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The Minimum Salary You Need To Be Happy in Every State

·15 min read
Jovanmandic / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Jovanmandic / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Can money buy happiness? According to a recent Purdue study published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, income can correlate with emotional well-being and life satisfaction.

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"Globally, we find that satiation occurs at $95,000 for life evaluation and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being," said the study's authors in the journal. However, the study also found that the ideal income for life satisfaction in North America is $105,000, as reported by Inc.

To estimate how much money you might need to be satisfied or happy in every U.S. state, GOBankingRates factored in each state's cost-of-living index and used the $105,000 figure as the "benchmark." The states were ranked from least to most amount of money needed to be happy. GOBankingRates also included unemployment and crime rates for many states for informational purposes.

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It's important to keep in mind, though, that "happiness" is subjective. The cost to live comfortably can vary from person to person. Keep reading to find out how much it takes to be happy in your state.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Mississippi

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $87,465

If you love living in Mississippi, lucky you! The state's low cost of living means you can stretch your paycheck that much farther. And while nearly $90,000 is a lot more than most Mississippians earn in a year, the range the study sets for "emotional well-being" goes as low as about $50,000 a year in the birthplace of the blues.

Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Kansas

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $91,455

Kansas' salary to be happy is nearly $14,000 a year below the rate quoted for North America as a whole, representing a cost of living that's nearly 14% below the national average. However, the salary needed for emotional well being is as low as $52,260.

tobynabors / iStock.com
tobynabors / iStock.com

Oklahoma

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $93,030

Oklahoma's low cost of living is likely going to be even more welcome than usual given the current unemployment rate is 3.5%. While you do need over $90,000 to be happy, you can settle for emotional well being at as little as $53,160.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Alabama

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $93,240

If you're looking at a figure of $93,240 and thinking it's just not realistic in the Yellowhammer State, you should know that the study's band of incomes allowing for "emotional well-being" runs as low as $53,280.

Davel5957 / Getty Images
Davel5957 / Getty Images

Arkansas

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $93,555

That $93,555 might seem out of reach for many Arkansans, but it's notable that a range of $53,460 to $66,825 would get you to the "emotional well-being" stage described in the Purdue study.

Sean Pavone / iStock.com
Sean Pavone / iStock.com

Georgia

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $93,870

Not only can Georgians claim to have one of the most attainable levels of income to be happy, they also live in one of the states that's lucky enough to still be showing an unemployment rate below 4%. It takes even less to reach emotional well-being, just $53,640 to $67,050.

digidreamgrafix / Getty Images/iStockphoto
digidreamgrafix / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Tennessee

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $94,080

Tennessee's cost of living is 10% below the national average, but its crime rates are higher -- potentially making happiness that much harder to attain. The state sees 5.95 violent crimes and 26.53 property crimes per 1,000 residents.

JByard / iStock.com
JByard / iStock.com

Missouri

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $94,605

The "life evaluation" stage -- in which you feel comfortable about providing for your basic needs and start considering other, bigger questions -- would come at a more attainable $85,595 in the Show-Me State. In a state with a low unemployment rate, it's a good place to be.

Davel5957 / Getty Images
Davel5957 / Getty Images

New Mexico

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $95,340

Being able to stretch your paycheck farther than most of the rest of the country has got to make life easier for all New Mexicans -- even those making well under $90,000 a year. However, residents' happiness levels could be limited by the high rates of violent and property crime.

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

Indiana

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $95,550

Hoosiers have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, though the unemployment rate has rebounded to 4.1%. Additionally, Indiana has a low crime rate that should help residents manage the crisis just a little easier. And to achieve a state of emotional well being only requires $54,600.

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Iowa

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $95,655

Iowans can enjoy lower costs than the nation on the whole as well as much lower crime rates. As such, Hawkeyes earning less than $95,655 a year have plenty of reasons to enjoy life. Those in a state of life evaluation can get by for $86,545.

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Michigan

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $95,970

The Great Lake State also has a lower cost of living than the rest of the United States by almost 10%. However, it has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus and nearly 1 in 5 Michiganders is currently unemployed. Still, emotional well-being can be had for as little as $54,840.

Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ohio

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $96,600

At the height of the pandemic, 13.7% of the Buckeye State was unemployed. However, that number has rebounded to 5.4%, hopefully improving the lives of many Ohioans.

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

Texas

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $97,230

Residents of the Longhorn State are fond of saying "everything's big in Texas," but that definitely doesn't include prices. The cost of living there is almost 8% below the national average. Residents can find a state of emotional well-being for $55,560 and can get peace of mind with a low violent crime rate.

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

West Virginia

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $97,545

While the unemployment rate in West Virginians is at 5%, the state does have an especially low rate of property crime going for it. There are just over 15 a year for every 1,000 residents.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Louisiana

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $98,070

One thing that likely makes it harder to be happy in Louisiana is that it's has the highest property crime rate of all the states. There are nearly 32 such incidents each year for every 1,000 people living there. However, unemployment is low and it only takes $56,040 to achieve emotional well being.

