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Is $65K a Good Salary? It Depends on Where You Live

Danielle Letenyei - Author
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Dec. 6 2022, Updated 2:54 p.m. ET

Wages have increased in the U.S. but so have expenses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for Americans during the third quarter of 2022 was $1,070 per week, up 6.9 percent over last year. However, the Consumer Price Index, a chief indicator of the cost of living, jumped by 8.3 percent over the same period.

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So, how much do you need to earn to live comfortably in the U.S.? The number of people in your household and where you live impacts how much income you need to get by. Some states are cheaper to live in.

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Is $65K a good salary?

If you’re earning an income of $65,000 a year, that's a decent salary to live on in most parts of the country. That means you’re making about $31.25 per hour, or $1,250 per 40-hour work week, which is above the median income of most Americans. That salary is also well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

A $65,000 salary should be fine for a single person, but if you have more than one person in your household, you will need more money coming into your home to pay your bills. How much you need to earn to get by varies by state.

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The cost of living varies from state to state.

The MIT Living Wage Calculator can tell you how much you need to earn to support yourself or your family, depending on your state.

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For example, if you live around Madison, Wisc., you’ll need to earn at least $18.37 per hour, or $38,210 per year, to support just yourself. If you’re a single parent with one child, you’ll need to earn $37.52 per hour, or $78,042 annually, to get by.

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However, in Orange County, Calif., you’ll need to earn at least $99,840 to get by as a single parent with one child. Smaller towns in California are more affordable, so you can most likely get by on a $65,000 salary.

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How much is $65,000 after taxes?

When determining how much income you have to live on, you need to factor in how much will be taken out of your paycheck for state and federal taxes. Although your federal taxes will be the same no matter where you live, your state income tax will differ.

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For example, your $65,000 income in Wisconsin will be subject to a 4.68 percent state income tax, so your take-home pay after taxes will be about $49,845. Some states have even higher income tax rates like California (13.3 percent) and New Jersey (10.75 percent).

If you’re lucky enough to live in a state that doesn’t have a state income tax, you’ll be able to take home more of your income. Nine U.S. states don’t impose state income taxes: Alaska, Florida, Tennessee, Wyoming, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Texas, Nevada, and Washington. In those states, you’d be able to take home $52,959 of your $65,000 salary.

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