18 Cities Where $100,000 a Year Doesn’t Make You Rich


Think earning a $100,000 salary makes you rich? In some places, that’s true. But in others, it barely makes you middle class.

The cost of living varies widely across the United States, and in some cities, a $100,000 annual income might not provide the financial cushion one would expect. While you can probably guess many of these cities, a few might just surprise you.

Let’s explore 18 cities where $100,000 a year doesn’t necessarily make you feel rich.

San Francisco, California: The Tech Hub Challenge

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San Francisco, known for its tech boom, is notorious for its exorbitant living costs. The median home price in this city easily surpasses the million-dollar mark, and even a substantial income can vanish quickly in the face of astronomical rent and housing prices.

New York City, New York: The Concrete Jungle’s High Cost

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You probably guessed this one, didn’t you? With its iconic skyline and vibrant lifestyle, New York City comes with a hefty price tag. Housing costs are a significant factor, and even with a six-figure income, New Yorkers often find themselves budgeting meticulously to afford the city’s sky-high rents and other living expenses.

Los Angeles, California: The Glamorous Struggle

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Los Angeles, a city synonymous with glamour and fame, demands a high price for its coveted lifestyle. From housing costs to entertainment and dining, living in LA can quickly deplete a $100,000 salary, leaving little room for savings or discretionary spending.

Seattle, Washington: The Emerald City’s Rising Costs

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Seattle, home to tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft, has experienced a surge in living costs. The booming job market has driven housing prices skyward, making it challenging for residents to feel truly prosperous on a $100,000 income.

Boston, Massachusetts: Education and Expenses

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Boston’s world-renowned universities and cultural attractions make it an attractive city, but it comes with a high price tag. The cost of living, particularly housing, can be a financial burden, limiting the sense of affluence even for those earning a six-figure income.

Washington, D.C.: The Capital’s Costly Lifestyle


Living in the nation’s capital brings prestige but also substantial expenses. Housing, transportation, and other living costs in Washington, D.C. can quickly erode a $100,000 salary, leaving little room for financial flexibility.

Miami, Florida: Sun, Sand, and High Expenses

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Miami’s vibrant culture and beautiful beaches come at a cost. The city’s housing market is competitive, and other expenses, such as dining and entertainment, can add up quickly, making it challenging for residents to build substantial savings.

Chicago, Illinois: The Windy City’s Financial Challenges

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While Chicago offers a rich cultural scene and diverse neighborhoods, the cost of living is not underestimated. Housing costs, property taxes, and other living expenses can make it difficult for residents to enjoy the benefits of a $100,000 income truly.

San Diego, California: Sunshine and Soaring Costs

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San Diego’s beautiful weather and coastal lifestyle make it a desirable place to live. However, the city’s high housing costs and other expenses can make it challenging for residents to feel financially secure on a $100,000 salary.

Denver, Colorado: Mile High, Costly Living

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Denver’s growing popularity has led to increased living costs. While the city offers outdoor recreation and a thriving job market, housing prices and other expenses can quickly eat into a $100,000 income, leaving little room for discretionary spending.

Austin, Texas: The Lone Star State’s Rising Star

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Austin’s tech boom and cultural attractions have made it a hotspot for relocation. However, the city’s rapid growth has also increased living costs, with housing and other expenses putting a strain on the budgets of those earning $100,000 a year.

Portland, Oregon: Hipster Haven with High Prices

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Known for its hipster culture and eco-friendly mindset, Portland has become a popular city on the West Coast. However, the cost of living, particularly housing, can make it challenging for residents to fully enjoy the city’s unique charm on a $100,000 salary.

Atlanta, Georgia: Southern Comfort with Financial Strain

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Atlanta’s southern charm and booming job market make it an attractive destination. However, the cost of living, especially housing and healthcare, can impact the financial comfort of those earning $100,000 annually.

Dallas, Texas: Big D, Big Expenses

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Dallas, a major economic hub in Texas, is not exempt from the challenges of high living costs. The city’s housing market and other expenses can make it difficult for residents to accumulate wealth or live extravagantly on a $100,000 income.

Houston, Texas: Energy Hub with Expensive Living

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As an energy hub, Houston attracts professionals from various industries. However, the cost of living, including housing and healthcare, can strain a $100,000 salary, limiting residents’ ability to enjoy the city’s amenities fully.

Nashville, Tennessee: Music City’s Costly Tune

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Nashville’s vibrant music scene and growing job market have drawn many to the city. However, rising housing costs and other living expenses can make it challenging for residents to feel truly affluent on a $100,000 income.

Phoenix, Arizona: Desert Living with Financial Heat

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Phoenix’s warm climate and affordable housing have made it an appealing destination. However, other living expenses, including healthcare and transportation, can diminish the financial comfort that a $100,000 income might initially promise.

Raleigh, North Carolina: Tech Hub with Rising Expenses

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Raleigh’s emergence as a tech hub has led to population growth and increased living costs. While the city offers job opportunities, housing prices and other expenses can impact the financial prosperity of those earning $100,000 a year.