A living wage is a salary that is high enough that it allows the person to maintain a comfortable standard of living, and pay for their basic needs. If you have ever wondered what the minimum income is to live comfortably in each state across the US, now there is a way to find out. Zippia, a career-building site, has created an interactive map of living wages across America, and the visual tool allows easy comparison state-by-state. In an ideal word every one would be paid at least a living wage, but sadly that is not the case. The minimum wage is rarely equivalent to a living wage, as we see in the living wage calculator created by Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier at MIT.
The MIT data, which the map is based on, shows the hourly poverty wage, minimum wage, and living wage for each of the 50 states. "The living wage shown is the hourly rate that an individual must earn to support their family, if they are the sole provider and are working full-time (2080 hours per year)," writes Glasmeier. In order to estimate the living wage, typical expenses were tallied such as food, medical, housing, transportation, and so on. Glasameier explains that the figures "vary by family size, composition, and the current location." Zippia's map compares the annual cost of living that it would take to support a family of two adults and one child. Check out the map and see if residing in your home state is breaking the bank or totally affordable.
There are cities that we know have a high cost of living — New York, San Fran, to name a few, but does that apply to the state as a whole? Zippia points out that according to MIT's calculations, southern states have the lowest cost of living, as you move towards the west it gets higher, and northeast necessitates the highest living wage. So when you are searching for a locale that fits your financial needs, here are the most expensive states and the most affordable:
Washington, DC — $67,867 per year
Turns out our nation's capital is capitally expensive, so if you want to raise a family near the seat of government it's gonna cost you. The District of Columbia is the most expensive place to raise a family of four because of high childcare costs, and it ranked as the fifth most expensive city for a single person in 2015. According to the living wage calculator, a single person's living wage requirements came in at $30,867 a year, and that quickly rises with the number of children per family.
Hawaii — $60,000 per year
In you have dreams of relocating to this gorgeous group of islands, you will have to save up quite a bit to comfortably enjoy the lush landscape and sweeping beaches. Cost of living in Hawaii tops even New York and San Fransisco by a few grand. Housing is expensive and since it is an island, imports can be very expensive, costing you 30 percent more than on the mainland. At least you can say "aloha" to your Hawaii dreams either way!
(Runners up: Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York.)
Kentucky — $43,308 per year
Kentucky's cost of living is below the US average making it one of the most inexpensive place to live in the country. If you love racing, bourbon, bluegrass, and scenic farmland, a move down south might make some serious financial sense.
Arkansas — $44,571 per year
Like Kentucky, the cost of living in Arkansas is also well below the US average. A living wage for a single adult in Arkansas is a paltry $9.56 (only two dollars above minimum wage), compared to a city like New York where living wage is $14.30 (over six dollars above minimum) this state is a total steal. It boasts six national parks, a landscape of mountains and river valleys, and it was the birth place of Johnny Cash. One can certainly get out of their financial "ring of fire" by moving to the Southeast.
(Runners up: West Virginia, South Dakota, and Idaho.)