Calculating Comfort

This is how much you need to make to live comfortably in Dallas

This is how much you need to make to live comfortably in Dallas

Dallas Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge
There's a major disparity between the income Dallasites get, and the income they need. Photo courtesy of Dallas CVB

new study from has revealed that Americans living in 39 of the 50 most populous U.S. cities have incomes below (or far below) what’s needed to live comfortably.

Surprisingly, that stat doesn't really seem to apply to Texas, which has seven cities in the study. Perhaps not so surprisingly, Dallas is one of the two Lone Star cities where the median salary is lower than the magic "comfortability number" calculated by the personal finance website.

The study uses the 50-30-20 budgeting rule, which divides income into three buckets: 50 percent on necessities, 30 percent on discretionary spending, and 20 percent toward savings.

Dallasites are the most strapped in Texas, making a significant $14,203 less than the ideal income of $57,984 (which is up another $2,333 from 2016).

While Fort Worth residents technically come out on top, it's not by much. A surplus of only $188 is due to a hefty increase in the income needed to live comfortably, up $1,267 since 2016. That $53,214 salary doesn't leave much after the 50-30-20 rule takes $53,026.

Similarly, with a median household income of $46,744, San Antonians have just $590 left after spending their $46,154 — a figure that's actually $84 less than last year.

Austin's "comfortability" figure is $54,631, which is up $1,406 from last year. Though the cost of living there is on the higher end ($27,316 is needed just for necessities), the median household income is proportional: $57,689. That's a bigger salary than any other Texas city in the study, giving Austinites a cushion of $3,058 if they're following the 50-30-20 rule.

The biggest Texas cushion — and second-biggest on the whole list — can be found in Arlington, where residents are left with $6,906 after paying their $46,420 for necessities, savings, and discretionary spending. A median income of $53,326, which is slightly higher than what the average person makes in Texas, is largely to thank for all that extra dough.

El Paso residents also enjoy a surplus, with the lowest necessities amount in the entire study ($20,197). The $42,772 median income is $2,379 more than what's needed to live comfortably.

The other Texas city where residents are making less than they need is Houston, where the gap between the median income ($46,187) and the ideal income ($56,223) is $10,036 — and the ideal income is even down $4,572 from last year. 

But even the largest disparity in Texas is still thousands of dollars better than the situation in Miami, where the median household income is $31,051 and the income needed to live comfortably is $75,891. That $44,840 deficit is more than Dallas' median income alone.