People are always looking to move up in life, and one of the ways to do that is to live somewhere that emphasizes the fact that you are doing well. Living in an expensive state or neighbourhood is a statement to your social rank or status in this world that we so naively deny has a hierarchy.
But keeping the dark tone aside, what makes a state expensive? Well for starters, the cost of living. If the cost of living in a state is high, then it is without doubt an expensive state. But even the culture and climate, though they make the state unique, can also affect factors like living expenses.
Looking to learn which are the most expensive states to live in the US so you can make choices that actually work for you? Read on and find out!
10 Most Expensive States To Live In The US
Let’s go down this list and jump deeper into what these states offer and what it is that possibly makes them the most expensive states to live in. We will also include those juicy numbers for all you statistic fanatics. This will be a few cost indexes for living in each state.
Just so you know, the cost-of-living number is compared to the average index for the United States which is 100. So if the number is greater than 100, then that index is higher than the national average and if it is below 100, then it is below the national average.
We will look at 4 different indexes:
- Cost of Living Index
- Grocery Cost Index
- Housing Cost Index
- Transportation Cost Index
Don’t think we can expect you guys to argue, but Hawaii does deserve to be in the top spot. The state of Hawaii is incredibly beautiful and maybe the most beautiful state to live in. It’s no wonder they receive so many tourists, vacationers and honeymooners. However, this beauty does come at a cost. You may save up to vacation on the island, but that is probably a fraction of what you would need to settle down there.
When you live in Hawaii, you pay more for everything than any other state. Your groceries cost you roughly 60% more than the national average. In a way it does make sense. Things tend to cost more because most of it is shipped from the mainland US to this island in the Pacific Ocean. You don’t just pay for your groceries alone, like the mainlanders do, you basically pay delivery charges too. We know that’s a very loose interpretation of the situation. But hopefully it gave you an insight into why prices are high.
But the paychecks are also higher. With the income tax at 11%, the utilities costing 70% – 80% more and with the rent being 57% higher than the national average, you definitely need the higher paycheck. Depending on your definition of ‘comfortable’, you need to make anywhere from $80,000 to $120,000 to be able to live comfortably in Hawaii.
- Cost of Living Index: 192.9
- Grocery Cost Index: 169.3
- Housing Cost Index: 318.6
- Transportation Cost Index: 148.6
Population: 1.4 million
Median Home Value: $698,029
Median Home rent: $2,452
Median Household Income: $81,275
Also Read: Moving To Hawaii
2. New York
Arguably one of the most expensive states on the mainland. It is home to New York city which is one of the most expensive places to live in the world. Every facet of living in the state is more expensive than the national average. The cost of living in the city is 154% more than the national average. It is no wonder that roughly 1.5 million people in the state live in poverty.
It is one of, if not the most, expensive state when it comes to buying or renting a house. One of the factors that lead to this is the incredibly high price for land and property, especially in the city of New York. The average rent in the city is around $3,300 to $3,700, which is higher than the national average by about 33%.
- Cost of Living Index: 139.1
- Grocery Cost Index: 114.8
- Housing Cost Index: 204.4
- Transportation Cost Index: 116.6
Population: 19.46 million
Median Home Value: $355,963
Median Home rent: $2,226
Median Household Income: $63,998
Did you know, Massachusetts is considered one of the most educated states in the country? Its importance of education is highlighted by the vast number of schools in the state, boasting around 41% of adults having at least a bachelor’s degree. With the job market booming in the state, it has also become one of the fastest growing states in the country.
Boston, the capital of the city, also known as a college city, is one of the most expensive cities to live in the United States. Arguably it is the cost of living in this city that has pushed up the costs in the rest of the state.
With the state growing the way it is, the cost of things tends to increase too. Whether this is healthcare or property value, the prices are all above the national average. The cost of buying a house is an astonishing 70% higher and you pay an estimated 23% more for renting properties.
But that’s not all. It costs you almost 16% more for food and roughly 26% more for healthcare in Massachusetts compared to the national average.
