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The 5 Most Expensive Cities in America (& Where to Move Instead)

What are the most expensive cities in the United States? Find out affordable locations, such as Kansas City, Little Rock, Minneapolis, Raleigh, and San Antonio, that you may want to consider as alternatives to stretch your income to its fullest.
What are the most expensive cities in the United States? Find out affordable locations, such as Kansas City, Little Rock, Minneapolis, Raleigh, and San Antonio, that you may want to consider as alternatives to stretch your income to its fullest.

One of the benefits of living in the modern world is that you do not always have to live in the same city as where your employer resides. This kind of flexibility allows many workers to live wherever they wish. When faced with the choice, would you rather live in one of the most expensive cities in the United States or would you rather choose to live in an area where your paycheck goes further?

The Most Expensive City in America

New York City, New York

It should not come as a surprise that the city that holds Central Park, One World Trade Center, the Met, and Wall Street would be the most expensive city in the country. The cost of living in New York is 120% higher than the national average. Even people living in less-expensive boroughs can expect to pay more for groceries and public transportation.

The expense doesn’t keep people from flocking to the city. The population has now topped 8.3 million, and there are plenty of wanna-be actors heading there right now.

Other Expensive Cities

San Francisco, Oakland, & Hayward, California

Those who live and breathe statistics have figured out an index to help consumers compare the costs among cities in the U.S. The regional price parity (RPP) sets the national average of a good or service at 100. If a price rates above 100, that particular region’s cost is that much more expensive than the national average. For example, the rent RPP for the San Francisco area is 190.9. This means that rent in the bay area is 90.9 percent higher than anywhere else in the United States.

People who live in the area are willing to pay the astonishing rent prices so they can enjoy moderate weather and spectacular views. Others leave their hearts there in search of rent they can actually afford.

Honolulu, Hawaii

You don’t realize just how far away Hawaii is until you board the over 6-hour flight from L.A. to Honolulu. Once you understand just how far our beautiful island state is out in the Pacific, you may not be surprised that groceries cost 55% more there than anywhere else in the country. Utilities are also expensive in Honolulu. Inhabitants pay 71% more for utilities than other Americans pay.

Washington D.C. Area

It’s not just the groceries and services that will break you if you live in Washington, D.C., Arlington, and Alexandria. Groceries are higher than average with an RPP at 105.4. Housing is the most expensive part of living in our nation’s capital. The rent RPP is 166.4. And you know you want to rent in D.C. since you may only have your job there for either two or four years, due to election cycles.

Boston, Massachusetts

Sure, you can eat the most amazing cannolis in Boston’s north end, but after paying rent, will you be able to afford one? The median household income of the city averages around $53,163, but reports show one really needs about $84,000 to live well. Would it be better to live near perfect cannolis that you can’t afford to buy? Or would you rather live in an area with soggy cannolis that you can purchase with ease? Even the ancient philosophers couldn’t answer those difficult questions.

You want to be able to live in a place where you can afford to eat a pastry now and then. Are you ready to move? Would you consider moving across the country to find a place that is more affordable?

The Most Affordable U.S. Cities

Another benefit of moving to a less expensive area is that you may be eligible for a home buyer rebate. That would take the sting out of a cross-country move.

Kansas City

Despite its name, the bulk of Kansas City lies within the state of Missouri, but whether you live on the Kansas or the Missouri side of the state line, you will find affordable rental properties and a reasonable cost of living. And if you happen to be a fan of barbeque, you will feel as if you moved to heaven on Earth. Find a real estate agent for Kansas City and you will be licking barbecue sauce off your fingers in no time.

San Antonio, Texas

Even though you may not have ever envisioned yourself as a Texan, many are leaving the east and west coasts and heading to the land of big hats and cowboy boots. San Antonio boasts beautiful weather, a fantastic River Walk, and all the amenities of a top-10 metropolitan area of the country. What it doesn’t have is expensive housing.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Little Rock is larger than you probably imagined. Its metro population is over 700,000. Those inhabitants can keep more than 74 % of their income after their housing is paid for the month.

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Known for their colleges, the Raleigh-Durham area is also becoming known for the tech industries that are landing there. With a median monthly rent at $950, you could have a lot of money left over to purchase a beer or two from the microbreweries that are popping up all over the place.

Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota

If you aren’t afraid of a little cold, the Minneapolis area is an affordable place to live. The median monthly rent is $963, and you can learn how to ice fish during the winter when you move there.

If you are ready to move to another state, let us help you find a top-rated agent in the area.


Reuven Shechter

Reuven Shechter is the Outreach Coordinator at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you with top real estate agents to help save on commission. He spreads the word about Clever, disseminating studies to journalists and developing relationships with media outlets. Reuven is passionate about investing in real estate and creating lasting success for families. His writing has been featured in Max Real Estate Exposure, Leverage Marketing, and more.

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