The cost of maintaining a basic standard of living varies throughout the United States. Housing, food, transportation, health care, taxes, and other necessities vary in cost from county to county, with the total cost of living in the most expensive place in the country more than twice that of the least expensive place.
The cost of living also varies drastically within states, with rural areas often providing cheaper goods and services than denser, urban areas. In most states, there is a county where the cost of living is at least 25% greater than that of another county.
24/7 Wall St. used data from the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator to identify the most expensive place in every state. We ranked counties based on the estimated monthly cost for a single adult to maintain a modest yet adequate standard of living.
Housing is one of the largest components of cost of living. On average, it accounts for approximately 25% of the total cost of living nationwide. In many of the most expensive places to live, housing accounts for more than a third of total living expenses. These are America’s 25 least affordable housing markets.
Many of the most expensive places to live in every state are also the most desirable places to live. In a majority of the counties on our list, the population growth from 2013 to 2018 was greater than the +3.6% national figure. These are the 25 best counties to live in.
And while many of these counties are currently experiencing high levels of joblessness related to the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment was still below the 13.0% national rate in most as of May 2020. For more on how COVID-19 has impacted U.S. counties, see the counties in every state where COVID-19 is growing the fastest.