A $100,000 salary in New York City is actually worth just $36,000, thanks to inflation, high rents, expensive prices and taxes, a SmartAsset analysis finds.
A major U.S. city where a $100,000 income will go furthest is Memphis, where the cost of living brings the actual dollar amount to $86,444.
“I think it’s intuitive: $100,000, a six-figure income — it feels like this big milestone, but it also feels very different depending on where you live,” says Susannah Snider, managing editor of financial education a Smart Asset.
“But to really break it down city-by-city reveals some of the quirks in what a difference where you live makes — and how the tax landscape of where you live really impacts what a six-figure salary feels like,” Snider says.
SmartAsset analyzed the after-tax income in 76 of the largest cities in the U.S. and adjusted those figures for the cost of living.
New York was the least cost-effective city in the U.S. — joined by other notoriously expensive cities like San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Boston and Seattle.
Of course, looking just at the median income of U.S. major cities from U.S. Census Bureau data, SmartAsset’s rankings, based on the cost of living, make sense. In New York, the median household income was just over $70,000 in 2021. In Memphis, the median household income was $44,000.
It’s no wonder, then, that 300,000 New Yorkers left the city between July 2020 and July 2021.
New York taxes appear poised to increase further, due to the exodus of wealthy residents and Manhattan offices still not operating at full capacity following the COVID pandemic’s work from home protocol.
Recently, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warned that the state may have to raise taxes. High-net-worth people in the state have already been leaving for low-tax areas like Texas and Florida.
City Actual Value
El Paso, TX $84,966
Memphis, TN $86,444
Corpus Christi, TX $83,443
Lubbock, TX $74,515
Houston, TX $75,515
San Antonio, TX $74,515
Fort Worth, TX $74,515
Arlington, TX $74,515
Oklahoma City, OK $70,302
St. Louis, MO $69,531
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