The average income in a town or city vs. the expenses required to live there = the cost of living. New York City, for example, has a wicked high cost of living. So you have to make more to live there. (ie, less than $40K won't get you far.) But in, say, Charlottesville, you can live quite nicely on $20K.

Here are some cost of living figures for different world cities, taken from homefair.com. If you live in New York City and make $100,000 a year, it's effectively the same as making the following amount in the following cities...

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