Affordability aside, America's costliest cities often have a lot to offer residents: vibrant economies, diverse populations, interesting attractions and active social scenes. But are those amenities worth such high living costs? "That's a highly subjective question," says Dean Frutiger, of the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER). Costs alone cannot dictate the attractiveness of a place. But knowing the numbers could help you make an informed decision about relocating to a pricey new city, he says. For example, a potential job may include a 20% raise if you move to a more expensive city, but given the higher living costs, that increase might actually be a pay cut in terms of purchasing power.
We identified 10 pricey cities—five spots in California, four along the East Coast and one in Hawaii—using data on 308 urban areas collected by the C2ER. The organization's Cost of Living Index measures prices for housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services. We screened out cities with fewer than 50,000 people. And because we wanted to pinpoint specific cities, we omitted expensive counties with multiple large population centers, such as Orange County, Cal., and Nassau County, N.Y.
Take a look at Kiplinger's 2014 list of the 10 most expensive places to live in the U.S.
[Note: The Cost of Living Index is based on annual data from 2013. Data on population, household incomes and home values is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. Unemployment figures come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.]
Related from Kiplinger: