Finding a place to live that has everything you need and want can be a challenge, especially when the place you want to move to is in a state that’s notorious for its high cost of living. It’s no secret that states like New York and California are expensive to live in—but they’re not the only places that require a high income if you want to pay the rent. But how do you know how much it really costs to live somewhere? 

Determining the most expensive city to live in is based on a large number of factors including rental prices, transportation, parking, child care, groceries, utilities, and more. Plus, to really figure out your expenses you have to factor in your other bills. However, for the purposes of this article, we’ll be using data collected by Quicken Loans (based on data from the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index and the U.S. Census Bureau) to give you a general idea of how much it costs to live in the top 10 most expensive cities in the U.S.

Before we jump into the costs of these cities, let’s first look at some of the other things you should factor into your moving decision. 

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing Somewhere to Live 

While price is usually the most prevalent factor when finding somewhere to live, there are other things you should think about too. If you’re living in one of these expensive cities, or hope to move and are wondering how you’ll afford it, you might consider refinancing options that will help you pay off your home loan with a better interest rate. Some of the other most common “big buckets” renters apply to their decision-making include: 

  • Daily commute
  • Proximity to the places you frequent most (whether that’s your friends’ houses or your favorite bars)
  • Pets (if you have a dog, this is especially relevant—are there places to walk with them, etc.)
  • Lifestyle (is your lifestyle more indoor or outdoor?) 
  • Access to medical care, stores, and entertainment
  • Community 
  • Noise levels 

What’s important to you will have a significant influence on what city and even what neighborhood is the right fit for you. Before you settle down somewhere, you want to carefully consider the many aspects of living in a certain city, you may even find that you’re willing to pay a little more for the perfect match. But if you are contemplating adjusting your budget, keep in mind that you want to try to stay within the recommended rent-to-income ratio, which is 30%, according to SmartMove.

 Based on the data collected by Quicken Loans, these are the 10 most expensive cities to live in in 2020: 

Manhattan, NY

Number one on our list should come as no surprise; the Big Apple is well-known for being expensive—especially the borough of Manhattan. But why is that? Let’s take a look at a few key numbers that outline the cost of living in Manhattan: 

  • Median home price: $2,045,349
  • Median monthly rent: $5,133
  • Median household income: $79,781
  • Income adjusted by cost of living: $32,899

The cost of living in Manhattan is 142.5% above the U.S. average. From state taxes to dining out and everything in between, you’ll have to make a substantial income in order to afford to live here. 

  1. San Francisco, CA

With its diversity, artsy culture, and plentiful job opportunities, San Francisco has a lot to offer someone looking for a bustling city to relocate to. However, it’s also the second most expensive city to live in right now. Just how much does it cost to live in San Francisco? Well for starters, the cost of living is 101.7% above the U.S. average and the median monthly rent is $4,323. And, if you’re planning to buy, you should be ready to pay the big dollars; the median home price is $1,344,19. 

While the median household income is $96,265, the income adjusted by the cost of living is much lower, at only $47,726. 

Honolulu, HI

Who hasn’t dreamed of living on an island? As the capital of Hawaii, not to mention it’s dreamy lush landscape and blue waters, it’s no wonder that Honolulu is a desirable place to live and you don’t have to worry about daylight saving time. However, a permanent island getaway doesn’t come cheap with a median home price of $1,391,767 and median monthly rent of $2,941

Not to mention, the cost of living is 91.4% above the U.S. average. The high cost of living in Honolulu and Hawaii in general is partially due to the cost of goods and taxes because of the need to import. If you’re considering a move to Honolulu, you should think long and hard about how far your income will actually go. 

Brooklyn, NY

Another Bureau in New York City tops this list as the 4th most expensive place to live. So, just how much does it cost in Brooklyn? The cost of living is 83.2% above the U.S. average with the median home price at $1,346,308 and the median monthly rent costing approximately $3,320.

These high costs are largely due to the gentrification of Brooklyn. While it used to be known for crime and poverty, the borough is now seen as a desirable area to live in. 

Washington, D.C. 

Finding affordable housing in Washington D.C. is quite the challenge: the median home price is $1,069,329 and the median monthly rent is $3,002—not to mention housing prices are forecasted to continue to rise. Not only that, but the median income adjusted by the cost of living is only $47,520. Housing costs paired with eating expenses, transportation, and other living expenses, Washington D.C. is far from an affordable place to call home.

Oakland, CA

Another Northern California city that has seen a rise in cost of living is Oakland. Once riddled with crime, this area has become a popular alternative to San Francisco, San Jose, and other more residential alternatives near the city. The median home price in Oakland is $839,663 and the median monthly rent is $2,572. 

Seattle, WA

Known for its natural beauty, growing tourist offerings, and job opportunities at some of the most successful companies in the U.S. (including Amazon), Seattle has become an attractive option for those looking to relocate. However, it won’t be an easy move for just anyone. Currently, the median home price is $813,020 and the median monthly rent is $2,642. That’s not to say that there aren’t any affordable places in Seattle, but you’ll have to do your research into the costs of different neighborhoods. 

Arlington, VA

While Arlington is considered a more affordable alternative to living in Washington D.C., it’s still within the top 10 most expensive places to live. If you’re considering relocating to Arlington, here are the important numbers to know: 

  • Median household income: $112,138
  • Income adjusted by cost of living: $73,678 
  • Median monthly home price: $918,637
  • Median monthly rent: $2,843 

However, the move may be worth it if good schools, a beautiful home, and living in a diverse urban area are on your must-have list. 

Boston, MA 

From great seafood and plentiful sports fans to easy transportation, it’s easy to see why you might be drawn to make the move to Boston. If you are going to live here, you should know that a large portion of your income will have to go to housing; the current median home price is $719,537 and the median monthly rent is $3,548. Overall, the cost of living is 51.2% above the U.S. average. 

Queens, NY

Another New York City borough rounds out our list—Queens. However, Queens is slightly more affordable than Brooklyn but still pretty close. The median home price is $819,600 and the median monthly rent is $2,818; For many, an extra $400 a month from paying lower rent can go a long way. While Queens isn’t nearly as luxurious as some of the other boroughs, it no doubt has plenty to offer for those looking for urban style living. 

Now that you know more about the actual cost of living in some of the U.S.’s most expensive cities, you have the information you need to make an educated decision about your move.

Living In The City v. Suburbs: Pros and Cons