A new study has come out ranking how expensive life is in about 250 American cities. The top of the list contains few surprises, at least for residents of New York City. The Big Apple is home to some big cheeses, apparently, because it is easily the most expensive city for Americans to live in.

The only American city that really comes close in terms of average cost of living is L.A. The main reason for it even being close to New York was its notorious commute. Average gas prices in the area clocked in at over $4.40 a gallon, and the typical driver spent over 72 hours a year idling in traffic.

While New Yorkers don’t have to spend almost three and a half days of their lives on the LA turnpike under the hot California sun, they do have to pay for a real estate market that is one of the strongest in the country. This is especially true for the luxury market, where an average two bedroom apartment rental was more expensive than any other place in the country: $4,500 and the average sales price for a New York City apartment rose to $1.6 million.

The lower dollar, however, has meant that as expensive as New York City is, it only ranks 22 on the list of the world’s most expensive cities.

Fortunately, one of New York City’s best features remains a wide variety of goods and services that vary in price almost as much as any place in the world. The extreme income disparity in the city is good for one thing, and that is providing a wide variety of places to eat and be entertained, from the most expensive to the most humbly priced.
The wide variety of experiences the city has to offer is perhaps its most enjoyed attribute among locals and one that often makes it tough for them to live anywhere else after a few years exposed to the almost overwhelming level of choice the city offers.

When this quality of life is combined with the New York City real estate market’s strength compared to the rest of the country – and when you consider the massive long-term return on real estate in the city – its clear why so many choose to invest in this city by purchasing first, second or even third home here.
America’s Most Expensive Cities [ Forbes ]

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