You might know (or know of) someone with a tech job in San Francisco or an advertising gig in New York. She eats at world-class restaurants, travels to foreign countries on business and boasts a LinkedIn profile sparkling with brand names and blockbuster deals. But what gets under your skin most is her salary, which rumors peg more than 50 percent higher than yours.
It’s enough to make any American envious — until you factor in the cost of living.
When adjusted for housing, food, transportation, childcare and other necessities, that six-figure paycheck leaves little left over. And just because your friend dines at Eleven Madison Park for once-per-year business dinners doesn’t mean she can afford a single entrée on her own dime.
Using information from the Economic Policy Institute, the following is a ranking of the 50 metros with the highest cost of living. A metro, or metropolitan statistical area, is defined by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. Put simply, a “metro” must have a core central area with more than 50,000 people, as well as social and economic integration with nearby areas, measured by commuting ties.
For each metro on this list, we’ve broken down the overall cost of maintaining a secure but modest living in that area, highlighting categories like childcare, food and housing. We'll list cost estimates for both single and married people, and visualize expenses for families ranging from zero to four children. We’ll also compare each metro's costs to the cost of living for both the state and country at large, broken down by expense types.
The metros on the list are ranked by an overall cost of living index, a single percentage comparing each metro to the nation at large. The index takes into account every cost category and compares the overall figure to the national average. For example, a metro with a 50 percent index is 50 percent more expensive than the nation as a whole.
We’ll run down the list from No. 50, concluding with the most expensive metros of all — yes, places even pricier than the Big Apple or the City by the Bay.