per year, or 40 hours per week). The difference between the two is almost entirely related to housing costs and taxes.
G/O Media may get a commission
With such disparities, the decision to live on your own will depend a lot on where you decide to live. In that case, it might be wise to either save up or live on your own in your home state for a while first, before you move to an expensive city.
A state-by-state breakdown of living wage minimums
For more on the minimum living wage in each state, here’s a good breakdown provided by Clark.com:Alabama: $28,652Alaska: $31,333Arizona: $31,077Arkansas: $27,652California: $38,823Colorado: $34,009Connecticut: $33,240Delaware: $31,868Florida: $30,825Georgia: $31,940Hawaii: $40,412Idaho: $29,007Illinois: $31,975Indiana: $27,955Iowa: $28,327Kansas: $28,093Kentucky: $28,048Louisiana: $29,251Maine: $31,043Maryland: $35,879Massachusetts: $36,889Michigan: $28,354Minnesota: $30,997Mississippi: $27,936Missouri: $28,535Montana: $29,004Nebraska: $28,234Nevada: $28,442New Hampshire: $30,089New Jersey: $33,696New Mexico: $29,057New York: $38,729North Carolina: $30,617North Dakota: $27,211Ohio: $27,369Oklahoma: $28,133Oregon: $35,050Pennsylvania: $27,861Rhode Island: $30,763South Carolina: $30,328South Dakota: $26,225Tennessee: $27,563Texas: $29,134Utah: $30,211Vermont: $31,057Virginia: $34,552Washington: $33,982Washington, DC: $41,850West Virginia: $27,837Wisconsin: $29,160Wyoming: $27,425