In most cases, the most expensive cities in the United States are expensive for a valid reason, if not several. Residents are willing to pay more for housing, food, and fuel if it enables them to live in an area with abundant employment opportunities or favorable weather. Others seek a cosmopolitan living, which offers a variety of restaurants, museums, and other cultural options.
10. San Diego
With its miles of beaches and virtually perfect climate, San Diego is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. This Pacific city offers something for everyone, whether it’s surfing, sailing, hiking, biking, golfing, or simply perusing Balboa Park.
And for those who prefer sedentary activities, San Diego offers a world-class zoo, museums, professional sports teams, and a diverse dining scene.
Among the top employers is the United States. Navy, Qualcomm (QCOM), and the University of California, San Diego have formed a partnership.
What then is not to like? The cost of living in San Diego is quite high. The cost of housing is 122% above the national average. San Diego’s average home price is astronomically higher than the national average of $452,510. The average apartment rent is $3,057 per month, compared to $1,369 in the United States.
And the hemorrhaging continues thereafter. The prices of groceries, utilities, and miscellaneous products and services are approximately 12 percent higher than the national average. Transportation costs are roughly 32 percent higher than the national average.
California rates as one of the most tax-friendly states for middle-class families, which is beneficial.
9. Oakland, California
Oakland anchors one corner of a Bermuda Triangle-like region surrounding San Francisco Bay in which affordable prices vanish. San Francisco is as well-known for its skyscraping real estate as it is for Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf. Silicon Valley is the third corner, where tech titans hand out six-figure salaries like Halloween candy.
In comparison to its peers to the west and south, Oakland may appear inexpensive. Despite the fact that the median household income in Oakland is 18% higher than the national average, the median property value is three times the national average.
In Oakland, rents and other costs associated with maintaining a shelter over one’s head are similarly high. According to C2ER, total housing-related expenses are nearly three times the national average. The costs of groceries, utilities, transportation, and healthcare are all roughly a third higher than the national average.
8. Boston, Massachusetts
It’s simple to see why Boston is such an attractive place to live, given its unrivaled concentration of universities, hospitals, historical sites, and tech and biotech employers. And while it’s undeniable that the city’s popularity comes at a price, it’s not nearly as costly as other East Coast cities that are frequently compared to Boston.
After all, the high concentrations of students, recent graduates, and young professionals necessitate an affordable cost of living during their early careers. For example, grocery prices are “only” 14% higher than the national average. Healthcare is 20% more expensive than what the average American pays, and other products and services are 21% more expensive.
However, housing-related expenses are 124% higher than the national average. Both renters and proprietors pay double the national average for housing. In Boston, for instance, the average apartment rent is $3,747 per month. This is compared to the national average of $1,369 per month, as reported by C2ER. The average price of a residence in Boston is $921,897, compared to $452,510 nationally.
Massachusetts is not particularly tax-friendly for middle-class families or retirees, which is another strike to residents’ wallets.
7. Seattle, Washington
A few short years ago, Seattle’s economy was as hot and robust as its coffee, exerting unremitting upward price pressure. COVID-19 provided some relief from the persistent cost increases, but Seattle remains one of the most expensive cities in the country.
It is not difficult to deduce why. As a significant center for the technology industry, Seattle is flooded with well-paying positions. Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon.com (AMZN) are both headquartered in the area, as are numerous other smaller high-tech firms.
As with every other city on this list, Seattle’s pricing shock is primarily driven by housing costs. According to C2ER, housing-related expenditures, including insurance, for renters and homeowners are more than three times the national average.
However, the high prices do not cease there. The prices of groceries, transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous products and services range from 24% to 32% above the average American price. However, utilities are only about 5% above the national average.
Washington is one of the most tax-friendly states for middle-class families, despite presenting a muddled picture with respect to taxes on retirees.
6. Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles is one of the most extravagant and glamorous cities in the world, but the majority of its residents do not work in Hollywood or shop on Rodeo Drive. As a result of the city’s expensive cost of living, Los Angeles is not a desirable place to reside. In one of the most expensive cities to reside in the United States, the median annual income is only $655 higher than the national average.
Nevertheless, the appeal of the nation’s second-largest city remains robust. Few cities can claim as many prominent locales as Los Angeles, from Hollywood to Beverly Hills to Venice Beach. Those who desire culture beyond the Kardashians will find it in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is home to a number of notable museums and the world-renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Just be aware that Los Angeles’ notorious traffic contributes to transportation costs that are 29% higher than the national average. And despite the fact that groceries, utilities, healthcare, and miscellaneous products and services are only 12 to 17 percent more expensive than the U.S. average, housing drains residents dry.
In Los Angeles, housing-related expenses, including rent and mortgages, are nearly 140% higher than the national average. For instance, the average price of a property in Los Angeles is $365,000. equates to $1,100,000, as opposed to the national average of $452,510. The average rent is 2.3 times higher than the national average.
