New Map Shows Just How Out of Reach the American Dream Is for So Many

Back-lit American flag flying on pole with copy space.

Average Americans Would Have to Suffer Through Massive Amounts of Debt to Live in Many Cities Across the Country

A new map from calculates how much debt the average American family would accrue depending on where they lived in the country, and the results paint a grim picture for the working class.

The map shows that for millions of Americans, the dream of owning a home in one of the U.S.’s major hubs is impossible. Even living comfortably in many of the country’s hotbed cities is out of the question.

The map found that the average working-class family would be down $91,184 if they lived in New York, NY, with the amount being calculated based on average living costs like housing, food, and transportation, set against the Bureau of Labor Statistics for average income levels. Other sources, like the National Bureau of Economic Research for tax data and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the cost of food, were also consulted to help put the map together.

The next four cities with the biggest disparities in terms of living costs versus working-class wages are San Francisco (net negative $83,272), Boston (net negative $61,900), Washington D.C. (net negative $50,535), and Philadelphia (net negative $37,850).


Which means that the average working-class family would need to make over $90,000 extra per year in order to live comfortably in New York City.

The map also showed what many have known for a long time: Living in coastal hubs is nearly impossible for the average American.

Coastal cities were largely unaffordable, with many of them having the greatest disparity between wages and living expenses. In fact, of the 10 most populous cities in the U.S., the only city where you can enjoy a decent standard of living without taking on massive amounts of debt is San Antonio. Of the 50 largest cities in the U.S., only 12 are considered affordable, according to this map.

The map also found that there are zero affordable cities on the West Coast. Beyond the horror of having the American dream appear so far away for so many, this only further reinforces the U.S. political divide, which is often seen as a battle between “coastal elites” and the country’s more rural residents. The map only further solidifies that divide and shows that this dichotomy is unlikely to change anytime soon.



This grim map shows all the places working-class Americans can’t afford to live,” MarketWatch, September 5, 2017.


Categories: Economic Report, News