The 25 Most Expensive Places to Live in the U.S. in 2019

These metro areas have the highest cost of living compared to median income.

By Devon Thorsby, Editor, Real Estate |Aug. 21, 2019, at 12:53 p.m.

The 25 Most Expensive Places to Live in the U.S. in 2019

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How pricey is your hometown?

Buildings on the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico

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In calculating the Best Places to Live, U.S. News determines the local cost of living for each metro area, looking at median mortgage payments, property taxes and median rents. We then determine affordability by comparing housing costs to the local median annual household income. While the Best Affordable Places to Live in the U.S. showcases metro areas where money stretches a bit further, on the flip side are places that require a hefty share of income to cover housing. Read on for the most expensive places to live in the U.S.

25. Virginia Beach, Virginia

25. Virginia Beach, Virginia

Last minute vacation in Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 103
Metro Population: 1,717,708
Median Home Price: $220,275
Median Annual Salary: $47,410
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.82%

Located on the coast of Virginia, Virginia Beach is a desirable place for many vacationers and individuals looking to relocate. However, living in Virginia Beach comes at a cost. Residents in the Virginia Beach area spend 25.82% of the median annual household income on housing expenses. To compare, the national median cost of living – based on the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. – is 23.58% of income. The median annual salary in Virginia Beach, $47,410, is also below the national average at $50,620.

Learn more about Virginia Beach.

24. Bakersfield, California

24. Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield, California

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 124
Metro Population: 878,744
Median Home Price: $226,908
Median Annual Salary: $47,680
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 25.9%

Ranking No. 124 out of the 125 metro areas on the Best Places to Live list, Bakersfield has a cost of living that requires 25.9% of the area median annual household income. The median home price in the Bakersfield area is $226,908, just a few dollars shy of the national median of $227,025, based on real estate information company Zillow’s median home sale price data series. Bakersfield’s median annual salary is low at $47,680 and the unemployment rate, at 8%, is more than double the national unemployment rate of 3.9%.

Learn more about Bakersfield.

22. New Orleans (tie)

22. New Orleans (tie)

Last minute vacation in New Orleans, Louisiana

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 114
Metro Population: 1,260,660
Median Home Price: $193,575
Median Annual Salary: $43,310
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.07%

Tied for the No. 22 spot on this list, New Orleans has housing costs that require 26.07% of the median annual household income. While the median home price in the New Orleans area is just $193,575, which is low compared to the national median of $227,025, median income is also well below national numbers. The median annual salary, at $43,310, is more than $7,000 below the national median.

Learn more about New Orleans.

22. Brownsville, Texas (tie)

22. Brownsville, Texas (tie)

Brownsville is located at the southernmost tip of Texas, on the northern bank of the Rio Grande, directly north and across the border from Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 116
Metro Population: 420,201
Median Home Value: $88,800*
Median Annual Salary: $35,240
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.07%

Tied with New Orleans for the No. 22 spot is another metro area located near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. While it may not be as popular of a vacation spot as New Orleans, Brownsville also hosts many visitors each year who come to the Texas metro area for its nearby beaches during spring break and summer vacation.

Learn more about Brownsville.

(*Median home price for Brownsville was unavailable, so median home value is listed.)

21. San Jose, California

21. San Jose, California

San Jose's downtown skyline, with residential high rises and modern office buildings; Silicon Valley, California

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 14
Metro Population: 1,969,897
Median Home Price: $1,080,017
Median Annual Salary: $77,180
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.08%

While many metro areas on this list have a struggling job market, San Jose is just the opposite – it has the strongest job market out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. However, San Jose’s high median salary at $77,180 and low unemployment rate of 2.7% don’t cancel out the high cost of living. With a median home price of more than $1 million, residents can expect to spend 26.08% of the median household income on housing.

Learn more about San Jose.

20. McAllen, Texas

20. McAllen, Texas

McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County, Texas, United States, and the twenty-second most populous city in Texas.

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 112
Metro Population: 839,539
Median Home Value: $107,300*
Median Annual Salary: $36,380
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.13%

McAllen takes the No. 20 spot with a cost of living that requires 26.13% of the median household income. With a median annual individual salary of just $36,380, McAllen's median annual household income isn’t much higher at $41,206. Additionally, the unemployment rate is 6.6%, indicating that inability to find a job likely contributes to low income in the area.

Learn more about McAllen.

