Most Expensive Cities to Live in the US

Evelyn Long

Oct 18, 2021


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If you’re looking to make a big move sometime in the near future, there’s a good chance you have your sights set on a magnificent city. Plenty of people dream about city life, and if you’re one of those people, living in tighter quarters and forking over a little more in rent money each month could very well be worth it to you, especially if opportunities in your industry or chosen field would be more available to you in a specific metropolitan area. 

But how much is too much? When does a little extra rent money or a particularly steep property market become more trouble than it’s worth? While your standards will always depend on you and your personal needs, you can always find a middle ground between a city you love and your budgeting needs. Maybe that means you move to a nearby city or live in the surrounding suburbs rather than in one of the most expensive cities to live in the US.

Awareness is key. If you plan to move somewhere a little more expensive, it’s important that you remain aware of the situation so you can budget accordingly and make room for added expenses that may come along with your new home. Bigger cities often tend to have higher minimum wages and salaries to go along with their higher cost of living, so all hope isn’t lost. You can take the plunge, so long as you stay aware of the state of your bank account.

1. New York City

Are you surprised? Probably not in the slightest. New York has always been one of the most expensive cities to lay your roots, with high rent prices and a difficult property market. Its $15 minimum wage is definitely a step in the right direction, as many jobs in NYC pay a high enough wage to get by. If you have a hankering for the Big Apple, you can absolutely do it with a little bit of guts so long as you stick to your budget and don’t let costs run away from you.

2. San Francisco

The east coast doesn’t get all the high budget ballers, of course. San Francisco is right up there with New York on our list of most expensive cities to live in the US, rivaling their rent and property prices closely, sometimes even surpassing them depending on who you ask. San Francisco’s booming industries and thriving culture have made it quite the hub, so you may need to put a little extra change in the bank before making your move. The whole Bay Area has taken to spiking because of this, but don’t let it stop you from moving if those hills truly call your name.

3. Honolulu

Who wouldn’t want to high tail it to a beautiful island destination permanently? If you’re looking to cross the Pacific, there are plenty of people who desire the same. Hawaii is currently the most expensive state in the union to live, making its main city expensive almost by default. Due to its seclusion, goods and services of all kinds tend to be more expensive on average, driving up the cost of living.

4. Los Angeles

The land of movie magic is also the land of high living expenses. If you’re involved in entertainment or media, LA could be calling you. But be aware, the cost of rent and other necessities are high, plus the need for a car in LA is so widely known that it’s almost a stereotype. One beauty of Los Angeles is the abundance of surrounding cities and suburbs you can explore. The commute may be a hike, but you’ll watch the beautiful palm trees go by while you take it.

5. San Jose

Ah, the Bay Area strikes again. If you’re on the hunt for a less expensive NorCal city, San Jose is not the place to go. Right beside San Francisco and Oakland, San Jose is great for those working in the tech industry or those who want to be close to San Francisco, but be aware that rent prices and property prices don’t let up for this Bay Area city.

6. Washington D.C.

Joining us back over on the east coast, Washington D.C. is another pricey gem. If you work in politics, news, PR or industries tied to it, you may have no choice but to base yourself in Washington. The $15 minimum wage definitely helps, as does the robust and comprehensive transit system, but rent and living costs can still fly a little too close to the sun. If D.C. is a bit too much, you can always try moving a bit further out of the city to somewhere like Arlington, VA.

Moving to the Most Expensive Cities to Live in the US

Nobody says you can’t follow your big city dreams. In order to sustain them and enjoy them to their fullest potential, you just need to be mindful of your expenses both day to day and in the long term. You can find what you’re looking for, even if you need to expand your search and buckle down a bit.

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