15 votes

How much money would you need to live the life that you want to live?

Consider the life you want to live, from the essentials to the luxuries. House, car, food, tech, kids, etc. Furthermore, consider where you want to live. Rural France? Downtown Tokyo?

For the purposes of the question I don't want you to think of the life of your wildest dreams (e.g. private jet, personal island, etc.), but I don't want you to think bare minimum either. Focus instead on "comfortable and fulfilling" according entirely to your own standards--a life that lets you live well and follow your aspirations with a sense of financial safety. Do not feel obligated to give a low, reasonable answer if your aspirations are higher, and don't feel obligated to shoot high if you're fine with a lower-cost lifestyle. Set your number entirely based around the desired archetypal life you want, rather than what you think is necessarily achievable based on your current financial situation.

Furthermore, don't anchor your hypothetical income to real-world standards. If you want to, for example, teach kindergarteners for a living and live in downtown San Francisco, and your desired income is $200,000 USD a year, that's perfectly fine for the purposes of this discussion despite the fact that you would be hard pressed to find a school there in real life that pays that much. I'm much more interested in the hypotheticals of the costs in your life rather than the feasibility of the income. Think of this less as a real-world budget and more of a thought experiment/personal reflection.

With all that in mind:

  • What are the details of the life you want to live?
  • Where do you want to live it?
  • How much money would you need each year to make that feasible for you, and why?

I'm not interested in anything exact--just a ballpark estimate. And you don't need to give a full budget or anything. This should loose napkin math at best.

Also, to make things easier for everyone:

  • Give your money as an amount per year.
  • Give the currency you're using.
  • Use combined income if your desired life involves multiple people.
  • Do not judge someone else's desired life nor income.

Also, please specify which currency you are reporting in so that people can convert it to their local currency if needed to get a better sense of it.

19 comments

  1. [2]
    hungariantoast
    Link
    A one million dollar deposit into my account might be enough for me to live off of for the rest of my life, if I get lucky in how that money works for me. Thirty thousand dollars a year in passive...

    A one million dollar deposit into my account might be enough for me to live off of for the rest of my life, if I get lucky in how that money works for me.

    Thirty thousand dollars a year in passive income is probably the bare minimum I could live with and not feel like I needed to get a job and make more money. Anything over six figures would just be luxurious for me and my personality, I think.

    To directly answer your question though, the amount of money I would need to earn per year to live the life I want would be trillions of dollars.

    That might sound a bit excessive, but I want a lot in life, and trillions of dollars is the most accurate, realistic answer I can give for the monetary amount of money that would be required to get done all the things I want.

    It's a little memey, but "Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism" isn't actually that far off from where I'd feel things were okay. We're talking fixing climate change, subverting authoritarian regimes, eradicating diseases, infrastructure development and maintenance out the wazoo. Fixing the world, basically.

    Because, while I have no doubt that I would be relatively content with a meager thirty thousand dollar passive income that allowed me a great deal of personal freedom, I'll never stop having opinions, recognizing problems, and wanting to do things that (I think) would make the world a little better. Is it a lame answer? Maybe, but it's a scary truth, that I'll never be completely satisfied with the state of the planet or the life on it and that means the amount of money I'd need to live the life I want to live approaches infinity.

    Of course, the ultimate end goal is the eradication of personal wealth and subsistence and luxury for all, which makes my trillions of dollars worthless, but as they say, that would be a feature, not a bug.

    6 votes
    1. Akir
      Link Parent
      I like this answer the most. "You know what would make me the happiest? Total world domination." To be serious, though, if we would elect a world dictator, you would be high on my list. I am ready...

      I like this answer the most. "You know what would make me the happiest? Total world domination."

      To be serious, though, if we would elect a world dictator, you would be high on my list. I am ready for fully automated luxury gay space communism. It feels like it would be so close if we didn't have to deal with our current society's addiction to capitalism.

      3 votes
  2. [2]
    evrim
    Link
    For me, what the money is attached to is just as important as how much I make. Assuming I can feed myself and have a roof over my head, I'd rather work for myself and have a certain amount of...

    For me, what the money is attached to is just as important as how much I make. Assuming I can feed myself and have a roof over my head, I'd rather work for myself and have a certain amount of freedom than make ten times that and work for someone else. I want to have the freedom to travel when I want and work on things that excite me.

