Special Report

The Most Expensive Town in Each State

1. Huntsville, Alabama
> City cost of living:
> State cost of living: 88.1
> City median rent paid: $725
> City median household income: $55,857

With a relative price parity of 88.1, Alabama is the fourth cheapest state to live in the country. In Huntsville, a city of 435,000 people on the state’s northern border with Tennessee, the cost of living is higher than in the rest of the state but still lower than in the majority of the state’s metro areas. Compared to most of Alabama, Huntsville has many socioeconomic factors associated with higher costs of living. For example, 36.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree compared to 23.5% of Alabama residents 25 and older. City homes are also more expensive, with a median home value of $156,700 compared to the state median home value of $122,700.

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2. Anchorage, Alaska
> City cost of living:
> State cost of living: 107.1
> City median rent paid: $1,150
> City median household income: $76,831

Anchorage is the most expensive city in Alaska. Goods and services in the area cost nearly 11% more than they do, on average, across the nation. However, the cost of living in Anchorage is not so different than in the state. The reason for this may be that the state has only one other metro area. Alaska has among the higher costs of living compared to other states.

3. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona
> City cost of living:
> State cost of living: 98.1
> City median rent paid: $936
> City median household income: $51,847

The costs of living in both Arizona and its most expensive metropolitan, Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, are roughly in line with the cost of living nationwide. Phoenix is only slightly more expensive than the state. The capital area’s median home value of $177,900 is only slightly higher than Arizona’s median home value of $166,000. The city has a median household income of $51,847, compared to a state median income of $48,510 and a national median income of $52,250.

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4. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Arkansas
> City cost of living:
> State cost of living: 87.6
> City median rent paid: $754
> City median household income: $48,304

Arkansas is the second least expensive state to live in after Mississippi, with goods and services costing 12.4% less than the national average prices. The state’s most expensive urban area, Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, is not an especially expensive place to live. The state’s median household income of $40,511 is also nearly the lowest compared to other states. In the Little Rock area, while household median income is far higher than the state’s, it is still below the national median.

5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California
> City cost of living:
> State cost of living: 112.9
> City median rent paid: $1,640
> City median household income: $91,533

On the whole, Californians live in one of the most expensive states. However, regional price parity varies widely within the state. El Centro, California has a regional price parity of 92.2. The San Jose metropolitan area, meanwhile, has a regional price parity of 122, third highest of any U.S. metropolitan area. Home to Silicon Valley and a host of high-income tech positions, the area’s median household income of $91,533 is more than $30,000 above the state’s median income. Renting is fairly common in the area, and it is not cheap. While just 15.3% of all renters nationwide pay more than $1,500 per month, 57.4% of renters in the San Jose area pay more than $1,500 per month.

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