‘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.

KIRO Nights on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to kiro nightsTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 7 pm for KIRO Nights with Jack Stine.

KIRO Nights

KIRO Nights

KIRO Nights

Is turkey for Thanksgiving overrated? KIRO Nights says yes

Thanksgiving is just a couple days away, and a lot of people will be eating turkey because that's the tradition. But if it didn't have to be?
4 days ago
fully vaccinated...
Jack Stine

Stine says ‘no, thank you’ to changing definition of fully vaccinated

Jack Stine says he woke up, opened his phone, saw a headline and out loud said: "No, thank you. I am not interested in this. I will not be participating."
9 days ago
To commemorate his return to the KIRO Radio studio this week, Chris Sullivan joined the exclusive "...
KIRO Nights

‘Back into the swing of things’ as Seattle workers return to the office, including at KIRO Radio

As employees start returning to the office -- including at KIRO Radio -- it will take some getting used to for those who have been remote for so long.
12 days ago
opioid epidemic...
KIRO Nights

Stine: Fault for the opioid epidemic belongs with addicts

As the Washington Attorney General's Office is set to take on the country's largest opioid distributers in court, the opioid epidemic will continue.
14 days ago
sign language...
KIRO Nights

Stine: Knowing sign language is an ‘amazing skill set to possess’

A study asked people who saw "Eternals," which features a deaf actor, if they were interested in learning sign language. A significant number said yes.
17 days ago
Conservative demonstrators gather at the Washington State Capitol on Jan. 10, 2021, in Olympia, Was...
KIRO Nights

Stine: California teacher courageous to say how she really feels about the US

A middle school teacher in California lost her job after saying Donald Trump won the election in 2020. But was that courageous or cringe-worthy?
19 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
‘Paychecks just don’t keep up’ in Seattle and Bellevue