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Those calculators are ridiculous because they assume you spend your entire income. The cost of living adjustment only applies to what you spend when evaluating which salary:city combination is ideal for you.

Those calculators are ridiculous because they assume you spend your entire income.

For most Americans that's pretty close to being correct - the average savings rate is around 6%. (https://www.fool.com/investing/2016/10/03/heres-the-average-...)

You don't think that varies a lot by income? My impression is that savings as a percentage go up dramatically with income. I don't think I know anyone working in the industry that considers it reasonable to not max out their 401k, and who doesn't save substantially on top of that.

This would be quite difficult for someone on an average salary with kids, or sometime who works in an industry where keeping up appearances is important.

OK, savings rate does vary by income, according to the Fed: https://www.federalreserve.gov/econresdata/2016-economic-wel... . They only break things out into three income brackets (0-40K, 40K-100K, 100K+) - but even in the 100K+ bracket the median savings rate is somewhere between 6 and 10%, which isn't quite "max out the 401k" level. It looks like the data is available (https://www.federalreserve.gov/consumerscommunities/shed_dat...). The survey asks about level of education, what field that education was in, and number of children, so something like what you're asking about is actually checkable.

That's mostly a choice for high income earners, and much of that discretionary spend costs similar amounts no matter where you live.

Vacation costs, Amazon splurges, etc, don't change between Akron and SF.

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