Study shows what $100K is actually worth in the largest U.S. cities

A six-figure salary has long been a milestone for American workers. But, according to a new study, times have changed and $100,000 simply isn’t quite what it used to be in many cities. 

Financial technology company SmartAsset compared the after-tax income in 76 of the largest U.S. cities and then adjusted those figures for the cost of living in each place. 

Shocker: If you live in New York or California, $100,000 may not go very far. 

$100K goes furthest in Memphis, Texas cities

The city of Memphis may be known for the blues, but Memphis’ low cost of living surely won’t make you sing them. 

According to the survey, a $100,000 salary is worth more ($86,444) than in any other city after subtracting taxes and adjusting for the cost of living.

And $100,000 also goes a long way in Texas. 

Thanks to no state income tax and the low cost of living, seven out of the 10 cities in the top 10 are located in Texas. 

After deducting taxes and adjusting for the cost of living, a $100,000 salary on average is worth $77,885 across the 10 Texas cities. 

Cities where 100K goes furthest 

  1. Memphis, TN: $86,444 take-home pay
  2. El Paso, TX: $84,966 take-home pay
  3. Oklahoma City, OK: $84,498 take-home pay
  4. Corpus Christi, TX: $83,443 take-home pay
  5. Lubbock, TX: $83,350 take-home pay
  6. Houston, TX: $81,171 take-home pay
  7. San Antonio, TX (Tie): $80,124 take-home pay
  8. Fort Worth, TX: $80,124 take-home pay
  9. Arlington, TX: $80,124 take-home pay
  10. St. Louis, MO: $79,921 take-home pay

100K doesn’t go very far in New York City, California

Taxes and cost of living take a big bite out of a $100,000 income in the Big Apple, which ranks last in SmartAsset’s analysis. 

After adjusting for those factors, $100,000 is worth just $35,791.


he Manhattan skyline is seen at sunrise from the 86th floor observatory of the Empire State Building on April 3, 2021, in New York City. - The Empire State Building, a 102-story Art Deco skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, opened during the Great Depres

And $100,000 also doesn’t go very far in California. 

Five out of the 10 cities that are ranked in the bottom 10 are located in the Golden State. 

Cities where 100K doesn’t go far

  1. New York City, NY: $35,791 take-home pay
  2. Honolulu, HI: $36,026 take-home pay
  3. San Francisco, CA: $36,445 take-home pay
  4. Washington DC: $44,307 take-home pay
  5. Long Beach, CA (Tie): $44,623 take-home pay
  6. Los Angeles, CA (Tie): $44,623 take-home pay
  7. San Diego, CA: $46,167 take-home pay
  8. Oakland, CA: $46,198 take-home pay
  9. Boston, MA: $46,588 take-home pay
  10. Seattle, WA: $48,959 take-home pay

This study comes as inflation continues to push the cost of living higher. 

According to a recent survey, 51% of people who earned more than $100,000 reported living paycheck to paycheck in 2022 – 7% higher than a year earlier. 

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This story was reported in Los Angeles.