Written by David Castellon
Among major U.S. cities, Fresno is among the cheapest to live comfortably in, but the majority of city residents here don’t make enough to do so.
“You don’t need to be rich in order to live comfortably — but you do need to make a certain amount of money,” states a report issued earlier this month by GOBankingRates.com, a website that helps people find the best interest rates on financial services as well as providing information on personal finance and assistance on financial planning.
Operators of the site looked at the 50 most populous U.S. cities to determine the annual income needed by a household in each to live comfortably, along with determining the actual median household income in each city to see if residents were, on average, making enough to live comfortably.
In Fresno, the income needed to live comfortably this year is $44,648, a $2,152 increase from last year.
Only four other cities had lower rates to live comfortably, with El Paso being the lowest at $40,393 a year. It’s followed by Detroit, Albuquerque and Wichita.
The costliest place to live comfortably is San Francisco, at $110,357 a year, with New York City a distant second, at $86,446 a year.
Not surprisingly, the median incomes for households in most of the cities fell short of the amount needed to live comfortably.
Fresno was one of them, as the median household income here averaged $41,531, $3,117 less than GOBankingRate’s estimated cost for living comfortably here.
Still, the researchers noted that is one of the smallest income gaps among the cities. San Francisco’s gap is more than $29,000 and Miami’s is more than $44,800.
“It’s no secret that the cost of living in San Francisco is high, especially when it comes to housing,” states the report, which notes that since January 1997, home values in the city have quadrupled, from a median $273,300 to $1.1 million as of January of this year.
“That’s part of the reason why San Francisco is one of the worst places to live if you’re trying to save money.”
In Sacramento, the gap was considerably less, with residents making about $6,000 less than the $56,786 needed annually to live comfortably there.
No other Valley cities were listed in the report.
GOBankingRate rated the cities using the “50-30-20 budgeting rule,” in which 50 percent of income covers necessities, including food and rent; 30 percent covers discretionary items; and 20 percent is set aside for savings.
“From here, you can figure out whether your income is sufficient to cover cost-of-living expenses in your city,” according to the report posted on the online service’s website.
Data for the survey came from average apartment rental rates, grocery and health care costs for each city pulled from online sources that included Zillow.com’s January 2017 rental index and Numbeo.com.
On the other end of the spectrum, the median incomes of households in 11 of the cities exceeded the minimal amounts needed to live comfortably, with residents in Forth Worth and Mesa, Ariz. narrowly eking out surpluses this year of a little more than $180, while Virginia Beach residents had the highest annual surplus, just under $14,000.