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Cost of living continues to climb in the US

Updated 22 Jun 2023

With widespread predictions of an upcoming economic downturn in the US in the latter half of 2023, it's crucial that those looking to move here keep an eye on major cost of living changes.

Nineteen US cities are included in the 227 expat destinations worldwide assessed by Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2023. All 19 have increased in ranking when compared to 2022, indicating a general spike in the cost of living in the US.

Here are some of the most notable increases. The full table of US rankings can be found at the bottom of the page.


New York

New York City

New York City

2023: 6th
2022: 7th

Though NYC has moved up just one place, its position in the top 10 most expensive cities worldwide makes this a significant occurrence as it moves closer to breaching the top five. This is part of a general pattern of NYC's ranking increasing year by year, with the exception of 2021, which saw it drop to 14th before rising back to a ranking of 7th in 2022.

The main driving force behind NYC's continually increasing cost of living is the high demand for accommodation as the city's population continues to grow rapidly. High taxes also play a part, as income taxes, property taxes and sale taxes in NYC are among the highest in the US.

For more, read Cost of Living in NYC.


California

Los Angeles

Los Angeles

2023: 11th
2022: 17th

Moving up six places, Los Angeles is the world's 11th most expensive city in 2023. The soaring price of accommodation in LA is largely responsible for the city's high cost of living, though several other factors also contribute. This includes the high cost of public transport, higher-than-average gas prices and hefty taxes. Like NYC, LA's various taxes are among the highest in the country.

See Cost of Living in Los Angeles for more.

San Francisco

San Francisco

2023: 14th
2022: 19th

Not far behind LA is San Francisco, climbing five spots to rank 14th. San Francisco is just a few miles from Silicon Valley, home to the headquarters of some of the world's largest tech companies. While these bring wealth into the city, they also add pressure to the already strained housing market. With limited land space to expand into, there's no way to meet the huge demand for accommodation, so costs continue to climb. On top of this, the cost of essentials – such as utilities, food and transport – is significantly higher than the national average.

To find out more, read Cost of Living in San Francisco.


Massachusetts

Boston

Boston

2023: 21st
2022: 30th

With a rise of nine spots to a ranking of 21st, Boston is close to breaking into the top 20 most expensive cities in the world. Once again, accommodation is a major driving force behind rising prices. Like San Francisco, Boston's peninsular location limits its ability to expand. This causes the price of existing properties in the desirable areas of Boston to soar. High construction costs add to this.

The proximity of attractive institutions, such as the numerous excellent universities in Boston, also drives up the demand for accommodation. Utilities are another burden on the budget, especially in the city's icy winters.

Take a look at Cost of Living in Boston for more.


Florida

Miami

Miami

2023: 22nd
2022: 32nd

Miami has climbed 10 places in the past year and is now ranked as the world's 22nd most expensive city. Much of this is due to the huge numbers of people flocking to Florida post-Covid – more than 220,000 moved to this popular southern state from July 2020 to July 2021. This is largely attributed to people moving away from the country's most expensive cities, such as NYC, to somewhere with a more affordable cost of living. Ironically, this has significantly pushed up the cost of living of Miami due to the high demand for accommodation – though it's still nowhere near the skyrocketing prices of the country's most expensive cities.


US Cost of living rankings

City 2023 2022 Change
New York City 6 7 +1
Los Angeles 11 17 +6
San Francisco 14 19 +5
Honolulu 15 20 +5
Boston 21 30 +9
Miami 22 32 +10
Washington DC 23 29 +6
Chicago 24 36 +12
Atlanta 29 42 +13
Seattle 31 45 +14
Philadelphia 50 70 +20
Dallas 53 75 +22
Houston 61 85 +24
Pittsburgh 65 82 +17
Minneapolis 67 83 +16
Portland 72 91 +19
St Louis 78 91 +23
Detroit 80 107 +27
Cleveland 88 112 +24

 

For the full list of cities worldwide, view the poll results on Mercer's website.

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