    So, my ideal income would be around US$200k. I could live off of US$100k very very comfortably, travel, buy most gadgets I want to buy, eat out whenever I want, spend a month in Asia or Europe when I want to, etc. And I can use the remaining US$100k to invest in stuff that could guarantee a good standard of living for me even when I'm old. I can also use the remaining money to help my siblings and parents.

    6 votes
    1. Greg
      Link Parent
      This very much reflects my thinking - freedom is worth the most to me. From the title alone, my answer was going to be ~£1mm lump sum, because it'd guarantee a modest but comfortable income...

      This very much reflects my thinking - freedom is worth the most to me. From the title alone, my answer was going to be ~£1mm lump sum, because it'd guarantee a modest but comfortable income (£30-50k with indefinite inflation adjustment) for life.

      As a per-year figure, it totally depends on the constraints it brings with it. If a genie offered me both, I'd take £40k passive income over a guaranteed £250k job without hesitation. Even at an absurd salary level, say £400k+, I'd only be doing it because it could set up a serious investment fund within 5 years or less.

      In reality, it's obviously a trade off. A million in investable funds is serious, and that's the barrier if you want middle class life without working. But if you drop everything else in an attempt to get there (as I tried, for a short while) you'll go insane. Minmaxing life is possible, but probably not a good decision for most of us. So in the spirit of the question I'd give a similar answer of £100-200k because it's possible in a job that's not utterly awful, and more than high enough to set up a comfortable and above all early retirement to pursue whatever I like. For a few years that retirement would probably actually still be doing what I do now - but the peace of mind and flexibility that comes with independent income would be utterly transformative.

      1 vote
  3. [4]
    mat
    Link
    Honestly at this point I'd settle for not having to count food into the shopping basket. Over the years I've developed a fairly Zen attitude to Stuff so I'm not particularly bothered by not having...

    Honestly at this point I'd settle for not having to count food into the shopping basket. Over the years I've developed a fairly Zen attitude to Stuff so I'm not particularly bothered by not having Things. But having to worry about what quantity of food we can afford annoys me.

    Although, as we're doing fantasy - I'd like to be able to send my kid to the nice Montessori school down the road, that's £4k/year I think. Throw in another £5k for travelling a couple of times a year. Some sort of savings/retirement plan might be nice, although at my age it's probably far too late. I have no idea how much that sort of thing costs.

    If you want a number, let's say I'd be pretty happy with £40k/year (let's say that's after tax, for the sake or argument). That's for two of us and a baby. Might go up as the kid gets older. Not actually sure what we'd do with £3k/month, now I think about it. That's a lot of money.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      welly
      Link Parent
      I'm taking home between £3k and £4k a month and you'd be surprised how easily you can spend it (or how easily I can spend it, perhaps more accurately). But I am terrible with money. I should be...

      I'm taking home between £3k and £4k a month and you'd be surprised how easily you can spend it (or how easily I can spend it, perhaps more accurately). But I am terrible with money. I should be reigning in my spending - it's mainly not saying no to a night out or a dinner with mates that is where money goes for me.

      1. [2]
        mat
        Link Parent
        I used to be terrible with money. When I was younger, had fewer costs and more disposable income, I disposed of income very easily. I can easily imagine, especially if you live in one of the...

        I used to be terrible with money. When I was younger, had fewer costs and more disposable income, I disposed of income very easily. I can easily imagine, especially if you live in one of the expensive places like London, that vanishing a couple of grand a month just on going out is pretty easy. But y'know, if you can, why not? You may not always have that option.

        Unfortunately I haven't been able to afford to be terrible with money for quite some time now.

        1 vote
        1. welly
          Link Parent
          It's just me so other than having some money to put aside for a rainy day, and as I mostly own my own place (currently living on a narrowboat that I'll pay off the loan in two years time), I don't...

          It's just me so other than having some money to put aside for a rainy day, and as I mostly own my own place (currently living on a narrowboat that I'll pay off the loan in two years time), I don't have anything I need to save for. So it's nice to have the option. I've moved up north to Yorkshire after living in London for a while and I've been able to keep my salary, which is a little bit of a bonus up here but not as much as you'd think. Probably would be different if I was renting.

