1. New York City, 2. Honolulu, Hawaii, 3. San Francisco, California, 4. Washington, D.C., 5. Seattle, Washington, 6. Oakland, California, 7. Arlington, Virginia, 8. Orange County, California, 9. Boston, Massachusetts, 10. Los Angeles, California, 11. Bethesda, Maryland. Whether you are considering migrating for a career or simply desire the life experience of moving to a different place, it is important to understand the cost of living there. Because housing is the most major predictor of a city's cost of living, knowing the median home prices in a city before making a huge move is also vital. Let's take a deeper look at the cost of living in the thirteen most expensive cities in the United States to help you make an informed decision about where you might want to relocate. Read on to learn more about the most expensive cities in the US!
- New York City
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- San Francisco, California
- Washington, D.C.
- Seattle, Washington
- Oakland, California
- Arlington, Virginia
- Orange County, California
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Los Angeles, California
- Bethesda, Maryland
New York City
New York City is the most expensive city in the US to live in. You know, the city where a 600-square-foot flat must be shared by three people in order for the rent to be affordable. What you spend in any city is all about location, location, location. That iconic real estate statement is taken to its logical conclusion in New York.
Manhattan is without a doubt the most costly of New York City’s five boroughs. It is also the most expensive place in the United States to reside. Manhattan’s cost of living is 145.7 percent more than the national average, which is reflected in its exorbitant rent.
Relocating to Brooklyn was formerly thought to be a realistic choice for individuals who couldn’t afford Manhattan. While Brooklyn is a less costly option, it has also become a desirable area to reside in its own way. Its cost of living is currently greater than that of Washington or Seattle. Queens has now become a popular destination for New Yorkers who cannot afford to live in Manhattan or Brooklyn. Even that method, though, isn’t exactly sustainable when you consider Queens’ rent is still three times the national average. Life is costly in New York City, no matter where you reside. That reality, however, has done little to dissuade the 8.3 million people who live there.
Cost of Living: 145.7% higher than US average
It is not inexpensive to live on a Pacific island paradise. This is evident in Honolulu’s exorbitant cost of living, which is 97.6% greater than the national average. Unlike most of the country’s most costly cities, the high cost of living in Honolulu is not concentrated on housing expenditures. While rentals and mortgages are not cheap in Hawaii’s capital, Honolulu residents pay more for almost everything.
Groceries cost 55% higher in this rural locale than in the average U.S. metropolis. Similarly, electricity expenses have risen by 71%. Honolulu has a high median family income and a low unemployment rate. However, unless you have one of those high-paying positions, it’s one of the most challenging places in the country to make ends meet.
It all sounds fantastic, but how inexpensive is it to live there? The first thing to remember is that Honolulu is one of the most isolated large cities on the planet, thus most food and supplies must be imported, which raises the expense. Furthermore, Hawaii has the highest average monthly electricity expenditure in the country.
Cost of Living: 97.6% higher than U.S. average
San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California has become known for its exorbitant cost of living. It should come as no surprise that it is towards the top of this list. San Francisco has some of the highest household earnings in the country, thanks to a thriving tech economy. Even programmers earning six figures have been priced out of a real estate market where the average home value is at $1.34 million.
In fact, San Francisco is one of the most expensive areas in the United States to buy a property. Furthermore, the median property price and median monthly rent in the city are both four times higher than the national average. Much of this is due to the fact that the city is surrounded by water, as well as local zoning restrictions that limit construction heights to 40 feet in most districts.
Cost of Living: 94.7% higher than U.S. average
The nation’s capital is a surprisingly economical holiday destination, thanks to its enormous number of free museums and national monuments. Unfortunately, living in Washington, D.C. is a quite different scenario. The federal government, lobbying companies, national parks, and other government offices occupy a large portion of Washington’s 68 square miles.
Washington D.C.’s dynamic employment hub is home to dozens of big-name private sector organizations and government institutions, therefore it’s no wonder that the District of Columbia has an average family income of $139,500 in 2021. (DC Health Matters). The Smithsonian Institution, the Washington Monument, the Capitol Building, and other attractions draw a large number of foreign and domestic visitors. A strong employment market, appealing tourist destinations, and numerous food and entertainment alternatives place Washington D.C.’s home worth among the top ten, all while home prices have climbed by around 6% in the previous year.
Rent and mortgages are 2.7 times the national average. Although the typical family income is still relatively high at $85,203, to live comfortably, you’d need to earn almost $143,000 per year.
Cost of Living: 60.7% higher than U.S. average
Photo: Bao Thanh Nien
The city that gave us grunge music and the world’s largest coffee chain has become one of the most desired locations to live in the United States. Yes, even with the rain. Seattle, Washington is one of America’s fastest-growing cities, serving as the capital of King County, Washington, and home to several high-tech corporations (including Amazon and Microsoft). Unfortunately, these economic variables imply that if you want to reside in a city with both beach and mountain views, you’ll have to pay a premium.
It is one of the nation’s fastest-growing big cities, with a growth rate of 21.1 percent between 2010 and 2020.
