Most Expensive City in Every State

September 10, 2018 by Sam Stebbins

Source: Tanaonte / iStock

Most Americans would likely agree that their lifestyle choices and financial security are dictated largely by their income. Income, however, is only one half of the equation. The other half is the price of goods and services. The cost of everyday necessities — such as groceries, transportation, and rent — varies considerably across the country and ultimately impacts just how far a dollar will go.

On a state level, the cost of goods and services varies dramatically. In Mississippi, the cost of living is 13.6% less than it is on average across the nation as a whole. Meanwhile, in Hawaii, goods and services are 18.4% more expensive than they are on average nationwide.

On a city level, the differences are even more stark. For example, adjusting for cost of living, a household earning $65,000 annually in Morristown, Tennessee, one of the least expensive cities in the country, has greater purchasing power than a household earning $100,000 in San Jose, California, one of the country’s most expensive cities.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed regional price parities in the nation’s 382 metropolitan areas to identify the most expensive city in every state. In many cities on this list, the cost of living is so high that simply meeting basic needs puts a great strain on lower-income households and largely offsets much of the disposable income of higher earning households.

For those looking to stretch their dollar as far as possible, the cities on this list may best be avoided.

Click here to see the most expensive city in each state.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Source: Joseph Brooke / Flickr

1. Alabama: Daphne-Fairhope-Foley
> Cost of living in Daphne-Fairhope-Foley: 8.7% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Alabama: 13.4% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 11.4%
> Median household income: $56,732

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Source: Thinkstock

2. Alaska: Anchorage
> Cost of living in Anchorage: 9.2% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Alaska: 5.4% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 7.2%
> Median household income: $82,203

Source: Thinkstock

3. Arizona: Flagstaff
> Cost of living in Flagstaff: 2.0% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Arizona: 4.1% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 17.9%
> Median household income: $55,091

Source: Thinkstock

4. Arkansas: Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway
> Cost of living in Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway: 9.5% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Arkansas: 13.1% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 15.9%
> Median household income: $51,501

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Source: Thinkstock

5. California: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara
> Cost of living in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara: 27.1% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in California: 14.4% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 9.4%
> Median household income: $110,040

Source: Thinkstock

6. Colorado: Boulder
> Cost of living in Boulder: 8.9% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Colorado: 3.0% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 11.0%
> Median household income: $74,615

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7. Connecticut: Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk
> Cost of living in Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk: 20.1% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Connecticut: 8.7% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 8.6%
> Median household income: $90,123

Source: Thinkstock

8. Delaware: Dover
> Cost of living in Dover: 5.6% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Delaware: 0.2% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 13.8%
> Median household income: $54,140

Source: Thinkstock

9. Florida: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach
> Cost of living in Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach: 7.6% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Florida: 0.3% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 15.4%
> Median household income: $51,362

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Source: Thinkstock

10. Georgia: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell
> Cost of living in Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell: 3.7% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Georgia: 7.9% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 13.1%
> Median household income: $62,613

Source: Thinkstock

11. Hawaii: Urban Honolulu
> Cost of living in Urban Honolulu: 24.4% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Hawaii: 18.4% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 8.5%
> Median household income: $80,513

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Source: Thinkstock

12. Idaho: Boise City
> Cost of living in Boise City: 5.2% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Idaho: 7.0% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 12.7%
> Median household income: $55,162

Source: Thinkstock

13. Illinois: Chicago-Naperville-Elgin
> Cost of living in Chicago-Naperville-Elgin: 3.8% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Illinois: 1.1% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 12.4%
> Median household income: $66,020

Source: Thinkstock

14. Indiana: Bloomington
> Cost of living in Bloomington: 6.3% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Indiana: 9.7% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 23.7%
> Median household income: $43,693

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Source: Thinkstock

15. Iowa: Iowa City
> Cost of living in Iowa City: 4.3% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Iowa: 9.8% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 17.7%
> Median household income: $57,777

Source: Jeff Zehnder / Shutterstock.com

16. Kansas: Lawrence
> Cost of living in Lawrence: 7.3% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Kansas: 9.5% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 17.1%
> Median household income: $56,345

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Source: Thinkstock

17. Kentucky: Lexington-Fayette
> Cost of living in Lexington-Fayette: 8.7% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Kentucky: 12.2% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 17.1%
> Median household income: $53,769

Source: Thinkstock

18. Louisiana: New Orleans-Metairie
> Cost of living in New Orleans-Metairie: 4.8% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Louisiana: 9.6% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 17.0%
> Median household income: $48,804

Source: Thinkstock

19. Maine: Portland-South Portland
> Cost of living in Portland-South Portland: 1.7% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Maine: 1.6% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 9.1%
> Median household income: $63,422

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Source: Thinkstock

20. Maryland: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson
> Cost of living in Baltimore-Columbia-Towson: 7.2% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Maryland: 9.5% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 10.4%
> Median household income: $76,788

Source: Thinkstock

21. Massachusetts: Boston-Cambridge-Newton
> Cost of living in Boston-Cambridge-Newton: 11.1% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Massachusetts: 7.8% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 9.6%
> Median household income: $82,380

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Source: Thinkstock

22. Michigan: Ann Arbor
> Cost of living in Ann Arbor: 1.8% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Michigan: 6.7% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 14.8%
> Median household income: $65,601

