The majority of people in Canada and the United States identify themselves as being middle class, regardless of how much they earn. But being part of the middle class depends on where you live and how many people are in your household. For example, middle-class incomes in Alberta often exceed $100,000, but a household that earns $87,000 in Thetford Mines is considered upper class.
Canada’s median household income was $70,336 in 2015, according to the most recent census data. The national median household income in the United States was $59,039 in 2016.
Median income and cost of living can vary widely in relation to location. In Ottawa and Regina, the middle class averages over $80,000 in income, which is above the national median but isn’t even close to what the upper class earns ($155,000 and $151,000, respectively). These numbers are also low compared to what the upper crust make in several areas in Western Canada.
The Pew Research Center examined class in America in 2016 and defined middle-class as “adults whose annual household income is two-thirds to double the national median after incomes have been adjusted for household size,” reported CNBC.
Because smaller households require less wealth than bigger households, Pew broke down how much people need to earn to be considered upper class in the following manner:
An individual: $72,126 ($92,114 CAD)
Household of two: $102,001 ($130,268 CAD)
Household of three: $124,925 ($159,545 CAD)
Household of four: $144,251 ($184,227 CAD)
However, just because someone is considered upper class doesn’t mean he or she feels that way. An individual may earn $100,000 a year but still live paycheck to paycheck to cover living expenses—which may include more expensive cars and homes than someone earning half as much.
The best way to make the most of one’s income is by budgeting and not overspending, regardless of income or place of residence.