It’s interview season and some of you are probably killing yourself trying to get a job with a big, fancy firm in New York. Well, maybe you should chill and forget the idea. In fact, you might want to skip New York entirely.
That’s because it costs more money to be happy in New York than just about anywhere else. Moreover, no matter what you make, there’s a good chance you’ll be miserable anyway.
As you might recall, a few years ago I wrote about a Princeton University study that concluded that a $75,000 annual income is the happiness benchmark (after that amount, happiness levels off).
According to Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives, though, you’ll need a lot more than $75K to be happy in New York. Short just did a state by state analysis of the issue and he concludes that the average Joe or Joanna needs almost $100,000 to be content in Gotham. (New York only came in third place as the most expensive city for happiness. In Washington, D.C., you need to make almost $105,000, while in Hawaii, you need over $122,000.)
Short names 13 states where you can make under $70,000 and still wear a smile; with the exception of Utah and Wyoming, most of these happy, cheap states are in the South or Midwest. Personally, I don’t think I can live in any of those places. (My home state, Texas, is on that list, and I devoted most of my childhood and all of my adolescence to getting the hell out of there.)
Which brings us back to New York. Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Harvard University named it the saddest city in the land. Reports Time:
By using data gathered from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the research team found that New York is the most miserable American city with over 1 million people, despite its denizens being among the highest paid in the country. As the researchers put it, people who live in unhappier cities actually receive higher wages, “presumably as compensation for their misery.”
What this means is that hitting that $100k income benchmark won’t really improve your mood if you live in New York. And it certainly won’t make your spirits brighter just because you make considerably more. If you work at a big New York firm, you’ll probably be more sullen than ever.
That said, I think lots of New Yorkers have a hard time imagining living anywhere else. As miserable as New Yorkers are, they would be even more depressed in cheery cities like Richmond (Virginia), Nashville or Houston (my hometown)—all of which are on the 10 most happy city list.
If you find all this baffling, maybe you should cross New York off your list. But if it makes perfect sense to you, come on over!
Hat tip: eFinancial Careers