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

Kentucky

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $98,595

Kentucky's relatively low cost of living is paired with its very low rates of crime. There's just over two violent crimes for every 1,000 Kentuckians each year, and just under 20 property crimes.

Davel5957 / Getty Images
Davel5957 / Getty Images

Nebraska

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $98,595

Nebraska's normally low cost of living is looking even better right now as its unemployment rate continues to lag way behind the rest of the country. Sitting at just 3.0%, it's among the lowest in the country.

vkbhat / Getty Images
vkbhat / Getty Images

Idaho

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $99,540

The people of Idaho certainly don't think of $99,000 as small potatoes, but even those earning less than that can enjoy decently low rates of violent crime and property crime in the country. And a salary ranging from $56,880 to $71,100 is enough to achieve well being.

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

Illinois

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $100,170

Illinois' current unemployment rate hovers north of 7%, suggesting that a lot of people there are currently focused on making ends meet for the present. However, people can still find emotional well being at just $57,240.

Davel5957  / iStock.com
Davel5957 / iStock.com

Wyoming

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $100,275

Wyoming has hardly come through this crisis unscathed; it was at an 8.8% unemployment rate in February. However, that rate has come up to just 5.2% and it has low violent and property crime to offset economic issues.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

South Carolina

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $101,220

North and South Carolina have virtually identical costs of living, so there's no difference in what it takes to be happy between them. However, South Carolinans are victim to far more property crime as 1 of just 4 states with 29 or more such incidents per 1,000 residents.

Davel5957 / iStock.com
Davel5957 / iStock.com

North Carolina

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $101,325

Making $100,000 a year is often considered a long-term goal for many Americans, and that could be reinforced by the conclusions of the Purdue study. North Carolina is among those states where you need to make at least $100,000 a year to be happy, but 30 others similarly call for a six-figure income to be happy. And here, you can still achieve well-being at $58,200.

FierceAbin / iStock.com
FierceAbin / iStock.com

Wisconsin

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $101,850

Plenty in the Badger State might view a salary of over $100,000 outside of what they can expect from their career, but that doesn't mean they're doomed to a life of being overworked. For a state of "emotional well-being," anywhere from $58,200 to $72,750 will suffice.

csfotoimages / Getty Images
csfotoimages / Getty Images

North Dakota

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $102,480

One of those lucky states where unemployment has remained below 4%, North Dakotans are still looking at a considerable sum to reach happiness as defined by the Purdue study. However, they can achieve emotional well being at a minimum of $58,560.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

Utah

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $103,530

While that six-figure income might leave some Utahans feeling a little intimidated, it should be noted the state has a lot going for it -- like comparatively low rates of unemployment and violent crime.

ElsvanderGun / Getty Images
ElsvanderGun / Getty Images

South Dakota

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $103,950

South Dakotans can expect an easier time than most of the country when it comes to property crime. The rate of 17.71 crimes per 1,000 residents each year is among the nation's lowest and it has an incredibly low unemployment rate of 2.9%.

Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com

Montana

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $105,315

While the cost of living in Montana is higher than the nation as a whole, it might not be felt as hard there at the moment. Plus, you can achieve emotional well being at $60,180. Montana's unemployment rate is also comfortably low at 3.6%.

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

Florida

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $106,050

The Sunshine State is doing pretty well, despite previously high unemployment during the pandemic. Right now, unemployment is at 5.1%. While you do need to make a bit more than $106,000 to be happy here, well being is possible at $60,600.

Mark Herreid- / Shutterstock.com
Mark Herreid- / Shutterstock.com

Minnesota

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $106,260

One thing that's likely to help improve the happiness of Minnesotans of all incomes is the relatively low rate of violent and property crime, with rates of just 2.36 and 20.79 per 1,000 residents, respectively.

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

Virginia

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $106,365

Virginia boasts the fourth-lowest violent crime rate in the country, and the relative peace of mind that can come with a firm sense of safety is hard to put a price on. However, in terms of cost of living alone, the state's among the costlier of the rest of the country.

dszc / iStock.com
dszc / iStock.com

Arizona

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $107,520

Arizona is just a tenth of a percent higher than the national average for cost of living, making it a great way to get a sense of costs for the typical American. The state's 6.6% unemployment rate is higher than the rest of the country, but Arizonans can get by on just $61,440 for "emotional well-being."

Ultima_Gaina / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Ultima_Gaina / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pennsylvania

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $108,150

Pennsylvania's economy was hit harder than many others, with an unemployment rate, though lower than its peak of 13.1%, is still higher than others at 6.6%. However, the most recent data on its property crime rate shows them to be among the nation's lowest.

EdgeOfReason / Shutterstock.com
EdgeOfReason / Shutterstock.com

Colorado

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $110,670

Colorado is higher than the norm both in terms of cost of living and its rate of property crimes per 1,000 residents, but you can still expect to find "emotional well-being" in an income range of $63,240 to $79,050.

