Many people would never dream of living in one of the most expensive cities in the United States. Not only do you have to worry about the high rent and expensive utilities but the cost of living includes things like groceries and gas as well. Nevertheless, some people are willing to pay extra.
Expensive cities are famous for things other than being elite and exclusive. Read on to see how your own cost of living compares to the costliest in the country.
40. San Diego, California
San Diego has a very high cost of living fueled by high gas prices and an expensive housing market. Home values have nearly doubled in the past decade to an average of $617,000 (via Bungalow). This sunny city is known for its sandy beaches, renowned zoo, gardens, museums, and close proximity to military bases. Over a million people reside in San Diego (via Wikipedia).
There’s little surprise that Los Angeles makes this list, as it is one of the largest cities in the country. Near the legendary Hollywood sign, this Southern California city has the Walk of Fame and numerous movie and TV studios (via Wikipedia). But many in LA are far from wealthy and struggle with high cost of living as home values are an average of $738,000 for a modest family dwelling (via Bungalow).
People dream of living in Hawaii but they may not realize the cost of living in Honolulu. Incomes are only slightly higher than the national average but the cost of living is significantly higher. Home prices in Honolulu are comparable to Boston, with the average coming out to $680,000. Renting is an average of $1800 per month (via Bungalow). It’s not impossible to live in Honolulu yet the cost of living is more expensive for essentials because of shipping costs (via Wikipedia).
In Seattle, the average income is under $70,000 (via Bungalow). However, that doesn’t stop the cost of a home from reaching $700,000. If you think you can skip out on the expensive suburbs by living in the city, think again. Maybe it is so expensive because it is home to Microsoft and Amazon headquarters (via Wikipedia). Besides having a large tech presence, Seattle also has over a thousand acres of parkland. It is the largest city in Washington, surrounded by water, mountains, and forests.
San Jose has a higher-than-average median salary, driven up by the tech industry. The cost of a home is about a million dollars (via Bungalow). That just shows how much income these people earn annually. Residents and tourists alike can visit the Tech Museum of Innovation or admire the architectural landmarks from the 1880s in the historical downtown area (via Wikipedia).
All three branches of the federal government are in Washington, DC (via Wikipedia). People who work in any sector probably live in or near DC. Incomes in the nation’s capital are higher than average, but so are the values of homes. Those who live in the Beltway can expect to pay an average of $580,000 for a home, and most people have an average income of $72,600 (via Bungalow).
Moving to this historic city will cost you, with rent in Boston averaging $3434 and home values coming in at $644,000 (via Bungalow). Nevertheless, this Massachusetts capital is still home to over 692,000 people, making it the most populous city in all of New England. The city is about 48 miles total with over four million in the metro area (via Wikipedia).
Oakland may be one of the most affordable areas of Silicon Valley, with home values averaging $700,000 and rents averaging $2930 (via Bungalow). It is located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. Oakland has a population over 425,000 people (via Wikipedia). More California cities grace this list. What does that mean? People truly pay for that beautiful sunshine.
America’s favorite city is also one of the most expensive, with everything you could possibly want available if you can afford it. Rent in New York City averages from $3000 to $4200 per month (via Bungalow). According to Property Shark, Hudson Yards and TriBeCa are the most expensive neighborhoods (via Shark Property). The cost of things like food and utilities are also higher than average.
The center of Silicon Valley is San Francisco. Incomes are relatively high, but San Francisco has some of the highest housing costs in the entire country. Rent is an average of $3700 per month, and modest family homes cost well over a million (via Bungalow). With over 874,000 people living in San Fran, that is a lot (via Wikipedia). People fork over costly prices just to live in this cultural, financial, and commercial hub.
Clyde Hill is a suburb of the Seattle Metropolitan Area in Washington. Seattle is home to many high-value tech companies, including Microsoft and Amazon. People who live in Clyde Hill pay an average of $263,680 in living expenses each year, coming out to nearly $22,000 per month (via Go Banking Rates). Each person pays about $450 per month for groceries. Not only that, but they spend almost $4500 on healthcare. Transportation, probably to get between the suburb and the offices in Seattle, costs an average of $7000 per year. The average home value as of January 2021 was over $3 million (via Go Banking Rates).
