How Much Money You Need to Be a Full Time Gamer in 50 Large Cities

Esports, Twitch, and Instagram have made it possible for avid gamers to make a living off of playing video games. It is not an easy road however. To make a full time living off of gaming, you usually need at least several thousand followers and be skilled enough to win a handful of esports competitions. Such skill usually requires hours and hours of dedication which can be difficult if you have school or a main job to attend to. If you are determined to make a life out of gaming though, these are the easiest cities to do so based on the salary to live comfortably.

Findings:

  • Detroit is the easiest city to be a full time gamer
  • San Francisco is the hardest
  • You need to earn an average $69,119 to be a full time gamer
  • You likely need about 1,920 followers on Twitch to game full time for a living

Easiest Cities to Be a Full Time Gamer:

The following 5 cities are the easiest in the US to live comfortably while gaming full time. If you currently live in a high cost of living city, moving to one of these can make a dream of gaming full time much easier. Revenue you get from streaming is not tied to the city you live, so having a high income in a low cost of living city can make it easier to make ends meet. Here are the five:

1) Detroit

  • Cost to Live Comfortably: $43,697
  • Number of Twitch Followers You’ll Likely Need: 1,214

The Motor City has a low cost of living making it easy to live comfortably with a $43k salary. Assuming as a Twitch streamer you make $3 per subscriber, you would need at least 1,214 subscribers(not including donations or esports winnings)

2) El Paso

  • Cost to Live Comfortably: $47,760
  • Number of Twitch Followers You’ll Likely Need: 1,327

The far-western Texas city is the easiest place to make it as a gamer in the southwest. If you fancy great TexMex and hot summers El Paso may just be for you.

3) Cleveland

  • Cost to Live Comfortably: $47,798
  • Number of Twitch Followers You’ll Likely Need: 1,328

Cleveland may get a bad rap sometimes, but one of the largest midwestern cities is quickly revitalizing itself. Moving there now while rents are cheap can make kick starting your gaming career much easier. Living in Cleveland also makes it easy to reach larger, more expensive cities like NYC and Chicago.

4) Wichita

  • Cost to Live Comfortably: $49,088
  • Number of Twitch Followers You’ll Likely Need: 1,364

As midwestern as they come, Wichita is another one of the easiest cities to be a full time gamer. In Wichita, just to cover expenses you need about 682 followers on Twitch (1,364 to live comfortably).

5) Louisville

  • Cost to Live Comfortably: $50,611
  • Number of Twitch Followers You’ll Likely Need: 1,406

If you want to end up in the south, then Louisville may be the city for you. About 1,400 followers on Twitch can have you living comfortably in the Derby City.

The Hardest Cities to be a Full Time Gamer

The hardest cities to be a full time gamer are true to their name. To make it in the top 5 cities as a full time gamer you would need anywhere from 1.5 to 3x the number of Twitch followers as gamers living in the less costly cities. Making up that difference is not an easy feat either. According to SullyGnome, a streamer with between 600 and 1,300 followers will need an average 2,644 days to double their follower count – that’s about 7 years. 1,200 followers in any one of the following cities would just barely cover expenses – meaning you would need to rely more heavily on donations and esports earnings.

1) San Francisco

  • Cost to Live Comfortably: $140,316
  • Number of Twitch Followers You’ll Likely Need: 3,898

The three major cities of the Bay Area are all the hardest to make it as a full time gamer. San Fran however is by far the hardest. Tech jobs in the city have driven up the cost of living over the past two decades making it hard to live for most of the city’s current residents. Aspiring full time gamers may want to avoid the Bay Area.

2) San Jose

  • Cost to Live Comfortably: $108,866
  • Number of Twitch Followers You’ll Likely Need: 3,024

Just a little bit away from San Francisco, San Jose has sky high rents making it hard to just get by. We project you would need around 3,000 Twitch followers to make it comfortably in this NoCal city.

3) Oakland

  • Cost to Live Comfortably: $104,753
  • Number of Twitch Followers You’ll Likely Need: 2,910

It’s once cheaper sister city, San Francisco has made Oakland one of the more expensive places to live thus one of the harder cities to make it as a full time gamer.

4) Los Angeles

  • Cost to Live Comfortably: $99,699
  • Number of Twitch Followers You’ll Likely Need: 2,769

Like NoCal, SoCal is also a tough place to make it as a full time gamer. While not nearly as bad as San Francisco, you will still need to put in many hours to reach nearly 2.7k followers. On the flip side, a major city like LA will get you closer to more esport events where you may be able to win more money.

