Imagine living on the warm, sunny beaches of Hawaii - or maybe you would prefer the majestic setting and ski slopes of Aspen, Colorado. While these idyllic locations are great places to put down roots, living there doesn't come cheap. Let's take a look at some of the most popular (and costly) places to live. (Find out why moving to a less expensive city may not reduce your expenses, in 10 Reasons Why Moving Might Not Make You Richer.)

  • New York City, NY
    New York City is the most expensive place to live in the U.S., and the eighth most expensive place to live in the world - a six-figure income will still only give you middle-class status. Just to put that into perspective, making $123,000 a year would buy you the same standard of living as someone who makes $50,000 in Houston, Texas, according to the New York Daily News.

    The average monthly rent for an apartment in the city is $2,800. Think that you can afford a place on $60,000 a year? Think again! Tenants have to make 40-times the monthly apartment rent to qualify without a guarantor. That means you need to make $112,000 just to qualify for a regular apartment.

    Monthly day care fees run over $2,000 a month, practically double other parts of the country, and an average cup of coffee costs nearly $4.50. (Stick to your budget every day with the 15 simple tips found in Squeeze A Greenback Out Of Your Latte.)

  • Los Angeles, California
    So, your cup of tea is the sunny weather and beaches of Los Angeles? If you want to soak up the L.A. sunshine and hob knob with celebrities, prepare to pay. Los Angeles is the second most expensive U.S. city and 23rd most expensive place in the world to live.

    L.A. is often considered the most overpriced city because of the high unemployment rate and high housing prices. Home prices in Los Angeles come in second only to New York, and many L.A. residents work six days a week just to stay afloat. Gas prices are higher in L.A. than in any other city in the mainland, and the high prices can be blamed on the citizens' daily commute.

    Add in the pollution, smog and earthquakes, and it doesn't seem like such a great deal.

  • Honolulu, Hawaii
    It must be paradise to live on the island and sip Mai Tais all day. Hawaii is paradise, but paradise doesn't come cheap. Honolulu, Hawaii is the fifth most expensive place to live in the U.S., and the 41st most expensive city in the world. That's because Hawaii imports everything, including automobiles, building materials, metals, gas, household products, meat, dairy and food products. Due to all of these factors, living in Honolulu costs 55% more than living in the average U.S. city.

    Hawaii has the highest gas prices in the nation, average monthly apartment rental costs of $1,800 and a low-level of worker satisfaction, since most available jobs offer part-time hours. (It's not fair to compare yourself to the Joneses. Find out how to alter your aspirations and still meet your goals, in Find Happiness By Altering Life Benchmarks.)

  • Aspen, Colorado
    It turns out that the most expensive zip code is not 90210, but 81611. In 2009, Aspen, Colorado topped the list of the most expensive home prices. Four Aspen properties have sold recently for over $30 million dollars. The average house in the Aspen area was valued at $2.6 million dollars in 2010, and Aspen is famously known as the home of the rich and famous, and boasts some of the world's most luxurious ski resorts.

    The city is littered with Gucci, Prada and other high-end retailers, and is a great place to visit for a ski vacation - but buying a home there could bury you under a financial avalanche. (The purchase options in REX Agreements Climb As House Prices Decline let you hedge against a decline in your home's value without having to sell the house.)

  • Juneau, Alaska
    For such a small city, Juneau has really big prices. Alaska faces the same problem as Hawaii, in that the state must import most of its consumer products. Alaskan cities are generally more expensive than other U.S. cities. The costs associated with housing, utilities and health care are 40-100% higher than the national average, and transportation and grocery items are 25% higher than in other major cities.

    Rural Alaskan communities have to import fuel by air, causing some cities to charge as much as $9 per gallon for gasoline. The average cost for a home in Juneau was $304,000 in 2009. (The number of taxes that we now consider a given did not always exist. Find out how they arose, in The History Of Taxes In The U.S.)

  • Miami, Florida
    "The Magic City" is well known globally for its culture, fashion and entertainment. With stars like Shakira, Enrique Iglesias and Lenny Kravitz calling Miami home, the city has become the "it" place to live. Miami has not only increased in popularity over the past decade, but in price as well.

    As the sixth most expensive city in the U.S., you will definitely pay for the beautiful waterfront property and the vibrant nightlife. Miami housing prices have dropped recently, but prices for groceries and public services are still sky high. (Getting to and around your travel destination doesn't need to break the bank. Find out more in Save On Planes, Trains And Automobiles.)

As you can clearly see, happiness does not come cheap. While these places may be great to visit, living there on a full time basis could leave you flat broke.

Still feeling uninformed? Check out last week's Water Cooler Finance to see what's been happening in financial news.

Related Articles
  1. Retirement

    This Is How You Could Live in Costa Rica for $1,000 a Month

    Explore the cost of living in Costa Rica, and learn how you could sustain a nice middle-class lifestyle for yourself on about $1,000 a month.
  2. Personal Finance

    The 6 Most Expensive Apartments in New York City

    A look into the high, high, high end of New York City real estate.
  3. Professionals

    Social Security COLA in 2016? Not Likely

    A cost of living increase for Social Security doesn't look likely in 2016. Here's what retirees should know and what they can do about it.
  4. Budgeting

    How Cooking At Home Can Save You Real Dough

    Cooking at home saves time and money but most importantly, it could even help lower future health costs.
  5. Investing

    Hetty Green: Invest Like the Richest Woman in the World

    Investors would be wise to emulate the approach to the markets that Hetty Green used to grow her fortune.
  6. Investing Basics

    Tiny House Movement: Making Market Opportunities

    The tiny house movement throws all assumptions about household budgeting and mortgage management out the window, and creates new market segments too.
  7. Professionals

    How NYC's Yellow Cab Works and Makes Money

    Owning a New York City cab can be a great low-risk investment if you can afford the cost of a medallion.
  8. Home & Auto

    The Most Expensive Neighborhoods in San Francisco

    Learn about the city of San Francisco and why rent has increased so much in the past eight years. Discover more about the top five most expensive neighborhoods.
  9. Home & Auto

    The Most Expensive Neighborhoods in Manhattan

    Understand why Manhattan has some of the priciest residential real estate in the world. Learn about the top four most expensive neighborhoods in Manhattan.
  10. Home & Auto

    The Most Expensive Neighborhoods in Los Angeles

    Understand the layout of the greater Los Angeles area and what is driving up home values. Learn about the top eight most expensive places to live in LA.
  1. Are Social Security benefits adjusted for inflation?

    Social Security benefits are adjusted for inflation. This adjustment is known as the cost of living adjustment (COLA). For ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Which states are the most expensive for high-income earners?

    The most expensive states for high-income earners are California, Hawaii and New York. The tax rates assessed by these states ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How can you calculate your cash budget in Excel?

    Calculating a cash budget in Excel is best completed by dividing your budget into inflows and outflows. Excel makes it extremely ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What is the historical capitalization rate for real estate in New York City?

    Historical capitalization rates, or cap rates, for real estate in New York City and the rest of the country experience cyclical ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are some limitations of the consumer price index (CPI)?

    The consumer price index, or CPI, is considered one of the most fundamental and critically important economic indicators, ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Can the consumer price index (CPI) for individual areas be used to compare living ...

    The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, for an individual area cannot be used to compare living costs among different areas of ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!