Let me tell you a sad story: In order to comfortably raise a family in an expensive coastal city like San Francisco or New York, you've got to make at least $300,000 a year. You can certainly raise a family earning less as many do, but it won't be easy if your goal is to save for retirement, save for your child's education, own your own home instead of rent and actually retire by a reasonable age.
Although $300,000 is a lot compared to the median household income in the United States of ~$59,000, it's not an outrageous sum of money once you look at the realistic income statement I've put together for this post. All expenses in my example use current prices. I've also cross checked the expenses with my family's monthly expenses now that we have a son to make sure they are within reason.
I use $300,000 in this post because I also believe it is the ideal income for up to a family of four to experience maximum happiness. At $300,000, you aren't paying an egregious amount in taxes, you probably aren't killing yourself at work if both parents are working, but you're still earning enough to live a comfortable lifestyle anywhere in the world.
More from the Financial Samurai:
The average net worth for the above average person
Ranking the best passive income investments in order to never work again
Financial dependence is the worst: Why each spouse needs their own bank account
Half the US population lives on the coasts. Therefore, this post is directly targeted at folks who need to live on the coasts because of their jobs, schools or families. $300,000 is a nice household income to shoot for, but not much more, if you are a coastal city resident who makes less.
Finally, this post should also provide insights to non-coastal city residents on how good you've got it if you enjoy living where you are. $100,000 – $150,000 is a rough non-coastal city household income equivalent.