15 Cities Where $100k Income Is ‘Lower Middle Class’

In the past, a $100,000 annual salary seemed like a lot of money. New research from GoBankingRates, however, suggests that in at least 15 cities across America, that income level would qualify a family as a part of the lower middle class.

The 15 cities on the list include five cities in California, three cities in Arizona, two in Virginia, and then one each in New Jersey, Arkansas, Texas, and Washington state as well as Washington, D.C.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, GoBankingRates “used the 2022 American Community Survey to find the 100 largest cities in terms of total households, then identified the median household income in those cities. It isolated a lower-class middle-income range based on Pew Research Center’s definition of the middle class.”

Arlington, Virginia, had the highest level of income needed to leave the lower middle class as anyone making between $91,591 and $152,652 would be considered part of that group.

Rodney Griffin, a financial adviser with Northwestern Mutual’s Washington D.C. office, says that the economic and population growth in Arlington has created new, lucrative job opportunities in the area. Those jobs, however, have also driven up the cost of living.

“Clients I work with in Arlington are seeing that impact with the cost of housing, transportation, healthcare, education, and general lifestyle,” Griffin shared. “While $150,000 may be a comfortable salary in some places, high demand from many people with comparative salaries can create an increased cost of living.”

In these high-cost cities and others, the increasing price of basic expenses like groceries, housing, transportation, and childcare means that middle-class families can be stretched thin financially even at seemingly high-income levels.

According to a recent article from Wealthgang, 60% of millennials who make $100,000 or more per year are living paycheck to paycheck.

In a study done by PYMNTS, 28,000 Americans were analyzed across generations. 54% of respondents claimed to be living paycheck to paycheck and 40% of those made more than $100,000 per year.

Whatever the reason, what it means to be “rich” or “middle class” seems to be changing across the country, especially in those cities listed above.