Manhattan, one of New York City's five boroughs, is once again the most expensive metro in the U.S. according to the Council for Community and Economic Research's (C2ER) Cost of Living (COL) Index. New York City is home to three of the 10 most expensive urban areas in the U.S., with Brooklyn and Queens also making the list.
C2ER publishes its cost of living index every quarter. The study measures regional differences in the cost of consumer goods and services in professional and managerial households and is based on six categories -- housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services.
The average cost of living for a professional or managerial household is represented by a COL index score of 100.
All of the cities in the top 10 were well above the national average for the 304 urban areas surveyed. The after-tax cost for a professional standard of living was more than twice the average in Manhattan, with a measure of 229.6 on the COL index.
The COL Index is based on more than 90,000 prices covering 60 different items. Prices are collected quarterly by chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and university applied economic centers in each urban area surveyed.
The 10 most expensive urban areas in the third quarter of 2012 were:
1. Manhattan, New York City, N.Y.
COL Index score: 229.6
Not surprisingly, Manhattan is New York City's most expensive borough and the most expensive metro in the U.S. Rents are high, even for a small studio apartment, and buying in Manhattan means shelling out big bucks. The median home sale price in Manhattan is $1.14 million, far above any other city on this list.
2. Brooklyn, New York City, N.Y.
COL Index score: 108.2
This New York City borough is the second of three on the list, with the median home sale price hovering around $582,250, according to Trulia.com. Like the rest of the city, nearly everything in Brooklyn is pricey. Food, shopping and entertainment all cost a pretty penny. There's a ton of great restaurants and plenty of things to do, which makes it hard to stay in and save money.
3. Honolulu, Hawaii
COL Index score: 169.7
With its gorgeous beaches, beautiful weather and wide variety of natural wonders, it's easy to see why people want to call this Hawaiian city home. Not surprisingly, life is expensive here, with many goods being transported from the mainland to Honolulu. Cars and fuel are exceedingly expensive, as are many of the foods mainlanders take for granted. Housing is also pricey; the median sales price, according to Trulia.com, is $432,000.
4. San Francisco, Calif.
COL Index score: 168.3
Most people know San Francisco for its rolling hills and famous Victorian row houses known as "Painted Ladies." This city has something for everyone, from theaters and museums to bike trails and golf courses. It's also quite a hit to your wallet to live here, with residents paying top dollar for fuel, food and recreation. Homes also come at a steep price, with the median home sale price sitting near $705,500, according to Trulia.com.
5. San Jose, Calif.
COL Index score: 157
San Jose residents enjoy a diverse population, fantastic climate and a huge variety of recreational opportunities. The city boasts an average of 300 sunny days per year, and winters are much milder than those in cities like New York and Juneau. Of course, all that good stuff comes at a price: The median home sale price in San Jose is $470,000, according to Trulia.com.
6. Queens, New York City, N.Y.
COL Index score: 152.4
This New York City borough is ethnically and economically diverse. Residents can find restaurants catering to nearly any taste, and housing is an eclectic mix of multi-family and single-family homes. Like most of New York City, Queens is densely populated, which means high rents and home prices. According to Trulia.com, the median sale price for a home in Queens is $499,550.
7. Washington, D.C.
COL Index score: 150.9
As our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. offers a little something for everyone. Countless museums, shops and restaurants are at your disposal as a resident (or visitor) of this city. On average, Washington D.C. residents also get paid pretty well -- the average family income was $84,523 according to the 2010 Census. The median sale price for a home here is $435,000, according to Trulia.com.
8. Stamford, Conn.
COL Index score: 148.4
The coastal community of Stamford is home to roughly 117,000 residents and is located 25 miles northeast of New York City. Residents enjoy miles of coastal beaches, acres of woodlands and corporate downtown center. Homes here are pricey, with median home sale values hovering around $431,250 according to Trulia.com.
9. Boston, Mass.
COL Index score: 142.8
Not surprisingly, the top 10 most expensive cities are all on the coasts. The median home sale price is $505,000 according to Trulia, and most goods and services carry a big East Coast price tag.
10. Juneau, Ala.
COL Index score: 141.5
Perhaps an unexpected city in the top 10, the city of Juneau boasts natural beauty and a fun, walkable downtown. The median home sale price in this capital city is only $90,767 according to Trulia.com, but that doesn't mean it's inexpensive. Juneau is accessible only by boat or plane, which means everyday goods and fuel are more expensive than on the mainland.