The 8 Most Expensive Places to Live in the U.S.

Getting ready to move? From the City of Angels to the Big Apple, these are the eight most expensive cities to live in the U.S.
Written by Andrea Barrett
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Updated on Dec 01, 2022
While living in a big city has obvious advantages, it also comes with a dark side—a high cost of living. From the City of Angels to the Big Apple, these are just some of the most expensive U.S. cities.
More than 84% of Americans live in cities—there are ample career opportunities, housing, good transportation, and arts and culture galore. Whether you’re looking for an excellent restaurant to satisfy your tastebuds or a museum or art gallery to spark your creativity, you’ll likely find plenty in the city. But while the perks of living in a big city might be a draw for some, more people migrating to the city also means a higher cost of living. 
Have you ever wondered how much it costs to call one of the nation’s biggest cities your home? Luckily,
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New York City, New York

Population: 8,930,000
Median household income: $67,046
Median home price: $850,793
Median rent: $3,800
Living in New York City and the metropolitan area comes with a status—the epitome of hustle and bustle, big city living doesn’t come cheap in the Big Apple. As the biggest city in the U.S. (and the 11th largest city in the world), New York City is bursting with opportunities for exploration, culture, entertainment, dining, and business. 
But regardless of where you choose to live—from Greenwich Village and Manhattan to Queens and the North Bronx—there’s no escaping the wallet-draining nature of NYC. It might be the wealthiest place in America, but the cost of living is a whopping 87.2% higher than the national average. But even with a hefty living price tag, you’ll still find flocks of people moving to NYC in hopes of living the dream. 
  • Plenty of job opportunities 
  • Great public transportation
  • Amazing nightlife and entertainment
  • Great schools
  • Fast-paced lifestyle
  • Expensive
  • Treacherous winter weather 
  • Not car-friendly

San Jose, California

Population: 983,489
Median household income: $117,324
Median home price: $1,312,163
Median rent: $2,544
San Jose, California is the heart of Silicon Valley, which means it’s a land of plenty when it comes to job opportunities—however, the unemployment rate is below the U.S. national average. But if you’re planning to employ yourself in Silicon Valley, homeowners should be prepared to pay a premium for housing prices—according to
, average rent costs have increased 10% in the last year alone. 
Although cheaper than San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Jose’s cost of living is still 114.5% higher than the national average—but also note that the average household income and median home price are both higher. For those willing to take the leap, you’ll be rewarded with fantastic weather and peace of mind of knowing that you reside in one of the best cities to live in the country. 
  • Great weather
  • High average income
  • Lots of technology-based job opportunities
  • Diverse food scene
  • High real estate and rent prices
  • Lots of traffic
  • Spare nightlife

Los Angeles, California

Population: 3,849,297
Median household income: $65,290
Median home price: $971,257
Median rent: $2,400
The City of Angels is “the” destination for many. Although another one of the country’s most expensive cities, it’s the polar opposite of NYC’s concrete jungle. LA is ripe with low-rise buildings sprawled across nearly 500 square miles with green spaces occupying almost 35% of the city, making LA one of the
greenest cities
in the country.
But while LA has plenty to offer everyone, the cost of living is high—51.9% above the U.S. national average—and the housing costs are even higher at 198.2% higher than the national average. But if you can afford to buy (or even rent) a place in Los Angeles, you’ll enjoy low utility costs, great weather, and plenty of amazing food. But don’t get us started on gas prices…
  • There’s always something to do
  • Celeb-gazing galore
  • Incredible food scene
  • Great year-round climate
  • Good public transportation
  • Nightmarish traffic
  • Lack of parking
  • Heavy job competition
  • Expensive properties
  • High crime rate

San Francisco, California

Population: 815,201
Median household income: $119,136
Median home price: $1,196,125
Median rent: $2,995
Further up north from the hustle and bustle of LA, San Francisco and the Bay Area offer a kind of coastal charm you won’t find anywhere else in the state. Ranked as the 10th best place to live in the country by
U.S. News
, San Fran is bursting with steep hills, cable cars, and the famous Golden Gate Bridge.
But with a booming economy, a rapidly-growing job market, and fantastic year-round weather, it shouldn’t be a surprise that San Francisco is growing fast—it experienced a 9.5% population increase since 2020, and residents are paying for these perks. How? With a cost of living that’s 169.3% higher than the national average and a housing cost that’s nearly three times higher than the national average.
  • Dog-friendly city
  • Great public transportation system
  • Plenty of job opportunities
  • Great weather year-round
  • Sky-high median home value
  • Lots of traffic
  • High gas prices

Honolulu, Hawaii

Population: 1,000,890
Median household income: $87,722
Median home price: $625,000
Median rent: $1,800
Who wouldn’t want to look out their window and see the sun coming up over the crystal blue ocean? Honolulu is known as the Crossroads of the Pacific and may be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country, but apart from the jaw-dropping beaches, historical landmarks, and mouthwatering seafood, you have to consider that Hawaii is still an island—and that means everything tends to cost more
Food costs are high because everything is shipped from the mainland. Compared to the national index of 100, Hawaii’s food costs ranked at 193.3! Energy bills in Hawaii will also cost you an arm and a leg, with some of the highest in the nation—the average monthly bill sits around $342.21 compared to the national average of $131.35. On top of that, Hawaii is desirable for foreigners to buy property, which continues to drive costs up.
  • Unbeatable scenery
  • Beautiful year-round weather
  • Educational opportunities
  • Surfer's paradise
  • High housing market
  • Expensive gas
  • Steep food costs
  • High energy costs

Washington, D.C.

Population: $670,050
Median household income: $90,842
Median home price: $678,689
Median rent: $2,300
The nation’s capital is rich in history and culture and is a magnet for highly-educated people looking for high-powered jobs. With over 100 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified projects, it’s also one of the greenest cities in the world. 
But when it comes to costs, it’s a tale of two cities. Housing-related expenses (rent and mortgages) are more than 2.6 times higher than the national average and food and utilities sit only 11% higher, but D.C. is one of the more affordable cities for healthcare costs.
  • Cultural diversity
  • Great job opportunities
  • Good public transportation
  • Plenty of green spaces
  • Humid summers and harsh winters
  • Poor public schools
  • Demanding work environment
  • Traffic and congestion
  • High housing costs

Boston, Massachusetts 

Population: 654,776
Median household income: $76,298
Median home price: $770,797
Median rent: $3,000
Home to one of the fastest-growing job markets and fantastic educational facilities, Boston is quickly climbing the ranks as one of the best cities for quality of life. It appears to history buffs wanting to explore the nation's historical cities, scholars looking for education, and even sports fans hoping to catch a big-league ball game at Fenway Park.
Although much of the city can be explored by foot or public transport, gridlock is a big issue. And home prices aren’t cheap, with the average home price in Boston roughly 2.3 times higher than the U.S. average price
And rent? Don’t expect that to be cheap, with renting Bostonians spending approximately 69% of their income on housing. In short, it’s one of the more expensive places to live.
  • Great sports scene
  • Walkability and reliable public transportation
  • Extensive history
  • Great education
  • High cost of living
  • Expensive housing
  • Harsh winters

San Diego, California

Population: 1,381,611
Median household income: $83,454
Median home price: $837,696
Median rent: $1,770
Just south of LA, you’ll find the city known for its lovely climate and palm-tree-lined beaches. Considered the birthplace of California, San Diego is bursting with plenty of shopping centers, museums, and entertainment—and if laying in the sun or exploring the coast isn’t your thing, there’s no shortage of things to do. 
Although the cost of living in San Diego is about 47% higher than the national average, COL doesn’t paint the entire picture, as goods and services are relatively affordable for most people—and it’s more affordable California living than in cities like San Fran or LA.
  • Amazing weather
  • Affordable goods and services
  • Lots of activities
  • Promising job market
  • Expensive housing
  • High gas prices
  • California taxes (some of the highest in the country)
  • Traffic
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