It gets even more expensive in Boston city. All in all the cost of living in Massachusetts is almost 8% higher than the national average.
- Cost of Living Index: 131.6
- Grocery Cost Index: 113.9
- Housing Cost Index: 170.3
- Transportation Cost Index: 116
Population: 7 million
Median Home Value: $490,712
Median Home rent: $2,197
Median Household Income: $81,215
Also See: 10 Largest Cities In Massachusetts
Ah, The Golden State! That name itself should give you a hint. A state literally made of gold would be expensive, and though California isn’t covered in gold, it sure is expensive.
Being a coastal state does seem synonymous with a higher cost of living. California is home to a number of major cities from San Francisco to Los Angeles. It has incredibly high housing and transportation rates, that don’t seem to faze the numerous rich folk that live there. You pay an estimate of 48% higher rent to live in the state. Another way to put it is, you pay 48% more in rent, for an opportunity to spot a celebrity flaunting riches you don’t have.
You drive a car, or a bike or anything that runs on gasoline? Well, be ready to pay upwards of $4 for a gallon of fuel. That is at least a dollar more than the national average. Your average energy bill will be around $230 to $250 a month.
Let’s put it this way. A significant number of people used to live in California. USED TO. The high cost of living does tend to leave wallets empty if you do not have the income to fund the Californian lifestyle.
- Cost of Living Index: 151.7
- Grocery Cost Index: 121.4
- Housing Cost Index: 227.3
- Transportation Cost Index: 138.9
Population: 39.9 million
Median Home Value: $644,020
Median Home rent: $2,333
Median Household Income: $75,235
Right of the bat, let us give you one bit of information that should give you an idea of at least one reason why Alaska is on this list. Alaska ships its food and goods in.
Just like we saw with Hawaii earlier, Alaska barely produces its own goods. Being in the middle of nowhere and the furthest state from the mainland United States, in some frost bitten corner of the world, makes it really difficult and expensive to ship goods to the state and within the state. This brings the price of your groceries 42% higher than the national average.
Alaskan winters are long, dark and cold just like your bank statement after you pay those utility bills which are 70% higher than the national average. Snow is fun, but all that energy you use to light your house and keep it warm is going to make you broke, which is not so fun.
- Cost of Living Index: 129.9
- Grocery Cost Index: 134.2
- Housing Cost Index: 133.9
- Transportation Cost Index: 130.8
Median Home Value: $289,971
Median Home rent: $1,458
Median Household Income: $77,640
Its close proximity to Washington DC makes it really convenient to commute to your work in the capitol. In fact, the home market is higher than the national average by about 20%, but the state boasts one of the higher home ownership rates on this list by almost 67%. The rent in the state is roughly $1,200 a month, making it 22% more than the national average
Sure, the state might be expensive to live in, but it proudly boasts a poverty rate of 8.2%, making it the second lowest in the United States. You may not pay as much as other states on this list for utilities, but don’t let that fool you. Whatever you save up in utilities, will be used up by the transportation and healthcare industry.
- Cost of Living Index: 129.7
- Grocery Cost Index: 108.5
- Housing Cost Index: 184.5
- Transportation Cost Index: 116.7
Population: 6.1 million
Median Home Value: $351,766
Median Home rent: $1,946
Median Household Income: $84,805
7. Rhode Island
It’s quirky with its beaches and towns with architecture from a bygone era and it can easily give you the idea of living a simple life, if you can afford it. If not, then it will easily give you an idea of what bankruptcy and being broke feels like when you look at your bank account. Sure, we’re being dramatic, but Rhode island’s cost of living is 22% higher than the national average, so it sure can feel that way for some at the end of the month.
When compared to the national average prices, your groceries are an approximate 8% higher and utilities come to around $552 or 36% higher. Healthcare is already costly in the United States, and in Rhode Island it’s 7% higher than the national average. Catch the flu one day and you’re broke. When it comes to living there, the average rent is somewhere in between $1300 to $1500 a month. It’s a great place to live, no doubt. Just make sure you have the funds and income to be able to do that.
