The real world is real… expensive. Especially for kids coming out of school these days. I can’t imagine struggling to try and save money while getting $45k on a history major salary.
Well, if you’re striking out on your own soon, or you just wanna be nosy, we’ve got you covered in today’s article. We’re going to look at the most expensive states you could live in America. You can probably make a guess as to a few of them right of the bat – they’re the places where child care costs are crippling, rent is through the roof, and even owning a car is a burden.
They are the places where you need to make a lot of moolah if you want to just exist. So, get ready to count your pennies and make a list of things you’re going to cut back on, as we begin our tour of America’s most expensive states.
There are some places in the country where you can earn a lot of money and still feel poor. We’re talking San Francisco or New York City — where a 2 bedroom apartment costs over $4,000 a month on average. And for those playing at home, a living wage in the San Francisco Metro clocks in a staggering $81,795.
The most expensive state in America for 2020? California tops the list this year as the most expensive state based on MIT living wage data. Well, thank god we don’t have to live there.
If one of the top research universities in the world says you’re expensive, you’re real expensive. For exactly how we calculated these rankings, read on. Or if you’re so rich you do not care about this list, check out:
- 10 Cheapest States In America
- 10 Most Expensive Cities In America
- Worst Places To Live By State
- Worst Places To Live In America
The 10 Most Expensive States In America For 2020
California certainly isn’t a walk in the park, either, when you look at the cost of living in the Golden State. Taxes, housing costs and child care are all in the top 5 in the nation. Food costs are tied with Colorado as the most expensive – although I don’t know why more Californians don’t just eat burritos all damn day. And housing costs are on par with new york, where you can expect to pay, on average, $13,200 a year.
But try living in an actual real city in California, and you’ll send closer to $3,000 a month on rent or a mortgage. Most professionals can’t afford to live near downtown LA or San Francisco, and move out into the suburbs, which means longer commute times, which means more working hours. It’s a never ending cycle.
What is surprising about California is the average health care costs – where a family of four can expect to pay about $13,000 a year. That’s not bad, in comparison with other states on this list. A family of 4 needs about $40 an hour between both working parents, to stay out of poverty. And you can basically double that if you actually want to live near a real actual city. Required income before taxes in Cali – as the cool kids say – is $81,000.
In California, unless one person is loaded, both mom and dad work, which means two cars and child care costs.
Welcome to New York, which is the second most expensive place you could live in our fine country. In New York child care is $23,000 for two kids a year. Taxes here are no joke either. This is the second highest taxed state on today’s list, where the average family can expect to pay more than $5,000 a year in income taxes.
Now if you live in Franklin County New York, you might as well be in Canada, but your cost of living needs would be fairly doable. But if you wanted to live in the NY metro area, look out, pal. Housing, medical costs and food are really, really high in the Empire State. And what about cigarettes? Those cost like $15. A simple dinner is $40 per person. Young professionals in NYC have to eat ramen until they get their next paychecks. You can understand why – when apartments cost like $3,000 a month for a real dump.
For fun, if you have anything left at the end of the day, you could go to a $100 broadway show, $35 to get into the Bronx Zoo, or $32 to get to the top of the Empire State building. No wonder NY natives stay away from the tourist trap. Well at least if you live in many areas of New York, where it’s most expensive, you can not own a car. That helps save some money.
Here’s what’s interesting about Massachusetts. A lot of people who live there complain about the high taxes, and call it taxachusetts. But Massachusetts actually has the lowest taxes of any state we’re talking about today, except Alaska, at about $3,500 a year.
But what really gets you in this damn state is the cost of health care and child care. On average, a Massachusettsian can expect to pay about $7,000 a year in health care costs, and about $16,000 a year in child care. Man, if this isn’t birth control advice, I don’t know what is.
A typical Massachusetts family would have to earn about $77,000 a year to eek out a living. If mom or dad is an epidemilogist, that would bring in enough dough. Epidemologists study diseases.
