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Thread: America's 5 Most and Least Expensive Cities

  1. #1

    Default America's 5 Most and Least Expensive Cities

    America's 5 Most and Least Expensive Cities

    No surprise—the more a city has to offer, the more it costs to live there

    By the Homestore Staff

    Catch-22 rears its ironic face once again: The more a city has to offer, the more it costs to live there. That's just the way it is. New York City, San Francisco and Honolulu are all beautiful, fun, vibrant cities that each cost an arm and a leg—and that's just counting your security deposit.

    To find out what cities give you the least bang for your buck, we've used the most recent Cost of Living Index compiled by the ACCRA, a non-profit organization that researches community and economic development. The Arlington, Va.-based company compiles the index from a survey of 314 metropolitan areas of all sizes in North America, taking into account six primary expenses: groceries; housing; utilities; transportation; healthcare; and miscellaneous goods and services. (Note that it does not consider taxes.)

    How to Read the Numbers

    The number that follows each city is its composite index score, with the average being 100. For example, with a composite index of 217.1, the cost of living in New York City is about 117 percent more than the cost of living in the average U.S. city. To extrapolate further, if you earned $100,000 per year in "Average City, U.S.A," you'd need to make $217,000 annually in Manhattan.

    No. 1: New York, New York—217.1

    It's the Big Apple, baby, and an expensive apple it is! The town so nice they named it twice also costs more than twice as much to live in as your average U.S. city. So while it may be great for the well-to-do, young people unconcerned with amenities like privacy or those who just have to live there, it's a real struggle for the average family. Housing costs, utilities and groceries are all higher here than any other U.S. city, with housing costing five time the national average. Of course, as with all places, you're paying for location and Manhattan has it all: the best restaurants, world-class museums and a bustling, vibrant, cosmopolitan scene replicated nowhere else.

    No. 2: Jersey City, New Jersey—182.8

    Well, if you think that location is everything, you must consider why Jersey City, N.J. is ranked just under New York City... New Jersey's second largest city is one mile across the Hudson River from Manhattan, the most expensive city in the country. It is also just five miles from Newark, New Jersey's largest city, which is also in the hub of one of the country's most expensive places to live. From Jersey City, you'll get one of the best views of the Statue of Liberty.

    No. 3: San Francisco, California—169.8

    It's easy to give your heart up to The City by the Bay. The hilly, ethnically diverse metropolis is packed with hip neighborhoods, gorgeous vistas and enjoys a temperate year-round climate. The hang up is the cost of living. Real estate has bounded to stratospheric heights over the last decade, due mostly to the once-thriving tech industries in the area. So not only is purchasing a home extremely costly but even renting a one-bedroom apartment can cost you upward of $1,500 per month. And the market is very competitive, with buyers outbidding competitors and apartments snatched up as quickly as they become available. Some landlords even require a "renter's resume" of your past living accommodations. If you can afford it, it's the best. If not, at least spend a vacation there.

    No. 4: Stamford, Connecticut—163.2

    Stamford, a city of approximately 117,000 residents, is a coastal community along Connecticut's shoreline, consisting of 37.3 square miles. Just 25 miles northeast of New York City and 40 southwest of New Haven, Stamford is the country's third largest corporate headquarters community. The city offers both urban and suburban elements ranging from the multi-acre homes in wooded North Stamford, to a corporate downtown center, to the shoreline areas that envelop parks and beaches. Besides scenic beauty, Stamford also boasts a low crime rate.

    No. 5: Honolulu, Hawaii—155.64

    A little slice of tropical paradise will cost you big if you decide to live in Hawaii's largest city, a metropolitan area of 372,279 residents. According to Enterprise Honolulu, in 2000, Honolulu's per capita personal income was $29,960 in comparison to Hawaii's average of $27,851 and the U.S. average of $29,649. Honolulu's per capita personal income has consistently remained above the state and U.S. average. Still, housing and groceries don't come cheap. And what do you get in return for that high cost of living? How about beautiful beaches, cool tradewinds and a killer view of Diamond Head.

    Four of the five least expensive metropolitan areas are in Texas. They include:

    McAllen, Texas—84.3
    Seguin, Texas—84.6
    Laredo, Texas—85.0
    Jonesboro, Arkansas—85.9
    Lubbock, Texas—86.6

    And besides metropolitan areas, the ACCRA also ranks 314 urban areas. Those with the highest cost of living are:

    New York-Wayne-White Plains, NY-NJ—171.0
    Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA —148.8
    Oakland-Fremont-Hayward, CA—143.8
    San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA—139.8
    Washington-Arlington-Alexandra, DC-VA-MD-WV—138.8
    Newark-Union, NJ-PA—132.9
    Edison, NJ—131.4
    Seattle, WA—122.9
    Philadelphia, PA—120.8
    Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL—118.0

    Copyright 2004 Homestore, Inc.

  2. #2


    OK, i know everyone hates a know it all, but since i am from hawaii i am feeling slighted by the honolulu population figure. Since Honolulu is not really an incorporated city they use rough boundries that are universally accepted, and the population of the "city" was 395,00 in 1998. The metro region was 872,000 in '96. I feel bad when the error is more than half a million people. However i must give some credit to the article because it is very expensive to liver here.

  3. #3
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City


    Why has Honolulu never been incorporated?

  4. #4


    I really don't know why honolulu was never incorporated, but none of our cities are incorporated. Just a hawaii thing i guess.

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