Americans are being pushed out of several cities in the United States for a simple reason: The cost of living is on the rise. Gentrification, income inequality, and slow wage growth are all factors in the equation, and for millions of people, it means having to move out of their homes to find cheaper alternatives. This is on full display in places like the Bay Area, where the tech boom has driven home prices and the cost of living through the roof — while many of the area’s natives have been left behind.
But that’s just one example. The same thing is happening in many other cities as well. The Census Bureau’s data says that the average American household earns roughly $53,000 per year, which is enough to live comfortably in many parts of the country. But in certain cities? An average income means barely scraping by.
Cost of living and an average income
While there are people who earn an average income (and below) and manage to make it work in every city, there are some towns where the numbers of those folks are dwindling every year. Every time costs jump up — be it due to rent increases, food costs, gas prices, etc. — more and more people are sent looking for less expensive dwellings. And it’s no more pronounced than in 10 specific American cities.
Using data from the Worldwide Cost of Living Report 2016, researched and compiled by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, we’re highlighting 10 American cities where an average income simply won’t cut it anymore. The entire project looks at the most expensive cities in the world — 133 in all. Among the top 49 were 10 American cities, which we highlight on the following pages.
10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Not many people would expect to see Pittsburgh show up on this list, but according to the Economist’s team, it’s the 49th most expensive city in the world. Still considered by many to be a blue collar town, Pittsburgh is seeing revitalization in many sectors as the workforce shifts to new industries.
9. Honolulu, Hawaii
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that life on the island paradise of Hawaii is expensive. According to The Economist’s calculations, Honolulu — the state’s largest and most bustling city — is the 46th most expensive city in the world to live in.
8. Seattle, Washington
A far cry from the warm, tropical islands of Hawaii, Seattle, Washington is the world’s 42nd most expensive city to live in. The tech boom, leaking out of the Bay Area, has flowed north and is driving real estate and rents up, and a high growth rate means more competition for jobs and space.
7. San Francisco, California
Speaking of the Bay Area, the largest and most populous city in the region is also one that the average American can no longer afford. San Francisco has become a hotbed of wealth and talent, and as a result, many of the city’s natives are being transplanted as costs rise. San Francisco is the 34th most expensive city in the world.
6. Houston, Texas
You may be surprised to learn that, by many measures, Houston is more expensive than Honolulu or San Francisco. But according to The Economist’s research team, it’s true; Houston is the 31st most expensive city in the world by 2016’s figures.
5. Washington, D.C.
Washington D.C. — where money and power collide. Naturally, D.C. is going to be a pricey place to try and make ends meet, and a look at the numbers confirms it. All told, D.C. is the 26th most expensive city in the world.
4. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Perhaps the list’s most surprising entry, Minneapolis, Minnesota ranks fourth in the U.S. — and 24th in the world — in terms of costs of living. Minneapolis is a budding economic power, but few would expect to see it ranked higher than Washington D.C., San Francisco, or Honolulu.
3. Chicago, Illinois
America’s third-largest city and Midwestern hub Chicago ranks third in the U.S. and 21st in the world in costs of living. Compare that to 2015’s list, where Chicago landed at the 39th spot — meaning it’s getting more expensive there, and fast.
2. Los Angeles, California
If you want to live in southern California, the Los Angeles area can offer tons of opportunity. But if you want to live in the city limits, you’re going to need to shell out some considerable amounts of money. L.A. is the world’s 8th most expensive city.
1. New York City, New York
Unsurprisingly, New York City tops the charts in terms of American costs of living. New York is the world’s 7th most expensive city, and you can expect that it’s only going to get pricier. In 2015, NYC was ranked 22nd in the world, to give you an idea of how fast costs are rising.
Check out the entire Worldwide Cost of Living report to see all 133 cities listed.