MYNORTHWEST BLOG

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

Jun 3, 2018, 7:27 AM
sumner homeless...
(File, Associated Press)
(File, Associated Press)

A lot of folks say they would be happier with a little more money. They could pay some bills and go see a movie every now and then. Maybe they could even afford a decent place to live — in Seattle that’s like a 500-square-foot studio for $1,340. Can money really buy happiness?

RELATED: Seattleites moving to Boise to escape high costs of living

It turns out that happiness has a peak — a point in which earning enough money and happiness part.

According to TIME and a poll conducted by Gallup and Sharecare, happiness in Seattle peaks when a person earns about $105,000 a year. The poll was conducted a year ago, but it recently garnered a lot of attention on Reddit.

Happiness was measured by the number of happy moments in a day. According to Gallup:

In the U.S., the chances of experiencing three positive emotions or actions — happiness, enjoyment and smiling/laughter — on any given day increases with household income.

It was discovered earlier this year that half of Seattle’s tax filers are earning less than $50,000 annually, far below Seattle’s happiness peak. In fact, The Seattle Times’ FYI Guy Gene Balk reports that only one-in-four tax filers stated income over $100,000 in their 2017 taxes.

RELATED: If you can’t afford Seattle, why don’t you just move?

Seattle rents have been listed among the top five most expensive in the country. The city became the fastest growing in the nation last year. Meanwhile, there are about 29 affordable units for every 100 low income households in Seattle.

So about half of Seattle makes less than half of a happy salary … and there are no places for them to live.

Happiness elsewhere

The numbers vary depending on where you live in the country. Seattle’s happy salary lines up with Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia. In fact, Seattle’s figure aligns with most of the West Coast.

Want to be happier for cheaper? Try living in Houston or Boston where happiness peaks at $75,000 annually. Better yet, move to Washington D.C., Phoenix, Miami, Dallas, or Chicago — $54,000. The best happy-to-salary ratio was in Atlanta with $42,000.

The middle of the country, between Texas and the northern plains, seems to have the lowest average income-to-happiness ratio at $54,000. And whatever you do, don’t move to the Great Lakes area where it will take $120,000 a year to max out on happiness.

The poll also measured “life satisfaction” in relation to income. No surprise here. The more money you earn, the more likely you will be satisfied with your life. Gallup puts these two measurements in perspective:

Income influences both of these forms of well-being, but in different ways: The likelihood of experiencing positive emotions on any given day is elevated by income, but only to a certain extent. The more general evaluation of one’s current life, however, continues to improve with each successive income bracket.

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