  4. ajslater
    Link
    100k to 120k of spending per year is a pretty comfy life in san francsico. 50k-60k is actually pretty nice too, just less restaurant excess and luxurious travel. Naturally, if that income isn't...

    100k to 120k of spending per year is a pretty comfy life in san francsico.

    50k-60k is actually pretty nice too, just less restaurant excess and luxurious travel.

    Naturally, if that income isn't coming from investments, I recommend investing as much income as possible while not going full on ascetic like those FIRE people.

    2 votes
  5. [2]
    vegai
    Link
    My most expensive dream would be a nice apartment in centers of major cities around the globe. I suppose that would amount to about $1 million per city. Then have somebody build teleporters...

    My most expensive dream would be a nice apartment in centers of major cities around the globe. I suppose that would amount to about $1 million per city.

    Then have somebody build teleporters between all my apartments.

    2 votes
    1. emdash
      Link Parent
      I presume if you have the money to buy several inner-city apartments globally, business/first-class travel is an acceptable compromise in lieu of owning a teleporter.

      I presume if you have the money to buy several inner-city apartments globally, business/first-class travel is an acceptable compromise in lieu of owning a teleporter.

      2 votes
  6. Silbern
    Link
    My dream would be a 2 bedroom apartment either right here in Honolulu, in DC if I work for the federal government, or in Ottawa if I decide to someday move to Canada. I think a salary of between...

    My dream would be a 2 bedroom apartment either right here in Honolulu, in DC if I work for the federal government, or in Ottawa if I decide to someday move to Canada. I think a salary of between 120,000 to 150,000 (American) dollars should be enough to sustain that, and potentially far in excess. That way, I could maybe buy an apartment, and still have plenty left over for a nice emergency fund, a healthy amount for charity, and some money for personal hobbies (for example, I collect old computers, consoles, phones, etc. and some of the rarer stuff can get quite expensive). In realistic terms, I think I'll probably wind up making more in the range of $80,000 to $100,000, I plan to work in Cybersecurity, and I think I can still sustain a lifestyle like this, just not with the margin I'd ideally like.

    If I ever wind up getting a boyfriend and maybe even adopting a child or two, as unlikely as I think that is, I'd prefer about an extra 25 to 50%, so as to be making $170,000 to $200,000. Ideally, I'd like for my partner to be able to stay at home if he wants, and if I ever decide to adopt kids, I'd want them to have a safe and happy life. But I don't know if I really want a partner and I doubt I could find one even if I did, so I'd stick to my first estimates if asked.

    2 votes
  7. ainar-g
    Link
    If that FI/RE calculator to be believed, it's around $280,000. Although seeing how my country's economy has been flaky, I think that I would rather get at least 1.5 times more than that before...

    If that FI/RE calculator to be believed, it's around $280,000. Although seeing how my country's economy has been flaky, I think that I would rather get at least 1.5 times more than that before actually retiring, with at least half of that in North American and European economies.

    2 votes
  8. welly
    Link
    I'd like a bit of land (5 acres? A bit more perhaps) on an island off the coast of Scotland (Canna, Lewis and Harris, Jura, Isla or similar) and a small cottage. Far away from the city, with a...

    I'd like a bit of land (5 acres? A bit more perhaps) on an island off the coast of Scotland (Canna, Lewis and Harris, Jura, Isla or similar) and a small cottage. Far away from the city, with a strong local community. I would do some freelance development work but mostly spend my time pursuing personal interests and hobbies and try to live as self-sustaining as possible.

    I think I could live the life I want on less than £50k, probably even as little as £30k - visiting the mainland and my family from one of the islands isn't an especially cheap affair. I don't have particularly expensive tastes or needs (although do enjoy being able to splash out a bit from time to time as I do currently).

    I am planning on doing this in the next few years - I'm lucky my current job lets me work remotely and so I think I can make most of my goals/aims for this lifestyle possible sooner rather than later.

    2 votes
  9. unknown user
    Link
    My general dream life is becoming a researcher and working at an EU university. I've not really researched into how much money that brings in, but I'd be fine with something around €1.5-2k per...

