KIRO NIGHTS

‘Paychecks just don’t keep up’ in Seattle and Bellevue

Oct 16, 2019, 8:13 AM

Earning $100,000 a year sounds like a hefty sum to many folks. But for people living in Seattle or Bellevue, they may be scraping by even at that rate.

It seems that cost of living chases high salaries in the Seattle area, and people have noticed.

“There is something about these nice round numbers, there’s something about $100,000,” said Aaron Mason said on KIRO Nights. “Even when I was a kid, thinking about $100,000, the world was your oyster. And for working people, even that is not enough for some cities … paychecks just don’t keep up.”

GoBankingRates recently conducted a study which considers cities where earning $100,000 annually will not cover the basics. In other words, cities were you’ll still be broke while earning those six figures. There are 25 cities on GoBankingRates’ list of such cities. Seattle and Bellevue are on it.

Seattle is the best place to live, if you can afford it

Seattle ranks 10th on this list. Bellevue ranks 5th (it gets worse the higher on the list you are). According to the study, for the Seattle area:

  • Average monthly rent: $2,238
  • Overall annual expenditures: $124,062.60
  • Amount left over from $100,000: -$24,062.60

And for Bellevue:

  • Average monthly rent: $2,421
  • Overall annual expenditures: $140,908.36
  • Amount left over from $100,000: -$40,908.36

The culprit seems to be the rise in living costs. Sure, salaries rise, but everyone from landlords to dog walkers seem to notice and prices go up. And despite plenty of people being left behind (about 25,000 Seattle households still earn $50,000), there are plenty of people flooding into the region.

“You start talking about the average rents in these towns, I believe Bellevue is at about $2,400, and Seattle is about $2,200,” said co-host Gee Scott. “So you take someone living alone … and then you probably have a car, car insurance, car tabs, you got all of those things. So I believe this.”

“If you think about some of the things we often talk about … we are either talking about homelessness, traffic, or cost of living,” he added. “Most of our topics are centered around those things and continuously the cost of living is tough.”

Can $105K buy you happiness in the Seattle region?

In another study by WalletHub, Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma all make the top 100 list of America’s fastest-growing cities. Seattle ranks third for large cities with the highest growth.

Source: WalletHub

A total of 17 of the top 25 cities in GoBankingRates’ results are in California, and include other tech hubs such as San Francisco or LA. Sunnyvale, Calif. tops the list. The average monthly rent there is $3,551. And after earning $100,000, a person would still be short by about $138,000 to make a living. So don’t feel entirely bad Seattle and Bellevue. At least we aren’t Sunnyvale.

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‘Paychecks just don’t keep up’ in Seattle and Bellevue