(*Median home price for McAllen was unavailable, so median home value is listed.)

19. New Haven, Connecticut

19. New Haven, Connecticut

Downtown New Haven skyline thick with spires and steeples. New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut after Bridgeport and the sixth-largest in New England. New Haven is known for its established theaters, museums, music venues and New Haven-style pizza

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 95
Metro Population: 862,127
Median Home Price: $204,475
Median Annual Salary: $55,450
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.44%

In New England, New Haven residents spend 26.44% of the median household income on housing. While New Haven’s median home price is low compared to many other metro areas in the Northeast, at $204,475, it’s still pricey for the metro area’s residents. Median rent is high as well at $1,100 per month. With a median age of 40.1 years, the New Haven area is home to more older residents than the typical U.S. metro area.

Learn more about New Haven.

18. Fort Myers, Florida

18. Fort Myers, Florida

Florida Fort Myers beach catamaran sailboat in USA

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 35
Metro Population: 700,165
Median Home Price: $219,200
Median Annual Salary: $41,380
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.47%

Fort Myers residents spend 26.47% of the median annual household income on housing costs. A contributing factor for Fort Myers’s high cost of living is the fact that the metro area is growing fast. Fort Myers increased in population by 14.42% between 2013 and 2017 due to net migration alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, making it the second-fastest growing metro area out of the 125 most populous in the U.S., after Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Learn more about Fort Myers.

17. Sacramento, California

17. Sacramento, California

Sacramento california city skyline and street views

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 82
Metro Population: 2,268,005
Median Home Price: $389,858
Median Annual Salary: $55,010
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.55%

In California’s capital city, residents spend 26.55% of the median annual household income on housing costs. The median annual salary for residents, at $55,010, is above the national median of $50,620. However, that doesn’t offset the high median home price for the area, which is $389,858. As a result, residents should expect homes in highly desirable parts of the metro area to be well above that median price. For renters, the median monthly rent is $1,157.

Learn more about Sacramento.

16. Orlando, Florida

16. Orlando, Florida

Orlando Florida, Lake Eola.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 63
Metro Population: 2,390,859
Median Home Price: $233,050
Median Annual Salary: $44,410
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.72%

Whether you’re hoping to work for one of Orlando's major tourism attractions like Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando, or you just like the idea of visiting these spots regularly, be prepared to pay more to live in this Florida metro area. Orlando residents spend 26.72% of the area median household income on housing expenses. The median home price in Orlando is $233,050, slightly above the national median price of $227,025, according to Zillow.

Learn more about Orlando.

15. San Francisco

15. San Francisco

Calm harbor with sail boats and the Golden Gate Bridge, San Fransico, CA

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 7
Metro Population: 4,641,820
Median Home Price: $768,517
Median Annual Salary: $69,700
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 26.98%

San Francisco’s median annual salary is high at $69,700 – well above the national median of $50,620 – but that doesn’t completely offset the high cost of living. San Francisco area residents can expect to spend 26.98% of the area median household income on housing. While the city of San Francisco’s monthly median home price has reached above $1 million in recent years, the median home price for the entire metro area (and covering one year of sales) is $768,517.

Learn more about San Francisco.

14. Fresno, California

14. Fresno, California

Central Valley, California

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 119
Metro Population: 971,616
Median Home Price: $260,733
Median Annual Salary: $45,510
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.12%

With nearly 1 million residents, the Fresno metro area takes the No. 14 spot on the list. The cost of living in the Fresno area requires 27.12% of the median annual household income. The median annual salary is roughly $5,000 below the national median of $50,620. However, that lower income has to stretch further to cover costs like the median home price, which at $260,733 is well above the national median of $227,025.

Learn more about Fresno.

13. Modesto, California

13. Modesto, California

Rolling green hills with oak trees in Modesto, California

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 120
Metro Population: 803,074
Median Home Price: $289,168
Median Annual Salary: $46,176
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.32%

Residents in the Modesto metro area spend 27.32% of the area median household income on housing. In addition to the high cost of living relative to income, the area’s suffering job market leads Modesto to rank No. 120 out of 125 on the overall Best Places to Live list. The median annual salary for the Modesto area is $46,176, and the unemployment rate is 7%, well above the national unemployment rate of 3.9%.

Learn more about Modesto.

