real estate

Small Cities With Shockingly High Living Costs

Sometimes the smallest places come with the biggest price tags.

It probably doesn't come as a surprise that big cities, for the most part, come with high costs of living. No one expects to save money by moving to New York or San Francisco. But you don't have to live in a sprawling metropolis to get hit with high prices. Sometimes the smallest of cities can come with the biggest price tags.

Take Stamford, Conn. It has a population of less than 130,000 and yet it ranks ninth on our 2017 list of the most expensive places to live in the U.S.. Then there's Sunnyvale, Calif., which is only marginally bigger than Stamford. This slice of Silicon Valley, which places second in our rankings, is saddled with higher living costs than Boston, Washington, D.C., or even the aforementioned San Francisco.

High housing prices for both renters and homeowners are a big reason these two small cities are among the priciest in the land, but the sticker shock doesn't end there. From groceries to health care to entertainment, pretty much everything costs more in these tiny-but-tony locales.

Keep reading for the lowdown on these crazy-high-cost places to live, and check out the full list of the 10 most expensive U.S. cities to live in to see the eight other cities that made the cut.

Stamford, Conn.

  • Cost of Living: 45.7% above U.S. average
  • City Population: 128,874
  • Median Household Income: $79,359 (U.S.: $53,889)
  • Median Home Value: $501,200 (U.S.: $178,600)
  • Unemployment Rate: 5.0% (U.S.: 4.9%)

With its close proximity to New York City, Stamford has long been home to wealthy commuters. In fact, despite its relatively small population, the Connecticut city has one of the highest concentrations of millionaires in the country. But as expensive as Stamford’s living costs are, they are still less than the Big Apple. If there's another upside to be found, it's in transportation costs. Extensive commuter rail links to New York and its position in the Northeast rail corridor help make getting around only 11% more expensive than the national average, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research's Cost of Living Index, which tracks prices in hundreds of cities across the U.S.

Sunnyvale, Calif.

  • Cost of Living: 122.9% above U.S. average
  • City Population: 151,754
  • Median Household Income: $105,401
  • Median Home Value: $790,300
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8%

Either play the lottery or brush up on your computer coding skills if you hope to survive in this pricey California city. Sunnyvale and its Silicon Valley surroundings are famous for being home to some of the biggest tech companies in the world -- and for being home to exorbitant living expenses. Yahoo is headquartered in Sunnyvale and tech behemoths such as Google, Apple, Intel and Tesla are based nearby. No wonder overall housing-related costs are the highest in the land, according to the Cost of Living Index, running 375% above average. A six-figure median income, tops in the U.S., helps Sunnyvale's citizens bear the financial burden.

(The rankings are based on the Council for Community and Economic Research's Cost of Living Index, which includes 2016 price data for 288 urban areas. City-level data on populations, household incomes and home values come from the U.S. Census Bureau. Metropolitan-area unemployment rates for 2016 come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

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