San Antonio is cheap, according to study — just not for people earning a living here

A single person in San Antonio needs to earn nearly $60,000 a year to live comfortably, according to the new report.

click to enlarge San Antonio ranked as the nation's No. 3 cheapest big metro area in a new study. - Unsplash / weston m
Unsplash / weston m
San Antonio ranked as the nation's No. 3 cheapest big metro area in a new study.
San Antonio is among the nation's most affordable large metro areas, according to a study published Tuesday by financial advising company SmartAsset.

Indeed, the analysis ranks the Alamo City area as No. 3 in the nation for affordable living. After all, a person with no kids needs to make just $59,270 a year, after taxes, to live comfortably in the San Antonio-New Braunfels area, the report notes.

There's just one problem. While San Antonio offers a comparably low cost of living when compared to other big metros, U.S. Census figures show that locals aren't making enough money to have a comfortable lifestyle.

Via the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Living Wage Calculator, SmartAsset used the "50-30-20" rule to compile its data and analyze the cost of living in the largest 25 metro areas in the country. That rule says that 50% of a person's income should be spent on needs including housing, 30% should be set aside for fun and 20% should be put into savings.

Although the San Antonio metro boasts the third-lowest cost of living comfortably, the median individual income here was only around $26,000 in 2020, according to the Census Bureau.

In 2022, the average median household income was only $55,084 — and that's before taxes. That's still lower than the $59,270 individual income Smart Asset recommends for comfortable living in the 2-1-0.

What's more, the average rent for an Alamo City apartment is $1,289, according to online renal property marketplace RentCafe. Meanwhile, the average price of a single-family home in our metro jumped to $366,834 in March, the San Antonio Board of Realtors reports.

Try renting an apartment or buying a house while living on a $ 26,000-a-year salary.

In other words, San Antonio might be cheaper than Houston or Dallas, and it could be seen as a bargain for remote tech workers earning six-figure salaries. But that doesn't mean it's affordable for large portions of the people that reside here.

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Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis is a Staff Writer at the San Antonio Current. He is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., whose work has been featured in Salon, Alternet, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Orlando Weekly, NewsBreak, 420 Magazine and Mexico Travel Today. He reports primarily on breaking news, politics...

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