Most Expensive Cities In The US

The highly expensive cities in the United States are costly for many good reasons. People moving for business, a vacation or new jobs can enjoy the advantage of having information about the most expensive cities in the country. Knowing the costs of living in a city, and the reason behind it can make or break a decision to relocate to the said cities.As expected, the list of the most expensive cities in America is flooded by Californian cities.
Most Expensive Cities In The US of 2021's

The highly expensive cities in the United States are costly for many good reasons.


People moving for business, a vacation, or new jobs can enjoy the advantage of having information about the most expensive cities in the country.


Knowing the costs of living in a city, and the reason behind it can make or break a decision to relocate to the said cities.

As expected, the list of the most expensive cities in America is flooded by Californian cities.


We created a list of the priciest cities in American with a survey of the 200 most populous US cities.


Top Ten (10) Priciest Cities in the US


  1. New York City, New York
  2. San Francisco, California
  3. Honolulu, Hawaii
  4. Boston, Massachusetts
  5. Washington, D.C.
  6. San Jose, California
  7. Oakland, California
  8. San Diego, California
  9. Los Angeles, California
  10. Miami, Florida


Let’s go more detailed.


1. New York City, New York


This is the number one most expensive city in the United States. It has a population of about 8.4 million and also ranks first on the list of most expensive cities in the world.


Manhattan’s cost of living is 154% above the national average.


The average cost of homes in New York’s five boroughs is around $652,700, compared with $245, 000, which is the national average.


In Manhattan, home prices are a bit higher than $1 million.


Everything in New York City costs more, whether transportation or groceries.


The unemployment rate in NYC as of December 2020 was 8.2%, which is a bit higher than the previous month (8.4%). That is also higher than the national unemployment average rate of 6.3%.


Check New York Movers here.


2. San Francisco, California


Many years of unstoppable development supported by high-paid technology workers have given this city some of the most expensive cost of living in the United States, which means even people with high-paying jobs, can struggle to fit in here.


Houses in San Francisco are popularly expensive, a barrier for those looking to become homeowners.


The average housing price is at $1.3 million in San Francisco, based on the cost of living index, and of all the 20 priciest cities in the country, its average home value is the highest.


3. Honolulu, Hawaii


Residents of Honolulu pay huge amounts of money for almost everything. Utilities cost 72.5% higher than the national average, and groceries cost about 64.6% more. Yet, incomes are not even closer to compensate.


The average household income of residents of Honolulu is $82,900. This is better than $60,300 which is the national average but is lesser than the average household income in San Francisco at $104,500.


If you decide to live in Honolulu, be prepared to pay more for every item.


In Iowa, a dozen of eggs costs $1.40 while it costs $2.58 in Honolulu. The city enjoys a staggeringly low rate of unemployment at 15.1% as of September 2020, which implies that if for nothing, people that have jobs in this city can still buy omelets to eat.


4. Boston, Massachusetts


With its unmatched number of universities, historical sites, hospitals, and tech and biotech employers, one can easily see why Boston is such a great place to live. And even though the city’s popularity is undoubtedly accompanied by a high cost, it is not as expensive as some East Coast cities that are usually mentioned in the same context as Boston.


Well, the population of students, young professionals, and recent grads need some cheapness to help them with starting.

Groceries in Boston, for instance, cost about 10% higher than the national average, less than what those residents of other cities on this list pay.  


5. Washington, D.C.


Everyone knows that the federal government is the largest employer in the country’s capital, providing one-quarter of jobs in the city. There will be no difficulty for those in the business and professional service sectors to get a job.


Average home prices in the District of Columbia as of January 2020 were at $580,000 and the average rent was $2,233.

It may not be considered as the most glamorous city in the United States, but the cost of living in Washington, D.C. is greatly affordable on the average city area income of $72,600


Renters enjoy a better life. Renting an apartment in San Francisco on average costs $4,140 as against $2,233 per month in Washington, D.C. That is around 3.5 times the country’s average.


6. San Jose, California


Those looking to stay away from high prices in the Bay Area will get a bit of relief in San Jose, located within driving distance of San Francisco and Oakland.


Everything in San Jose becomes costly due to the presence of Silicon Valley, with the average home prices above $1 million.


The average income is about $104,200 in San Jose. The multiple tech industry employers in the city are responsible for a below-the-average unemployment rate, which is, as of December 2020, 6.7% for Sunnyvale, San Jose, and Santa Clara.


7. Oakland


This is located on one of the Bermuda Triangle surrounding San Francisco Bay where cheap prices are invisible. San Francisco is the second corner, which is known for expensive real estate as similar to Fisherman’s Wharf and Alcatraz.

Silicon Valley is the third corner and is home to technology giants offering six-figures salaries like treats on Halloween.