12. Stockton, California

12. Stockton, California

historic stockton california ranch

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 123
Metro Population: 724,153
Median Home Price: $352,350
Median Annual Salary: $46,770
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.42%

In Stockton, residents spend 27.42% of the median household income on housing costs. Despite having a median annual salary below the national median, home prices in Stockton are well above national numbers: The median home price for the metro area is $352,350, more than $100,000 above the national median, per Zillow data. Additionally, the unemployment rate of 5.9% is 2 percentage points above the national unemployment rate. While Stockton’s population is rising – having increased by 2.95% between 2013 and 2017 due to net migration – it isn’t growing swiftly enough to indicate more rapid home price increases in the future.

Learn more about Stockton.

11. Port St. Lucie, Florida

11. Port St. Lucie, Florida

Port St. Lucie, Florida

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 78
Metro Population: 454,482
Median Home Price: $211,083
Median Annual Salary: $42,500
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.5%

The cost of living in Port St. Lucie requires 27.5% of the median annual household income. The median home price of $211,083 in this coastal Florida metro area is below the national median of $227,025, but the median annual salary of $42,500 – $8,000 below the national median – means less money is reserved for other costs or savings. Port St. Lucie’s unemployment rate is 4.1%, slightly above the national unemployment rate of 3.9%.

Learn more about Port St. Lucie.

10. Daytona Beach, Florida

10. Daytona Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach Florida during a hot summer day

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 99
Metro Population: 623,675
Median Home Price: $192,817
Median Annual Salary: $38,710
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 27.84%

Ranking No. 99 on the overall Best Places to Live list, Daytona Beach is the 10th most expensive place to live out of the 125 most populous metro areas in the U.S. Daytona Beach residents spend 27.84% of the median annual household income on housing expenses. With a median age of 47.1, the Daytona Beach area is home to many retirees and is a pricey place to live for people on a fixed income. However, the warm weather and access to the ocean makes it a worthy cost for many.

Learn more about Daytona Beach.

9. Santa Rosa, California

9. Santa Rosa, California

Sunset on the horizon through a branch of an old oak tree in Sonoma County. Colorful clouds in the sky and golden light fills the foreground.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 74
Metro Population: 500,943
Median Home Price: $629,917
Median Annual Salary: $53,890
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.22%

Santa Rosa’s cost of living requires 28.22% of the median annual household income. With a median home price of $629,917 and median monthly rent of $1,456, housing in the heart of California wine country is pricey. One factor that may encourage people to remain in the area, however, is the fact that there are plenty of job opportunities – the unemployment rate in Santa Rosa is just 2.7%, which is more than a percentage point below the national unemployment rate.

Learn more about Santa Rosa.

8. Honolulu

8. Honolulu

Sun lovers on Waikiki beach in Honolulu.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 60
Metro Population: 990,060
Median Home Price: $581,658
Median Annual Salary: $54,030
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 28.87%

Given the chance, many people may be willing to pay more to live in a location like Honolulu. The cost of living in Hawaii's capital requires 28.87% of the area’s median annual household income. The median annual salary is above the national median at $54,030, although the median home price of $581,658 is more than double the national median. Residents considering a move to Hawaii should also keep in mind that everyday items like groceries can be more expensive due to the higher cost to import goods to the Pacific island chain.

Learn more about Honolulu.

7. Salinas, California

7. Salinas, California

Agricultural lands ready to be planted in the Salinas Valley, California USA

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 117
Metro Population: 433,168
Median Home Price: $581,342
Median Annual Salary: $48,290
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 29.26%

Residents in the Salinas metro area spend 29.26% of the median annual household income on housing costs. With a median annual salary of just $48,290, it makes sense that residents may struggle to cover the costs of the median home price of $581,342 or the median monthly rent of $1,338. The high cost of living may be causing some people to move elsewhere – between 2013 and 2017, the Salinas metro area’s population decreased by 1.76% due to net migration, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Learn more about Salinas.

6. Santa Barbara, California

6. Santa Barbara, California

View from Santa Barbara city hall tower - USA

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 73
Metro Population: 442,996
Median Home Price: $463,750
Median Annual Salary: $54,320
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 29.43%

This Southern California metro area ranks 16th on the Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S. list, based on a series of surveys asking U.S. residents where they’d prefer to live. Of course, high desirability often leads to a high cost of living based on demand. Santa Barbara residents spend 29.43% of the median household income on housing costs, and the median monthly rent is $1,496. Santa Barbara certainly has its perks, though – the average morning commute for local residents is just 19.4 minutes.