DenisTangneyJr / iStock.com
DenisTangneyJr / iStock.com

Delaware

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $113,400

Delaware's unemployment rate has rebounded from its peak, down to 5.6%. So, while $113,400 a year likely seemed out of reach for most residents in good times, the slight rebound in employment should be helping.

artisteer / Getty Images/iStockphoto
artisteer / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Nevada

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $113,505

With its strong association with the hospitality industry, Nevada has been hit hardest by the pandemic. It has the nation's highest unemployment rate at 7.7%. However, you can achieve emotional well being for $64,860.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

New Hampshire

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $114,975

Cost of living is high throughout New England, and New Hampshire is no exception, with residents paying 9.5% more than the national average. But the high cost to live here correlates with the state's safety. New Hampshire has extremely low crime rates -- it's 1 of just 3 states with fewer than 2 violent crimes annually per 1,000 residents.

ferrantraite / iStock.com
ferrantraite / iStock.com

Washington

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $118,335

While $118,000 may seem like a lot to achieve, residents here can still find "emotional well-being" in the range of $67,620 to $84,525. Unemployment is also low, at 5.1%.

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

New Jersey

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $121,275

The Garden State might have some of the lowest crime rates in the country, but it's also coming at a high cost of living, 15 percent higher than the national average. And that can't be easy to bear right now, with an unemployment rate over 7%. However, you can achieve emotional well being at $69,300.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Maine

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $122,325

Maine represents the nation's safest state, with just 1.15 violent crimes annually per 1,000 residents. However, living here isn't cheap, with a cost of living that is more than 16% over the national average. You can still achieve emotional well being at a more moderate $69,900.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Vermont

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $122,640

While it takes a lot of money to be happy in Vermont, the state boasts a violent crime rate of just above 2 per every 1,000 residents, Vermont also has one of the nation's lowest rates for property crime at 14.24 a year per 1,000 residents.

SeanPavonePhoto / iStock.com
SeanPavonePhoto / iStock.com

Rhode Island

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $125,160

Rhode Island is one more New England state where it costs a lot to get by, but the crime rates are very low. The cost of living is 19.2% higher than the national average, but there are just 2.21 violent crimes and 15.35 property crimes per 1,000 residents each year.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Connecticut

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $128,415

While neighboring Rhode Island was hit especially hard by the pandemic Connecticut avoided some of the worst of it. Unemployment there remains below 7.5%. Even though it takes nearly $130,000 to be happy, you can achieve emotional well being at just $73,380.

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

Maryland

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $131,775

Maryland's unemployment rates are at 6% right now, especially with a cost of living 25.5% higher than the national average. But people can still find happiness here at around $75,300 annual income.

Rocky Grimes / Shutterstock.com
Rocky Grimes / Shutterstock.com

Alaska

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $132,615

The crime rates in Alaska are among the highest in the country. Its violent crime rate is 8.67 a year per 1,000 residents, and its property crime rates is 29.11 a year per 1,000 residents.

zhudifeng / iStock.com
zhudifeng / iStock.com

Oregon

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $138,495

The cost of living is more than a full third higher than the national average. So while the unemployment rate is down to 5.2% being out of work there is likely a much more difficult proposition than in other parts of the country.

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Massachusetts

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $139,125

Much like the rest of New England, Massachusetts has a combination of relatively low crime and high costs. The cost of living is 32.5% higher than the national average, but there are only 3.28 violent crimes per 1000 people, and the property crime rate is just 11.80.

Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

California

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $145,845

California's notoriously high cost of living is on display here, with just over $145,000 a year being needed to secure happiness. While California's staggering 16.3% unemployment rate at the height of the pandemic has come down, 7.6% is still among the highest in the nation.

Donald RSwartz / Shutterstock.com
Donald RSwartz / Shutterstock.com

New York

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $153,195

The Empire State comes with some empire-sized costs of living, with the average New York resident shelling out 45.9% more than the national average. And with an unemployment rate of 7.6%, times are tough for a lot of New Yorkers right now. However one can still find happiness at $87,540.

SergiyN / iStock.com
SergiyN / iStock.com

Hawaii

  • Minimum salary needed to be happy: $203,070

The cost of living in Hawaii is just under double that of the rest of the country, making it especially costly to be happy there. You'll need to plan on earning over $200,000 a year to reach that state of bliss in the Aloha State, though you can settle for emotional well being, which it doesn't seem hard to achieve here, at $116,040.

More From GOBankingRates

Jordan Rosenfeld and Alexandria Bova contributed to the reporting of this article.

Methodology: GOBankingRates determined the cost-of-living-adjusted minimum salary needed to be "happy" based on income satiation levels identified by Purdue University researchers. Global income satiation levels are the following: $95,000 for "life evaluation" and $60,000-$75,000 for "emotional well-being." In North America, the income satiation level is $105,000 for "life evaluation," according to Purdue. To get a state-by-state breakdown, we factored in each city's cost of living index, sourced from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center: Composite Cost of Living Index Quarter Two of 2021. For supplemental data, GOBankingRates found each state's July 2021 unemployment rate as sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and violent and property crime rates (per 1,000 residents) as sourced from NeighborhoodScout.com. All data was collected on and is up to date as of August 30, 2021.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Minimum Salary You Need To Be Happy in Every State