Where is the Most Expensive Places to Live in the US in 2024

The United States is home to some of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. From coastal cities like New York and San Francisco to resort towns like Aspen and Palm Beach, luxury living comes at a high price in America. Real estate costs including housing, taxes, and other expenses are substantially more in the priciest areas compared to the national average.

Essential Insights

  • New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston metro areas have the most expensive real estate.
  • Limited housing inventory and high salaries lead to intense bidding wars and inflated prices.
  • Smaller cities like San Jose and Orange County also make the list of priciest housing markets.
  • Wealthy enclaves have concentrated pockets of extreme wealth but lower overall regional prices.
  • Honolulu, Miami, and other desirable cities still have expensive real estate compared to U.S. averages.

Top 5 Most Expensive Places to Live in the US

1. New York City, NY

New York City

The New York City metro areaconsistently tops lists as the most expensive housing market in the country with a median home price of $930,000. Renters also pay a premium to live in the Big Apple with median rents over $2,000 per month. Limited space, high demand from Wall Street, tech, fashion, and other lucrative industries, and a supply shortage of just 3-4 months’ worth of inventory all contribute to astronomical prices.

2. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco

With a median home price of $1.3 million, the San Francisco metro area has some of the priciest real estate in the world. Nearby Silicon Valley tech giants like Facebook and Google offer salaries over $200k that give buyers and renters alike enough purchasing power to bid up home values. Like New York, available housing inventory is extremely limited at under 2 months’ supply.

3. Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles

Sprawling Los Angeles anchors Southern California’s interconnected web of expensive coastal cities. LA’s median home price is $1.2 million. Limited land availability places a premium on what inventory exists. The entertainment industry and startup scene also attract high-income transplants while restrictive zoning caps new construction.

4. Boston, MA

Boston

Boston’s median home price of $984K may seem cheap compared to other coastal cities. However, when adjusted for Boston’s smaller average home sizes, its real estate rivals New York and San Francisco in price per square foot. Education and biotech industries centered around Harvard and MIT drive up demand while geography limits housing supply.

5. San Jose, CA

San Jose

As home to Silicon Valley giants like Apple and Cisco, it’s no surprise San Jose cracked the top 5 most expensive metro areas with a $1316960 million median home price. Tech salaries over $150k give buyers enormous purchasing power that smaller Bay Area cities like San Jose simply can’t accommodate with new development.

Smaller Cities With Extreme Prices

In addition to the largest metros, a few smaller cities stand out for their astronomical prices driven by tech industry wealth and desirable geography.

Santa Cruz, CA

Located on the Northern California coastline south of San Francisco, Santa Cruz boasts a laidback lifestyle alongside a median home price of $1.17 million. Investors and remote tech workers relocating from Silicon Valley have sent prices soaring.

Orange County, CA

Home to Disneyland and 42 miles of pristine Pacific coastline, Orange County offers a stretches of premium real estate between LA and San Diego. It’s median home price is now $960,000. Limited land and high incomes around Irvine have made it exceptionally expensive.

Wealthy Enclaves With Concentrated Wealth

When people think of over-the-top, ultra-luxury real estate in the tens of millions, a few exclusive enclaves like Beverly Hills and Palm Beach come to mind. However, while these areas have significant pockets of concentrated wealth, they are still contained within larger metro regions with more moderate overall prices.

Palm Beach, FL

Palm Beach hosts the estates, clubs and social scene for old-money East Coast elites. However, it’s part of the larger West Palm Beach metro area where overall median home prices are around $385,000.

Beverly Hills, CA

In the mountains above Los Angeles lies Beverly Hills with its mega mansions and Rodeo Drive designer shops. Yet as part of the larger LA metro, Beverly Hills skews the overall region’s prices upwards somewhat but doesn’t dominate them.

Aspen, CO

Known as a playground for celebrities and billionaires, charming mountain town Aspen has multi-million dollar chalets. But affordable commuter towns like Glenwood Springs in the valley below balance out the greater area’s housing market.

Notable Expensive Cities Outside the Top 4

While not as pricey overall as New York or San Francisco, many other desirable U.S. cities still have expensive real estate compared to the national median home price of $355,000. When looking to buy or rent, you can expect elevated prices in these markets.

  • Honolulu, HI – $1.1 million median home price driven by island supply constraints and popularity with wealthy transplants.
  • Miami, FL – $595,000 median home price thanks to high foreign investor interest and amenities attractive to the wealthy.
  • Seattle, WA – $786,000 median home price due to growth in tech alongside limited land availability.
  • Washington, D.C. – $645,000 median home price resulting from government and lobbying industry salaries and tight geography.

Conclusion

New York, San Francisco, and other top-tier cities clearly stand apart when it comes to astronomically high costs of living fueled by high salaries struggle to keep pace with elevated housing demand. Wealthy resort communities often have concentrated pockets of lavish real estate, though overall regional prices remain more moderate. While U.S. real estate has cooled slightly in 2022 from pandemic highs, these areas continue to top the lists of most prohibitively expensive markets that are financially out of reach for most buyers.

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