PhotoWhen income meets city of residence, the level of comfort in your lifestyle can vary. Depending on where you live and how much you earn, you may either find yourself in a shoebox-sized apartment or living in the lap of luxury.

Living comfortably is the goal for most people, but some cities can make it more difficult than others to attain a level of comfort. So how much should you be making in order to live comfortably in 50 major cities across the U.S? GoBankingRates used the 50-30-20 guideline to find out.

50-30-20 rule

According to the 50-30-20 budgeting rule, half of your after-tax income should go to necessities, 30% should be set aside for discretionary expenses, and 20% should be socked away in savings or paying off debt.

Using this strategy -- and a median income-based definition of “comfort” -- GoBankingRates analyzed cost of living data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other agencies to find out how much you should be making to live comfortably in 50 of the most populated cities.

Here are some of the cities on their list and the median income it takes to live comfortably in each:

  • San Francisco: $119,570
  • Baltimore: 53,897
  • Washington, DC: $83,104
  • New York: $87,446
  • Houston: $60,795
  • Los Angeles: $74,371
  • Denver: $62,842
  • Boston: $84,422
  • Nashville: $61,015
  • Miami: $77,057

The study found that the cost of necessities -- rent, utilities, cost of transportation, groceries, and healthcare -- were most affordable in Tucson, Arizona. Residents of San Francisco, on the other hand, pay far more for these necessities ($39,802 more per year compared to Tucson residents). 

To see data on all 50 cities analyzed in the study, click here.

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