The United States ranks 26th globally for cost of living, but expenses vary greatly from state to state. This includes necessities like food, healthcare, and transport, with major cities and coastal regions often bearing the highest costs. Housing, in particular, dominates expenses, especially in areas with high demand. Other factors impacting the cost of living include transportation, access to resources, childcare, and local taxes. Using the national average as a baseline of 100, the cost of living index helps compare expenses across states.
Hawaii stands out as the most unaffordable state to live in the United States, boasting a cost of living index nearly twice the national average at 193.3. Accommodation expenses are particularly steep, with prices three times higher than the national average, and only 29% of residents can afford a home, making it one of the lowest rates nationwide. A regular single-family home in Hawaii averages $730,511, while a two-bedroom apartment in Honolulu can cost $3,500 monthly. Surprisingly, Hawaii maintains the fourth-lowest poverty rate in the nation.
California has a cost of living index of 142.2. Its travel costs are the second highest, driven by the highest gas prices. Living expenses, double the national average, amount to a median price of $683,996 for a single-family home, contributing to the state’s second-lowest homeownership rate in the nation. Major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have some of the country’s highest rents. Hence, the state contends with the highest homelessness rate in the U.S.
Massachusetts faces notable challenges with a cost of living index of 135. Living costs soar 77% above the national average, especially in Boston. Other expenses like groceries (19% above the national average) and health insurance (18% above) contribute to the state’s overall high living costs. Massachusetts maintains a low poverty level, with 9% of residents below the poverty line. The state boasts the highest average income in the nation at $140,309 for a family of four.
A typical single-family home in Oregon fetches $447,968, contributing to its low home affordability, with less than a quarter of the population capable of affording a new home. Two-bedroom apartments rent an average of $1,343 monthly, while utilities cost around $333.27 monthly for the average household. Incomes in Oregon are also above the national average, with a median income of $100,533 for a family of four, slightly above the living wage of $96,003.
Healthcare costs in Alaska are the highest throughout the country. At the same time, expenses exceed the national average by 26.9%, with the average single-family home priced at $300,592 and two-bedroom apartments renting for $1,234 monthly. Due to its remote location, goods are notably dear, with groceries costing 35% more than the national average. Alaskans also benefit from oil dividends. However, despite relatively high incomes, Alaska consistently ranks poorly in quality of life metrics.
Maryland prices are averaging 24% higher than the national average, notably driven by real estate costs, which are 66% higher. Interestingly, Maryland boasts the second-highest house ownership, with 57.16% of residents having incomes supporting home ownership. A two-bedroom apartment rents at $1,647 monthly, while healthcare costs rank second-lowest across the U.S. The median income for a family of four in Maryland reaches $130,252 annually, exceeding the $100,959 required for a household with two working adults to meet their needs.
Connecticut ranks as the eighth-most expensive state in the United States, with a cost of living index of 121.6. The average single-family home in the state costs $318,096, and rent for a two-bedroom apartment averages $1,485 monthly, while utilities rank among the nation’s highest at $438.21 monthly. Incomes in Connecticut surpass the national average, with a median income of $120,379 per year for a family of four, comfortably surpassing the $99,955 living wage requirement. The state faces significant challenges, such as a high unemployment rate of 4.9%.
Housing expenses stand out in the state, averaging 21% higher than the national average, with a standard single-family home priced at $372,809. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment averaging $1,406 monthly. Utility costs also add to the financial burden, averaging $404.21 monthly. Annual salaries in Rhode Island are relatively high, with a median income of $108,105 yearly for a family of four, comfortably exceeding the living wage requirement of $95,005.
Vermont’s expenses exceed the national average by 17%. Residences stand out as pricey, ranking eighth highest overall, with a single-family home priced at $299,998. Yet, accessibility is the lowest in the country, with only 15% of residents earning enough to purchase a new home. Rent for a modest two-bedroom apartment averages $980 per month. The median income in Vermont is quite high at $111,095 annually for a family of four, going over the living wage of $96,665.
New York State hosts New York City, well known as the nation’s priciest urban center, with a cost of living index of 148.2. Renting costs in New York stand out as the second highest nationwide, averaging 2.3 times the national average, with a two-bedroom apartment at $1,659, skyrocketing to $5,874 in New York City. A typical single-family home in New York fetches around $373,880, adding to its seventh-lowest affordability rate, with only a quarter of residents capable of affording a new home based on income.
Exploring New Jersey reveals a trend where more people opt to rent rather than buy homes, attributed to the steep cost of homeownership, with an average house priced at $500,628 in the state. Despite the hefty expenses, many are drawn to settle in New Jersey due to its low crime rates, indicative of a high quality of life. This safety factor drives up costs, as investments in security contribute to property values. However, with the prohibitive property market, prospective homeowners must also contend with high estate taxes in New Jersey.
Several factors drive the high cost of living in Washington, one being the significant commuting expenses incurred by residents due to the state’s notorious traffic congestion, ranking third in the nation, according to the Washington Post. Individuals may opt for alternative methods, such as walking, to mitigate these costs. Additionally, Washington imposes high income tax rates, affecting high earners who face rates between 6-9%, with most residents paying around 8.5% on incomes exceeding $60,000.
In New Hampshire, childcare costs can be particularly daunting, posing a significant challenge for minimum wage earners. For example, some individuals in this bracket may allocate a staggering 85% of their earnings towards childcare expenses. Consequently, if the possibility of your child requiring hospitalization arises, residing in this state may not be feasible unless you earn above the minimum wage. In such circumstances, access to quality healthcare becomes essential, highlighting the interconnected issues families face.
Property stands out as the primary expense in Virginia, with a median home cost of $258,400, a considerable sum for those accustomed to lower prices. Nevertheless, some cities within Virginia offer more affordable options, with Richmond presenting cheaper alternatives than Great Falls. With gas prices reaching $3.07 per gallon in 2021, more than the national average of $2.58 per gallon, commuters may find it beneficial to opt for public transit to save on transportation expenses occasionally.
In Florida, renting homes comes with a hefty price tag, often surpassing the practicality of purchasing. For example, a one-bedroom apartment could demand as much as $835 monthly. This trend is fueled by the state’s burgeoning population, which strains availability and drives up rental costs. Additionally, property taxes continue to rise, further influencing landlords to set higher rental rates to offset their expenses and maintain profitability in the competitive real estate market.