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In These U.S. Cities, Earning a $150,000 Salary Is Considered 'Lower Middle Class,' According to a New Report A new study highlights the U.S. cities where your money stretches the least.

By Emily Rella

entrepreneur daily
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Arlington Memorial Bridge with Arlington House in Arlington National Cemetery in background

Rising costs associated with inflation, mortgage rates, insurance premiums, and other economic concerns have set new standards of "success" in the U.S., according to a new study by personal finance site GoBankingRates.

The report, which looked at the cost of living compared to salaries in different cities across the U.S. revealed that in certain U.S. cities, making $150,000 or less can be considered "lower-middle class."

The city topping the list is Arlington, Virginia, where residents making between $91,000 and $152,000 are considered lower middle class due to the area's high cost of living (41% higher than the U.S. national average).

"Clients I work with in Arlington are seeing that impact with the cost of housing, transportation, healthcare, education, and general lifestyle," Financial advisor Rodney Griffin with Northwestern Mutual told GoBankingRates. "While $150,000 may be a comfortable salary in some places, high demand from many people with comparative salaries can create an increased cost of living."

Related: These Are the Most Expensive Cities to Live in for 2023-2024

Arlington's proximity to Washington, D.C., makes it a compelling choice for those working for the government or other industries in the nation's capital.

According to RentCafe, the median household income for Arlington residents is $128,000.

Arlington is closely followed by three California cities — San Francisco, San Jose, and Irvine — and then Seattle (WA), Gibert (AZ), Plano (TX), Scottsdale (AZ), and Washington D.C., and Chandler (AZ) round out the Top 10.

Related: 10 Most Expensive States for Singles to Meet Basic Needs

"In these high-cost cities, the exorbitant price of basics like housing, childcare, and transportation means that middle-class families find themselves stretched thin financially even on relatively high household incomes," the study said. "It raises questions about what it means to be 'rich' versus 'middle class' in different parts of the country."

Most recent data from the US Bureau of Labor found that in Q4 of 2023, the average salary for U.S. residents was $59,384, an over 5% increase from last year.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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