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

The Most Expensive Places to Live in the U.S.
Slide through to find out if your dream city to move to made the list, and if you’re willing to pay what it costs to live in that big city. Getty Images

The allure of moving to the big city is a common theme for many in the United States. The opportunity for close access to culture, nightlife and often higher-education options is an exciting draw for many people enticed by the idea of the big city. But there’s a saying that often follows a pronouncement of a move to the city: Get ready to pay an arm and a leg.

It’s true, urban areas are usually more expensive to live in than rural or even suburban areas. Goods, rent prices and property values are typically more expensive due to demand or lack of options elsewhere. Don’t believe us? Then believe the United States Department of Commerce’s income and cost of living report for metropolitan areas and their surrounding suburbs. Their study found a number of surprising results:

  • The cities with the highest growth in income were Atlanta; Orlando, Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • The cities with declining income were Houston, Denver and Pittsburgh.
  • The state with the highest rent prices was Hawaii, and the states with the lowest were Alabama and West Virginia.
  • San Francisco is the largest city with the highest rent prices, and Cleveland has the lowest.

The Department of Commerce determined its data based on regional price parities, which measured the average prices paid by consumers for goods and services within each region, and then gave them a percentage ranking. With a perfect 100 being the national average, anything above that is more than the national average. For example, San Francisco has a score of 191 for average rent prices based on the national average, so its residents’ rent is 91 percent higher than the national average. Anything below 100 is lower than the national average. For example, Cleveland’s average rent prices received a score of 78, making its residents’ rent prices 22 percent lower than the national average.

The regional price parity for metropolitan areas gives a glimpse into the most expensive cities in the United States. Slide through to find out if your dream city to move to made the list, and if you’re willing to pay what it costs to live in that big city. Trigger warning: This list could make your bank account very, very depressed.

1 San Jose
San Jose, California: The overall regional price parity is 27 percent higher than the national average, goods are 10 percent higher and rent prices are 113 percent higher than the national average. Getty Images
2 San Jose
San Jose, California: Suburbs included in San Jose’s regional price parity are Sunnyvale and Santa Clara. Google, Facebook and other tech companies are also nearby. Getty Images
3 San Francisco
San Francisco: The overall regional price parity is 25 percent higher than the national average, goods are 11 percent higher and rent prices are 91 percent higher than the national average. But if you can get used to eating Rice-A-Roni, you should be able to afford to live there. Getty Images
4 San Francisco
San Francisco: Suburbs included in San Francisco’s regional price parity include Oakland and Hayward. Getty Images
5 New York
New York City: The overall regional price parity is 22 percent higher than the national average, goods are 10 percent higher and rent is 55 percent higher. Bright side: Bagels are cheap. Getty Images
6 New York
New York City: Suburbs included in New York’s regional price parity include Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey; parts of Pennsylvania; and Long Island, New York. Getty Images
7 Washington DC
Washington, D.C.: The overall regional price parity is 19 percent higher than the national average, goods are 5 percent higher and rent prices are 66 percent higher. Getty Images
8 Washington DC
Washington, D.C.: Suburbs included in D.C.’s regional price parity include Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia, and parts of Maryland and West Virginia. Getty Images
9 Los Angeles
Los Angeles: The overall price parity is 18 percent higher than the national average, goods are 5 percent higher and rent is 65 percent higher. Getty Images
10 Los Angeles
Los Angeles: Suburbs included in Los Angeles’s regional price parity include Long Beach and Anaheim. Getty Images
11 San Diego
San Diego: The overall price parity is 15 percent higher than the national average and goods are right at the national average, but rent prices are 68 percent higher than the national average. Getty Images