If you plan to relocate to Seattle, you may wonder how much you need to earn to afford a good life here. Seattle is home to world-class schools, unique culture, and endless opportunities. It is ranked among the best places to reside in the United States. So, what is a good salary in Seattle?
What Is a Good Salary in Seattle?
A good salary in Seattle is anything above $70,000 a year. According to the latest numbers from Zip Recruiter, the average income in Seattle is $74,934 or $36 per hour. Generally, Seattle is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, with an estimated median household income of $70,784 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
According to the data from UniAcco, a housing comparison platform, Seattle’s cost of living is about 54% higher than the national average. Housing, transportation, and entertainment will generally impact how much you need to earn to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in one of America’s most luxurious cities.
Factors That Will Determine How Much You Earn in Seattle
Undoubtedly, Seattle is an expensive city, almost paralleling New York and San Francisco. However, it has a diverse job market with various industries such as technology, healthcare, and hospitality. The amount of salary you can earn will depend on the following:
- Your occupation
- The cost of living
- Your lifestyle
- Level of education
Your industry and specific job title can significantly impact your earning potential. In Seattle, sectors such as technology, healthcare, and finance tend to offer higher wages than others. A job in the medical and legal fields, for example, typically commands a higher wage than those in the service industry such as chefs.
For instance, the average salary for a tech worker in Seattle is $165,000, which is much higher than the national average. The tech industry has also had a ripple effect throughout the city, with tech companies springing up to create more employment opportunities.
Likewise, healthcare occupations in Seattle offer some of the highest salaries. For instance, doctors and surgeons make a base salary of around $250,000 annually. Anesthesiologists, on the other hand, earn a good salary of over $400,000 a year on average. However, these high salaries come with long hours and hard work.
Cost of Living
The cost of goods and services is higher than the national average, making living in Seattle more expensive, especially for families. Housing costs can be exceptionally high depending on where you live. According to Realtor.com, the median home price in Seattle is $814K, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment being more than $2,324 per month.
House rent and mortgage payments can take up a significant portion of your monthly budget. So it pays to research areas with lower rents before deciding where to live. Transportation expenses are also high in Seattle, with the average cost for a monthly transit pass being over $100. Gas prices also tend to be higher, forcing some people to use public transport.
For entertainment, you must pay a premium to take advantage of all this city offers. Concerts and sports games tend to be pricier here than in other areas. The same goes for going out for food and drinks. For instance, the average price for a movie ticket is over $15, more than half the cost in Danville, Illinois.
Taxes such as property and state tax will directly impact how much you earn in Seattle. If you earn an average salary of $50,000 a year, you will be paying approximately 8.4.8% in state income taxes. On top of that, there is also a federal income tax of 12%.
This means you’ll take home less than $40,000 a year after taxes. The specific taxes that will determine your salary in Seattle include the following:
- State income tax: Washington has a progressive income tax system, with rates ranging from 0% to 9.5%, depending on your income level.
- Local taxes: Seattle has a city income tax of 1.5% if you earn more than $250,000 per year.
- Sales tax: A combined state and local sales tax rate of 10.1%. This can affect the cost of goods and services, which can impact your lifestyle.
Do you want to live in the city center and take advantage of the nearby parks and attractions, or would you prefer to be more secluded? The cost of living in the city is higher than that of the suburbs, so it’s important to factor this in when calculating your take-home pay.
You should also consider your typical budget. Do you love spending on restaurants or prefer saving money and cooking at home? What about going out for drinks with friends? The cost of these activities can quickly add up. So if you plan on getting a job in Seattle, ensure you get a good salary that can cover your lifestyle.
While certain lifestyle decisions are inevitable, remember that your spending decisions will impact your salary. That is why I recommend focusing on necessities and cutting back on unnecessary expenses.
If you have dependents, you obviously need to earn enough cash to provide for them. The more dependents you have, the more bills you will foot. This means that you will need to bring in more than usual to make ends meet.
A home with children, for instance, requires a higher salary to cover additional costs such as child care, education, and extracurricular activities. Depending on your lifestyle and the size of your family, you may need to earn between $50,000 a year and $90,000 a year to maintain a comfortable standard of living in Seattle.
Level of Education
Generally, individuals with higher education and skills earn more. For example, someone with a college degree in a specialized field may make more than another without it in the same industry. This is especially true if you’re looking to work in tech or finance.
According to Zip Recruiter, the average annual salary in Seattle for a professional with a Bachelor’s degree is $57,884, higher than those who obtained a high school diploma. Similarly, those with a graduate degree tend to earn even more.
For example, a person with a Master’s degree in business administration (MBA) can make, on average, $110,000 annually. So, if you want to be able to negotiate a higher salary in Seattle, consider investing in your education and furthering your studies.
Can I Live on 20K a Year in Seattle?
Yes, it is possible to live on $20k a year in Seattle. However, considering that this is way below the average salary for the city, you will have to lead a religiously frugal life by budgeting to the last dollar and living in a cheaper area. You will likely have very little to save.
What Is a Middle-Class Salary in Seattle?
According to Yahoo Finance, the middle income in Seattle is between $73,847 to $221,562. Of course, this can vary depending on family size and lifestyle factors.
Seattle’s living cost is high, and wages need to catch up. A good salary in Seattle will allow you to live comfortably and achieve your financial goals. Eventually, the amount you make will vary depending on the cost of living, your lifestyle choices, your occupation, your level of education, your experience, and the number of dependents you have.