7 min read Feb 18, 2024

10 Most Expensive Cities in the US (2024 Rankings)

New York City, San Francisco, and Honolulu are the top 3 most expensive cities in the US. Most Americans flock to these cities for their favorable climates, economic prospects, cultural offerings, and more.

NYC tops the list for the world’s most expensive city with 128% higher living expenses but provides great growth opportunities. Similarly, to maintain a comfortable living standard in San Francisco you need an income of $125,310 – that’s high. However, a 7.6% Y-O-Y housing rate decline could appeal to buyers.

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Our research provides insight into housing, education, and other living expenses. It will help you navigate the financial landscape of these vibrant but expensive urban areas. Here are the 10 most expensive cities in the US. 

Top 10 Most Expensive Cities in the US

Let’s examine the most expensive U.S. cities, the factors that make them so, and their unique features.

CityPopulationPoverty RateMedian Household IncomeMedian House Value
1. New York City, NY7,888,12120.6%$67,046 $700,531
2. San Francisco, CA715,71711.25%$119,136$1,475,707
3. Honolulu, HI337,08812.12%$72,454$816,323
4. Boston, MA617,45919.41%$76,298$672,283
5. Washington, D.C.631,69317.48%$77,006$682,386
6. Oakland, CA422,99417.36%$80,143$793,948
7. San Jose, CA930,86210.02%$117,324$1,144,118
8. San Diego, CA1,374,07613.82%$83,454$689,234
9. Los Angeles, CA3,769,48519.98%$65,290$795,887
10. Miami, FL435,91924.86%$44,268$406,293

Most Expensive Places to Live in the US

From exorbitant housing markets to steep taxes and inflated transportation costs, these urban centers may be hard on the pocket. 

1. New York City, New York

Median Listing Home Price $700,531 
Cost of Living Compared to the National Average 128% ⬆️

New York City is renowned for its historic landmarks, diverse culture, and booming finance and business sectors. However, it comes with a hefty price tag, making it the most expensive city in the US.

High demand coupled with a limited supply of housing has made the city’s accommodation costs soar. Additionally, high state and local taxes, inflated transportation costs, and the high cost of goods and services add to its living cost.

Today, NYC is witnessing a -3.48% dip in its population annually, which goes to show that people are migrating to other cities.

2. San Francisco, California

Median Listing Home Price$1,475,707
Cost of Living Compared to the National Average79% ⬆️

San Francisco is a prime financial and tech center. Known for its proximity to Silicon Valley, the city attracts a major workforce. Undoubtedly, housing is exorbitant in the Golden City, which makes it one of the most expensive cities in California.

The costs of utilities in SF are 231% higher than the national average. The city’s high state-income tax rates, housing shortage, and high demand make it one of the most expensive cities in USA.

3. Honolulu, Hawaii 

Median Listing Home Price$816,323
Cost of Living Compared to the National Average84% ⬆️

Honolulu, the capital city, offers a unique island experience but comes with a high cost of living. The city’s remote location and limited land availability drive up housing costs.

Nearly everything consumed on the island is imported and shipped at high rates. The cost of utilities, groceries, and transportation contributes to Honolulu’s steep cost of living.

4. Boston, Massachusetts 

Median Listing Home Price$672,283
Cost of Living Compared to the National Average50% ⬆️

Boston is a historic city in New England known for its prestigious universities, breathtaking architecture, and cultural heritage. This coastal city has reliable public transportation, low crime rates, and top medical facilities.

On the flip side, it also comes with an exorbitant cost of living, high state income tax rates, and increased demand. High demand for housing contributes to its rank as one of the costliest cities in the US.

5. Washington, D.C. 

Median Listing Home Price$682,386
Cost of Living Compared to the National Average39% ⬆️

Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, is known for its iconic landmarks, museums, government buildings, and rich cultural history.

High-paying government jobs, the city’s expensive housing market, limited land supply, high tax rates, inflated transportation costs, and tolls contribute to its costly ranking.

6. Oakland, California 

Median Listing Home Price$793,948
Cost of Living Compared to the National Average46% ⬆️

Oakland, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, is known for its diverse culture, sunnier weather, job opportunities, educational options, and art scene.

The city’s high housing and transportation costs make it one of the most expensive places to live in the US. In addition, Oakland’s proximity to the expensive San Francisco market also affects its overall cost of living index.

7. San Jose, California 

Median Listing Home Price$1,144,118
Cost of Living Compared to the National Average49% ⬆️

San Jose is another city in the heart of Silicon Valley that ranks as one of the priciest cities in the US. It attracts millions of people as it houses major tech companies.

A limited supply of land is one of the major reasons why housing is expensive in Teal Town. Additionally, high state income tax rates and transportation costs contribute to its high cost of living index.

8. San Diego, California 

Median Listing Home Price$689,234
Cost of Living Compared to the National Average 44% ⬆️

Dubbed as America’s Finest City, San Diego is known for its ideal climate, beaches, and lucrative job opportunities. It attracts a large number of foreign immigrants and is expected to project a growth of 1.9 million people by 2050.

High demand and low housing supply are two reasons why San Diego is an expensive city to live in.

9. Los Angeles, California 

Median Listing Home Price$795,887
Cost of Living Compared to the National Average51% ⬆️

Los Angeles, also known as the “City of Angeles”, is famous for its entertainment industry, pleasant climate, beaches, and cultural attractions. LA offers job opportunities to professionals in the tech sector as well as the entertainment sector.

The high demand to live in LA and the scarcity of housing have made buying a house a costly affair.

10. Miami, Florida 

Median Listing Home Price$406,293
Cost of Living Compared to the National Average21% ⬆️

Miami is a vibrant coastal city known for its beaches, nightlife, and diverse culture. But it also has a high cost of living.

Miami’s housing market is expensive. High transportation costs and increased demand for goods and services also contribute to its steep cost of living index.

Bottom Line

The high cost of living in these cities may undeniably be daunting due to the multiple expenses one has to incur. However, it is essential to consider the benefits these cities possess as well.

A thorough research of housing costs, employment opportunities, and lifestyle amenities is essential and critical before relocating to one of these expensive cities.

Research Methodology

We have compiled this list of the top 10 most expensive cities in the US on the basis of various factors.

The factors include the cost of living in the city, population, poverty rate, average household income, and the median listing price of a home in each city. We have also considered the city’s transportation costs and tax rates.

To gather this information, we have relied primarily on World Population Review, Wallet Investor, and Payscale.

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1. What is the most expensive state to live in?

California is the most expensive state to live in in the US. Some of the most expensive cities to live in California are San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, and Los Angeles.

2. Which are the most affordable cities in the US?

The most affordable cities in the US are Brownsville in Texas, Forth Smith in Arkansas, McAllen in Texas, Pueblo in Colorado, and Rockford in Illinois.

3. What's the most expensive city to live in USA?

New York City is not only the most expensive to live in the US but also one of the most expensive place to live in the world.

4. Does the cost of living in the most expensive cities in the US still make them worth living in?

It depends on individual preferences. The high cost of living in the expensive cities is challenging. However, it may come with high-paying job opportunities, cultural attractions, and amenities that make them desirable to live for some people.

5. How can I prepare financially to move to an expensive city in the US?

It's essential to research the cost of living of the city you're planning to move to. This helps you create a realistic budget based on your income and expenses. Moreover, having a financial cushion can help ease the transition.

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