The cost of living in the city is 56.7 percent higher than the national average. Seattle has had a luxury real estate boom in recent years, driving up prices even further. While the market did level off in 2019, Seattle’s standing as one of the most expensive cities is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Cost of Living: 56.7% higher than U.S. average
No matter where the Raiders play, many people will associate them with Oakland and iconic coach John Madden. Despite its proximity to San Francisco, Oakland is a separate city with its own marine heritage, milder climate, and highly regarded airport. Even if you can’t tailgate at any more Raiders home games, there’s plenty to do in the city. A neighborhood named Hive Oakland, for example, is a local “secret.” This meeting place in Oakland’s Uptown District is booming with the arts, multiculturalism, and some of the greatest mezcal and tequila in the city. The problem is that living there will cost you money. That’s because Oakland’s cost of living is 49 percent more than the national average, according to PayScale.
Cost of Living: 53.9% higher than U.S. average
Photo: Property Listings
Although Arlington does not have the formal classification of independent city or incorporated town under Virginia state law, it is considered the second-largest “principal city” in the Washington metropolitan region.
Arlington, Virginia isn’t often thought of as one of the most expensive areas to live in the United States. However, given its closeness to the nation’s capital, Arlington’s high cost of living begins to make sense. Arlington, which is located directly over the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., is legally a county, not a city. In reality, it is the smallest self-governing county in the United States.
Arlington also houses the Pentagon. As a result, a sizable section of the county’s population is made up of well-paid government employees. As a result, Arlington’s cost of living is 50.5 percent more than the national average. Rent and mortgages, for example, will cost residents 2.5 times more.
Cost of Living: 50.5% higher than U.S. average
Orange County, California
This city is so associated with money and luxury that Fox created a blockbuster TV show based on it. Unsurprisingly, Orange County, California ranks among the top ten most expensive cities in the United States. Calling Orange County a city is technically a bit of a stretch. It is actually a vast metropolitan region made up of several cities.
Orange County is in Southern California, in the Los Angeles metropolitan region. The population was 3,186,989 as of the 2020 census, making it the third-most populated county in California, the sixth-most populous in the United States, and more populous than 21 U.S. states. Despite being mostly suburban, it is the state’s second most densely inhabited county, after only San Francisco County.
The county’s most populated cities are Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, and Huntington Beach. Smaller, more wealthy communities such as Newport Beach and Laguna Beach are responsible for Orange County’s high cost of living. Some of the most valuable real estate in the country may be found here. In fact, Orange County has the highest average housing prices in the country, trailing just San Francisco, New York, and Honolulu.
Cost of Living: 50.2% higher than U.S. average
Boston, Massachusetts, formally the City of Boston, is the capital and most populous metropolis of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States, as well as the country’s 24th-most populated city. The city proper occupies around 48.4 square miles (125 km2) and is New England’s most populated city. The city serves as the economic and cultural anchor for a much larger metropolitan region known as Greater Boston, which has a population of 4.8 million people according to the census and is the tenth-largest MSA in the US.
Boston is one of the most attractive cities to reside in the United States, with world-class institutions and colleges as well as a booming economy. Students from all around the world attend Boston-area colleges including Harvard and MIT.
Boston is one of the most successful cities on the East Coast economically. It is well-established in fields such as banking, biotechnology, and innovation. There are over 2,000 startups in the city. All of these factors, unsurprisingly, have raised Boston’s cost of living substantially beyond the national average. Financial analysts estimate that a household income of more than $84,000 is required to live comfortably.
Cost of Living: 48.8% higher than U.S. average
Photo: Boston Magazine
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California, also known by its initials L.A., is the state’s biggest metropolis. It is the second-largest city in the United States, behind New York City, with a 2020 population of 3,898,747. Los Angeles is well-known for its Mediterranean climate, ethnic and cultural variety, film industry, and wide metropolitan region.
Los Angeles is the most populous city in California, with a population of about four million people. It’s also one of the priciest. Despite its associated with Hollywood glamour and glam, L.A.’s high cost of living is supported not only by wealthy movie stars, but also by a thriving industrial and tech startup environment.
Regrettably, the median income is $3,000 lower than the national norm. Most inhabitants find it difficult to live comfortably as a result. In reality, more than 20% of Los Angeles’ population is impoverished. That reflects the city’s vast economic gap in a terrible way.
Cost of Living: 46.6% higher than U.S. average
Photo: Hispanos Emprendedores
Bethesda, Maryland is an unincorporated community in southern Montgomery County, Maryland, located just northwest of Washington, D.C.
Remember what we said about Alexandria? Most of the same variables apply to Bethesda, Maryland as well. This city, located a short distance from the United States Capitol, is home to many well-paid federal personnel. Bethesda is also home to the National Institute of Health and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in addition to government positions. To summarize, there are lots of opportunities for well-educated doctors, attorneys, medical scientists, and policymakers.
The cost of living in Bethesda, like most other cities on this list, is mostly driven by housing expenses. On average, you’ll pay 133 percent more for your home or rent there. Other costs are likewise greater than the national average, with one notable exception. Because of the increased supply of medical experts in the area, residents spend 13% less than the national average for healthcare.
Cost of Living: 45.5% higher than U.S. average
Photo: Long & Foster