If you live in Maryland, you’ll probably nod in agreement when we tell you that your cost of living is massive. To earn a decent living, and not have to ask family, friends, or the government for extra money, a family of four in Maryland needs just over $76,000 on average to survive. But we can actually look at that for different areas to compare Maryland vs. Maryland.
If you live in Hagerstown, looks like about $76,000 would do you right. You won’t be balling, but you won’t be broke, either. Just enough to splurge on something cool every now and then. Now, if you live in Dorcester County, you can get by with far less – about $72k a year. If you live in Baltimore, you need a little more. And if you live in the DC metro area of Maryland, well, you’d better have a good job, cause it’ll be tough to keep your head above water.
What makes costs so high in Maryland, anyways? Pretty much everything, but Maryland taxes are the second highest of all states on our list today, at about $5k a year. If you’re the only Marylander bringing home the bacon at your house, you’d have to get a job as something like an elevator installer or a nuclear medicine technologist to afford to live here. And I don’t know very many nuclear medicine technologists.
Maybe aim lower, Maryland guy. Real estate broker? You could always take the kids to an Orioles game. Hot dogs are some of the cheapest in all of major league baseball.
Lordy, the cost of living in Connecticut is sky high!
A couple with two kids would have to make about $76,000 – or about a grand more a year than their New Jersey neighbors in order to live comfortably. You could be an animal control worker? Or, one of you stays at home to save an estimated $13,000 a year, and one of you gets a job as, say a social worker? Either way, you’re not gonna save a lot on those salaries in Connecticut, that’s for sure. Sure, places like Bridgeport or New Haven will be far less expensive than, in say Greenwich, where you’d need about $110,000 a year to live comfortably.
Where’s our next most expensive state to live? That would be the Garden State itself, New Jersey. Here in Jersey, the average cost in the big six – food, child care, cars, housing, medical and taxes are in the top 5 for every category.
Especially health care costs. New Jersey is tied with Massachusetts for the highest annual health care costs, at about $7,700 a year for a family of four. Well, just don’t get sick, and you should be okay. Housing costs aren’t anything to sleep on, either, especially if you’re renting. If you want to share a two bedroom place in Jersey, expect to pony up about $900 a month each.
Did you know New Jersey has the nation’s 6th highest income taxes and highest property taxes? First highest? Is that even a word?
To live a lower middle class lifestyle in New Jersey, you and your spouse would have to bring in about $75,000 a year, or average about $18.25 each. Job wise, that means you’d be working as a small engine mechanic or a dental assistant. And, If you don’t have a decent job, you’d likely be eating at Wawa everyday. Not that that’s such a bad thing, though.
Love crunching numbers? You probably won’t want to go look closely at the numbers in Colorado. For some odd reason, food prices in Colorado are higher than anywhere else in the country – except Hawaii. You can plan on a family of 4 spending ten grand, or about 900 a month, on food alone. However, the good news: If you go to Coors Field in Denver, beer prices are the cheapest in all of America, at about $3 each.
Now, people who are dealing with outrageous prices in the Denver area won’t agree, but overall, annual housing costs in Colorado are the cheapest of any other state on this list. Whether you rent or own, you’ll pay somewhere around $10,000 a year, on average, for housing costs. Obviously, the snobs in Aspen pay more than that – some people up here pay like $10,000 a month for their mortgages.
To live a decent life in Colorado, mom and dad both need to bring in about $17.50 an hour each – or $73,000 yearly, combined.
Now, 18 million jobs pay less than $10 an hour in America. There’s no way people in Colorado could exist on a fast food wage, or as a cashier. At least, comfortably.
If you live in Virginia, you know – this is a pretty expensive state in which to live. If you’re thinking of moving here, there’s a lot to consider. A family of four would need to earn about $35 an hour, combined, or about $72,000 a year combined, in order to live outside of poverty. To put that into perspective, in America’s most inexpensive state to live, Mississippi, a husband and wife could each hold jobs paying $13 an hour, and bring in $55,000 a year combined in order for their family of four to live outside of poverty.
