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Is $1 Million Enough for Retirement in America?



Retirement Savings in America

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Is $1 Million Enough for Retirement in America?

The average American needs their retirement savings to last them 14 to 17 years. With this in mind, is $1 million in savings enough for the average retiree?

Ultimately, it depends on where you live, since the average cost of living varies across the country. This graphic, using data compiled by shows how many years $1 million in retirement savings lasts in the top 50 most populated U.S. cities.

Editor’s note: As one user rightly pointed out, this analysis doesn’t take into account interest earned on the $1 million. With that in consideration, the above calculations could be seen as very conservative figures.

How Long $1 Million Would Last in 50 Cities

To compile this data, GOBankingRates calculated the average expenditures of people aged 65 or older in each city, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and cost-of-living indices from Sperling’s Best Places.

That figure was then reduced to account for average Social Security income. Then, GOBankingRates divided the one million by each city’s final figure to calculate how many years $1 million would last in each place.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, San Francisco, California came in as the most expensive city on the list. $1 million in retirement savings lasts approximately eight years in San Francisco, which is about half the time that the typical American needs their retirement funds to last.

CityHow long $1 would last (years)Cost-of-living IndexAnnual expenditures
(after using annual Social Security)
Memphis, TN45.376$22,043
El Paso, TX40.381.4$24,789
Wichita, KS39.782.1$25,145
Tulsa, OK38.883.2$25,705
Indianapolis, IN38.683.5$25,857
Milwaukee, WI37.684.9$26,569
Oklahoma City, OK37.385.4$26,824
Columbus, OH37.285.5$26,875
Kansas City, MO36.786.2$27,231
Detroit, MI35.887.6$27,943
Baltimore, MD35.388.2$28,248
Louisville, KY35.388.4$28,349
San Antonio, TX34.489.7$29,011
Omaha, NE34.389.8$29,062
Albuquerque, NM33.691.1$29,723
Tucson, AZ33.391.6$29,977
Jacksonville, FL32.393.5$30,943
New Orleans, LA30.896.3$32,367
Houston, TX30.896.5$32,469
Charlotte, NC29.698.9$33,690
Forth Worth, TX29.399.8$34,148
Arlington, TX28.8100.6$34,554
Philadelphia, PA28.6101.2$34,860
Nashville, TN28.5101.4$34,961
Dallas, TX28.4101.6$35,063
Raleigh, NC28.2102.3$35,419
Fresno, CA28.1102.6$35,572
Phoenix, AZ27.6103.7$36,131
Mesa, AZ27.4104.2$36,385
Colorado Springs, CO27.3104.5$36,538
Virginia Beach, VA26.9105.6$37,097
Minneapolis, MN26.6106.5$37,555
Chicago, IL26.4106.9$37,759
Atlanta, GA26.3107.5$38,064
Las Vegas, NV24.8111.6$40,149
Sacramento, CA22.9118.2$43,506
Austin, TX22.7119.3$44,065
Miami, FL21.7123.1$45,998
Denver, CO20.4128.7$48,846
Portland, OR20.0130.8$49,914
Washington, D.C.16.4152.1$60,747
San Diego, CA15.4160.1$64,816
Long Beach, CA15.3160.4$64,969
Boston, MA15.1162.4$65,986
Seattle. WA14.0172.3$71,021
Los Angeles, CA13.9173.3$71,530
Oakland, CA13.8174.4$72,089
New York, NY12.7187.2$78,599
San Jose, CA10.8214.5$92,484
San Francisco, CA8.3269.3$120,355

A big factor in San Francisco’s high cost of living is its housing costs. According to Sperlings Best Places, housing in San Francisco is almost 6x more expensive than the national average and 3.6x more expensive than in the overall state of California.

Four of the top five most expensive cities on the list are in California, with New York City being the only outlier. NYC is the third most expensive city on the ranking, with $1 million expected to last a retiree about 12.7 years.

On the other end of the spectrum, $1 million in retirement would last 45.3 years in Memphis, Tennessee. That’s about 37 years longer than it would last in San Francisco. In Memphis, housing costs are about 2.7x lower than the national average, with other expenses like groceries, health, and utilities well below the national average as well.

Retirement, Who?

Regardless of where you live, it’s helpful to start planning for retirement sooner rather than later. But according to a recent survey, only 41% of women and 58% of men are actively saving for retirement.

However, for some, COVID-19 has been the financial wake-up call they needed to start planning for the future. In fact, in the same survey, 70% of respondents claimed the pandemic has “caused them to pay more attention to their long-term finances.”

This is good news, considering that people are living longer than they used to, meaning their funds need to last longer in general (or people need to retire later in life). Although, as the data in this graphic suggests, where you live will greatly influence how much you actually need.

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Personal Finance

Visualizing $156 Trillion in U.S. Assets, by Generation

We’ve visualized data from the Federal Reserve to provide a comprehensive break down of U.S. assets by generation.



Visualizing U.S. Wealth by Generation

The distribution of wealth is an important measure of the economic power of each generation.

In the U.S., for example, baby boomers own half of the nation’s $156 trillion in assets despite making up 21% of the country’s population.

To learn more about U.S. wealth by generation, we’ve created two visualizations using Q4 2022 data from the Federal Reserve that break down both the assets and liabilities held by each American generation.

Assets by Generation

Assets by generation are listed in the table below. All figures are as of Q4 2022 and in USD trillions.

GenerationEquities &
Mutual Funds
Durable and
Other Assets
Generation's Total
Silent Generation$5.3$4.8$2.0$1.7$4.9$18.6
Baby Boomers$19.0$18.3$16.2$7.9$16.7$78.1
Generation X$8.8$13.6$9.5$6.0$8.1$46.0

Baby boomers’ biggest category of assets is Equities & Mutual Funds, where they own 56% of the national total. Millennials, on the other hand, represent just 2%.

Where millennials do have more wealth is Real Estate, with 12% of the national total. This suggests that millennials have, for the most part, foregone investing in financial assets in order to purchase a home.

Liabilities by Generation

The following charts show a breakdown of liabilities by generation. Not surprisingly, Mortgages make up the largest component of liabilities for all generations.

US Liabilities by Generation

Something to highlight is that millennials are carrying the largest amount of Consumer Credit, at $2 trillion (representing about 43% of total consumer credit). As of 2022, millennials accounted for 22% of the U.S. population.

U.S. Wealth by Generation

Finally, we subtract liabilities from assets to arrive at total wealth by generation in the United States. Figures again are USD and in trillions.

GenerationAssetsLiabilitiesWealthShare of Wealth
Silent Generation$18.6$0.8$17.813%
Baby Boomers$78.1$5.1$73.053%
Generation X$46.0$7.0$39.028%

As a final note, it’s worth highlighting that Gen Z is still too young to be included as a separate demographic in datasets like these. Born between 1997 and 2012, these individuals are currently between 11 and 26 years old. Interestingly, the Federal Reserve currently considers all U.S. adults born after 1981 as millennials.

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