So You Need Over $95k to Be "Happy" in SF Now?

Jul 16 at 12pm

Well … not quite, but you still need a lot more than people in, say, Tennessee do. That’s according to a recent report released by Business Insider examining the adjusted “happiness threshold” based on cost of living in each state. They found that people in California need to be raking in $95,325 annually until they stop feeling better about each income boost.

What the hell is a “happiness threshold,” anyway? According to Lifehacker, Princeton released a study back in 2010 that examined the point at which you stop feeling better with each raise. They found that after $75,000, people’s day-to-day lives are no longer improved.

That’s not to say that your stoked-on-life level isn’t changed with higher income levels, but rather that your enjoyment of daily experiences doesn’t really shift much after the happiness threshold. The Princeton researchers told The Wall Street Journal, “As people earn more money, their day-to-day happiness rises. Until you hit $75,000. After that, it is just more stuff, with no gain in happiness.”

Princeton took a general look at income levels around the country. Business Insider’s updated list takes into account the fact that it costs a helluva lot more to live in Hawaii (the costliest place on the list) than it does in Mississippi (the cheapest). Clocking in at $95,325 annually, California is actually (surprisingly for us in the Bay Area) the sixth priciest on the list, beat out by Hawaii, DC, New York, Alaska, and New Jersey.

Cost of living data from the website InfoPlease reveals, however, that the $93,325 happiness threshold that Business Insider found for California jumps to $123,000 when applied to San Francisco. I guess Ed Lee was right on the mark when he pegged San Francisco’s middle class as existing in the $80,000 to $150,000 range? I’m going to go cry now.

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Photo by Sierra Hartman

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