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Can money buy happiness? It’s a cliché question, but one that always needs asking. And as with everything else, happiness may be a lot more expensive in New York.

recent study published in the National Academy of Sciences journal polled more than 450,000 Americans over two years to find out. Researchers found that as people make more money, their life satisfaction and happiness levels seemed to increase. But the rise in happiness is limited. Beyond an annual income of $75,000, income increase has little measurable effect on happiness level.

While $75,000 may be the national average salary that “buys happiness,” it’s obvious that standards of living differ greatly across states. The Wall Street Journal translated the $75,000 nation average to city-specific incomes based on cost-of-living index values in some of the largest American cities.

Not surprisingly, New York tops the charts at $163,500 a year, $88,500 more than the national average. Other cities that required over incomes of over $100,000 include (surprisingly) Fairbanks, AK ($100,500); the Bay Area ($102,750 for San Francisco and $118,500 for San Jose); the Washington, DC area ($103,500); the LA area ($106,500) and Honolulu, HI ($123,750). Compare that with Fort Smith, AK and Pueblo, CO, where it takes the least amount of money ($62,000 per year) to be “happy.” Perhaps we should expect an exodus out west soon?

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