The cities with highest costs of living in their states also tend to be relatively affluent. In 45 of the 50 cities on this list, the typical household earns more than the typical household does across the state as a whole.
Still, for the cities on this list, the higher incomes are almost always partially — and sometimes completely — offset by higher costs of goods and services. For example, in Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, the most expensive metro area in Florida, the typical household earns $51,362 a year, slightly more than the median income of $50,860 across the state as a whole. However, goods and services in the metro area are 7.6% more expensive than they are nationwide on average. Meanwhile, goods and services in Florida are 0.3% less expensive than they are on average nationally.
After adjusting for the high cost of living in the Miami metro area, the typical household effectively earns just $47,458 annually, considerably less than the statewide cost-of-living-adjusted median income of $51,013.
Just because a city ranks as the most expensive in a given state does not necessarily mean it is expensive relative to the nation as a whole. In 30 cities on this list, goods and services are actually less expensive than they are on average nationwide.
Cities on this list with a low cost of living relative to the nation are most often in low-cost-of-living states. For example, Jackson is the most expensive city in Mississippi, a state with the lowest cost of living of all states. While goods and services are high in Jackson relative to the state as a whole, they are about 10% less expensive than they are nationwide on average.
In rare cases, the most expensive metro area in a state is actually less expensive than the state as a whole. Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia, which have higher costs of living than the average nationwide, are the only states where the most expensive metro areas have lower cost of living than their respective states as a whole.
To determine the most expensive city in each state 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2016 regional price parities – or cost of living – in each of the nation’s 382 metropolitan statistical areas as calculated by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. RPPs, according to the BEA, “are price indexes that measure geographic price level differences for one period in time within the United States. An RPP is a weighted average of the price level of goods and services for the average consumer in one geographic region compared to all other regions in the U.S.” The cost of living for each state also comes from the BEA. Poverty rates and median household income for each MSA come from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey and are one year estimates.