Living in a major metropolitan area has countless benefits. Cities are cultural hubs — they offer diverse and high-quality options for anything from food, health care, and education to music and art venues and much more. Major cities are hubs of employment, international travel, and shopping.

Of course, these many opportunities come at a price. Major American cities are often the most expensive places to live in the country. In New York City’s Manhattan borough, residents’ living expenses are about two and half times the average living expenditure nationwide.

Housing costs are the largest contributors to the higher costs of living in the most expensive major U.S. cities. In Manhattan, the typical home has a value of $870,000, and average monthly housing costs are over four times the average costs nationwide.

While it is true that the nation’s most highly populous cities tend to be more expensive — all but three of the over a dozen cities with at least 1 million people are more expensive on average than the U.S. average — this is not the case for all major cities. In fact, most of the roughly 20 cities with a population of between 500,000 and 1 million are less expensive than the United States as a whole. In some major cities, goods and services are considerably cheaper.

In Memphis, for example, the cost of living is just over 80% of the average cost of living nationwide. Housing expenses are, of course, a major contributors to the lower cost of living in these cities as well. In downtown Memphis, the typical home is worth less than $135,000, compared to a national median of $184,700.

To identify the cost of living in America’s major cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the index created by The Council for Community and Economic Research of American cities. Based on counts from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 population estimates, we listed the 50 most populous U.S. cities. We also retrieved the relative cost of housing and the average price of a half-gallon of milk from the C2ER. The median household income for each metro area came from the Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey 5-year estimate.

Albuquerque, NM 4.1% lower than U.S. 7.8% lower than U.S. $1.80 $49,711 Atlanta, GA 0.5% higher than U.S. 1.4% higher than U.S. $1.94 $59,183 Austin, TX 1.5% lower than U.S. 1.8% higher than U.S. $1.67 $66,093 Baltimore, MD 16.4% higher than U.S. 46.6% higher than U.S. $2.54 $72,801 Boston, MA 47.4% higher than U.S. 111.2% higher than U.S. $1.93 $77,809 Charlotte, NC 3.4% lower than U.S. 13.4% lower than U.S. $1.83 $55,191 Chicago, IL 23.8% higher than U.S. 58.8% higher than U.S. $2.02 $63,327 Cleveland, OH 0.6% lower than U.S. 13.6% lower than U.S. $1.87 $51,001 Colorado, Springs, CO 2.2% lower than U.S. 0.7% higher than U.S. $1.66 $60,335 Columbus, OH 9.2% lower than U.S. 21.2% lower than U.S. $1.45 $57,440 Dallas, TX 4.3% higher than U.S. 6.8% higher than U.S. $2.25 $61,330 Denver, CO 11.9% higher than U.S. 36.3% higher than U.S. $1.71 $68,173 Detroit, MI 4.2% lower than U.S. 6.3% lower than U.S. $1.51 $54,037 El Paso, TX 11.7% lower than U.S. 20.7% lower than U.S. $1.88 $42,023 Fort, Worth, TX 1.2% lower than U.S. 8.5% lower than U.S. $1.61 $61,330 Houston, TX 2.5% lower than U.S. 2.4% higher than U.S. $1.33 $60,902 Indianapolis, IN 6.9% lower than U.S. 19.8% lower than U.S. $1.40 $54,261 Jacksonville, FL 6.2% lower than U.S. 10.5% lower than U.S. $2.38 $53,661 Joliet-Will County, IL 0.2% higher than U.S. 2.5% higher than U.S. $2.33 $63,327 Kansas City, MO-KS 5.3% lower than U.S. 15.2% lower than U.S. $2.20 $59,344 Las Vegas, NV 3.3% higher than U.S. 10.8% higher than U.S. $1.86 $52,629 Los Angeles-Long, Beach, CA 48.2% higher than U.S. 141.6% higher than U.S. $2.14 $62,216 Louisville, KY 7.4% lower than U.S. 21.4% lower than U.S. $1.71 $52,437 Memphis, TN 18.6% lower than U.S. 33.3% lower than U.S. $1.82 $48,545 Miami-Dade, County FL 15.3% higher than U.S. 46.5% higher than U.S. $2.61 $50,064 Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI 3.7% lower than U.S. 4.6% lower than U.S. $1.77 $55,625 Minneapolis, MN 5.6% higher than U.S. 4.6% higher than U.S. $2.38 $70,915 Nashville-Murfreesboro, TN 1.4% lower than U.S. 7.7% lower than U.S. $1.79 $56,152 New Orleans, LA 0.6% higher than U.S. 13.9% higher than U.S. $2.60 $48,319 Brooklyn, NY 80.8% higher than U.S. 225.7% higher than U.S. $2.82 $69,211 Manhattan, NY 142.4% higher than U.S. 414.1% higher than U.S. $3.04 $69,211 Queens, NY 49.7% higher than U.S. 127.7% higher than U.S. $3.24 $69,211 Oakland, CA 51.5% higher than U.S. 121.6% higher than U.S. $3.15 $85,947 Oklahoma City, OK 14.7% lower than U.S. 27% lower than U.S. $1.99 $52,825 Omaha, NE 6% lower than U.S. 10.4% lower than U.S. $1.68 $59,803 Orange County, CA 50.5% higher than U.S. 152.6% higher than U.S. $2.13 $62,216 Philadelphia, PA 14.8% higher than U.S. 28.1% higher than U.S. $2.06 $63,952 Phoenix, AZ 3.2% lower than U.S. 5.1% lower than U.S. $1.46 $55,227 Portland, OR 30.7% higher than U.S. 81.5% higher than U.S. $1.85 $62,772 Raleigh, NC 6.2% lower than U.S. 14.9% lower than U.S. $1.71 $65,834 Sacramento, CA 18.9% higher than U.S. 37.9% higher than U.S. $2.72 $61,686 San Antonio, TX 11.7% lower than U.S. 20.3% lower than U.S. $1.78 $54,638 San Diego, CA 46.3% higher than U.S. 135.9% higher than U.S. $2.13 $66,529 San Francisco, CA 94.7% higher than U.S. 263.4% higher than U.S. $2.78 $85,947 Seattle, WA 51.9% higher than U.S. 107.5% higher than U.S. $1.94 $73,044 Tucson, AZ 6.1% lower than U.S. 20.7% lower than U.S. $1.48 $46,764 Tulsa, OK 11.3% lower than U.S. 34.6% lower than U.S. $2.18 $50,950 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA 58.9% higher than U.S. 163.4% higher than U.S. $2.43 $93,804 Wichita, KS 8.3% lower than U.S. 28.7% lower than U.S. $1.37 $52,068 York County, PA 3.3% lower than U.S. 9% lower than U.S. $1.98 $59,853

By Michael B. Sauter

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