Alaska life hack: How much income does a single person actually need to live comfortably in Alaska?

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According to the data analysis firm SmartAsset, Alaska is not even in the 15 top states for high cost of living. The amount a single person needs to make to live comfortably in Alaska puts it in the No. 16 spot.

Massachusetts is the state at the top of the list of expensive states, followed by Hawaii, California, New York, and Washington. A single adult in Massachusetts needs to make at least $116,022 to cover basics, wants, and savings in Massachusetts. That’s $55.78 per hour. For a family with two working parents of two children, the total family income will need to be about $301,184 for the same level of comfort, SmartAsset reports. 

For Alaskans, a single person needs to make at least $46.52 an hour, or over $96,000 a year to support a comfortable lifestyle. A family of two adults and two children needs to be bring in $242,600 to live comfortably, SmartAsset reports.

That puts Alaska slightly above Vermont in terms of cost of a comfortable lifestyle, and just below Georgia, where a single person would need to make $46.58 to meet their needs, wants, and long-term goals.

The cheapest state to live in is West Virginia. There, a single adult needs to pull in $37.88 an hour, or  $78,790 a year. For two working adults raising two children, the state is third-least expensive with the family requiring $189,364 in income across needs, wants, and long-term goals.

While West Virginia is cheapest for singles to live comfortably, Mississippi would be the cheapest place to raise two children, the report says. A family in Mississippi would need about $177,798 to cover the basic needs, wants, and savings goals. But it’s relatively more expensive for a single adult to achieve the same level of comfort in Mississippi. That person would need to earn $82,742.

States are ranked by the highest annual salary needed for a single adult to live in sustainable comfort using the 50/30/20 budgeting rule, SmartAsset explains. SmartAsset uses the MIT Living Wage Calculator data to figure out the basic cost of living for an individual with no children and for two working adults with two children. Data includes cost of necessities that cover housing, food, transportation, income taxes, and other miscellaneous items. The most recent data available was from February.

“Applying these costs to the 50/30/20 budget for 50 U.S. states, MIT’s living wage is assumed to cover needs (i.e. 50% of one’s budget). From there the total wage was extrapolated for individuals and families to spend 30% of the total on wants and 20% on savings or debt payments,” SmartAsset says.

Read the entire report and see the list of comfortable-wage salaries at this link.

37 COMMENTS

  1. The devil in all this is in details. Specifically, why is the cost of living high?

    The blue states have high costs of living in part because of the elites cloistering in them.

    We have a high cost of living because we have limited growing seasons, weather inhospitable to certain things, and an inability to create our own products.

    • Avenger, Do you live in your family’s basement?
      I live in San Jose, and the weather is great.
      ‘https://business.ca.gov/industries/manufacturing/#:~:text=California%20stands%20as%20the%20center,over%201.2%20million%20Californians%201.
      In 2023, California ranked second among U.S. states and territories in total exports, exporting $178.71 billion worth of goods to the world. This was a 4.0 percent decrease from 2022, when California exported $186.23 billion. California’s top exports in 2023 included other aircraft parts, computer and electronic product manufacturing, transportation equipment manufacturing, machinery manufacturing, chemical manufacturing, crop production, and miscellaneous manufacturing

    • 40-yrs ago a basket of groceries cost 1/3 as many dollars as today. The value of the food did not increase whatsoever. The value of the dollar decreased. 20-centuries ago a fine suit for a man cost about 1-ounce of gold; its the same price today. The only thing truly moving is the value of our fiat currency; and its going down.

  2. Due to endless red ink, the endless printing of money has devalued the currency to the point were earning a 100K barely keeps the lights on. This is crazy. It has to stop- and will. One way or another…

    National debt as of this minute > $34,664,386,843,118.

    • I agree., welcome to the world of I-O-Us and rich people that have passed away whose executors find nothing but debt.

  3. First off, describe comfortable living? Ordering door dash every other day? Going on vacation every year? Sounds like another liberal survey to raise wages and ends up costing everyone more for the basics necessities.

  4. I saw this, And many think a teacher is overpaid. I know teachers who were worth every penny. Also, some weren’t worth a plug nickle. Hired in late August to fill an empty seat, a warm body. Hourly wage earners are doomed to lower middle class status or worst.

  5. Bunch of BS…single adults can live comfortably w/o gov’t handouts for waaaay less than shown by “smart ass” statistics. 96K a year??? I wouldn’t know what to do with all that! I own my home free & clear (under 600 sq feet), I can do the Debt Free scream! (Dave Ramsey) buy groceries…just not steak and lobster, still, I eat well. I have a closet full of clothes (maybe a little dated) but they are in good shape. I have a pet. I have heat (keep it at 65), running water, a hot shower. A desk top computer. I don’t put more on my card than I can easily pay off each month. Still, it’s a tight budget, but doable. High gas and food prices make it tighter…but praise God I am quite “comfortable!”

  6. Bunch of baloney…single adults can live comfortably w/o gov’t handouts for waaaay less than shown by “smart ass” statistics. 96K a year??? I wouldn’t know what to do with all that! I own my home free & clear (under 600 sq feet), I can do the Debt Free scream! (Dave Ramsey) buy groceries…just not steak and lobster, still, I eat well. I have a closet full of clothes (maybe a little dated) but they are in good shape. I have a pet. I have heat (keep it at 65), running water, a hot shower. A desk top computer. I don’t put more on my card than I can easily pay off each month. Still, it’s a tight budget, but doable. High gas and food prices make it tighter…but praise God I am quite “comfortable!”