Lastly, there is one more item that Los Angeles has unnecessarily elevated. While the national unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, the figure in Los Angeles is well above 5%.
5. Orange County, California
Orange County is referred to as The O.C. The term is so synonymous with riches that a 2000s television series was created around it.
The county, which borders Los Angeles to the southeast, consists of several major cities, including Anaheim, Santa Ana, and Irvine. However, it is the smaller, wealthier enclaves such as Newport Beach (median home value: $2 million) that solidify Orange County’s reputation as a haven for Southern California’s wealthy and renowned.
According to C2ER, the average property price in Orange County is currently $1.2 million. This makes it the fifth most expensive market in the nation. However, apartment rentals are only slightly above the national average at $2,919 per month.
Overall, housing in the Orange County region is relatively affordable. costs 156 percent more than what the average American would pay. The cost of consumables is approximately 12% higher than the U.S. average, and transportation is 29% more expensive. On the other side of the ledger, healthcare costs are marginally below the national average, and utilities are approximately 10% less expensive.
4. Washington, District of Columbia
In terms of living expenses, the nation’s capital is a tale of two communities. According to C2ER, housing-related expenses, such as rents and mortgages, are by far the most burdensome, at 2.5 times the national average, while other expenses are relatively manageable. In reality, D.C. The cost of healthcare is slightly below the national average.
The cost of groceries is approximately nine percent higher than the national average, while the cost of utilities is approximately twelve percent higher. The cost of miscellaneous products and services has increased by 19%. Less than 9 percent above the U.S. average, transportation costs are fortunately not prohibitive. An extensive bus and metro system makes transportation in and around the District of Columbia inexpensive. The DC Circulator bus, for instance, costs only $1 and serves popular destinations such as Georgetown, Union Station, and the National Mall.
Moreover, numerous museums and historical sites are also accessible without charge. Regardless, the average home price in Washington, D.C. stands at $1,200,000. The average apartment costs $3,320 per month, which is $1,851 per month more than the U.S. average.
3. Brooklyn, New York
Technically, Brooklyn is one of the five municipalities that make up New York City, but over the past few decades, it has become a metropolis in its own right. If Brooklyn were an independent metropolis, its population would be comparable to that of Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city.
Brooklyn was once considered a viable option for those who could not afford to reside in Manhattan. Not any longer. Expenses associated with housing, such as rents and mortgages, are nearly four times the national average.
Despite this, the median household income in Brooklyn is lower than the national average. It is also nearly $17,000 less than Manhattan’s median household income.
Thankfully, not everything in Brooklyn is exorbitantly priced. The cost of healthcare and utilities is roughly 6 percent higher than the national average. And transportation costs are only 14% higher than the national average. However, groceries and other products and services are approximately 25 percent more expensive than their U.S. average.
The fact that New York is one of the least tax-friendly states for both retirees and middle-class families is a financial burden for Brooklyn residents.
2. San Francisco, California
San Francisco’s living costs are among the nation’s highest as a result of years of unrelenting growth fueled by well-compensated tech employees, meaning that even those with hefty incomes may struggle to make ends meet.
Aspiring landowners face a seemingly insurmountable obstacle in the exorbitant cost of homes. According to C2ER’s cost of living index, the average property price in San Francisco is a staggering $1.5 million, and the median home value is by far the highest among the 11 most expensive U.S. cities to live in.
Renters fare a little better. The average monthly apartment rent in San Francisco is $3,585. That is 2,600 percent of the national average. In fact, housing-related expenses in San Francisco are four times higher than the national average.
And the exorbitant expenses do not end there. Food, utilities, healthcare, and transportation costs are all 30% to almost 40% higher than the average American’s budget. Even miscellaneous products and services cost nearly a quarter more than the national average.
1. Honolulu, Hawaii
To enjoy the benefits of living in such a remote Pacific paradise, Honolulu residents pay more for almost everything than they would on the mainland, and it’s easy to see why. The majority of products sold in Hawaii must arrive by ship or plane, which significantly raises prices.
C2ER found that Honolulu has the most expensive consumables of the 265 urban areas surveyed. For instance, milk and bananas are nearly twice as expensive as the national average, whereas potatoes are approximately three times more costly. Overall, a journey to the supermarket is 50 percent more expensive than it would be on the mainland.
Bills also consume a large portion of people’s paychecks. Utilities are 41% more expensive than on the U.S. mainland. Transportation is 25% more costly, and healthcare is up to 18% more expensive for locals.
However, housing remains the largest income-eating expense. In Honolulu, housing-related expenses are more than three times the national average. Incredibly, the average residence costs $1.6 million.
Financially speaking, residents do receive at least one vacation. Hawaii is one of the states that are most tax-friendly for middle-class families and for retirees.