5) New York City

  • Cost to Live Comfortably: $96,723
  • Number of Twitch Followers You’ll Likely Need: 2,687

Unsurprisingly, the Big Apple is also pretty hard to make it as a full time gamer. Rents and healthcare in NYC are very expensive, so even making enough to just cover expenses may prove a tough challenge.

How Much You Need to Earn in 50 Big Cities to Full Time Game

To see how all 50 cities rank, check out the table below. We found that to survive as a full time gamer in the U.S. you will generally need to make an average $69,119 per year which will require about 1,920 followers on Twitch (assuming you do not solicit donations or make esports earnings). While it is of course doable, it will not be easy. Moving to a cheaper city can give you more time and leeway to build up your follower count.

RankCityRecommended IncomeRecommended Twitch Followers
1Detroit, MI$43,697 1,214
2El Paso, TX$47,760 1,327
3Cleveland, OH$47,798 1,328
4Wichita, KS$49,088 1,364
5Louisville, KY$50,611 1,406
6Milwaukee, WI$52,422 1,456
7Tulsa, OK$53,857 1,496
8Indianapolis, IN$54,413 1,511
9Tucson, AZ$55,056 1,529
10Albuquerque, NM$55,320 1,537
11Memphis, TN$55,435 1,540
12Columbus, OH$55,824 1,551
13Kansas City, MO$56,633 1,573
14San Antonio, TX$56,665 1,574
15Oklahoma City, OK$56,898 1,581
16Las Vegas, NV$57,990 1,611
17Jacksonville, FL$58,275 1,619
18Fresno, CA$58,523 1,626
19Virginia Beach, VA$59,856 1,663
20Phoenix, AZ$60,842 1,690
21Houston, TX$61,205 1,700
22Mesa, AZ$61,693 1,714
23Baltimore, MD$62,012 1,723
24Dallas, TX$63,074 1,752
25Philadelphia, PA$65,082 1,808
26Arlington, TX$65,075 1,808
27Raleigh, NC$65,364 1,816
28Omaha, NE$65,400 1,817
29Colorado Springs, CO$65,616 1,823
30Fort Worth, TX$67,167 1,866
31Atlanta, GA$67,200 1,867
32Minneapolis, MN$67,818 1,884
33Charlotte, NC$68,019 1,889
34Nashville, TN$69,165 1,921
35Chicago, IL$70,430 1,956
36Sacramento, CA$72,184 2,005
37Austin, TX$72,336 2,009
38Portland, OR$74,439 2,068
39Denver, CO$78,832 2,190
40Miami, FL$80,681 2,241
41Long Beach, CA$87,453 2,429
42Seattle, WA$87,822 2,440
43San Diego, CA$90,652 2,518
44Boston, MA$94,544 2,626
45Washington, DC$95,390 2,650
46New York, NY$96,723 2,687
47Los Angeles, CA$99,699 2,769
48Oakland, CA$104,753 2,910
49San Jose, CA$108,866 3,024
50San Francisco, CA$140,316 3,898

Methodology

To find out how much you need to earn comfortably in the U.S.’ biggest cities, we first determined the average cost of expenses in each city. Expenses were the average cost of rent for a single person plus the average cost of Silver healthcare plan for a 25 year old single male plus the average cost of non-rent expenses including transportation, groceries, wifi, electricity and dining. After we added the average expenses one can face in a city, we used the 50-30-20 rule to determine how much salary you would need to live comfortably in that city (rather than just paying expenses). 50% of salary goes toward expenses, 30% goes toward splurges and 20% goes toward savings. Working backward from the expenses, we calculated total salary to live comfortably.

To determine how many followers one would need to make that salary, we dug around into what typical Twitch streamers earn. To maximize the amount you earn on Twitch, you need to be a Twitch partner – which represent a small minority of total Twitch users. When you are a partner however, consensus is that every follower will earn you about $2.50 + every 100 followers earning you an extra $2.50 from running ads on your channel. We also looked at famous pro-gamers to see what their earnings looked like. Ninja, arguably the most famous, makes about $3.50 per follower – which is likely one of the highest on the platform (the more prolific your profile, the less Twitch takes). Since we are just trying to gauge how much it costs to live comfortably and not rich, we settled at $3.00 per follower on Twitch to determine how many you would need to live in each city. We excluded potential earnings one could make with donations and esports earnings – which would cut into the number of followers you would need.

Data

  • Average Rent Per City: Zillow Zestimate for August 2018
  • Non-rent expenses: Numbeo.com
  • Healthcare Costs: Kff.org