The 10 States With the Highest Cost of Living

Author: Keith Speights | July 30, 2019

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Expensive living

Do you think you’re paying more just to get by than some of your friends and family in other states? You could be right. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) tracks the differences in prices across all U.S. states to calculate what it calls regional price parities (RPPs). The higher the RPP, the higher the cost of living. Read on to find out if you live in one of the 10 states with the highest cost of living in the country.

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Welcome to Alaska sign

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10. Alaska

Alaska has an RPP of 104.4 compared to the U.S. average score of 100. It’s probably not too surprising that Alaska ranks in the top 10 states with the highest cost of living. Many products purchased by consumers must be shipped from the lower states, which inflates the prices of the products. However, Alaska residents who have lived in the state for an entire calendar year get some help in covering the higher cost of living. The state gives each qualifying resident a payment from its Alaska Permanent Fund. Alaska could pay citizens around $3,000 from this fund in 2019. 

ALSO READ: When You Get a Cost-of-Living Raise -- and It Isn't Enough

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A covered bridge in rural New Hampshire.

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9. New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s RPP is 105.8, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. While healthcare and transportation costs tend to be lower in the state than in much of the U.S., New Hampshire’s housing costs make it a relatively expensive state to live in. The median home cost in New Hampshire is $272,900, around 24% higher than the U.S. average.

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8. Washington

Washington’s RPP of 106.4 makes it the No. 8 state with the highest cost of living. Although Washington ranked a little better in per capita housing and utilities costs (coming in ninth in the country), the state’s per capita spending on durable goods such as vehicles and household furnishings were higher than all but five other states.

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Paul Revere statue in Boston, Massachusetts

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7. Massachusetts

Massachusetts has an RPP of 107.9, the seventh-highest cost of living score in the U.S. But in terms of the overall amount spent per capita, Massachusetts ranks as the top state. Only the District of Columbia has higher per capita personal consumption expenditures. Massachusetts’ healthcare costs are the second-highest in the country.

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6. Connecticut

Connecticut’s RPP of 108 makes the state’s cost of living a little higher than that of Massachusetts. The Constitution State doesn’t make the top 10 in housing costs, though, coming in twelfth place in the country. But Connecticut claims the fourth-highest RPP for consumer goods and ranks third nationally in the prices for other services.

ALSO READ: Which U.S. City Has the Lowest Cost of Living?

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National Harbor, Maryland.

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5. Maryland

Maryland takes the No. 5 spot on the list of the 10 states with the highest cost of living with an RPP of 109.4. The state also ranks fifth nationally in the cost of consumer goods and other services. Maryland comes in at No. 6 in the country in the cost of housing.

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4. New Jersey

New Jersey’s RPP of 112.9 lands the state in fourth place among the states with the highest cost of living. Although New Jersey comes in fifth nationally in housing and seventh in the costs of consumer goods, it has the highest cost of other services in the country.


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View of San Francisco from the Golden Gate bridge.

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3. California

California is the third most expensive state to live in the U.S. with an RPP of 114.8. The main reason behind the state’s high ranking is its cost of housing. Across large metropolitan areas, the San Francisco-Oakland area of California claimed the highest cost of housing. Across all metropolitan areas in the U.S., the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area had the highest housing costs.

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2. New York

You probably knew that New York would make the list of the top 10 states with the highest cost of living. Its RPP of 116.9 makes New York the second-highest expensive state to live in. New York ranks No. 4 in the U.S. based only on housing costs. However, the state has the second-highest cost of consumer goods and fourth-highest cost of other services in the country.

ALSO READ: Will $1 Million Be Enough in Retirement? It Depends Where You Live

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1. Hawaii

Say “aloha” to the most expensive state to live in the U.S.: Hawaii. The 50th state added to the union has an RPP of 118.5. Hawaii ranks first in housing costs and consumer goods prices. The state’s high cost of living is due primarily to its location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Many products, including building materials, must be shipped from the U.S. mainland or other countries to Hawaii.   

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It’s not so expensive everywhere in the U.S.

While these 10 states are quite costly to live in, it’s not nearly as expensive to live in other parts of the U.S. Five states have RPPs below 88: Kentucky, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. If you’re looking for the most inexpensive large metro area to live, check out Cincinnati, Ohio. It claims an RPP of 90. But the metro area with the lowest cost of living is Beckley, West Virginia. Beckley’s RPP is a rock-bottom 48.5.

 

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