The Most Expensive Cities in the US

The 7 Most Expensive Cities in the US

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Couple walking on beach in Honolulu

Whether you are considering relocating for a job or want the life experience of moving to another city, it’s helpful to understand the cost of living there. Since housing is the most significant determinant in a city’s cost of living, it’s also important to know the median home prices in a city before you make a big move.

Let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in the seven most expensive cities in the US to help you make an informed decision about areas that you may be considering moving to.

1. Honolulu, HI

A steady South Pacific breeze, beautiful beaches, and cascading mountains make Honolulu a dream location for many. You also get to celebrate for three days each year at the Honolulu Festival which features a vibrant blend of Asian, Pacific, and Hawaiian cultures culminating in a grand parade through Waikiki.

It all sounds incredible, but how affordable is it to live there? The first thing to keep in mind is that Honolulu is considered one of the most isolated big cities on earth so most food and supplies must be imported which adds to costs. Additionally, Hawaii is the most expensive state for energy in the nation, with the highest average monthly electricity bill, according to a report by

According to Zillow, the median home value in Honolulu is currently $779,742.


2. New York, NY

Frank Sinatra famously sang that “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere,” though one has to wonder if “Ol’ Blue Eyes” also factored in the high cost of living in NYC.  That’s because New York City has the distinction of being the most expensive city in the United States. In fact, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research, the cost of living in Manhattan is a jaw-dropping 154% higher than the national average. Given the high cost of living there, it’s not uncommon for an average salary to be unable to offset the Big Apple’s sky-high living expenses.

As Frank would say “it’s up to you” to determine if you can afford to live in the Big Apple.

Zillow lists the median home value in NYC as $722,787.


3. Berkeley, CA

The best place to get a view of Berkeley as well as the entire Bay Area is from the observation deck of the Campanile. It’s the third-tallest bell and clock tower in the world and features three daily concerts.  Bangles singer Susanna Hoff has performed there but back when she graduated from UC Berkeley in 1980, it’s safe to say that the cost of living and home prices were much lower than what they are now. In fact, according to the Best Places website, Berkeley now has a cost of living that’s well over double the national average. You will have to decide if it’s worth the amazing views.

Median home value: $1.5 Million


4. San Francisco, CA

Is there anything cooler for local baseball fans than paddling after a home run that was hit into McCovey Cove? This unofficial section of Giants’ ballpark and named after former Giants great Willie McCovey offers incredible experiences from April to October in the “City by the Bay.”

However, if you decide to move to the epicenter of technology and financial services it will cost you. In fact, San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to buy a home in the US. Moreover, the median home price and median monthly rent in the city are both four times more than the national average. Much of that has to do with the fact that the city is surrounded by water and local zoning laws that restrict building heights to 40 feet in most districts. 

Median home value: $1.5 Million


5. Santa Barbara, CA

Old Mission Santa Barbara with its St. Francis Courtyard is a living national landmark that “welcomes all while working for a more just future.” Locals are also surrounded by the Santa Ynez Mountains and beautiful weather nearly year-round. But how affordable is it?  With four cities in the seven listed here, California is already a very expensive place to live. However, according to data from AreaVibes, the cost of living in Santa Barbara is 40% higher than the California average and 97% higher than the national average.

Median home value: $1.5 Million


6. Anchorage, AK

One of the perks of living in Anchorage is free winter admission to the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Anchorage SkylineIt’s located in the traditional territory of Eklutna, a Dena’ina Athabascan tribe, and is one of America’s cultural treasures.

Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and located on the Cook Inlet amidst the breathtaking Chugach, Kenai, and Talkeetna mountains. It’s also surprisingly expensive to live there. According to, Anchorage has a cost of living that is 37% higher than the national average. 

Reasons for the high cost of living are primarily due to its location and the need to ship and fly in necessities. This causes the cost of goods and services to be much higher than in other areas of the United States.

Median home value: $351, 177


7. Oakland, CA

No matter where the football Raiders play, for many people they will always be synonymous with Oakland and legendary coach John Madden. Despite being located only minutes across the Bay from San Francisco, Oakland is a distinct city with its own maritime history, warmer temperatures, and highly rated airport. Even without being able to tailgate in any more Raiders home games, there’s still plenty to do in the city. For example, a local “secret” is a neighborhood called Hive Oakland. This gathering spot in Oakland's Uptown District is thriving with the arts, diversity, and some of the best mezcal and tequila to be found anywhere. The catch is that it will cost you if you choose to live there. That’s because according to PayScale, Oakland’s cost of living is 49% higher than the national average.

Median home value: $951, 792



The most expensive cities in the US also boast vibrant art scenes, strong communities, and jobs in the new economy. However, logistics and a tight housing market are factors that have driven up the cost of living in these otherwise great locations to hang your hat.

Nonetheless, the best place to live is always the one that is the best place for you. Ready to see how much house you can afford? We’re happy to help! Call 888-673-5521 to speak with one of our mortgage consultants about a mortgage option that works for you

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