Source: Thinkstock

23. Minnesota: Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington
> Cost of living in Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington: 2.3% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Minnesota: 2.5% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 8.8%
> Median household income: $73,231

Source: Thinkstock

24. Mississippi: Jackson
> Cost of living in Jackson: 9.9% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Mississippi: 13.6% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 16.2%
> Median household income: $50,632

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Source: Scruggelgreen / Shutterstock.com

25. Missouri: Kansas City
> Cost of living in Kansas City: 6.3% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Missouri: 10.5% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 10.9%
> Median household income: $61,385

Source: Thinkstock

26. Montana: Billings
> Cost of living in Billings: 2.5% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Montana: 5.9% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 7.3%
> Median household income: $58,037

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Source: Thinkstock

27. Nebraska: Omaha-Council Bluffs
> Cost of living in Omaha-Council Bluffs: 6.6% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Nebraska: 9.5% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 10.3%
> Median household income: $62,247

Source: Thinkstock

28. Nevada: Reno
> Cost of living in Reno: 1.3% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Nevada: 2.6% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 12.2%
> Median household income: $58,056

Source: Thinkstock

29. New Hampshire: Manchester-Nashua
> Cost of living in Manchester-Nashua: 8.5% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in New Hampshire: 5.9% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 8.2%
> Median household income: $76,254

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Source: Thinkstock

30. New Jersey: Trenton
> Cost of living in Trenton: 11.3% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in New Jersey: 13.2% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 11.1%
> Median household income: $77,650

Source: Thinkstock

31. New Mexico: Santa Fe
> Cost of living in Santa Fe: 0.2% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in New Mexico: 6.4% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 14.3%
> Median household income: $57,863

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Source: Thinkstock

32. New York: New York-Newark-Jersey City
> Cost of living in New York-Newark-Jersey City: 22.0% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in New York: 15.6% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 13.5%
> Median household income: $71,897

Source: Thinkstock

33. North Carolina: Raleigh
> Cost of living in Raleigh: 4.1% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in North Carolina: 9.1% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 10.0%
> Median household income: $71,685

Source: Thinkstock

34. North Dakota: Bismarck
> Cost of living in Bismarck: 6.1% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in North Dakota: 8.5% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 9.2%
> Median household income: $65,527

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Source: Thinkstock

35. Ohio: Columbus
> Cost of living in Columbus: 7.0% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Ohio: 10.7% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 14.2%
> Median household income: $60,294

Source: Thinkstock

36. Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
> Cost of living in Oklahoma City: 8.4% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Oklahoma: 11.0% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 14.7%
> Median household income: $55,065

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Source: Thinkstock

37. Oregon: Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro
> Cost of living in Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro: 1.7% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Oregon: 0.2% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 10.9%
> Median household income: $68,676

Source: Thinkstock

38. Pennsylvania: Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington
> Cost of living in Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington: 5.9% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Pennsylvania: 1.6% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 12.9%
> Median household income: $65,996

Source: Thinkstock

39. Rhode Island: Providence-Warwick
> Cost of living in Providence-Warwick: 0.3% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Rhode Island: 0.4% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 12.0%
> Median household income: $61,948

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Source: Thinkstock

40. South Carolina: Charleston-North Charleston
> Cost of living in Charleston-North Charleston: 3.8% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in South Carolina: 9.7% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 13.0%
> Median household income: $57,659

Source: Thinkstock

41. South Dakota: Sioux Falls
> Cost of living in Sioux Falls: 7.6% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in South Dakota: 11.7% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 8.9%
> Median household income: $63,931

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Source: Thinkstock

42. Tennessee: Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin
> Cost of living in Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin: 5.6% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Tennessee: 9.8% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 11.6%
> Median household income: $60,030

Source: Thinkstock

43. Texas: Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land
> Cost of living in Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land: 1.6% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Texas: 3.1% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 14.8%
> Median household income: $61,708

Source: Thinkstock

44. Utah: Salt Lake City
> Cost of living in Salt Lake City: 0.6% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Utah: 2.7% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 9.1%
> Median household income: $68,196

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Source: Thinkstock

45. Vermont: Burlington-South Burlington
> Cost of living in Burlington-South Burlington: 4.6% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Vermont: 1.6% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 10.3%
> Median household income: $66,367

Source: Thinkstock

46. Virginia: Charlottesville
> Cost of living in Charlottesville: 2.1% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Virginia: 2.3% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 12.3%
> Median household income: $62,523

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Source: Thinkstock

47. Washington: Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue
> Cost of living in Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue: 10.5% more expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Washington: 5.5% more expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 9.6%
> Median household income: $78,612

Source: Thinkstock

48. West Virginia: Morgantown
> Cost of living in Morgantown: 8.5% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in West Virginia: 12.4% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 20.1%
> Median household income: $50,120

Source: Thinkstock

49. Wisconsin: Madison
> Cost of living in Madison: 2.3% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Wisconsin: 7.2% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 10.6%
> Median household income: $68,497

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Source: Oscar C. Williams / Shutterstock.com

50. Wyoming: Casper
> Cost of living in Casper: 2.4% less expensive than avg.
> Cost of living in Wyoming: 3.3% less expensive than avg.
> Poverty rate: 9.2%
> Median household income: $59,474

Detailed Findings

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.

Methodology

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.