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$4.7 million is how much San Franciscans need to feel ‘wealthy’

The San Francisco skyline | Adobe Stock

San Franciscans said the average net worth it takes to be “wealthy” in the city is a whopping $4.7 million. 

That’s according to the 2023 Modern Wealth Survey by financial services company Charles Schwab, an annual report that gauges Americans’ view on wealth and its link to happiness and lifestyle. 

It’s also more than double the national figure. Overall, U.S. residents said it takes an average net worth of $2.2 million to be considered wealthy.

Residents of other major—and pricey—cities also came in under San Francisco’s figure. Washington, D.C., reported that $3 million net worth would be considered wealthy, while the number was $3.5 million in San Diego and Los Angeles.

Residents in New York, another notoriously expensive place to live, said that an average net worth of $3.3 million would be considered wealthy. 

Perhaps that’s why only 39% of San Franciscans said they feel wealthy today.

Somewhat ironically, though, the average net worth in this group was actually closer to $720,000. What’s more, 45% of those self-reported as wealthy still said they were living paycheck to paycheck.

The Charles Schwab survey attributed some of this discrepancy to a definition of wealth that goes past just the number in the bank account. A bulk of San Franciscans defined wealth in ways like “not having to stress over money,” “enjoying experiences” and “having a healthy work-life balance.”

According to Schwab’s survey, 36% of San Franciscans say the local economy is better compared to the overall U.S. economy, while 42% say it’s about the same and 22% think it’s worse.

Where San Franciscans rate their city as one of the best in comparison with other U.S. cities are in areas like access to the tech industry (69%), food and dining options (62%) and arts and culture (58%). On the other side of the coin, San Franciscans said the city is one of the worst when it comes to cost of living (69%), tax rates (62%) and the housing market (57%).

Whereas 19% of residents say living in San Francisco helps them to achieve their financial goals and build wealth, more than double (52%) said it does the opposite. Nearly 90% of residents said inflation has impacted their finances with a majority saying their food and utilities costs have gone up. 

In a somewhat positive sign, 71% of San Franciscans said they are confident about reaching their financial goals. That number is slightly below that of peer cities like New York and Washington, D.C., however.

A report in March from SmartAsset found that in San Francisco a $100,000 salary equates to $36,445 after federal, state and local taxes are applied, combined with the city’s cost of living, including housing costs, utilities, groceries, transportation and other goods and services.

That research ranked San Francisco as the third-most expensive city in the U.S. behind second-place Honolulu and first-place New York, where the take-home pay figure was calculated at $35,791 for a base-level six-figure salary.

Kevin Truong can be reached at

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