pinching pennies

Report: Houstonians need $12K more to live comfortably than they did last year

It's not all bad for the Bayou City, but if you're making the same as last year, you're probably feeling the pinch. Photo via Getty Images

As inflation and the cost of living rise in most places around the United States, so does the amount of money a resident needs to live comfortably. But Houstonians are faring far better than residents of some of the biggest cities in America.

Houston requires the lowest salary needed to live comfortably in 2024, according to a new SmartAsset report. Specifically, they say, Houston ranks No. 1 for "the lowest annual salary needed for a single adult to live in sustainable comfort using the 50/30/20 budgeting rule" — that is, 50 percent of a salary allocated toward needs (housing, groceries, transportation); 30 percent toward wants (entertainment and hobbies); and 20 percent toward paying off debt, saving, or investing.

Houstonians need to make $75,088 individually to lead a comfortable lifestyle and avoid living paycheck to paycheck, or a $36.10 hourly wage, says the report, which analyzed 99 major U.S. cities.

The necessary salary to live a financially stable life in Houston is nearly $12,000 more than in SmartAsset's 2023 report, which said Houston residents needed to make $62,260 a year to live comfortably in 2023.

New in the 2024 report, SmartAsset also found that for a Houston-based family of four (two adults with two children), the total combined income needed to live a secure lifestyle is currently $175,219.

Breaking down the cost of living in Houston SmartAsset gathered data from MIT’s Living Wage Calculator to determine the cost of living for a childless adult and for a family of four (two working adults and two children) in the 99 largest American cities.

To live a financially stable life in Houston based on the 50/30/20 strategy and using SmartAsset's salary requirement, a childless Houstonian would need to spend $37,544 of their salary on living expenses, about $22,526 for discretionary expenses, and put about $15,017 toward their savings or debt payments.

Meanwhile, families of four would have to spend about $87,610 on living expenses, $52,566 on entertainment or hobbies, and put away $35,044 into savings or paying down debt in order to live comfortably in Houston, based on the study's findings.

Despite residents' growing financial constraints, the income necessary to live in Houston is much better than the national average of $96,500 a year for singles and $235,000 per year for a family of four, SmartAsset says.

Elsewhere in Texas
Among Texas cities, Austin has the highest necessary income required to live a financially stable life, but the capital city ranked No. 65 out of all 99 cities in the report. A single adult living in Austin would need to make $47.96 an hour, or $99,757 a year, to live comfortably. The combined income needed for two adults with two children is $223,891.

Here's how other Texas cities stack up, from lowest salary to highest:

  • No. 2 – El Paso ($75,254 for single adults, $175,219 for families)
  • No. 3 – Lubbock ($75,379 for single adults, $181,043 for families)
  • No. 5 – Laredo ($78,458 for single adults, 179,046 for families)
  • No. 16 – Corpus Christi ($82,493 for single adults, $192,275 for families)
  • No. 25 – San Antonio ($85,072 for single adults, $200,762 for families)
  • No. 42 – [Tied] Dallas, Plano, Irving, Garland ($91,770 for single adults, $208,000 for families)
  • No. 57 – [Tied] Fort Worth, Arlington ($94,765 for single adults, $214,490 for families)

Not surprisingly, the U.S. city that requires the highest salary to live comfortably is New York City. Single adults would need to make an hourly wage of $66.62, or an annual salary of $138,570, to prevent living paycheck to paycheck. And for a family of four, the combined salary needed is $318,406 a year, SmartAsset says.

The full report and its methodology can be found on


This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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