When it comes to your finances, where you live matters.
That's because the annual cost of living in the U.S. can vary by as much as $80,000 between states.
The median annual "living wage" — defined as the minimum amount of money needed to cover expenses while saving for retirement — is $64,116 per household in the U.S., according to a new analysis provided by personal finance website GOBankingRates.
However, the spread between the states is stark. To stay on top of your finances, you'll need to make $134,805 in Hawaii. In Mississippi, you only need $55,441.
Here are the 16 states where residents need to earn at least $70,000 to be financially secure, ranked from highest to lowest living wage, as calculated by GOBankingRates.
- Hawaii: $134,805
- Massachusetts: $105,458
- California: $96,353
- New York: $87,897
- Alaska: $86,026
- Maryland: $81,879
- Vermont: $79,490
- Oregon: $79,238
- Washington: $78,810
- New Jersey: $77,776
- Connecticut: $75,907
- New Hampshire: $75,745
- Maine: $73,554
- Arizona: $72,394
- Rhode Island: $72,127
- Colorado: $71,316
It's not surprising that Hawaii has the highest living wage in the U.S. Geographically, it's isolated and imports many of its goods by sea, which is costlier than land transportation. Those expenses are typically passed onto consumers in the form of higher prices.
Additionally, housing supply is limited in Hawaii. As a result, Hawaiian residents spend more of their incomes on housing than residents of any other state.
Alaska — ranked fifth — is another state with a notoriously high cost of living. Similar to Hawaii, it's also relatively isolated and must import goods.
Otherwise, the rankings for highest living wage include states with large cities like New York, Los Angeles or Seattle, which tend to have higher living expenses compared with the rest of the country.
But despite the high costs, workers in large cities tend to earn higher wages. One reason is because large cities tend to have a more diverse and competitive job market, where specialized skills are in greater demand.
For the top 16 states in the rankings, the median household income is $81,334, well above the U.S. median of $66,279, according to GOBankingRates' analysis.
Living wage is defined as the income required to be able to put 50% toward necessities, 30% toward discretionary spending and 20% into savings. For the purposes of this analysis, estimates are based on the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census data available.
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