- Cost of Living Index: 119.4
- Grocery Cost Index: 106.2
- Housing Cost Index: 129.4
- Transportation Cost Index: 124
Population: 1.06 million
Median Home Value: $353,754
Median Home rent: $1,557
Median Household Income: $67,167
A beautiful state with an alarmingly fast economic growth over the last 2 decades and a place on the list of the most expensive states to live in. Lets see, where do we start?
Though it has rent control laws to make living more affordable to its population, rent can cost upwards from $1300. The transportation costs are the third highest in the country and if you love coffee, let’s just say you’re going to be paying a premium compared to the rest of the United States. Sugar too. In fact groceries in general are more expensive.
Oh yes, Just like Rhode Island, getting sick in Oregon may just leave you broke as healthcare is 18% higher than the national average. It also has a high tax rate of almost 10%. The one saving grace is the cost of utilities which is not all that high. Compared to everything on this list, we can say that the utilities are affordable.
- Cost of Living Index: 134.2
- Grocery Cost Index: 110.3
- Housing Cost Index: 181.8
- Transportation Cost Index: 136.7
Population: 4.32 million
Median Home Value: $416,263
Median Home rent: $1,561
Median Household Income: $62,818
Also See: Moving to Oregon
The nutmeg state. There really is not much to say about this state being on the list. The state may sound like the most exciting place to live in, but it is expensive. It’s not really a surprise considering the third smallest state of our country neighbors the Atlantic Ocean, apart from the other expensive states mentioned in this list – New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
The average rent is 15% percent higher than the national average. You could easily end up paying $215 to $220 a month on the energy bill alone.
Do you like your alcohol? Well, the alcohol costs higher than other states in the country. You would be paying double the price for your poison of choice here. So if you have a drinking problem, you may not want to move here. Actually, maybe moving here might just get rid of that drinking problem, because you will be too broke to afford that liquor.
- Cost of Living Index: 127.7
- Grocery Cost Index: 114.2
- Housing Cost Index: 144.7
- Transportation Cost Index: 111.8
Population: 3.55 million
Median Home Value: $300,135
Median Home rent: 1,664
Median Household Income: $78,444
Read More: Moving To Connecticut – Relocation Guide
10. New Jersey
If you love that New York style pizza or that Philadelphia cheesesteak, then New Jersey is smack dab in between them. The close proximity to New York is one of the reasons that the garden state of New Jersey is expensive.
The rent is approximately $1200 for a studio apartment, and if you are a homeowner in the state, you have to pay an effective property tax of 2.16% which is the highest in the country. The gas prices are no joke either. They are more expensive than the national average and at times they are more expensive than in New York.
Basically if you look to move here, then learn to love public transport as well as spending a lot on everything from groceries to utilities.
- Cost of Living Index: 125.1
- Grocery Cost Index: 109.5
- Housing Cost Index: 163.1
- Transportation Cost Index: 111.1
Population: 8.97 million
Median Home Value: $387,105
Median Home rent: $2,291
Median Household Income: $82,545
Also Read: 10 Largest cities in New Jersey
Which state has the highest standard of living?
Washington state. The residents of the state don’t pay state income tax and have an extremely rich job market that thrives with both local and international opportunities. Among all the 50 states, it can be argued that Washington state enjoys the highest quality of life standards.
Useful Tool: Rent Affordability Calculator
What state is the least expensive to live in?
With an average cost of living approximately 15% lower than the national average, Mississippi is the cheapest state to live in. It has great employment opportunities and homes cost 30% lower than the national average.
If you are looking to move or start afresh in a new state with a new family, it’s always good to make sure you have an income that can sustain your lifestyle and the lifestyle of those you bring along.
These are statistically the most expensive states and the numbers don’t lie. But the numbers are not everything. Each of these states offer a unique experience from the vibrant Hawaiian heritage to the frosty Alaskan weather. Sure, there really is no point in moving somewhere you find yourself spiraling towards bankruptcy, but if you can afford to live in any of these states, plus the lifestyle and employment opportunity it offers matches your needs, then why not?
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