The cost of living varies greatly throughout the United States. A certain income can stretch far in some regions of the country and hardly at all in other areas. Imagine that the median cost of a one bedroom apartment in one major US city is three times the amount of the national average. Granted, the pricier hubs are often the most desirable in terms of job opportunities, cultural offerings and other amenities, so there’s no shortage of people clamoring to live there. This list ranks the top 15 most expensive cities in the US based on a number of factors including percentage of income spent on groceries, housing, utilities, transportation and health care.
15. Providence, RI
Providence, with a population of 180K, is not only the capital of the smallest state in the US but it’s also one of the oldest cities in the country. The cost of living in this New England city is 23.3% higher than the national average. The median home value is $148,000 and utilities cost 26% more in this capital city. Renting an apartment in the city center will cost you $1,150.00 on average. Providence has lots of worthy charm, but it will impact your wallet.
14. Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania with a population of 1.5 million, but “brotherly love” doesn’t come cheap. The cost of living in this city is 26.6% higher than the national average. The standard rent for a one bedroom apartment in Philly is $1,257 a month. A median home value is $199,100 in the metro area. Expect to spend 24% more than the national average on groceries in the land of the cheesesteak.
13. Anchorage, AK
Anchorage is Alaska’s most populous city with just over 301,000 residents. That’s 40% of the state’s population. The median income of a family in Anchorage is $85,829 but the cost of living is 28.4% higher than the national average. The median value of a home in the Alaskan city is $299,000 and the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,049 per month. Not surprisingly, groceries cost 34.4% more in Anchorage due to the expense of shipping everything up north. On a positive note, Anchorage has been named the most “tax-friendly city” in the US.
12. San Diego, CA
San Diego is the second largest city in California with a population of about 1.3 million. It is located approximately 120 miles south of Los Angeles and sprawls towards the Mexican border. The cost of living in San Diego is 32.3% above the national average. The median price of homes in the city is $519,500 and the average household income is $63,990. However, groceries cost only 5% more than the national average and the sunshine is free.
11. Boston, MA
Massachusetts’ capital makes our list as the 11th most expensive city in the country. The Boston metro area has a population close to 2 million. The historic city has a cost of living that is nearly 32.5% above the national average. The average home in Boston costs $382,400. A typical monthly renter will pay $1,043 per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Expect to spend about $400 per month on groceries, so even a Boston tea party will set you back some.
10. Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles is the most populous city in California and the second most populous city in the country, behind New York City. The population of Los Angeles is estimated to be 3.4 million. The cost of living in LA is 36.4% higher than the national average. The median home value in Los Angeles is $525,200 and a one-bedroom apartment rents for $1,636.37 per month in the city center. A gallon of gas costs $4.28 in the City of Angels, one of the highest rates in the country. With limited public transit options in this freeway-loving city, operating a vehicle in LA is a considerable expense.
9. Washington, DC
Washington, DC consistently ranks as one of the least affordable cities in the country. The cost of living in the nation’s capital is 40.1% above the national average. An average home in the DC Metro area costs $746,549 and monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,852. Expect to pay $3.70 for a gallon of gas in the capital. An average night out at the movies is $11.54 per ticket. Don’t feel too bad, though. The average federal employee makes a comfortable six figure salary with cushy benefits and kickbacks to boot.
8. Orange County, CA
Orange County is one of the most expensive areas of southern California. The OC has a cost of living that is 46.4% above the national average. The median price for a home in the county is $721,000 and an average monthly rent runs for $1,778. A trip to the beauty salon will cost you an average of $60 and at the grocery store expect to pay $2.24 for a half-gallon of milk and $2.19 for a dozen eggs. Here, a gallon of gasoline will put you back $3.90. It’s just the price you have to pay to live on the beautiful California coast.
7. Stamford, CT
Stamford is a city in Fairfield County, Connecticut with a population of 122,643. Stamford is located just 30 miles northeast of Manhattan, New York, so can be considered a convenient commuter town. The city is also home to four Fortune 500 companies and is the largest financial district in the New York metro area outside of New York City itself. Based on the national cost of living index, Stamford ranks as 46.6% above the average. The average price of a home in the city is $598,000 and apartment rent costs approximately $2,109 per month.
6. San Jose, CA
San Jose, located in Santa Clara County, is the third largest city in California and the 10th largest city in the USA. San Jose has been nicknamed the “Capital of Silicon Valley” as it is situated in the center of the country’s technology industry. San Jose’s population is 948,279. The cost of living in this northern Californian city is 53.4% above the national average. The median price of a home in San Jose is $764,283 and monthly rents costs approximately $1,728. You need a Silicon Valley salary to make ends meet here.
5. Queens, NY
Queens is the largest and easternmost area of the five boroughs of New York City. It is the second most populous borough behind Brooklyn with 2.3 million residents. Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. The cost of living in Queen is 59% above the national average. The median home sells for $636,000 and monthly rent goes for $2,390 in Queens County.
4. San Francisco, CA
San Francisco is the cultural epicenter and leading financial hub of Northern California. It is the second-most densely populated city in the US after New York City, with a population of 837,442 in a relatively small area. On the cost of living index, San Francisco ranks 64% above the national average. The median price of a home in the Bay Area is $810,067 and an average one-bedroom apartment rents for $2,630 per month (if you can find one!). San Francisco is all a well-educated city with over 44% of its residents holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Planning a movie date in San Francisco? Expect to spend $16.79 on a movie ticket and $11.17 on a bottle of wine.
3. Honolulu, HI
Honolulu is not only the state capital, but it’s also the most populous city in the island chain. The population of Honolulu is estimated to be 390,738. The city is a major hub for international business, military defense, and serves as a gateway for the islands’ $10 billion tourism industry. Honolulu ranks as the third most expensive place to live in the US with a cost of living at 67.7% above the national average. The average home in Honolulu costs $742,600 and renters can expect to pay $2,733 per month for a small one-bedroom apartment. Residents spend a hefty $4.24 on average for a gallon of gas – the priciest in the country.
2. Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn is located just across the river from downtown Manhattan. It is the most populous of New York City’s five boroughs, with an estimated 2.6 million people. The cost of living ranks at 78.6% higher than the national average. The average price of a home in Brooklyn is $990,500 and a gallon of gas costs nearly $4.00. Renters pay on average $2,493 per month for a very limited amount of apartment space. Even groceries cost 30% more in Brooklyn than they do in the rest of the country.
1. New York, New York
You probably guessed this would top the list of most expensive cities in the US. New York City has been voted the most expensive city in the US since 2007. The cost of living in NYC is a whopping 121% more than the national average. Thinking of purchasing a home in the Big Apple? Expect to shell out an average of $1.36 million for property in the city. The median monthly rent is $3,902 and don’t expect to have much personal space for that amount. New York also had the highest density of millionaires per capita among major US cities in 2014, at 4.6% of residents.