“Should I Pay Rent or Eat?” 12 Most Expensive Cities in the US That Just Keep Getting Less Affordable

By Krystal Brown

There are several reasons why the most expensive cities in the U.S. keep getting less affordable. There are various reasoned attributes to this, such as proximity to job opportunities, better living conditions, world-class amenities, and others. As we said, the increased cost of living is still a significant issue in these cities. This begs for answers to this question: what is the most expensive city in the U.S. right now? Let’s kick things off.

Manhattan (New York)

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Cost of Living: 74% higher than the state average / 127% higher than the national average. 

Median House Price: $940,900 (384% more expensive than the U.S. average)

Median Monthly Rent: $5,588. 

Manhattan can be described as a bliss on arrival. If you’ve ever been there, no one would tell you how expensive visiting is. Now imagine how expensive it would be for people living there. Manhattan’s average cost of living stands at a whopping 127% higher than the national average. This is quite incredible compared to other states. The budget wrecking doesn’t stop there. As the #1 most expensive city in the U.S., manhattan residents pay a premium on transportation, i.e., 16% above the normal average. There is a 37% increment in standard miscellaneous costs, while ordinary movie tickets and yoga classes cost more than double the national average. Research suggests that the cost of living is expensive in Manhattan because the rentals are high, coupled with the shortage of space. 

Los Angeles (California)

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Cost of Living: 51% higher than the national average. 

Median House Price: $836,831 

Median Monthly Rent: $1,685

The bustling city of Los Angeles is one of California’s most expensive cities in the U.S. Los Angeles has been a choice spot that brings to mind the well-known Hollywood neighborhood, Beverly Hills, Venice Beach, bustling manufacturing facilities, and one of the busiest ports in the U.S. Living in Los Angeles is no easy feat by all metrics. The city has 3.9 million residents as of 2022, with a median age of 36.9. The exclusivity and high cost of living in this city come to the fore with a monthly rent of $1,685, 150% above the United States average. Another thing is the hiked healthcare; miscellaneous costs are 17% costlier than the national average. At the same time, the median home value stands at $836,831. To live comfortably in Los Angeles, you need an after-tax income of around $98,302. 

Honolulu (Hawaii)

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Cost of Living: 84% above national average 

Median House Price: $581,658

Median Monthly Rent: $1,870

Living in Honolulu can be likened to living in a paradise. This city of Panache features a number of exotic beaches, waterfalls, sunning, and all sorts of exploration you can think of. In addition to its excellent ocean view, Honolulu boasts several historic sites like Ionia Palace, Pearl Harbor, and the USS Memorial. Living in Honolulu will cost you an arm and a leg. We are talking about one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. to buy a house. The median sales price for a home in Honolulu stands at $581,658. A trip to a supermarket would cost you more than 55% of what an average shopper would spend in another city in the United States. That’s not all; utilities eat out 41% times more expensive than what others pay. Although this is a tax-friendly city for firms and even most middle-class people, the high cost of living would still make you wonder whether to eat or pay rent. 

San Francisco (California)

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Cost of Living: 79% higher than the national average.

Median House Price: $1,386,107 

Median Monthly Rent: $4,214

San Francisco showcases the premium beauty of the world and high-quality residents. This is a state with the highest-paid tech workers as residents. Hardly will you take a five-minute walk without meeting a startup executive or CEO. San Francisco’s cost of living index features among the top ever seen in the United States. Becoming a house owner in San Francisco is like taking a solo trip to the Mar. It’s pretty insurmountable when you have to fork out $1.2 million to become a house owner compared to the national average of $383 883. San Francisco features world-class green space, restaurants, and other family-friendly activities. This has made it a sweet place for folks looking to settle down, leading to a hike in monthly rental fees of $2,238. Other expenses like utilities, healthcare, and groceries also cost you 30 to 40% more compared to the United States national average. 

Washington D.C. 

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Cost of Living: 52% above the national average. 

Median House Price: &538,040

Median Monthly Rent:$1,785

This is a tale of the seat of power. It is home to numerous expensive restaurants, bustling bars littering street corridors, and the 9:30 Club. This is not a theme of power play, but on the scale, the District of Columbia should have been the most places in America. Alas, it’s not. Your living and breathing in Washington alone costs 2.5 times more than the national average; this includes your mortgage and other utilities, apart from lower healthcare costs. Purchasing groceries is 9% more expensive than in other states, while your miscellaneous finesse your pocket are 13% more costlier than the average person in other states. That’s a gist for living with the White House. Becoming a house owner takes $538,040, while staying off rentage takes $1,785 monthly. 