Oakland might seem like a good deal when compared to its surrounding neighbors to the west and south.


But look at this: even though the average household income in Oakland is around 23% more than the national average, home values on the average are above three times the country’s average as a whole.


Average home prices are $765,400, while cost over $3,000 to rent per month. This is almost twice the national average of $1,600 to rent.


Home prices in Oakland are 5.7% higher over the past year, but they are expected to reduce by 1.1% in the next 12 months, based on estimates from Zillow. That’s a small relief.


8. San Diego California


The presence of the defense department and military contractors like Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and Science Applications International Corporation (NYSE: SAIC) make San Diego, which is the southernmost city of California one of the most expensive in America.


Residents of San Diego are at about 1.4 million and they enjoy an average household income of $75,500, making sure they can live a luxurious life like yacht clubs, high-end eaters, and other costly forms of entertainment.


The average home value is $652,600. As of December 2020, the unemployment rate in San Diego and its environment is 6.7%, which is a bit close to the national average


9. Los Angeles, CA


When you think of this city, you imagine wealthy, famous movie stars. The booming economy of the city is influenced by the movie industry. The shipping industry in Los Angeles also plays a huge role, as Port of Los Angeles is one of the most used ports in the world.


A booming manufacturing sector, as well as a remarkable start-up scene, adds to the high cost of living of the city.


The average purchase price for houses in L.A is about $738,000, but the metro area is wide, and its home price per square foot is $100 lower than in the city proper.


Long commutes are popular, and the average resident can prepare to spend an extra dollar per gallon on gas, unlike the national average, taking the cost of living in Los Angeles higher.


Car insurance increases the cost by $1,964 annually. The fairly low average income of about $60,000 in Los Angeles makes it even a bit affordable.


10. Miami, Florida


This is the only city from the southern US that makes the list of the ten most expensive cities in the country. With a high population of foreigners, the availability of international financial institutions as well as the busiest cruise ship port in the universe gives the city an expensive price tag.


The average household income for Miami Beach is about $53,300, while the rate of unemployment as of August 2020 is 8.0% and is better than the national average.


A family of four in Miami would need an average income of $70,800 to live well in this modern city crowded with newly built residential and commercial structures.


Most Costly Cities to Own a Home


San Francisco is by far the most costly city to live in, with a median home value per square foot of $1,070.92. Boston is the next priciest city which still costs $328.72 lower per square foot than San Francisco.


Most of the priciest cities cost from $500 to $680 or more per square foot on average.



City, State

Average Home Price


San Francisco, California



Boston, Massachusetts



Honolulu, Hawaii



New York City, New York



Fremont, California



San Jose, California



Washington DC



Glendale, California



Los Angeles, California



Oakland, California





What cities in the country have the highest cost of living?


San Francisco, California is the number one city when considering the cost of living. So, based on PayScale, it is high above the national average by 80%. The average income of a home in San Francisco is around $95k, but most of it will go into housing.


The median home value here is around $1,385,625 based on Zillow’s report, while renters in San Francisco would spend about $3,111 as provided by Rentcafe.


You expected New York to be on this roll right? According to BestPlaces’ estimation, the cost of living index of NYC is 187.2, which is very higher than the national average.


While everything here is on the higher side, housing will leave more dents in your pocket. The fact is that Honolulu, Hawaii sounds like a nice place to call home.


But the average income salary per person is $31,146, which may not compensate for the high cost of living here. Even though healthcare is a bit close to the country’s average, living in Honolulu means you will spend a lot on housing and utilities.


What city has the most expensive rent?


If you are an aspiring house or apartment renter in San Francisco, get ready to spend a lot of money. Rentcafe states that you will spend $3,111 on average as the rent of a 740 sqft apartment.


What state has the most affordable rent?


West Virginia has an average monthly rent of about $970 and is the most affordable state in the United States as regards renting a house or apartment. 


What cities have the least expensive rent?


The average monthly rent in Springfield, Michigan is just $674. Expect to pay $748 in Derby, Kansas, and $985 to rent in Columbus, Ohio.



The cost of living in every city doesn’t give the whole information as regards affordability. You will be able to determine the affordability of goods and services of a given location for its residents when you compare the cost of living with local incomes.


The cost of living in Oakland will be doubled if you decide to live in San Francisco, and the distance is just 20-mins away. As mentioned by experts, a lot of people relocate from one large city to another rather than just abandoning cities at once.


If you are looking to move to a pricey city, we’d recommend you plan your finances so that you don’t get overwhelmed by the expenses.


The average price ranges we’ve mentioned in this list will just give you a rough insight into how costly things are. Also, when you compare it with the pros and average yearly income, you are probably seeing things in another light and not be discouraged by the costs. 


When you are ready to move, you can compare local movers on iMoving to get the best moving discount in any state of your choice.