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Do You Make Enough To Live Comfortably in Texas?

Money in hands | Image by NATNN/Shutterstock
Money in hands | Image by NATNN/Shutterstock

It is no secret that living in Texas has become more expensive in recent years due to inflation and the rising cost of housing.

The Dallas Express has compiled data from several recent studies to determine how much money people need to earn to live in Texas. Data was sourced from studies by SmartAsset, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A family with two adults and two children will need to earn at least $201,344 every year to live comfortably in Texas, according to the SmartAsset 2024 Study Guide. This figure comprises a spending breakdown of 50% of income on housing, food, and utilities, 30% on “wants,” things like vacations and entertainment, and 20% on savings. This is known as the 50/30/20 budget rule by financial planners and is considered the standard for attaining a sustainable and comfortable lifestyle.

This same study found that Texas is the 39th most expensive state in the nation for a working family of two but the 30th most expensive for a single person. In order to have a comfortable life, a single person needs to earn $87,027, which works out to $41.84 an hour.

The MIT study identified the necessary “living wage” for state residents. It is important to remember that the numbers are statewide and vary by location. Even within Dallas, the cost of living can vary significantly.

MIT defines a “living wage” as the amount a person must earn to afford housing and basic needs, essentially the wage a person would earn if living paycheck to paycheck. The study found that two adults in Dallas County, both working full-time and raising two children, would need to earn $25 per hour.

Statewide average weekly earnings in Texas range between $1,346 and $2,238, depending on the company’s size, according to Bureau of Labor Services (BLS) data.

Some occupations in Texas make it relatively easy to earn a “living wage” or even live comfortably in the state. The Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down broad categories of wage earners and shows their monthly earnings.

The most recent estimated data is for May and shows that the highest-paid earners in the state are athletes, radiologists, cardiologists, and CEOs. These professionals make close to, or more than, $300,000 per year in Texas. According to the BLS data set for Texas, 17 of the top 20 highest-paying jobs are in the medical field. Airline pilots join CEOs and athletes in the top 20.

Within the metroplex, some medical professionals can make even more than the state averages. The median income for ophthalmologists in the region is just shy of $400,000 annually, and as with the rest of the state, the majority of the top 20 wage earners in the metroplex are in the medical field. Attorneys in the region are the 20th highest earners.

The data set shows that police and sheriff’s office patrol officers make less money than elevator and escalator repair workers. The average wage for police in the metroplex is $83,040 annually (roughly $39.92 per hour), while writers earn an average of $82,350 annually (roughly $39.59 per hour). According to SmartAsset’s numbers, both professions are on the cusp of providing a comfortable living for a single person.

The lowest-paying jobs in the metroplex are in the service industry. Jobs like fast food and counter workers, hosts and hostesses, and locker room, dressing room, and coat room attendants tend to make the least money, with averages falling around the $25,000 mark annually.

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