The Minimum Salary You Need To Be Happy in the Biggest Cities


Can money truly buy happiness? Turns out that it certainly can, according to a Purdue University study, which examined how much money people need to be happy and whether or not happiness rises as one's income level increases. But there's a catch.

The study argued that the optimal amount of money it takes to be happy varies worldwide. "That might be surprising as what we see on TV and what advertisers tell us we need would indicate that there is no ceiling when it comes to how much money is needed for happiness, but we now see there are some thresholds," said Andrew T. Jebb, a doctoral student and the lead author of the Purdue University study, in a press release.

The research specifically sought to pinpoint the amount where money no longer changes your level of emotional well-being and "life evaluation." Emotional well-being was measured according to a person's day-to-day emotions, including happy, excited, sad and angry. Life evaluation was defined in terms of overall life satisfaction and was "likely more influenced by higher goals and comparisons to others."

Using the Purdue study's findings, GOBankingRates predicted how much money you would need to make to be happy in 50 of the biggest cities in America. The Purdue researchers determined that, globally, individuals would need an income of $60,000-$75,000 for emotional well-being and an income of $95,000 for life evaluation. The ideal income for life satisfaction in North America is $105,000, which was used as a benchmark for the "salary needed to be happy" category listed in this study.

Last updated: Nov. 8, 2019

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Arlington, Texas


Austin, Texas

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Charlotte, North Carolina



Colorado Springs, Colorado

Columbus, Ohio



El Paso, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Fresno, California




Jacksonville, Florida

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Kansas City, Missouri

Las Vegas

Long Beach, California

Los Angeles

Louisville, Kentucky

Memphis, Tennessee

Mesa, Arizona




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Nashville, Tennessee

New Orleans

New York

Oakland, California

Oklahoma City

Omaha, Nebraska

Orlando, Florida



Portland, Oregon

Raleigh, North Carolina

Sacramento, California

San Antonio

San Diego

San Francisco

San Jose, California


Tucson, Arizona

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Washington, D.C.

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the cost-of-living-adjusted minimum salary needed to be "happy" based on various income satiation levels, identified by Purdue University researchers. Global income satiation levels are as follows: $60,000-$75,000 for "emotional well-being" and $95,000 for "life evaluation." In North America, the income satiation level is $105,000 for life evaluation, according to Purdue, and this benchmark was used to determine the "salary you need to be happy" in the study. GOBankingRates factored in each city's cost-of-living index, sourced from Sperling's Best Places.

This article originally appeared on The Minimum Salary You Need To Be Happy in the Biggest Cities


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