A real big difference.
Here in Virginia, the annual cost of owning a car for one person is the highest in America, at about $4,600 a year. So double that if mom and dad have a car – and if you live in places like Northern Virginia, you will. (And you’ll sit in traffic for hours each week as well). Annual average housing costs are about $12,500 a year in Virginia – the fifth highest housing costs in America.
It really starts to add up, doesn’t it? Now if you live out in the sticks, like about half of Virginia’s population, you can probably save money on clothing costs. Camo is damn cheap. However, if you’re trying to keep up with the Jones’ in the DC metro area, you’re gonna be buying heels and suits all the time.
In Hawaii, housing costs are around $15,000 a year, which isn’t surprising, since the average Hawaii home is more than $600k. Taxes, and property taxes, are the highest in the nation, and since there’s a shortage in child care, you can expect to pay like $9,000 a year per kid!
Have you ever visited Hawaii? A gallon of milk is like $8. Dinner is about $50 to $60, depending on how many drinks you have. And gas is going to be the highest you’ll see in America. Much of these commodity costs are because Hawaii is an island, and it costs a lot of money to get things there.
Sure, it’s a pretty place, and there’s hula girls everywhere, and you can see kangaroos and polar bears right outside your front door, but, gee whiz, what a price tag it comes with.
Just what makes the Last Frontier such a pain in the rear to survive, financially? One person needs $26,821 a year to live a decent life in Alaska, but a family of four needs $74,247 a year to not struggle. If you live alone, you need to make $12.89 an hour. If you have kids at home, you need to make about $42.40 an hour.
In Alaska, we have some good and bad news. The bad news: If you plan on having multiple kids in Alaska, your child care costs are going to be through the roof. Just one kid a year in Alaska will cost you more than $10,000 a year – the third highest child care bill in the nation. Of course, many people in Alaska choose to rear their own kid at home.
For some reason, the cost of owning a vehicle in Alaska is about $4,200 a year – also the third highest rate in the US. Now, you don’t have to own a car in Alaska, but you’re gonna have to find some way to get around, right?
The good news – there is no income tax in Alaska, so that’s great. So, your overall tax burden in Alaska is the lowest of all states we’ll talk about. Plus, in Alaska, everyone gets a check from the government from oil proceeds. It’s called the Alaska Permanent Fund. A few years back when oil prices were high, some families of four got nearly 10 grand!
How We Determined The Most Expensive States In America For 2020
When we at HomeSnacks normally measure how expensive a place to live is we check in on whats called a cost of living index. That analyzes the costs of goods in basket of things like housing, milk, utilities, and gas across the country.
But for this analysis we had an even better source — MIT’s Living Wage data.
The team at MIT compiles the best set of geographical data on what a family of various sizes can realistically expect to spend to live a decent life each year. Not super comfy, but not in poverty.
In particular they look at the cost of the following items:
- Child Care
- Other Personal Necessities
They just updated their data at the begining of 2020, so we can take a fresh look at it.
Specifically, this analysis uses their average required wage for two adults and one child in every states. We ranked the living wage from highest to lowest with the highest being most expensive.
The highest state, California, was crowned the most expensive state to live in America for 2020. (Although DC would like to have a word if you consider that a state.) You can download the data here.
There You Have It — The Most Expensive States In America To Live For 2020
That’s it, our expensive tour of America. After all the dust settled and the analysis was over, we crowned California as the most expensive state to live in America for 2020. If you live in the states we just talked about, odds are you work hard and don’t have a lot to show for it. But hey – as long as you’re safe, healthy and you have a glass of wine to numb the pain, you’ll be okay.
When you stop to think about it though, being expensive is probably a good thing — it means people must really want to live there and the economy is doing well. So even though it might be 30% cheaper in Mississippi, I doubt anyone is going to be moving there from California.
Here’s a quick look at the cheapest states in America:
- West Virginia
For more reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Most Expensive States In America For 2020