Sands Point is a village in the desirable Long Island, a popular residential area for people who work in Manhattan but want to come home to a quieter place. Buying a home in Sands Point is cheaper than in Clyde Hill, with the average home value in January 2021 sitting at just under $2.5 million (via Go Banking Rates). However, many other expenses make this village one of the country’s priciest. Each person pays an average of $268,000 in living expenses, coming from over $5000 in groceries and another $5000 in utilities (via Go Banking Rates). Transportation alone costs over $10,000 per year, nearly $1000 per month.
Ross is a small town in Marin County in the ultra-rich Silicon Valley. People in Silicon Valley have higher-than-average salaries, and with them, higher-than-average costs of living. People in Ross have annual expenses that top $271,000, with $5595 spent on groceries and nearly $5300 on healthcare (via Go Banking Rates). Probably due to the more temperate climate, compared with places such as New York, utilities here are lower. Residents pay around $4000 per year. However, this is still higher than average homes, reflecting the mega-mansions. The average home value in January 2021 was nearly $3.5 million (via Go Banking Rates).
Bridgehampton is a small enclave on New York’s Long Island. Founded in 1640, Bridgehampton is known for being steeped in history and tradition and being a very expensive place to live. People in Bridgehampton spend about $272,000 on their cost of living, including living in homes that, as of January 2021, are worth an average of $3.154 million (via Go Banking Rates). If your dream is to live in a small hamlet on Long Island be prepared for your monthly expenses to come to about $22,740 (via Go Banking Rates).
Saratoga is a historic town close to San Francisco and is considered on the edge of Silicon Valley. The cost of living in Saratoga is exorbitant, with people paying $276,000 annually — $23,000 per month — to cover their cost of living (via Go Banking Rates). Groceries cost $5776 per person per year, nearly $500 per month. Furthermore, utilities are almost $4000 per year in the mega-mansions. Average home values are over $3 million (via Go Banking Rates). People in Saratoga pay over $8000 per year in transportation, nearly $700 per month.
Yarrow Point is a small town of about 1000 people in the Seattle Metropolitan Area. People who can afford to live in this affluent area get everything Seattle has to offer and the peace of a small town. People who live in Yarrow Point pay an average of $279,313 for their cost of living, an amount that comes out to over $23,000 per month (via Go Banking Rates)! Do not even consider moving to Yarrow Point unless you can comfortably afford to pay $639,520, the going rate on a house that costs more than $3 million (via Go Banking Rates). Also, plan to pay $650 per month in transportation.
This small town in Washington is across the shore from Seattle. Not only that, but it is bordered by the comparatively expensive town of Clyde Hill, though Medina is pricier than Clyde Hill. Residents of Medina pay over $281,000 per year to cover their cost of living, including over $7000 per year in transportation (via Go Banking Rates). The average value of a home in January 2021 was $3.241 million; these homes are likely very energy efficient and run on clean energy because the average cost of utilities is much closer to the national average, coming in at about $236 per month (via Go Banking Rates).
The town of Belleair Shore is microscopic with just over 100 residents. It’s an exclusive enclave just across the shore from Tampa, so exclusive that the average value of a home in January 2021 was over $4.3 million (via Go Banking Rates). People who can afford to live in this private gated community that functions as its own town pay $288,000 per year to cover their own expenses, an amount that comes out to $24,000 per month (via Go Banking Rates).
Stanford is the brains behind Silicon Valley, as the eponymous university routinely turns out tech mavericks who go straight to companies such as Google and Facebook. The annual expenditures for an individual living there are nearly $292,000, coming out to $24,327 per month – way more than the average college student’s budget (via Go Banking Rates). Groceries cost an average of $487 per month, and utilities $304 (via Go Banking Rates). Transportation is nearly $7000 per year, and the average value of a home is over $3.5 million.
Fisher Island is a very elite enclave off of Miami. People there pay for a quieter life on the beach that is free from the hectic, big-city life that is part of being in Miami. The average value of a home is $3.235 million, so if you want to move to this island paradise, be prepared to fork over $647,000 as a down payment (via Go Banking Rates). People who live on Fisher Island pay over $296,000 for their annual cost-of-living expenses, including $680 in transportation. Utilities are relatively cheap, coming in at about $325 per month (via Go Banking Rates).
Palo Alto, the birthplace of the modern tech industry, has been home to legends such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Larry Page. Part of Stanford University is there as well. Residents of Palo Alto pay an average of nearly $297,000 per year in expenditures, including $5800 in groceries and another $8000 in transportation (via Go Banking Rates). A lot of the rest of those expenses probably go towards housing, with the average home value coming in at almost $3.3 million (via Go Banking Rates).
Like so many other expensive places to live, the town of Woodside is a small hamlet in the Silicon Valley area, providing the best of both worlds: a small-town experience with access to the biggest tech companies in the world. People who want this luxury have to be prepared to pay some serious cash, as annual expenditures per person come out to $302,573 (via Go Banking Rates). The average value of a home in Woodside is over $3.6 million, making a 20% down payment come out to a whopping $726,623 (via Go Banking Rates).
If people don’t recognize California names such as Woodside and Saratoga, they probably remember Malibu, the classic California beach town. Malibu is outside of Los Angeles, providing access to Hollywood and some of the best beaches in the world. You have to have a Hollywood-size salary to afford living in Malibu, with the average resident paying just over $305,000 per year in annual expenses (via Go Banking Rates). That includes $9,321 in transportation expenses, much of that cost probably from commuting into Los Angeles. The average home value in Malibu, as of January 2021, came in at over $3.85 million, meaning that people who want to buy a home there should be prepared to give a down payment of $771,023 (via Go Banking Rates).
Montecito is a beach town in Santa Barbara County. It’s a celebrity enclave where celebrities gather and can interact with each other and avoid the stressors of big city living. The city certainly has a celebrity-size cost of living, too. Residents of Montecito fork out an average of $306,418 in living expenses each year, and no wonder: they can afford the exorbitant homes worth an average of nearly $3.8 million (via Go Banking Rates). What do these numbers mean? Every single month, residents spend $25,535 to cover personal expenses (via Go Banking Rates).
This name means Mount Serene and it certainly fits the title. It’s surrounded by beaches on one side and mountains on the other. Monte Sereno has a population of only about 3300, making it about the size of a city block in terms of how many people live there. The cost of living is also the size of a city block, with residents shelling out $316,567 each year in their own expenses (via Go Banking Rates). The average value of a home is nearly $3.4 million (via Go Banking Rates).
Los Altos is another small-town hideout for the mega-rich of Silicon Valley. Residents spend just over $317,000, on average, each year to cover their own expenses, coming out to $26,417 per month (via Go Banking Rates). They also pay $7778 per year on transportation, much of that probably commuting in and out of San Francisco. The average value of a home in Los Altos is nearly $3.5 million (via Realtor). And as with other towns in Silicon Valley, these homes are not your New York City shoebox apartments. People in Los Altos live in mega-mansions that could easily house the population of a small town.
Hunts Point is a town in Washington’s Silicon Valley, the Seattle Metropolitan Area. Indeed, plenty of people prefer to live in the heart of Seattle. They can enjoy everything that this Pacific Northwest city has to offer. However, many of the top earners at companies like Microsoft and Amazon would rather live in quieter settings such as Hunts Point. Here, residents pay an average of $317,512 in their annual living expenses, coming out to about $26,500 per month (via Go Banking Rates). Homes have an average value of $6.26 million. A 20% down payment would be $1.25 million (via Go Banking Rates).
Hidden Hills is a town in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area with a population of about 1800 that includes many celebrities. The annual cost of living in Hidden Hills is about $323,816 per person (via Go Banking Rates). What does that mean for a family of four? You’re easily looking at yearly expenses near $1.5 million before the cost of childcare. The average value of a home in Hidden Hills is over $3.8 million, meaning that a 20% down payment would cost about $765,000 (via Go Banking Rates).
Amagansett is a census-designated place on New York’s Long Island and is a perfect retreat for those who can afford big-city living but prefer a quieter life instead. Whereas residents of Amagansett could be shelling out millions for a shoebox apartment in Manhattan, they choose to live in a more rural setting where the average home value is over $3 million and the homes are much more spacious (via Go Banking Rates). Annual expenditures come out to nearly $325,000 per person, and you can imagine that that amount probably includes a fair number of Broadway shows and shopping trips down Fifth Avenue (via Go Banking Rates). Residents also have easy access to the beach community of Montauk.
Rolling Hills was developed by the same planner who created the nearby town of Hidden Hills, both parts of the Los Angeles Metro Area (via Hidden Hills). This equestrian town has no traffic lights, and the houses are all one-story ranch homes or haciendas. While you may believe the idea of living in such a tightly regulated small town is passe, people pay heavy dollars to live in Rolling Hills. The average value of those ranches and/or hacienda homes is over $3.4 million and residents pay just under $329,000 in annual living expenses (via Go Banking Rates).
Water Mill is a census-designated place on Long Island, making it a small town with beach access and just a short train ride from New York City. The city is also incredibly historic and boasts the first water mill in New York, dating back to the year 1644 (via Water Mill Museum). Life in this landmark town costs an average of $333,713 per year per person, coming out to $27,809 per person. The average value of a home, as of January 2021, is nearly $3.3 million, making this town affordable only to high earners in Manhattan and celebrities who want a second home (via Go Banking Rates).
Nothing says high life quite like Beverly Hills, the legendary abode of movie stars. People who live in Beverly Hills pay far more than those in the rest of Los Angeles to cover their annual living expenses, $344,303 per year (via Go Banking Rates). If you can’t afford nearly $30,000 per month, not including the money you would put into savings, don’t even think of trying to move to Beverly Hills. The average value on this unique piece of real estate is upwards of $5.32 million (via Zillow). This means that a 20% down payment would be over one million.
Belvedere is a unique town in the small townscape of Silicon Valley (via CN Traveler). This census-designated place is based on two islands separated by a lagoon, making Belvedere the choice for Silicon Valley top earners who want to be part of the prestigious yacht club. Belvedere was home to Vivian Vance, the actress who played Ethel on I Love Lucy until she died, and it has also been home to many other celebrities and Silicon Valley techs. Life in Belvedere costs an average of $345,879 per person per year, and the average value of a home is an eye-popping $4.256 million (via Go Banking Rates).
Stinson Beach is a favorite for some high-earning Silicon Valley leaders (via NPS). People who live in this idyllic enclave shell out an average of $356,279 per year to cover their personal living expenses; that amount comes out to nearly $30,000 per month. Homes in Stinson Beach have an average value that is just shy of $4 million, meaning that to own a piece of paradise in this exclusive area, you can expect to put down a 20% payment of $785,230 (via Go Banking Rates).
Wainscott is a census-designated place on Long Island that is steeped in history. The Wainscott School was the last one-room schoolhouse to operate in the United States (via Wikipedia). It lasted from 1730 until 2008, when an annex was built, and the school was no longer one room. Owning a part of this dramatic piece of American history comes at a steep price, with the average home value a whopping $2.56 million in January 2021 (via Go Banking Rates). Residents of Wainscott pay an average of $384,394 in annual living expenses, making this small CDP on Long Island one of the most expensive places to live in the entire country.
Portola Valley might be considered the spoiled little sister of Palo Alto. Palo Alto has served as the incubator of many tech geniuses and the companies they have built, and it has one of the highest costs of living in the country (via Best Places). Portola Valley has an even higher cost of living despite not having the accomplishments of Palo Alto. In this small census-designated place, the average value is $4.1 million, and residents pay an average of $393,471 to cover their annual living expenses (via Go Banking Rates).
Hillsborough is another super high-end small town in Silicon Valley full of mega-mansions for wealthy tech executives who have shaped so much of the world in which we live. It also has many historical landmarks, making it a great place to visit for those who are visiting San Francisco. People who live in Hillsborough pay an average of $410,112 to cover their annual living expenses, an amount that comes out to $34,176 per month (via Go Banking Rates). The average value of a home in Hillsborough is nearly $4.6 million, making a decent down payment about a million dollars (via Zillow).
There’s Los Altos, and then there’s Los Altos Hills, and the “Hills” ending should indicate that this small town is an even more affluent area than Los Altos (via Wikipedia). The city has expansive lots that house mega-mansions and all the toys that billionaires desire. People who live in Los Altos Hills pay an average of $421,017 each year to cover their living expenses, meaning that they are shelling out $35,085 every single month (via Go Banking Rates). The average value of a home in Los Altos Hills, as of January 2021, came out to nearly $4.7 million.
Jupiter Island has the largest per-capita income of any other place in the entire country. This island off the coast of Florida is home to some of the country’s largest, and most expensive homes, worth an average of $5.24 million as of January 2021 (via Go Banking Rates). Residents of Jupiter Island pay an average of $477,750 per year to cover their own living expenses, meaning that they are forking out nearly $40,000 every single month.
The most affluent, most exclusive, and most expensive place to live in the entire country has long been the small town of Atherton, California (via Wikipedia). Annual expenditures for someone who lives in Atherton are a whopping $575,834 per person per year, and the average value of a home is nearly $6.6 million (via Go Banking Rates). No other place on this list comes close to the cost of living in Atherton. To afford to live in this palatial residential area, you have to be an executive-level earner at a Silicon Valley company. How much does that person need to make? Bet on an income that would allow you to spend nearly $50,000 per month.