The United States is the third largest country, by population, on the planet. It’s only behind India and China where combined they have billions of people. The following post lists the highest cost of living in US by city. Here’s an idea why these cities are so expensive… Popular countries breed competition. Competition of course leads to higher prices. In general, the middle of the US (the less popular area of the country) is cheap and the coasts are expensive. In fact, all of the very expensive cities in the US are very near either the Pacific or Atlantic oceans. Keep in mind that while these cities are expensive, they come with many, many opportunities.

Before you move to any city or state, it’s a good idea to get an overview of the highest cost of living in the US. After all, you should know what you can save at the end of the month after paying the mortgage, utilities, transportation and other bills. Getting wealthy is first about dialing in a good savings rate.

The average price of a home in the United States is $180,000 and the average rent is $900. That’s to give you a reference for just how expensive the follow cities are compared with the US as a whole. The following are the most expensive cities in the US starting with most expensive and getting a little cheaper with each city:

1. New York City (Manhattan)

Average rent in the world famous Big Apple is $3,800. Actually buying a home in Manhattan is unheard of within the middle class. The average cost of a home in Manhattan is $1.87 million. Ah, NYC… the city where having roommates isn’t just a college thing. Manhattan has always been the most area in the US for decades. Everything is expensive here, the rent, transportation, food and all. Head for Brooklyn if looking for affordable housing.

2. Honolulu

In Honolulu, you pay an average rent of $2,700. You can get a modest home for $740,000. This hot vacation destination remains isolated from the mainland. Rent, food and commodities are expensive. The plus point of Hawaii is that it has the 9th highest median income in the country. The food prices here have gone up as a compared to the rest of the cities, and this is tied to the higher transportation costs as Hawaii is a series of islands.

3. San Francisco

You can stay comfortably in San Francisco if you have money to pay the average rent for $3,000 and can own a house for $820,000. Luckily the minimum wage here stands is $12.25 an hour. Space is expensive here because of the city’s geography – it’s situated on a peninsula. The housing may be slightly cheaper here than Manhattan or Honolulu but what adds to the costs of living is health care and transportation costs. The good news is that the resident here can expect the minimum to $15 an hour by 2018. However, the rents are expected to inflate along side minimum wage.

4. Washington, DC

The capital of the nation is an expensive place to live. The average rent in Washington, DC stands at $2,000, and a home can cost about $770,000. You need an annual salary of six-figures to do alright. DC metro area has some of the highest taxes and is on-par for the cities on this. The good news is that there are some areas here for low-income families.

5. Stamford

It’s in Connecticut, turns out. The average rent for Stamford is $2,000. The price of a home in Stamford (yes, not Stanford) stands at $598,000. This is the smallest city on our list in terms of population. It’s a hot spot for people who are making and have made their fortunes.

Putting US Cost of Living into Perspective

Cities are expensive for 2 reasons: 1) there’s a lot of money to be made there and/or 2) it’s a favorite place for rich people to hang out and retire. When deciding to move to a new place, look for a city where there’s money to be made. Sure, rent is expensive but if you can make a lot more money than in a less popular city, paying more is okay.

Are you surprised LA isn’t on the list?