2023’s Most Expensive US City’s To Live In

Blog | November 28th, 2023

Learning the cost of living in different cities can be overwhelming, especially when you’re planning a move or just curious about how your current city stacks up.

In this article, we’ll break down an updated list of the priciest metropolitan areas based on critical factors like average salary, housing costs, and overall living expenses.

Ready to dive into where it costs top dollar to live? Let’s go!

Top 5 Most Expensive US Cities to Live In

Dive into the details of 2023’s top five most expensive US cities.

Manhattan, New York

New York occupies the top spot on the list of most expensive cities in the United States for 2023. Housing forms part of the reason; with Hudson Yards, a neighborhood in Manhattan, marked as the costliest across all New York City boroughs.

An average home here commands an eye-watering price tag of $8.2 million.

More than just housing costs push Manhattan to its rank. The overall cost of living soars well above twice that of national standards. Everything from groceries to transportation carries a premium price, shaping this bustling city into an economic behemoth within American borders.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston has moved up significantly on the list of priciest cities to live in the United States. High rent rates and luxury condos are a common sight, reflecting Boston’s expensive housing market.

This bustling city ranks as second for most costly one-bedroom rentals, surpassing cities like San Francisco and trailing only behind New York City. The high cost of living paints a vivid picture of the financial challenges faced by residents daily.

Despite these concerns, wealthy inhabitants find immense value in the affluent lifestyle offered by this vibrant city. Being home to many high-end condo buildings solidifies its status for luxury living within the country’s top expensive areas to reside in 2023.

San Francisco, California

San Francisco holds a place in the top five most expensive U.S. cities to live in. This city is third on the list with an unsparing cost of living index at 169.9.

Sky-high housing costs and an overall expensive standard of living are significant factors contributing to its ranking. Quality of life and desirability also play a large part, driving up costs further for residents who choose to embrace the vibrant culture, scenic beauty, and progressive career opportunities San Francisco offers despite its high expense rate.

Washington, D.C.

Making the list at number four, Washington, D.C. boasts a steep cost of living score of 148.7. This impressive rank lands it comfortably within the top 5 most expensive cities to live in across all states in America.

One can attribute Washington’s high ranking to expenses like housing and daily necessities that notably surpass national averages. Both residents and visitors must contend with these elevated costs, making it a challenging city for those with average or lower-than-average income levels.

The pay scale here does attempt to offset these costs somewhat; however, even with higher salaries on offer than many other U.S regions, individuals should prepare for pricier day-to-day living conditions in the nation’s capital.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii stands high on the list as the fifth most expensive city to live in within the U.S. In 2023, a combination of factors like soaring rental costs and an overall high cost of living contribute to this ranking.

With its score reaching 179 on the cost-of-living scale, it is far from being an affordable option for many people. Despite these drawbacks, Honolulu’s natural beauty continues to attract new residents, making it one of the least affordable cities in 2023.

Factors That Make These Cities Expensive to Live In

In these cities, factors like exorbitant housing prices, high rents, and a steep cost of living index significantly contribute to their exclusivity.

High Cost of Housing

Manhattan tops the list with living costs soaring 122% above the average. Skyrocketing housing prices in San Francisco and Honolulu only add more cities to the exorbitant cost group.

Even across states, affordability remains an issue; Boston, Massachusetts, and Washington D.C. are not immune to this trend. Surprisingly, even smaller metro areas like Vallejo and Fairfield have joined the ranks of expensive cities, where their housing costs now exceed those of Los Angeles.

Shockingly high housing costs are a significant contributor to these cities’ unaffordable status pushing them further out of reach for many Americans.

High Cost of Living

Living in cities such as San Diego, Los Angeles, and New York can drastically drain your wallet. The cost of staples like housing, groceries, healthcare, and utilities far exceeds the national average in these areas.

With high-end designer stores at every turn and gourmet dining a norm rather than a luxury, residents often find themselves needing to match an expensive lifestyle. Even essentials like childcare or private schooling for those with kids don’t come cheap in these cities.

Many people question if the luxurious amenities make up for the high living expenses. While affordability is subjective and varies from person to person based on income level and spending habits, no one can deny that residing in any of these major urban centers requires a substantial amount of wealth due to their inflated cost of living index rates.

High Average Salary

High average salaries are a significant factor determining the cost of living in these cities. For instance, Manhattan’s sky-high income levels reflect the substantial wealth required to live comfortably amidst its towering skyscrapers and bustling streets.

Jobs in this city tend to pay well above national averages, but this also means increased competition and higher qualifications for these positions.

In places like San Francisco, high-tech industries drive up average incomes significantly. The city is home to some of the world’s biggest tech companies offering lucrative salaries that contribute heavily towards its high average salary tag.


Living in the most expensive US cities in 2023 imposes a high cost of living that’s drastically above the national average. The factors pushing up costs include sky-high housing prices, elevated living expenses, and increased average salaries.

Metropolises like San Francisco, or New York become challenging for many due to unparalleled real estate costs and affluent lifestyles.

With affordability posing as a significant concern, understanding these dynamics becomes vital when considering relocation options.

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