There are a lot of advantages to living in a large U.S. city. Exceptional job opportunities and access to cultural attractions entice many to move to a particular place. Living in a highly populated town, though, usually comes with a costly price tag. Housing expenses, food prices, transportation costs, and other budget concerns help determine whether you can afford to live where you'd like to relocate. Some of the more desirable and most expensive cities to live in the U.S. tend to be on the east and west coasts, with one or two exceptions.
This tech-savvy city of quaint cable cars and other iconic attractions is also America's most expensive city in which to reside. Housing costs are some of the priciest in the world. A one-bedroom apartment typically costs $3,500 per month, and real estate prices can easily climb way past the average $1.5 million for a home. To live comfortably in San Francisco, a family of four would need an annual income of at least $149,000. Families earning salaries of $117,400 or less are considered low-income.
Manhattan and Brooklyn make New York City one of the country's most expensive cities to live. If you plan on moving to the Big Apple, choose your neighborhood and budget wisely. Renting an apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side can set you back $20,000 per month. A rental apartment in Brooklyn, though cheaper, is still no bargain at $2,500 a month. Food costs are high, whether eating out or buying groceries. You'll find lots of great free things to do in this city, but the theatre and even movie tickets are expensive. New York is not a cheap place to live, but it's one of the world's greatest cities.
The country's second largest city is a magnet for striving film stars and media moguls. The glitz of Hollywood and shops on Rodeo Drive all add up to the need for a nice income to live just an average lifestyle in L.A. Homes are expensive, costing roughly $300,000 more than an average home in most other US cities. Yet the median household income is less than the national average by about $4,000. Just getting your car from point A to point B can cost you 25% more than it would elsewhere, due to the snarling traffic conditions.
Oakland has long been considered one of San Francisco's poorer neighbors. That image is changing, though, as Oakland is heating up in popularity, making it one of the Bay Area's more expensive residential locales. It's just a short ride on the BART to get to San Francisco, giving Oakland a similar allure as is living in Brooklyn rather than Manhattan. Housing costs in Oakland are double the national average. Be prepared to shell out close to $2,000 per month and up for a one-bedroom rental here.
Living in the nation's capital is not cheap. The prices for homes are high, with a one-bedroom house costing close to $400,000. If you live within the confines of D.C., you'll have to pay federal income taxes plus a District Income Tax, which can be as high as 9%, yet the area has no Congressional representation. On the plus side, you'll have easy access to plenty of free museums and other historic sites, in addition to the wonderful National Zoo. To live a comfortable lifestyle in D.C., you'll need to have an annual income of about $80,000.
Life on this Hawaiian island looks like a dream come true if it weren't for the cost of living. Keeping in mind that most things sold in Honolulu have to be shipped or flown in, you'll understand why many grocery items tend to cost double what they would on the mainland. A simple dinner for two in a neighborhood café can cost $60. Getting to that restaurant is expensive, too. The price to gas up your car will end up costing 30% more in this city than any other city in the continental U.S. Although the average salary in this tropical paradise is upwards of $60,000, the state of Hawaii has one of the country's highest tax rates.
Who wouldn't want to live close to miles of beaches amidst the near-perfect climate of San Diego? This ideally located city with tons of outdoor amenities is a great place to live, but it will stretch and probably break the average budget. Be prepared to encounter housing costs that exceed the national average by 138%. Costs for transportation are also five times higher in San Diego than in most other US cities.
The housing market is on fire in this northwestern city that's known for its coffee, tech companies, and rock bands. In fact, you will spend 94% more on housing in Seattle than many other US cities, on average. A small, 480-square-foot rental will cost upwards of $2,000 per month in the more exclusive sections of town. Buying a private house in Seattle costs about $750,000., making this city the third-most expensive in the US housing market.
If you're considering purchasing a home in San Jose, be ready to pay about $1.2 million for it. Housing prices have risen about 23% as home inventory has decreased in this town that sits right in Silicon Valley. A one-bedroom rental goes for more than $2,000, making San Jose America's 4th most expensive market for rentals.
Boston is one of the country's most popular cities, with its unrivaled universities, top-notch medical centers, and iconic historical sites. Although not quite as expensive as New York, Boston is still above the national average when it comes to housing and food costs. Expect to spend over $1800 a month for a studio apartment and more than $2 million if you want to buy a home in the Back Bay area.