Whether you’re looking to relocate or just want to see how your state stacks up, here are some of the most expensive states to live in across the U.S.
Each state and region in America has unique traditions, climates and landscapes. But they also have varying levels of expense. From energy usage costs to rent prices, several factors cause each state to have different costs of living.
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Economic situations are a significant element that shapes people’s lives, and in America, the state where people choose to live can affect their income and how much money they can save. Regional price parities (RPP)* are an effective way to tell how pricey a state is by showing the differences in prices for a year in a percentage compared to the national price level. Using RPPs, income and rent, here are the top eight most expensive states to live in.
- District of Columbia
- New York
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire
- RPP: 118.4
- Median gross rent: $1,507
- Median household income: $74,511
Hawaii, the island state and a popular vacation spot, tops the list as a highly sought-after location. With its year-round warm climate and tropical appeal, who wouldn’t want to live here?
However, renting a place in Hawaii costs somewhere around $1,507, according to the median gross rent. Its RPP is 118.4, and this is mostly due to high food, electricity and gas prices. People generally make around $74,511, as the median household income reflects.
2. District of Columbia
- RPP: 115.9
- Median gross rent: $1,424
- Median household income: $75,506
Although technically not a state, D.C. is highly populated and functions in a similar way to the rest of the nation’s states. With an RPP of 115.9, the urban area and its surrounding suburbs create a costly setting. It wins the spot of the second most expensive area — although a frequent argument is that New York City is costlier. There’s just no stretch of country land to offset the figures here.
With its lavish restaurants and extreme housing prices, it’s no surprise the median gross rent is $1,424. And D.C. residents make even more than Hawaii residents, as the median household income is $75,506.
3. New York
- RPP: 115.6
- Median gross rent: $1,194
- Median household income: $62,909
Due to the bustling metropolis of New York City, the whole state’s RPP is incredibly high at 115.6. The limited space of the city causes the state’s median gross rent to be $1,194, and people are willing to overpay for an apartment in this famed area. You can be hard-pressed to find an affordable neighborhood in the city.
Of course, there’s more to the state than the city, as any proud Upstate New Yorker is bound to tell you. Upstate, you’re going to find land very affordable and the population density dwindling. But Buffalo and Rochester exceed the rental prices of many other places, too. As a center for many powerful companies, New York as an entire state features dynamic careers and a median household income of $62,909.
- RPP: 114.4
- Median gross rent: $1,358
- Median household income: $67,739
The Golden State has drawn a massive population, but the increased number of Californians has driven prices and the demand for housing up. It takes extra funds to thrive in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and large cities like these force California’s RPP up to 114.4.
California citizens make a median $67,739 per year, but they still have a housing crisis and compact living quarters. The median rent is at $1,358, and permanent housing is even more luxurious and extravagant.
5. New Jersey
- RPP: 113.2
- Median gross rent: $1,249
- Median household income: $76,126
Primarily because it’s a short commute to New York City and Philadelphia, New Jersey’s cost of living is above many other states. As an area with an extreme property tax, New Jersey’s RPP comes in at 113.2. Commuting and housing are both contributors to residents’ financial struggle.
Those searching for a place to rent here should know the median gross price is about $1,249. The median household income is $76,126, showing the state’s high earnings.
- RPP: 109.5
- Median gross rent: $1,311
- Median household income: $78,945
As D.C.’s next-door neighbor, Maryland is a historic place with soaring prices. In reality, Bethesda is the area with the steepest expenses, and D.C.’s suburbs that land in Maryland also require a well-padded bank account. The RPP of the state is 109.5, and two significant influences on the price level are health care costs and energy bills.
As a residual effect of D.C., the median gross rent is $1,311. And Maryland households boast a median income of $78,945.
- RPP: 108.7
- Median gross rent: $1,123
- Median household income: $73,443
Another New England locale with an upscale reputation, Connecticut is among the priciest states. With an RPP of 108.7, this state can drain your bank account. With plenty of affluent entertainment choices, many residents can afford to enjoy these pleasures, as the median household income is $73,443.
You can probably find a building with a little history to stay in, but it might be a financial undertaking with the median gross rent at $1,123.
- RPP: 107.8
- Median gross rent: $1,173
- Median household income: $75,297
This Northeastern state rivals many other places in the nation, as a quick stop at the supermarket can cost you dearly. Boston is one reason Massachusetts made this list, with an RPP of 107.8. And the lovely brownstones it features have bumped the housing prices up. The median gross rent is $1,173, but for a tall and stately townhouse, you’ll likely need even more to keep up with the renting crisis.
Many Massachusetts families can cover these costs, though, because the median income for households is $75,297.
9. New Hampshire
- RPP: 105.9
- Median gross rent: $1,052
- Median household income: $70,936
Comparable to its New England counterparts, New Hampshire features several high-end sources of recreation, making it an expensive state to live in. Elevated in part because of its commutable distance to Boston, New Hampshire’s high cost of living and RPP of 105.9 can largely be attributed to its inflated property taxes. The picturesque mountains and numerous ski resorts appeal to many desiring a more tranquil getaway from the bustle of urban life.
Costs aren’t too much of an issue for most families in New Hampshire, as their median household income is $70,936.
- RPP: 105.5
- Median gross rent: $1,120
- Median household income: $67,106
With a thriving job market spurred on by the tech industry in Seattle, as well as a unique blend of scenic outdoor activities and urban social life, Washington has experienced massive population growth in recent years. The strong economy coupled with its temperate climate has made this Pacific Northwest treasure one of the nation’s most sought after locations, attracting many millennials in particular.
Due to its red-hot housing market and soaring costs, the expenses in Washington and its RPP of 105.5 can largely be attributed to the state’s limited supply and high demand. Washington’s median household income is $67,106, so for many of its citizens, the perks of the state outweigh its costs.
- RPP: 105.4
- Median gross rent: $1,200
- Median household income: $76,440
Referred to as the Last Frontier, while Alaska enjoys some of the nation’s finest national parks and scenery, it also features one of the highest costs of living. Due to their prolonged winter season, Alaska pays some of the highest utility bills in the U.S. In certain areas, such as Fairbanks, blistering summer temperatures accompany icy winters, preventing residents from receiving a break in their expensive energy bill costs.
Similar to Hawaii, Alaska’s dependence on imported goods inflates their prices for food, especially considering that the state’s climate isn’t conducive to localized growing. Despite its high costs and an RPP of 105.4, Alaskan families are fortunate enough to benefit from a median household income of $76,440, with expenses further alleviated from Alaska’s lack of any state income or sales taxes.
- RPP: 103
- Median gross rent: $1,125
- Median household income: $65,685
For those craving adventure and beautiful natural landscapes, Colorado offers a magical paradise. While scenic locations are abundant, the state also features ample city life and a flourishing appreciation for craft breweries, attracting many new residents. Colorado’s inability to provide enough housing for its residents is predominantly why its costs have soared and the state’s RPP is 103.
Though Colorado’s flat-tax rates can be harder for those on the lower end of the income scale, its median household income of $65,685 makes the numerous recreational activities affordable and worth the costs for many residents.
What are the Most Expensive States to Live in?
This list is based on the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Real Personal Income for States and Metropolitan Areas in 2016, which makes the comparison more manageable. Each state’s median household income comes from the American Community Survey Brief for Household Income in 2016. And the median gross rent by state derives from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American FactFinder for 2017.
Each state’s expenses impact their residents and offer benefits and drawbacks. And of course, what your cost of living is going to be also depends on your city and lifestyle. How does your rent and income stack up against these expensive states?