  7. My Daughter has epilepsy and has lived with me all Her life. My current retired income is just under $30,000. We have never accepted any welfare, stipends, or handouts from the local, state, or federal government, with the exception I did go to college with about $130 a month from the GI BILL. The fact that I get an over 65 reduction on my property taxes contributes to my ability to “make it”, however “bideninflation” has hit us hard. Alaska’s fish and game are essential to our livelihood. Cutting back on nonessentials helps. I drive an older vehicle and have a 56-year-old house. Everything is paid for. It isn’t “how much You make”, it’s “how much You don’t spend”. Until the last couple of years, we never felt stressed economically.

      • Thank You, Mr. Coogan. Until now, I have never broadcasted our life situation. Most of our Friends are unaware. The extreme “SmartAsset” numbers literally begged to be countered by the reality of the large numbers of nongrifter citizens who live more modest lives.

  8. I don’t make even half of that stupidly high $96,000/year, and I live just fine.

    Of course, I do do without certain things that many in the PMC would consider “essential”.

  9. For an Alaskan to make $96k, they would have to EARN $150K, to pay taxes, and SS, and health insurance.to obtain the $96k.

  10. don’t complain, don’t explain.

    seen the “next best idea” show up and leave in the average AK residency of ten years and move on. seen them inheritance folks spend big and broke soon.

    been here 40 years, struggled and slaved, muttered and saved. no expenses now, all paid off, bank four checks, still live like 80’s payroll level

    tell folks in Michigan, “great place to live, tough place to make a living”. I moved here for a lifestyle not a paycheck. remember Aesops fable of “the grasshopper and the ant”?

    well? getter done

  11. As others have asked, “live comfortably” means what? No explanation at Smartass, either. Most Alaskans make less than their “comfortable” level, and most seem to be doing just fine.

  12. I guess I won’t be living comfortably. 🤣🤣 I am not anywhere near those numbers and I have a decent job. We cannot all be executives that make 6 figure salaries.

  13. I am sure that Ms. Downing had some intent in reviewing this crazy report but I cannot imagine what it might be. Alaska has by far the highest cost of living of any state. From time to time someone on FB compares the weekly Fred Meyer food ad flyers between Juneau and Portland. Same photos, same items but in all cases the food item is at least 20 percent more costly. For some items the difference is 50 percent. And Juneau adds a 5 percent sales tax on top of that.

    A Filson halibut coat is now $450! Pickup trucks are $70,000 and more. Alaskans buy expensive stuff.

    The first PFD was $1,000, in 1982 if I recall correctly. Brought forward to 2024 at an annual rate of 5 percent, that amount of the PFD would need to be $7,762 to have the same buying power! Tell that to Gary Stevens and Bert Stedman.

    People who want to work for government still come here: 37 hour week, a dozen or more paid holidays, 6 weeks of paid vacation and lots of airline miles. Government still has a superior retirement benefit by the way. But people who want to work hard, build a stake, etc. are leaving Alaska. The liberals say they’re leaving because they want better child care, higher pay for bureaucrats, trans gender and transvestite acceptance, etc. Nope, people are leaving because pay is inadequate for the high costs of living here – government excepted.

    Wages are going up however. Downtown crossing guards in Juneau, paid for by the cruise lines, earn $25 an hour for standing on the curb with a sign. Last year a guy fell asleep and had an OTJ accident. But the canneries, logging camps, and sawmills are gone. Thank God for the half-dozen mines Alaskan has, and for the North Slope. And don’t forget government: all-in the state budget is over $14 billion, for 700,000 people. So a family of 4 Alaskans represents $80,000 in annual state spending!

    Possibly our state economy will be in the doldrums until the next world war. I cannot see what will change here until then.

  14. Joe destroyed the American Dollar. What a dollar would buy in 2020 now takes $1.56 to but today. Gold is now over $2000 an ounce.

  15. Ridiculous- I make $70K a year, own a nice home on acreage, have a boat in Seward, 2 cabins in southcentral, put my 3 kids through college, take at least 2 vacations a year and have no debt. My responsible decisions helped me get to this point. People don’t get taught how to manage money anymore and they want everything now when they are fresh out of college. Patience and work will always reward you. I know of people making less than me and are doing just fine. It’s your choices that put you in your bind.

  16. I’m just not buying this. It probably includes things like vacations, fancy cars, and recreational equipment.

    On another subject, CONGRATULATIONS to you, Suzanne, for being #1 Alaska podcast!

  17. A single illegal alien shouldn’t need any income to live comfortably in Alaska when government officials and NGO’s provide everything, no?

  18. People are not trained how to budget money. It costs $19,800.00 for a modest mortgage or apartment rent for 12 months . $5,814.00 for car payment if $484.50 per month for 12 months. Both for auto and housing is $25,614.00 per year. Auto insurance maybe $2,000.00 per year. That’s $27,614.00 for the bare minimum without health insurance if you’re healthy and young. If you hunt and fish and store two good freezers of fish, meat, berries, and other things you have a basic need met and saves money for groceries.
    People need to start normalizing minimal lifestyles and we live in a vacation spot with a lot of natural resources we just have to go get it….Even living here there is no one to impress, and even the rich dress down here and treat the poor like humans in Alaska and that’s a fact. Let’s all face it-at the end of the day we all look like bums in the cold hard winter in Alaska, there’s no pressure to keep up except to survive.

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