5 US cities with the highest cost of living

Infographic - Most Expensive US Cities NAI Northern California Newsletters (1)

According to a recent report by, the Bay Area’s major cities continue to rank in the top five for the highest cost of living nationwide. San Francisco holds the top slot, with New York City close behind, followed by San Jose, Oakland, and Boston. The report measured the average monthly cost for rent (a 1-bedroom apartment), food (groceries and some restaurant meals), gas, utilities (electricity, water, etc.), and internet for each city.

Surprising no one, San Francisco, California is the most expensive, with rent among the highest in the nation; rent makes up 80% of the $4,210.60 monthly cost of living in the city. The city also has some of the highest gas prices at $197.88 per month, though residents who commute via bike or public transit can avoid these costs. Food is expensive, around the 80th or 90th percentile, but utilities are comparably cheap at $123.22 per month, about 30% of the national average. Internet costs are pretty middle-of-the-road compared to other cities, averaging about $66.62 per month.

New York, New York is just $250 behind SF, with an average cost of living of $3,956.11. Food is the problem here, costing over twice as much as San Francisco, at $468.60 per month. Rent is also extremely high, at $3,126.35. Gas is more expensive than the national average, around the median value, at $155.55 per month, and internet is just about average at $62.77. Utilities cost a little less than elsewhere, around $142.84 per month.

San Jose, California is the third most expensive city to live in, with lower rents than SF or New York but high gas prices and above-average food costs. The $3,289.07 cost of living includes $2,555.85 for rent, $186.15 for gas, $359.85 for food, $63.36 for internet, and $123.86 for utilities (significantly cheaper than the national average).

Despite Oakland’s reputation for being cheaper than the City, its cost of living is still fourth-highest nationwide, at $3,212.14 per month, only about $1,000 less than San Francisco. Rent and gas are the highest costs compared to the median, at $2,481.65 per month and $175.95 per month. Food is just a little more expensive than the national average, around the 30th percentile, at $347.33 per month. Internet and utility costs are pretty average, at $65.00 and $142.21.

In the last spot of the top five is Boston, Massachusetts, with New York’s high rent and food costs. An average cost of living of $3,211.51 includes $2,420.26 for rent, $435.78 for food, $145.35 for gas, $62.97 for internet, and $147.15 for utilities.