Is a $20 an hour wage livable?

For many people in the United States, $20 an hour may not seem like a livable wage. However, when looking at other expenses such as housing and utilities, even $20 an hour can be enough to make ends meet.
In a study by MIT, it was found that living costs in Boston are 63% of the average income — meaning that it is feasible for someone working at minimum wage to live alone and pay their other bills. The same cannot necessarily be said for every city in America.
If you’re thinking about moving somewhere new or are trying to decide if you can afford to take a job that pays under $20 an hour, read on to find out how much you need to make to live comfortably in different cities across the country.

How much you need to earn in order to live comfortably in the United States

The MIT study found that you need to earn $9 an hour just to survive in Boston — and anything above that is a bonus. In other cities, however, the numbers are much higher.

For example, in Las Vegas, you need to earn $17 an hour just to survive, while in New York City, $29 an hour is required. In San Francisco, $43 an hour is needed to meet basic living expenses. In other words, in the majority of U.S. cities, you’ll need to earn more than $20 an hour just to survive — let alone enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

These figures show that when deciding if $20 an hour is a livable wage, you need to look at your other expenses as well. For example, if you want to live alone in Boston, you’ll need to earn $24 an hour just to cover rent and other living expenses — which is still $4 an hour less than the recommended livable wage. If you want to live alone in Las Vegas, however, you’ll need to earn $25 an hour just to cover rent. And in New York City, you’ll need to earn $35 an hour just to meet your basic expenses — even more than the city’s livable wage.

$11 an hour is the minimum for most people to live comfortably.

Most financial advisers recommend spending no more than 30% of your income on rent. This means that if you earn $11 an hour, you will have $9 an hour left to cover everything else — including utilities and healthcare.

While this is the minimum amount you’ll need to earn just to cover basic living expenses, it is not particularly comfortable. For example, if you want to live alone in Boston, you’ll be able to cover rent but won’t have much left over for food or utilities. If you want to live in a two-person household in Boston, you’ll have just $3 an hour left after paying the bills.

$12 an hour is what most people think of as a livable wage.

At $12 an hour, you’ll have $7 an hour left to cover everything else — meaning that you will have enough to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. For example, at this wage, you’ll be able to live in Boston by yourself and comfortably share a one-bedroom apartment with another person.

In most cities, this is the minimum amount that you’ll need to earn to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. For example, in New York City, this is the recommended livable wage for two people.

Again, these numbers are only guidelines — and the exact amount you need to make will vary depending on where you live.

Topic Index
  1. How much you need to earn in order to live comfortably in the United States
  2. an hour is the minimum for most people to live comfortably.
  3. an hour is what most people think of as a livable wage.
  • Anything above an hour is unlikely to be a livable wage for most people.
  • Anything above $15 an hour is unlikely to be a livable wage for most people.

    At $15 an hour, you’ll have $2 an hour left to cover everything else — leaving you no room for error. In other words, if you accidentally buy a $50 pair of shoes or forget to pay your electricity bill one month, you won’t be able to cover the cost.

    In most cities, this is the recommended amount that you need to earn just to afford the basics — but not much more. For example, if you want to live in Boston and have anything left over, you need to earn $15 an hour. And in New York City, $15 an hour is what you need to earn just to live.

    Again, however, this is just a general guideline. In some cities, like Boston, $15 an hour is the recommended amount you need to earn just to afford the basics. In others, like New York City, $15 an hour is what you need to earn just to live — with nothing left over for extras like a new pair of shoes.

    The truth is that $20 an hour is more than enough for most people to live comfortably in the United States. However, for many people, especially those in major metropolitan areas, even $25 an hour won’t be enough to live comfortably.

    If you want to live comfortably in the United States, you need to earn at least $12 an hour — if not more. That’s not to say that you can’t enjoy a decent lifestyle if you’re earning less — but you’ll need to be careful with your finances.

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