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Least Desirable Places To Live In On A $100K Salary

March 30, 2023

An annual salary of $100,000 sounds like quite a lot of money, particularly when the average U.S. salary is $53,490 per year. However, it is relative depending on your purchasing power. While San Francisco, for example, offers its residents a thriving arts & culture scene, glorious climate, an outdoor lifestyle and world class restaurants, living in this California city comes with a significant price tag. Typical rents exceed $4,500, the average price of homes is $1.3 Million and to live comfortably, it is said you would need to earn $230K.

So would living in some of America’s most aspirational locations stack up if you were on a six-figure salary? Or would you prefer to live somewhere cheaper where, even if it offered less lifestyle options, you could get more bang for your buck? It’s a question real time coupon and deals discovery site, CouponBirds, sought to answer, by surveying 3,000 respondents and asking them a hypothetical question:

Which of America’s 150 most expensive cities would you least like to live in, if earning a salary of $100,000?

Palm Beach, Florida, emerged as the least desirable city to live in when earning ‘just’ $100K. It appears that you have to have a Trump-style income to live there (his home, Mar-a-Lago, is there), but $100K just won’t cut it, thanks to its exclusive location, the high cost of real estate, high cost of goods, services and high property taxes. It has more than the average share of luxury condos and homes, as well as plenty of upscale restaurants and retail outlets. And because the city has invested well in public services and amenities, to keep it looking pristine, the cost of living is higher here too. Suddenly that new salary doesn’t seem as impressive.

Two other Florida cities were voted as undesirable locations to live in. Bal Harbour came in 6th position overall. Its prime location right on the water, with easy access to beautiful beaches, high-end shopping, fine dining and entertainment options, is a major factor in its high cost of living. Additionally, the town has strict zoning laws that limit the amount of development and maintain the exclusivity of the area.

And following in 22nd position came Pinecrest. Its prime location just south of downtown Miami, with easy access to major highways, top-rated schools and the beach, is a significant factor in its high cost of living. Additionally, Pinecrest is home to some of the most luxurious properties in South Florida.

The second least desirable city was wonderful Wailea in Hawaii. Set on the dreamy island of Maui, it’s where tourists and retirees alike flock for sunshine, sunsets and giant tiki cocktails. Two factors make it particularly pricey - firstly, everything has to be imported, which makes goods and services more expensive and secondly there is a limited supply of housing available. In addition, the cost of utilities, transportation and other necessities are generally higher in Hawaii than anywhere else in the U.S.

New York City came in as the fifth least desirable city to live in. It may be the city that never sleeps, but if you can’t afford to take a decent bite out of the Big Apple - Broadway shows, cocktail bars, hip restaurants - then there’s not much point living there. It’s frequently ranked annually as the world’s most expensive city and despite being such a huge hub for tourism, culture and business, you would have to earn well over $100K a year to actually enjoy it properly. Property is in high demand and short supply, driving up prices, too.

It’s not surprising to find Malibu, California, in the top 10 (it came in at number 9). Stunning beachfront properties line the shore, many of which are owned by A list celebrities. Rumored residents include: Lady Gaga, Cindy Crawford, Kanye West and Julia Roberts, drawn by the laid back vibe, proximity to the sea and great shops and restaurants. Of course that ramps up the demand for housing, which comes at a premium as there is scant room for development beyond what’s already there.

And at number 10 is another Cali classic: Beverly Hills. Notable for its starring appearance in the film Pretty Woman, here there are designer boutiques galore, from Armani to Versace, luxury hotels such as the Beverly Wilshire (the setting for the film), the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Four Seasons. Not exactly cheap. Add in top notch schools, incredible houses and its proximity to Hollywood and the movie industry and you’ve got a recipe for somewhere only the very rich can afford.

For the full list of the 150 least desirable cities to live on $100K, visit:

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