A six-figure salary has long been seen as a marker of financial success. But with the ever-rising cost of living, $100,000 doesn't offer much by way of financial security in a number of big U.S. cities.
In fact, in the priciest locales — New York, San Francisco and Honolulu — $100,000 buys you the same quality of life as someone making $36,000 per year almost anywhere else in the nation, according to a new analysis from personal finance website SmartAsset.
For the report, SmartAsset used its paycheck calculator to remove state, federal and local taxes from a $100,000 salary, then adjusted the remainder based on each city's relative cost of living.
The place that offers the biggest bang for your buck? Memphis, Tennessee, where a six-figure earner would have the equivalent of $86,000 left after taxes. Tennessee has no personal income taxes, leaving the hypothetical worker with $74,500 after federal taxes. But Memphis' low cost of living makes that equivalent to take-home pay of $86,400 elsewhere around the U.S.
Most locals make far less than that amount, it's worth noting. The median household in the Memphis metro area earns $55,000 per year, lower than the national median of nearly $70,000.