There’s been recent news that regional and major airlines have been improving their pay scales, with first time pilots earning $90,000 salary at regionals, while majors increase their hiring numbers by the thousands. In other words, there’s an opportunity for aviators to make a bundle in the next few years as organizations attempt to curb the pilot shortage.
There will certainly be considerations, like if you’re single, married, have children or have large amounts of student debts. But, for those making a $90K salary with no strings attached, you can live comfortably in just about any city in the U.S. So, let’s take a look at the quality of life you can expect in some of the country’s most popular areas at this salary level.
New York City
As you’ll be paying about 20 percent of your income on federal taxes no matter what, state taxes and living costs may make or break your spending power. NYC is one of the most exciting cities in the world, with endless employment, entertainment and educational opportunities, but residents do pay their fair share of taxes, with the third-highest state tax through New York on top of a local city tax of about 3.5 percent. And, depending on which borough you live in, housing and expenses can vary wildly but you can expect them to be one of the highest in the country. For example, a one-bedroom apartment can average nearly $4,000 in Manhattan compared to $1,500 in Staten Island.
The West Coast answer to New York City is Los Angeles. Although it often gets a bad rap for cost of living, it’s actually about a bit more affordable than NYC. The biggest issue you run into in this town is housing expenses, the main reason why it’s consistently in the top-five most expensive cities in the U.S. In LA. The median home price was listed at about $800,000, meaning you’d need a salary of about $150,000. However, average rental prices are under $2,000 for a two-bedroom apartment.
If you want the big city experience without exorbitant costs like you’d find in NYC or LA, a smaller urban center like Minneapolis is great for pilots. The cost of living here is just three percent higher than the national average, with median home prices under $350,000. And, while taxes are higher than other midwestern states, residents receive many benefits like affordable health care options, extensive public parks system and strong public schools.
The Midwest’s largest city will also cause a larger drain on your yearly savings, thanks to a 60 percent higher than average cost of housing, utilities and property taxes. However, it’s a good alternative to NYC and LA, being about one-fourth more affordable than both. There are a ton of advantages of living in the Windy City, from great public transportation options to unbeatable food to diverse neighborhoods and access to Lake Michigan’s expansive shorefront.
One of the only cities that may be difficult to live in on a $90,000 salary is San Francisco. This is because housing prices are extraordinarily high; hundreds of percentage points above the national average. Additionally, almost everything in this city is pricier, from groceries to gas to utilities. On average, you need a little over $93,000 to afford to live comfortably in a one-bedroom apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area.
If you love the blues and saving money, you might want to consider the bustling yet affordable music town, Memphis. It’s often considered one of the cheaper cities to live in for a pilot earning a $90,000 salary, about 20 percent lower than the national average. Here, you’ll find that low rent and the lack of state income tax make your savings go farther.
Orlando International Airport (MCO) was named the busiest airport in Florida last year, so you may find yourself looking for pilot careers in the tropical city. And, the best part, is that it’s a fairly affordable place to live, on par with the national average cost of living. House prices are at a median of just below $300,000 while the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $1,400 for a one-bedroom apartment.
If the mountains are calling your name, consider searching for a pilot job in the Mile High City. A large portion of your flights will be going directly over the Rockies, so everyday will bring unbeatable views from the cockpit. At $90K a year, you’ll be in the top 25 percent of earners that live in Denver, so you’re sure to have enough money to live comfortably and shred the mountains on your off days.
Hawaii is another contender for most expensive state in the U.S., although a single person shouldn’t have trouble living here on a $90,000 salary. A one-bedroom apartment or home ranges from about $1,500 to more than $2,000 per month and a two-bedroom apartment or a house starts at $2,000 per month. Almost everything else is more expensive in Hawaii, including transportation, groceries, utilities and an 8.25 percent tax rate on your $90K. But, you’ll be living in the world’s most lush tropical paradise, able to live like an islander on your days off, so the cost may be worth it.
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