Solving Cities

The 5 most expensive cities in the U.S.

The 5 most expensive cities in the U.S.

Posting in Cities

How far does the dollar go in the most expensive cities in America?

Much about New York has changed in the eight years since Carrie Bradshaw and the cast of Sex and the City traversed the streets of Manhattan. One thing that hasn't budged, however, is the cost of living.

Residents of Manhattan continue to live in the most expensive city in the United States, according to the Cost of Living Index published by The Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). New Yorkers have the runners-up beat by a long shot. Data form the C2ER notes that the cost of living in New York is more than twice the national average.

What does that mean in real terms? It means that maintaining the quality of life that the average American affords on the average family income of $49,600 would require an income of $115,816 in Manhattan.

How do other cities stack up? Read on for a list of the five most expensive cities in the U.S.:

5. San Jose, CA -- Home to tech companies like Cisco, IBM, and eBay, it's no surprise that San Jose ranks among the most expensive urban centers in the United States. How much does San Jose outstrip the rest of the country? By 56.5 percent. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that the average rental costs $1,950.

(BWChicago/Flickr)

4. San Francisco, CA -- Once the epicenter of 60s counterculture, the City of San Francisco has mostly priced itself out of the counterculture with a cost of living 163.2 percent of the national average. The notoriously-expensive real estate in San Francisco jumped even higher this spring with the arrival of Facebook's IPO. In April, San Francisco real estate prices reached a two-year high, according to San Francisco-based mortgage banker Julian Hebron.

(Curtis Fry/Flickr)

3. Honolulu HI -- With an average temperature of 77.2 degrees (F) and 271 days of sunshine each year, it's no surprise Honolulu, Hawaii, regularly bests the country for the title of "most livable city." Paradise, as the adage goes, comes at a price. According to C2ER, that cost is 170.8 percent of the national average.

(Daniel Ramirez/Flickr)

2. Brooklyn, NY -- Birthplace of Jay-Z, setting for Lena Dunham's hit HBO show Girls, and lampooned as the epicenter of hipster culture, Brooklyn has redefined itself in the last two decades. Though seen as a promising real estate alternative to Manhattan, the cost of living in New York's second-largest borough is still 183.4 percent of the national average.

(Karl Norling/Flickr)

1. New York, NY -- In 2010, Jen Doll of the Village Voice penned an article "50 Reasons to Love New York." Included in the list is an entry that exemplifies the way many New Yorkers approach the cost of living: "The fact that one-bedroom apartments cost an average minimum of a half-million dollars means we think nothing of spending $12 on lunch." With cost of living, however, $12 lunches aren't as ridiculous as they might seem. The cost of living in New York is 233.5 percent of the national average, meaning that a $12 lunch, in more normal circumstances, would cost just over $5.

(Harald Hoyer/Flickr)

[ABC News]

Share this

Claire Lambrecht

Contributing Writer

Claire Lambrecht has written for the New York Times, Slate, Salon, The Nation, and CBS MoneyWatch. Previously, she taught English as a Teach for America Corps Member and Fulbright English Teaching Assistant. She holds degrees from Cornell University, the University of Hawaii, and the Arthur M. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure