10 Most Expensive U.S. Cities to Live In for 2020March 2, 2020
Depending on where you live, your income may not give you as much spending power as you expect. For instance, someone making $100,000 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania will be far more comfortable than someone making $100,000 in Manhattan, New York.
If you’re thinking of moving to a new city, consider the cost of living before committing to relocating. The city’s cost of living can have a big impact on your cash flow and your ability to handle your expenses, including your student loan repayment if you have education debt.
10 Cities with the Highest Cost of Living in the US
To come up with a list of the 10 U.S. cities with the highest cost of living, we looked at information compiled by Kiplinger. In each city, the cost of living is well above the national average and the median home value is over $450,000 — well above the median home value for the nation as a whole.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual average wage for all occupations is $51,960. To show you just how expensive each of these cities actually is, we used a cost of living calculator to demonstrate what that salary is worth in each location. For the sake of comparison, we used Atlanta Georgia as the resident’s original city — a city that is right at the national average in terms of cost of living.
Here are the 10 most expensive U.S. cities to live in for 2020:
10. Boston, MA
If you relocated from Atlanta to Boston and earned the national average wage of $51,960, you’d have to get a job that paid at least $75,137 to maintain the same standard of living that you’re accustomed to in Boston. That’s because Boston’s cost of living is 50% higher than the national average.
Boston does have a below-average unemployment rate, increasing your chances of finding and maintaining a job. As of December 2019, the unemployment rate was just 2.1%.
9. Queens, NY
If you want to move to the Queens section of New York, you’d have to earn at least $75,387 to have the same spending power as you would with a $51,960 salary in Atlanta. The cost of living in Queens is 52% higher than the national average. In particular, you’ll face a much more competitive housing market. According to Zillow, the median home value in Queens is $531,000 and the median rent price for an apartment is $2,250.
8. Arlington, VA
Arlington’s proximity to the Pentagon and the nation’s capital makes it a hotspot for government workers and lawyers, and the cost of living reflects that. Its cost of living is 53% above the national average, and the median home value in Arlington is $737,932 — nearly $500.000 more than the national median home value.
If you moved from Atlanta to Arlington, you’d have to earn at least $76,588 to maintain your standard of living.
7. Oakland, CA
In Oakland, be prepared for sticker shock when it comes to housing. The median home value in Oakland is $765,350. The median rent for apartments is a whopping $3,000. That’s more than three times the national median rent for a one-bedroom apartment.
To have the same spending power in Oakland as you did in Atlanta, you’d have to earn at least $80,193 per year.
6. Seattle, WA
Seattle’s cost of living is 54.8% above the national average. To maintain your standard of living after relocating from Atlanta, you’d have to earn at least $79,792. If you want to be a homeowner, be prepared to spend a significant amount of money. The median home value in Seattle is $752,187. If you prefer to rent, the median rent price is $2,600.
5. Washington, D.C.
The cost of living in the nation’s capital is 62.6% above the national average. If you relocated from Atlanta to Washington D.C., you’d have to earn at least $82,095 to have the same spending power as you did before.
The median household income is a high $82,604. The median home value in the area is $636,372, and the median rent price is $2,700. However, unemployment in Washington D.C. is quite high. As of December 2019, it was at 5.3%. Unless you already have a job lined up, it may be difficult to find a position since it’s a very competitive market.
4. Brooklyn, NY
Brooklyn has become a more desirable area for New Yorkers to live, and it’s become more expensive as a result. Its cost of living is 81.7% above the national average, and you’d have to earn $92,206 to maintain your standard of living.
While the housing market is expensive, incomes tend to be relatively low. The median household income for Brooklyn residents is just $56,015. And, the unemployment rate is quite high. As of 2018 — the last available data — the unemployment rate reached 4.6%.
3. Honolulu, HI
Moving to an island paradise may sound like a dream come true, but that dream comes with a hefty price tag. Honolulu’s cost of living is 89.7% above the national average, largely because so much of your everyday essentials need to be imported. To maintain the standard of living you enjoyed in Atlanta, you’d have to earn $100,766 working in Honolulu.
2. San Francisco, CA
Many major employers call San Francisco home, including Salesforce, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, and Genentech. With such big companies in the area, employees can often command high salaries. The median household income for San Francisco is $110,601, well above the national median income.
However, San Francisco’s cost of living is quite high; it’s 96.3% above the national average. To maintain your standard of living, you’d have to find a job that paid at least $100,166 per year.
The median home value in San Francisco is $1,392,859. If you want to rent an apartment, be prepared to pay a high price; the median rent price is a staggering $4,500 per month.
1. Manhattan, NY
Manhattan is notorious for its sky-high cost of living. In fact, its cost of living is 148.5% higher than the national average. If you were to move to Manhattan from Atlanta, you’d have to increase your salary to $127,497 to maintain your standard of living — a $75,537 increase over your current income. Everything in Manhattan is more expensive, especially housing, food, and transportation.
The median home value in Manhattan is $1,013,116, and the median rent price is $3,450. Unfortunately, finding and keeping a job to pay for those housing costs can be difficult since Manhattan does have a relatively high unemployment rate. As of 2018 — the last available data — it was at 4.1%.
Living in an Expensive City
If you’re moving to a new city, it’s important to know what to expect in terms of cost of living and how far your income will go in your new location. Before moving, create a budget and streamline your expenses to free up as much money as you can.
If you need to improve your cash flow, consider student loan refinancing. You could lower your interest rate or extend your repayment term to reduce your monthly payment, giving you more breathing room in your monthly budget so you can afford your new home. Use ELFI’s Find My Rate tool to get a quote without affecting your credit score.*
*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.
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