United States

Top 10 Most Expensive Cities In The US: Manhattan Leads The List With Sky-High Living Costs

Manhattan, New York, tops the list as the most expensive city to live in the US, far outstripping other urban areas. With living costs more than double the national average, Manhattan's high expenses are driven by steep housing prices and a concentration of wealth. Here is a list of the top 10 most expensive cities in the USA.

Top 10 Most Expensive Cities To Live In The USA Photo: Pexels

Manhattan, New York, is the most expensive place to live in the US. Not just that, it also significantly outpaces the second most expensive location. The cost of living in Manhattan is more than double the national average. While Honolulu and San Jose, California, rank second and third respectively in terms of expense, they are considerably more affordable compared to Manhattan. Specifically, Manhattan's cost of living is 24% higher than Honolulu's and 30% higher than San Jose's.

These findings are from the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index, which assesses regional price variations for everyday goods and services across 271 urban areas in the U.S. The cost of living is represented as a composite index score derived from six weighted categories: housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services. A composite score of 100 represents the national average, with any score above 100 indicating a higher-than-average cost of living.

Here are the 10 most expensive urban areas in the U.S. based on composite index scores:

Most Expensive Cities To Live In The US

  1. New York (Manhattan): 231

  2. Honolulu: 186.2

  3. San Jose, California: 177.1

  4. San Francisco: 169.6

  5. New York (Brooklyn): 161.5

  6. Orange County, California: 154.9

  7. Los Angeles (Long Beach): 150.6

  8. New York (Queens): 146.9

  9. Washington, D.C.: 144.6

  10. Boston: 144.3

These areas are known for having some of the highest housing costs in the country. This is because large U.S. cities attract residents due to a higher concentration of jobs, which increases demand for housing and subsequently drives up housing costs.

In places like Honolulu and Manhattan, the scarcity of land further restricts the amount of new housing that can be constructed. This limited supply puts additional upward pressure on home prices.

Another factor contributing to Manhattan's high cost of living is the concentration of wealth. New York City is home to 350,000 millionaires, the highest number in the country, many of whom reside in Manhattan. This wealth concentration has driven up home prices, making Manhattan home to some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the U.S. based on square footage. For instance, homes in the West Village have a median cost of $2,400 per square foot.

In contrast, Decatur, Illinois, ranks as the most affordable city, with a composite index score of 78.8. This means living in Decatur is 22.2% cheaper than the national average.

The data for the Cost of Living Index was collected from January 1, 2024, through March 31, 2024. Each category in the index is weighted based on typical household spending patterns according to government survey data.