    My general dream life is becoming a researcher and working at an EU university. I've not really researched into how much money that brings in, but I'd be fine with something around €1.5-2k per month, and what I've seen around the webs is at least double that amount, so I'd possibly be more than fine after being a student well into my 30s. So that makes something like €24k/yr or more, and after that basic threshold, the amount of money I receive can't really have a big impact on my lifestyle, whether or not it was €240k/yr or €2.4b/yr (which I'd hate to have anyways TBH). I want a little apartment at a peaceful, central-but-not-too-central part of a beautiful city, I want to do my research, travel, party and participate in the cultural life of wherever I am, exhibitions, theatre, cinema, music and whatnot.

    And maybe by my 40s I get bored and want to have a family. I really want to enjoy my life well and deeply before I do that tho, so that my family is not a source of regrets for me.

    2 votes
  10. Octofox
    Link
    I'm currently earning $60k AUD which would be enough if my bf had a job (Still has 2 years left of uni). $80-100k would be very comfy which I can see happening in the next few years. Really just...

    I'm currently earning $60k AUD which would be enough if my bf had a job (Still has 2 years left of uni). $80-100k would be very comfy which I can see happening in the next few years.

    Really just want to buy a somewhat decent 2-3 bedroom house close to the city. As far as things go I have most of what I want. I'll need to buy appliances when I move out but I have a few bikes and don't need/want a car so I should be able to save a bunch of money there. $100k would be way more than I need but it will seriously help grow savings and pay off the home loan.

    1 vote
  11. Hidegger
    Link
    Ideal would be a house near or in a city that has a good music culture. The house would have minimum 3 bed, 2 bath, a music studio space and a little bit of land (5 acres) spacing me away from...

    Ideal would be a house near or in a city that has a good music culture. The house would have minimum 3 bed, 2 bath, a music studio space and a little bit of land (5 acres) spacing me away from neighbors. I imagine based on location and build quality that the house can range from $500k-1.5M. Need a decent car every 5-10 years (30k) as well as a touring vehicle. Need money for instruments, amps and various equipment (10k/year).
    I want to say a budget of 150k/year as travelling musician and an electrician when not travelling would be sufficient for a 15 or 30 year mortgage and all of the normal expenses. Add in a girlfriend/wife and the cost would be higher but they would need a decent enough salary that it shouldn't be my burden.

    1 vote
  12. DonQuixote
    Link
    It would be so wonderful to have this simplistic mind-set, that a given amount of money could in essence purchase a life one wants to live. The problem is that this is a moving target, which...

    It would be so wonderful to have this simplistic mind-set, that a given amount of money could in essence purchase a life one wants to live. The problem is that this is a moving target, which behavioral scientists have all but proven. As such, my rather whimsical goal is to decrease this magic number to as close to zero as possible. I say whimsical, because even having such a monetary goal is still having one's desires tied to a number, even if it's an inverse relationship.

    The true goal, properly speaking, would be to forget how to do mathematics, eventually forgetting in fact everything. Interestingly, Alzheimer's, which gallops in my family, is a theoretically low cost way to achieve this. (It was anything but low cost for my father, but he wasn't aware of that.)

    Meanwhile, as my apparent perception of numbers is holding its own, I'm following my whimsical goals. My goal, upon winning the lottery, which I certainly would win if I was foolish enough to play, would be to give the money away as quickly as possible.

    1 vote
  13. Akir
    Link
    I'm going to give you a much shorter answer than you are expecting, mostly because I don't want to reveal too much about my personal life right now. In order for me to be happy, I would have to...

    I'm going to give you a much shorter answer than you are expecting, mostly because I don't want to reveal too much about my personal life right now.

    In order for me to be happy, I would have to make as much money as I am right now. That would be including health insurance, though, since I am an American.

    The big difference between the 'sad' present and the happy ideal future we are talking about is that I don't have to work in one of them. I'm living in an extremely expensive place right now, but I'm making roughly somewhere near the median income for the country, which means that I'm just barely hanging on. I like where I live right now, but having the same income would allow me to move to a number of less expensive but still attractive locations, including abroad.

    A lot of my money is spent maintaining my job. I maintain a car because I need to be able to get to work, and that's expensive. I eat a lot of prepared meals because there is no real brake room at work, and that's expensive. If I had time, I could cook every day. I wouldn't need the car if I didn't have to work - I could just borrow my boyfriend's car. Heck, I do actually like my car, but it would still be less expensive to maintain it for the simple reason that I would be doing much less driving than I am now.

    1 vote