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What Does It Take To Be Wealthy in America?

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What Does it Take to be Wealthy in America?

The goalposts of wealth are always shifting due to inflation and other factors.

For example, someone with a net worth of $1 million several decades ago would have been considered very wealthy. According to recent survey results, however, $1 million is only enough to feel “financially comfortable” today.

In this infographic, we’ve visualized several money milestones to give you a better idea of what it really takes to be wealthy in America.

Net Worth Milestones

This table lists the data used in the above infographic.

It covers data on what it takes to get into the top one percent for wealth in key states, along with broader survey results about what net worth thresholds must be crossed in order to be considered “comfortable financially” or even “wealthy”.

MilestoneSourceAs of DateNet Worth (USD)
What it takes to be in California’s top 1%Windfall2020$6.8M
What it takes to be in America’s top 1%Knight Frank2021$4.4M
What it takes to be in New York’s top 1%Windfall2020$4.2M
What it takes to be wealthy in AmericaCharles Schwab survey2022$2.2M
What it takes to be in the UK’s top 1%Knight Frank2021$1.8M
What it takes to be financially comfortable in AmericaCharles Schwab survey2022$774,000
What it takes to be in Mississippi’s top 1%Windfall2020$766,000
The average American’s net worth (median)Federal Reserve2019$122,000

According to Charles Schwab’s Modern Wealth Survey, a net worth of $774,000 is needed to feel “financially comfortable”, while $2.2 million is needed to be considered “wealthy”.

Both of these milestones are far greater than the average (median) American’s wealth, which according to the Federal Reserve, was $122,000 in 2019.

Joining the One Percent

Research by Knight Frank determined that in order to be a member of America’s one percent, one would need a net worth of $4.4 million. This is very high compared to other developed countries such as Japan ($1.5 million), the UK ($1.8 million), and Australia ($2.8 million).

The difference is partly due to America’s large population of ultra high net worth individuals, which includes the country’s 724 billionaires. See below for a list of the top five countries by number of billionaires.

CountryNumber of Billionaires
🇺🇸 U.S.724
🇨🇳 China (inc. Hong Kong & Macau)698
🇮🇳 India140
🇩🇪 Germany136
🇷🇺 Russia117

Source: World Population Review (As of 2021)

Focusing again on the U.S., we can also see large discrepancies at the individual state level. Entry into California’s one percent requires a net worth of $6.8 million, which is 62% higher than the national average.

California is famously home to many of the world’s richest people, including Google co-founder Larry Page, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Being a one percenter in Mississippi, on the other hand, requires $766,000. That’s 83% lower than the national average, and just a tad lower than the amount needed to be “financially comfortable” by the average American. This is partially due to Mississippi’s poverty rate of 19.6%, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is the highest in the country.

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Personal Finance

Mapped: The Income a Family Needs to Live Comfortably in Every U.S. State

Families in expensive states require over $270,000 annually to live comfortably.

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A map showing the income that two working adults with two children need to live comfortably in each U.S. state.

The Income a Family Needs to Live Comfortably in Every U.S. State

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Families in the top five most expensive U.S. states require an annual income exceeding $270,000 to live comfortably.

This visualization illustrates the income necessary for two working adults with two children to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in each state.

“Comfortable” is defined as the income needed to cover a 50/30/20 budget, with 50% allocated to necessities like housing and utilities, 30% to discretionary spending, and 20% to savings or investments.

The calculations for family income needed in each state were done by SmartAsset, using the cost of necessities sourced from the MIT Living Wage Calculator, last updated on Feb. 14, 2024.

Massachusetts Tops the List

Massachusetts is the most expensive state to live comfortably in, requiring a total family income of about $301,184. Hawaii ($294,611) comes in second, followed by Connecticut ($279,885).

Housing is one main reason Massachusetts is an expensive state to live in, particularly in the Boston area. In addition, the state also has a high cost of living, including expenses such as healthcare and utilities.

RankStateIncome for 2 working adults raising 2 children
1Massachusetts$301,184
2Hawaii$294,611
3Connecticut$279,885
4New York$278,970
5California$276,723
6Colorado$264,992
7Washington$257,421
8Oregon$257,338
9New Jersey$251,181
10Rhode Island$249,267
11Vermont$248,352
12Minnesota$244,774
13New Hampshire$244,109
14Alaska$242,611
15Maryland$239,450
16Nevada$237,286
17Virginia$235,206
18Illinois$231,962
19Arizona$230,630
20Pennsylvania$230,464
21Maine$229,549
22Delaware$228,966
23Wisconsin$225,056
24Utah$218,483
25Michigan$214,490
26Nebraska$213,075
27Georgia$212,826
28Montana$211,411
28Iowa$211,411
30Idaho$211,245
31North Carolina$209,331
31Ohio$209,331
33Florida$209,082
34Indiana$206,003
35New Mexico$203,923
36Wyoming$203,424
37Missouri$202,259
38North Dakota$202,176
39Texas$201,344
40South Carolina$200,762
41Kansas$196,768
42Tennessee$195,770
43Oklahoma$194,106
44Alabama$193,606
45South Dakota$192,608
46Kentucky$190,112
47Louisiana$189,613
48West Virginia$189,363
49Arkansas$180,794
50Mississippi$177,798

Meanwhile, Mississippi is the least expensive state for a family to live comfortably, requiring $177,798 per year. Arkansas ($180,794) comes in second, followed by West Virginia ($189,363). In common, all these states share low prices of housing.

Learn More About Cost of Living From Visual Capitalist

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out this graphic, which ranks the median down payment for a house by U.S. state.

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