The cost of living is often used to compare how expensive it is to live in one location versus another. It is the amount of money needed to sustain a certain standard of living by affording basic expenses such as food, housing, healthcare, and taxes.
Cost of living is one of the big factors people use to determine where they want to be located in addition to cultural attractions, a healthy job market, and good school systems.
The cost of living in the United States varies significantly from one state to the next. The factors affecting the cost of living include the average earning, the average cost of rent or buying property, and the price of essential goods. Unfortunately, many states are unaffordable for middle-class wage earners due to slow wage growth, inflation, and expensive housing in the U.S.
Given these factors, the top ten most expensive states in the U.S. are:
- District of Columbia
- New York
- New Jersey
Hawaii is the most expensive state to live in in the United States. Hawaii has a cost index of 192.9. The average home price in Hawaii is $1,158,492 and the average monthly energy bill is $388.65. Basic physical goods, such as a half-gallon of milk, cost more than anywhere on the mainland United States because they need to be shipped to the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Like Hawaii, Alaska also needs to have all of its goods shipped in from the mainland United States, and is separated from the mainland by Canada. Additionally, Alaska’s winters are cold and dark, causing energy bills to be very high.
New York has the most expensive housing, with the average cost of a home at $1,901,222. Rent in New York is also known to be one of the highest in the country with an average rent of $3,667.
At the opposite end, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma are the least expensive states. In general, however, states where it is cheaper to live have lower median incomes. In 2017, the median household income in Mississippi was $43,529 but the US median was $60,336.
Below is a table of each state in order of cost of living.