Learn more about Santa Barbara.

5. San Diego

5. San Diego

Downtown San Diego, California, shot during a helicopter photo flight as a winter storm cleared.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 36
Metro Population: 3,283,665
Median Home Price: $555,325
Median Annual Salary: $56,410
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 29.52%

Ranking No. 5 on the list of the most expensive places to live is San Diego, where residents can expect to pay 29.52% of the area median household income on housing. Like many other metro areas on the list, San Diego is a popular vacation destination, thanks to its year-round sunny weather and beaches located in the heart of the city. As a result, the high demand leads to a high home price – the median is $555,325 in this area, according to Zillow information.

Learn more about San Diego.

4. New York City

4. New York City

Manhattan bridge seen from a brick buildings in Brooklyn street in perspective, New York, USA. Shot in the evening

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 90
Metro Population: 21,139,370
Median Home Price: $386,862
Median Annual Salary: $63,079
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 29.69%

New York City is the most populous place in the U.S. and an ideal destination for many people looking to live in the City That Never Sleeps. Of course, living here comes at a cost – residents in the New York metro area, which includes boroughs like Brooklyn and Queens as well as parts of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania – spend 29.69% of the median household income on housing. The median home price for the metro area is $386,862, although if you’re looking to live in Manhattan, you can expect to pay upwards of $1 million for a one-bedroom apartment.

Learn more about New York City.

3. Los Angeles

3. Los Angeles

View from the Hollywood Hills of Downtown LA.

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Best Places 2019 Rank: 107
Metro Population: 18,585,594
Median Home Price: $526,214
Median Annual Salary: $53,803
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 30.28%

The second-largest metro area in the U.S. is the third-most expensive place to live, and with plenty of wealthy residents living in and around Los Angeles, it’s no surprise the cost of living is high. Los Angeles area residents can expect to spend 30.28% of the median annual household income on housing costs. The median home price for the area is more than half a million dollars, and the median monthly rent is $1,362.

Learn more about Los Angeles.

2. Miami

2. Miami

Beach in Miami, Florida

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 113
Metro Population: 6,090,790
Median Home Price: $247,113
Median Annual Salary: $46,860
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 31.08%

Miami has a reputation as an international city – attracting retirees from other parts of the country, new U.S. residents and wealthy businesspeople looking for a place to live with warm weather by the beach. However, the reputation Miami has for great weather and active nightlife leads to its high cost of living. Residents in the Miami metro area can expect to spend 31.08% of the median annual household income on housing costs. Miami’s residents represent all walks of life, and while many wealthy people live in the area, the median annual salary, at $46,860, is below the national median of $50,620.

Learn more about Miami.

1. San Juan, Puerto Rico

1. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Buildings on the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico

(Getty Images)

Best Places 2019 Rank: 125
Metro Population: 2,193,264
Median Home Listing Price: $121,800*
Median Annual Salary: $29,820
Income Spent on Living Expenses: 31.86%

San Juan’s high cost of living – at 31.86% of the median annual household income – is a contributing factor to its rank of No. 125 (out of 125) on the Best Places to Live list. Puerto Rico’s economy largely depends on tourism, but the island’s popularity hasn't necessarily translated to higher individual income, even before Hurricane Maria caused widespread damage and long-term power outages to the area in 2017. The median annual salary in San Juan is $29,820. Additionally, unemployment in the San Juan area is almost double the national rate at 7.7%.

Learn more about San Juan.

(*Median home price for San Juan was unavailable, so median home value, per Data USA, is listed.)

The most expensive cities in the U.S. are:

The most expensive cities in the U.S. are:

(Getty Images)

  • San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Miami
  • Los Angeles
  • New York City
  • San Diego
  • Santa Barbara, California
  • Salinas, California
  • Honolulu
  • Santa Rosa, California
  • Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Port St. Lucie, Florida
  • Stockton, California
  • Modesto, California
  • Fresno, California
  • San Francisco
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Sacramento, California
  • Fort Myers, Florida
  • New Haven, Connecticut
  • McAllen, Texas
  • San Jose, California
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • New Orleans
  • Bakersfield, California
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia

Read More

Devon Thorsby is the Real Estate editor at U.S. News & World Report, where she writes consumer-focused articles about the homebuying and selling process, home improvement, tenant rights and the state of the housing market.

She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.

Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at dthorsby@usnews.com.


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