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Want to live in Seattle comfortably? Here’s what it will cost

MoneySEATTLE — It’s long been touted as the American Dream: A good place to live. A ride to work. A few extra bucks to go to the movies.

But the American Dream might be a little harder to catch in Seattle than other parts of the country, a recent Economic Policy Institute study found.

According to the institute’s annual Family Budget Calculator study — a study estimating the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard — a Seattle household with one adult and one child must take in at least $52,611 per year to live comfortably. A Seattle household with two parents and two children need an average annual income of $70,025 to live securely, the study showed.

Seattle’s minimum income threshold was higher than the national average, with the median two-parent, two-child family needing an average of $63,238 a year.  The 2012 poverty threshold for the same sized family is $23,283.

The Family Budget Calculator study estimated community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities and taxes for each month. The study was devised as a more accurate way to estimate the minimum income needed for a family to live comfortably in a specific place than the federal poverty line, researchers said.

Researchers pointed to the study as a way showcase how hard it is for a family to live on a minimum-wage job.

The study found that “even in the best of economic times” many parents in low-wage jobs did not earn enough to meet basic family needs. According to the study, the average Seattle McDonald’s worker makes $24,720 annually and has two jobs; less than half of the amount recommended by the Family Budget Calculator for an adult with a child.

The amount did not adequately provide for health care, food, heating and other staples necessary for living in comfort.

“The federal poverty line is also woefully outdated, and little has been done officially to remedy the situation,” authors of the study said, stating the methodology for determining the federal poverty line was designed more than five decades ago.

The most expensive place for a family to live was $93,502 in New York City, and the least expensive was $48,144 in Marshal County, Miss.

For more on the study, click here.

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5 comments

  • Renee L.

    This is just the type of information I needed to write to my Congressman. I appreciate this article very much! Thank you for sharing Q13!

  • tom

    Where in the world can you live "comfortably" with two adults and one child for $70,000/year income (probably about $50,000 after taxes)? There's no way that's a homeowner salary, and I don't think there are any decent two-bedroom apartments above 700sf in a safe part (i.e. where you'd want your wife and child out walking alone past dusk) within the Seattle city limits, for less than $1,600/month. If you don't have health insurance, add $400/month for very basic coverage for all three. There goes at least half your take home before you even attempt to do any living…