We are reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Many cities in the United States have affordable housing, a stable economy and fun activities to pursue on the weekends. However, cities with the best weather and job opportunities tend to have a high cost of living. High-density cities are often especially expensive since competition affects the housing market. For some renters, an expensive apartment may be worth the experience of living in a highly desirable location. If you love the fast-paced feel of major cities or want to live somewhere with incredible natural beauty, a high cost of living may be part of the price tag. Here are five of the most expensive U.S. cities.
1. New York City, New York
According to Rent Cafe, the average cost of renting in Manhattan is a whopping $4,265 per month, which ranks it as #1 on the list of the most expensive U.S. cities. Prices are high because this New York borough is incredibly walkable and a fun, vibrant place to live. New York City is diverse and full of networking opportunities if you put yourself out there. Unfortunately, crime has gotten much worse since the 2020 pandemic and it’s affecting the local economy.
The U.S. census for 2021 estimates that well over 8,000,000 people live in New York City. Roughly 60% of the population is between the ages of 18 and 65. Because so many people live here, job competition is high. However, there are many opportunities and compensation for roles is often much higher than the national average.
2. San Francisco, California
If you love the feel of a big city but can’t stomach NYC’s prices, consider moving to San Francisco, California. Rent Cafe reports that the average rent in San Fran is $3,230 a month. People love this area because of the beautiful weather and gorgeous outdoor recreation. The city is full of beautiful parks and residents can visit California redwoods nearby.
The food in San Francisco is diverse and delicious. This city is also well-known as a center for the arts and entertainment. It’s home to renowned sports teams, a symphony orchestra, zoos and more. Tourism is a major industry in San Fran, along with shipbuilding, textiles, aerospace and tech companies. However, partly because of the good weather, homelessness in the city is a major problem.
3. Honolulu, Hawaii
Island life? Yes, please! Honolulu is another beautiful but expensive place to live. The average renter in Honolulu pays $1,627 or more a month. People primarily move here for the gorgeous weather and island vibes. However, the local economy doesn’t offer many job opportunities, so many people live with roommates to pay the rent.
Although island life may seem alluring, it can get monotonous after a while – especially if you have to work through each day. Many people move back to the mainland from Honolulu after discovering they can’t afford the high cost of living. If you work a high-paying remote job and love outdoor activities, Hawai’i may be the perfect place for you. However, it’s important to remember that everything in Hawai’i is expensive.
4. San Jose, California
In contrast with Hawai’i, San Jose’s economy is booming. This city in California has gorgeous weather and was ranked by U.S. News in 2022 as the fifth best city in the U.S. to live. It’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors, meet new people and grow a business. However, housing in the area is competitive and expensive.
According to Rent Cafe, the average cost of a small apartment in San Jose is $2,754 a month. Although this city is a desirable place to live for the wealthy, it’s not so great for service workers and people without a college degree. If you have a high-paying tech job, this city could be great for you. However, many people are leaving this area to find more affordable housing.
5. Boston, Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts, is also an expensive place to live. The average cost of rent for a small apartment is $3,634 a month. However, many people move to Boston because of its strong economy. This city is also highly walkable, full of historic sites and offers a slew of sports and artistic entertainment.
Boston has a high student population, with close to 70% of residents between the ages of 18 and 65. Although it’s a major city with a large population, it still manages to feel like a small town. There are many beautiful parks in or near the city for nature lovers. This city experiences all four seasons, with winter temperatures in the low 30s and summer temperatures peaking in the 90s.
Paying the Big Bucks
These five U.S. cities have incredibly expensive rent and a high cost of living compared to national averages. However, the high price point may be worth it to you in exchange for beautiful weather, economic opportunity or fast-paced city energy. Many people prefer to pay a little more to live in these cities – it all depends on what your priorities are.
Use this guide to decide if paying the big bucks in rent is worth it to you. Every city has its pros and cons and nowhere is perfect. However, there are enough cities in the U.S. that you should be able to find a location that suits your needs and priorities as a renter. Because renting isn’t permanent, you can always move somewhere new if an expensive city doesn’t work out.