Brooklyn (New York)

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Cost of Living: 68% more than the national average 

Median House Price: 793,350

Median Monthly Rent: $3,350

As a family of four, your estimated monthly cost would be around $5,100, while a single person’s monthly cost is $1,348 without rent. That’s what you get living in one of the five boroughs that make up New York State. This is a pseudo-independent state with more than 2 million residents. Brookly is a place that people once viewed as a much better alternative and budget-friendly than places like Manhattan. This is not the case anymore in this era of increased housing costs and high monthly rent of $3,350. 

Seattle (Washington)

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Cost of Living: 50% more than the national average. 

Median House Price: $768,396

Median Monthly Rent:$1,701

What does it look like in Seattle? It’s a beautiful place that gives you access to high-quality living with their choice and exotic seafood. Seattle was one of the low-cost American cities to live in back then. But, the influx of big tech companies and wealthy people has driven out average income earners simultaneously, shooting up the average housing price and quadrupling the cost of living. Right now, you need a staggering $768,396 to become a homeowner in Seattle; that’s three times more than an average American pays. Seattle has a metro population 3,971,125 and an annual salary of $76,170, making it only livable for high-income families.  

San Diego (California)

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Cost of Living: 43% above the United States national average 

Median House Price: $768,800 

Median Monthly Rent: $1,842

Living in San Diego is a great deal that offers you value for your money. Should we talk about the hiking trail, weekend boating, and other beach activities that make life beautiful for you and your family? Living in San Diego is a bidet-sucking adventure. Let’s start with the average monthly apartment rent that gulps $1,842 of your budget. The budget sucking never stop. You must pay 12% more than the national average for your groceries and other miscellaneous items. And lately, your transportation expenses are roughly 30% more than an average American pays. This is a huge dilemma that makes you ponder on whether to eat or pay rent. 

Miami (Florida)

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Cost of Living: 21% more than the national average. 

Median House Price: $608,732

Median Monthly Rent: $2,019

The implication of living in a state with a cost of living that’s 21% more than the national average falls mainly on your budget. This city is one of the most liveliest in the United States. You tend to enjoy the artistic diversity of the city beach, metro stadiums, deep sea fishing, and others. Well, that comes at a cost; Food and groceries in Miami take 20% more than the national average. That’s not all about this pocket-shattering city. Housing costs take a staggering 47% more than what an average American pays. Although you enjoy the benefits of a 5% reduction in healthcare costs, this doesn’t mitigate the other hiked expenses you have to pay for living in Miami. 

Oakland (California)

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Cost of Living: 46.1% above the U.S. average

Median House Price: $899,121

Median Monthly Rent: $2,734

In the tapestry of affordable prices, Oakland completely misses out. This is a city of luxury that harbors tech giants in Silicon Valley. You know, Ajay, this means when it comes to the housing prices in this city. Unsurprisingly, housing expenses in Oakland cost more than 99% more than the average American pays. Compared to other states in America, you have to pay more than 30% for your feeding expenses and other utilities. This is thought-provoking for average-income earners who always have to pay rent or eat. 

Orange County (California)

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Cost of Living: 51.3% more than the national average 

Median House Price: $1,158,846

Median Monthly Rent: $3,523

You are in for a thrill and shocker living in Orange County. This is plausible if we look at the city chains of beautiful historical buildings, mouthwatering restaurants, biotech employers, and software engineers. Undoubtedly, this city should have been the #1 most expensive city in the U.S. But our face value and other factors like a high concentration of students and young professionals pull it down the rank a bit. However, it’s still an expensive city to live in. You pay 157% more to purchase a house than an average American. That’s like $1,158,846 compared to $452,510. Don’t go away, because that’s not all. Transportation, healthcare, groceries, and miscellaneous prices in Orange County are 15% to 29% higher than the national average. 

Santa Barbara (California)

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Cost of Living: 56.9% more expensive than the national average. 

Median House Price: $464,954

Median Monthly Rent: $1,810

Santa Barbara is a city of entertainment with a serene landscape. With utmost honesty, I regard this city as one with a perfect climate and beautiful ocean view. This is one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. to buy a house. $464,954 housing cost compared to the national average. Going by the well-publicized data, a family of four estimated monthly fees at $7,156, while a single person would need $4,708. This is still fair for the average income earner.