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25 Most Expensive Places to Live in the U.S.

Stamford, Connecticut

This Connecticut city is dwarfed by others on our list. Even though the city is small in population, you’ll find the homes in this upper-class suburb are out of reach for just under half of its inhabitants: the homeownership rate in Stamford is about 54%. Here’s some perspective: the median cost of a home in America is $179,200 and one month’s rent for a one-bedroom apartment is just under $1,000. The cost of living only goes up from here.

Washington, D.C.

Our nation’s capital is much more affordable than NYC or San Francisco, but let’s compare numbers to the country’s average. The median value of a house in D.C. is $487,500 and is only expected to increase. Washington, D.C. is a city of varying demographics: on one hand, D.C. boasts a high median income and a large concentration of young professionals. On the other hand, the income disparity can be cut clearly by following the subway lines. Lower-income D.C. households spend about 43% of their income on housing and transportation.

Boston, Massachusetts

Like other cities on our list, Boston is a multifaceted city. Boston is home to several museums, universities, and some of the most expensive apartments in the country. Renting a one-bedroom will cost you over $2,400 a month. Utilities are 23% more expensive than the national average, and you’ll probably need to buy a public transit pass for $75 a month. With a median income of $53,601, the high home prices are out of reach for many Bostonians. 

San Diego, California

Everyone knows that San Diego is expensive, but did you know how expensive? Looking at the numbers, it's hard to see how anyone could live there. Renting a one bedroom apartment costs $1,990, and a house? We don't even want to think about it. Since the average income is around $63,400 in the city, we can't see how people survive. 

Honolulu, Hawaii

You’d be surrounded by sunshine and natural beauty if you moved to Honolulu. However, you’d also be hit with a high cost of living. The cost of groceries is more than 50% higher than the national average. Other expenses, such as transportation and healthcare, exceed the national average by 27% and 15% respectively. Residents of Hawaii reportedly have the highest quality of life in America; if your budget could handle Honolulu, you’d be pretty happy too.

Bellevue, Washington

Bellevue is a thirty minute drive from Seattle, Washington. This city of roughly 134,000 may be small, but the median cost of a home is so high that it earned Bellevue a spot on our expensive cities list. Bellevue’s high median income of $90,333 reflects its general population: over 60% of residents have a college degree, and many are employed in management positions. That doesn’t make affordable housing easy to find; over a third of inhabitants have a hard time finding a place they can afford.

San Jose, California

Better known as Silicon Valley, San Jose is surrounded by billionaires and tech giants. They are among the few who can afford to live in San Jose. The median price of rent has greatly outpaced the median income, and about 60% of working-class families spend well over half their income on rent. Buying a house isn’t easy either; property values (and housing costs) are soaring for everyone.

Los Angeles, California

Big names from Kim Kardashian to the Clippers call Los Angeles their home. Unfortunately, it seems that celebrities and athletes are among the few who can actually afford to live in LA. Renting in Los Angeles is practically impossible for the average resident.  A common budgeting rule of thumb is that you should avoid spending more than 30% of your monthly paycheck on rent. Using the median income of $55,909 as a guide, the typical Los Angeles inhabitant should be spending around $2,139 a month on rent. That isn’t the case.

New York, New York

Everyone’s dreamed of a life in a big city before, and in the U.S., it doesn’t get bigger than New York. Many people move to New York in hopes of launching their career, be it in the arts, finance, or fashion. If you plan on moving to the city that never sleeps, you should be prepared to spend a fortune on housing. On average, renting an apartment in New York will cost roughly three times the national average of $976 per month. You’ll need a lot of green to buy a home in NYC—especially if you’re looking at Manhattan real estate. The median value of a Manhattan hope sits at $1.25 million!

San Francisco, California

Would you like to move to a city where only 11% of its inhabitants can afford housing? If the answer is yes, San Francisco is the place for you.  The rent is the highest on our list, as is the median home value (excluding the Manhattan borough of NYC). At least your utility bill will be manageable: after all, $150 for basic utilities and internet is a pretty good deal nationwide. But who needs to pay the electric bill when you don’t have a roof over your head?

Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz, like many California cities, is super expensive. The poverty rate sits at 13.7%, which is higher than the national average. If you’re lucky enough to get a job, it may still be tough to pay rent or a mortgage since the average income of a Santa Cruz resident is $29,177 per year.   

Napa, California

Napa’s job market is improving, but it may not be enough for residents. Some are finding it difficult to live in the city since groceries, houses, and rent are so expensive. A gallon of milk is around $4.25, and a pound of rice is $4.00—talk about ridiculous.  

Brooklyn, New York

New Yorkers that once lived in Manhattan flocked to Brooklyn because the cost was lower, but that’s no longer the case. Now, living in Brooklyn has even become more expensive. Since the average income is around $25,932 per year, it’s tough for anyone to afford rent or groceries.

Oakland, California

Oakland is close to one of the most expensive places in the United States – San Francisco. Naturally, this place is also pretty expensive. Oakland may seem like a bargain compared to San Fran, but that doesn’t mean it’s any more affordable for the average person. The average sales price for a home is over $707,000, and prices are only going up.

Arlington, Virginia

Arlington is a suburb close to Washington, D.C. Considering how high-priced D.C. is, Arlington didn’t stand a chance. The good news about Arlington is that the job market is steadily increasing and will steadily do so as long as nothing drastic happens.

Queens. New York

From Manhattan to Brooklyn, and Brooklyn to Queens. New Yorkers are running out of places to move! Housing-related costs are double that of the national average, so it can be tough paying for a mortgage or rent.  

Bethesda, Maryland

Bethesda is another suburb city of D.C., which means it’s going to be super expensive. While groceries and utilities are affordable, housing is not. Renters pay 131% more than the average American just to have a roof over their head.  

Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria is close to D.C.—noticing a theme? Alexandria has its own booming economy thanks to many highly-educated people who move there seeking high-powered jobs. Of course, these people can pay insane prices for rent and mortgages.  

Seattle, Washington

Seattle is getting bigger every year,; it’s considered one of the fastest-growing cities in America. Everyone that lives there, however, has a hard time keeping up with prices. Thankfully, the booming tech scene is changing things by providing better-paying jobs.  

Miami, Florida

Soak up the sun but look out for cost of living in Miami. It costs 7.6% more to live in this city. The poverty rate also sits at 15.4%, which is much higher than the 12.3% national average. If you can get a job, the good news is that the housing costs aren’t as sky high as other cities on this list.

Juneau, Alaska

Everything is more expensive in Alaska, and Juneau has super-high prices to match its reputation. Housing costs are 50% more than the national average, groceries sit at 50% higher, and even health care takes a hit at 53%

Portland, Oregon

Portland has a lot of charm, so it’s no wonder people want to move there. That being said, you have to have a great income to live there. Portland’s housing-related costs are 82% higher than the national average. Yikes.

Gaithersburg, Maryland

Poor Gaithersburg. This city is a suburb of D.C., so it suffers the same fate as the other cities. This city is cheaper than all the others, and it even has a low unemployment rate of 3.4%. At least people that live there can afford it!

Orange County, California

Orange County is so expensive that there was an actual TV series about it – The O.C. Orange County is also known for housing some of Southern California’s richest and most famous people. Guess they can afford the high prices!

Santa Rosa, California

California means you’ll probably shell out a ton of money just to live there. Santa Rosa is one of the state’s most expensive cities. In fact, the cost of living is a whopping 21% higher than the national average.