Urban Living

Is Houston still a bargain? Find out what it costs to live comfortably in the Bayou City

Is Houston still a bargain? Find out what it costs to live comfortably

Houston skyline downtown at night
According to a new study, the income needed to live comfortably in Houston is lower than in many other major U.S. cities. IdeasLaboratory.com

Living in an urban area means it costs more to live comfortably, but exactly how much?

A new study from Business Insider found that of the 15 major cities analyzed — including urban centers like New York City, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C. — Houstonians with a family of four need the lowest income to pay for necessities, afford discretionary spending and save money.

Using the Economic Policy Institute's family budget calculator, which accounts for a family consisting of two parents and two children, research engine FindTheHome created a cost of living index to compare over 600 U.S. metros.

To determine a suggested take-home household income needed to live comfortably in each area, Business Insider used the "50-30-20 rule" of personal finance, which means that 50 percent of after-tax, take-home pay goes to necessities (including housing, food, childcare, healthcare, and transportation), 30 percent goes towards discretionary spending and 20 percent goes towards saving.

According to the study, a family of four living in Houston needs an annual income of $131,400 to live comfortably. This amount includes $65,700 on necessities, $39,420 on discretionary spending and $26,280 in savings each year.

Furthermore, the study found that each month 27 percent of the total amount would go toward health care and 19 percent would go toward both housing and childcare costs, while another 15 percent would go toward food.

Sacramento, Miami and Chicago all required the same annual take-home household incomes of $131,400. New York City was found to have the highest required take-home income on the list with residents needing to earn $169,944 annually to live comfortably.