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The Cost of Living Is Quickly Rising in These 20 US Cities

Jami Farkas
·9 min read
Davel5957 / iStock.com
Davel5957 / iStock.com

Living in a city can be expensive, with everything from rent to the average grocery bill eating up your savings and possibly preventing you from saving up for that first down payment.

Whoa: The Upper Class Has Taken Over These 50 Cities

The costs seem to go up every year, too, although they didn’t rise as much from 2019 to 2020 as they do most years. That’s largely due to frozen rental prices in major cities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In several cities, rent was actually lower in 2020 than in 2019.

So which cities had the largest increases in the cost to live comfortably over that time span?

Last updated: Jan. 14, 2021

graphiknation / Getty Images/iStockphoto
graphiknation / Getty Images/iStockphoto

20. Atlanta

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $462.91
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 0.9%

Because of a drop in rent between 2019 and 2020, Atlanta’s living cost rose less than 1%.

Don’t Move: 50 Cities With the Most Overpriced Homes

Mlenny / Getty Images
Mlenny / Getty Images

19. Chicago

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $528.35
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 1%

The Windy City, like Atlanta, is among the cities with the highest annual costs to live comfortably at just a few cents shy of $53,000. If that’s out of your price range and you choose to move out of the city, the good news is that Illinois is one of the most affordable places to buy a home in the nation.

©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com
©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com

18. Houston

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $472.47
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 1.2%

Houston is the fourth-largest city in America and is popular among those who want to move to a big city without paying big city prices — although the cost of living may continue to rise as more people discover this Texas city’s charms.

Check It Out: How Far a $100,000 Salary Goes in America’s 50 Largest Cities

Ron and Patty Thomas / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Ron and Patty Thomas / Getty Images/iStockphoto

17. Dallas

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $524.81
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 1.2%

With one of the smallest increases in cost of living of cities on the list, Dallas could attract budding entrepreneurs. A previous GOBankingRates study showed Dallas is among the 10 best places to start a business.

Ouch: In Less Than a Decade, You Won’t Be Able To Afford a Home in These Cities

Art Wager / Getty Images
Art Wager / Getty Images

16. San Diego

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $799.87
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 1.4%

Cost of rent in this pricey city of 1.4 million people fell slightly, helping to keep the costs of living comfortably in this sunny California locale at a slight increase of 1.4%.

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

15. Sacramento

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $694.08
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 1.4%

The cost to live in California is generally very high. That’s why the state’s capital lands so high up on the list.

Lower Your Cost of Living: The Top Expenses To Cut From Your Budget in 2021

Kyle Sprague / Shutterstock.com
Kyle Sprague / Shutterstock.com

14. Portland

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $718.55
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 1.4 percent

Portland, Oregon is the only Pacific Northwest city on the list. Despite the rise in the cost of living, Oregon saw a population increase of slightly more than 31,000 residents between 2019 and 2020, primarily because of inbound migration to the state, Portland State University’s Population Research Center reported.

Kruck20 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Kruck20 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

13. Raleigh

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $753.75
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 1.6%

North Carolina’s capital city is the last city on the list where the cost to live comfortably rose less than 2%.

APN Photography / Shutterstock.com
APN Photography / Shutterstock.com

12. Kansas City

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $835.46
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 2 percent

Kansas City’s cost of living fell in the middle of the pack of the cities in the GOBankingRates study. A previous study found the Missouri city to be one of the best cities for young professionals to settle.

Ron_Thomas / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Ron_Thomas / Getty Images/iStockphoto

11. Indianapolis

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $774.46
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 2%

The cost of living comfortably in the Crossroads of America is the fourth-lowest on the list.

©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com
©Shutterstock.com / Shutterstock.com

10. Las Vegas

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $774.46
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 2%

Las Vegas experienced a 2% increase in the cost to live comfortably from 2019 t0 2020.

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Thomas Kelley / Shutterstock.com
Thomas Kelley / Shutterstock.com

9. Louisville

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $1,259.37
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 3.4%

Louisville is the first city on the list with a cost-of-living increase of more than 3%, but it remains more affordable than other locales. It has the third-lowest price-tag to live comfortably of the 20 cities in the study.

Arpad Benedek / Getty Images
Arpad Benedek / Getty Images

8. San Antonio

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $1,412.93
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 3.6%

The cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in this Texas city fell slightly, but monthly necessities rose about $65, leading to the 3.6% increase.

4kclips / Shutterstock.com
4kclips / Shutterstock.com

7. Tulsa

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $1,316.54
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 3.8%

Tulsa had the second-lowest comfortable cost of living, but the city still saw sizable increases in the price of both rent and necessities.

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

6. Phoenix

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $1,873.27
Percentage Increase to Cost to Live Comfortably: 4.6%

Jumps in the costs of rent and monthly necessities led to a 4.6 percent increase in annual living expenses. Only the cost of groceries in Phoenix, kept the percentage from rising even higher.

Vito Palmisano / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Vito Palmisano / Getty Images/iStockphoto

5. Nashville

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $2,144.02
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 4.7%

Despite the pandemic, Nashville saw an influx of new residents in 2020. CNBC reported that for every person who moved out of Nashville, the city gained 1.48 people. Nashville tied with Phoenix for the second-highest percentage of inbound migration in the nation.

Kahari king / Unsplash.com
Kahari king / Unsplash.com

4. Detroit

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $1,615.23
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 4.9%

Of the cities in this study, Detroit had the lowest cost to live comfortably, and it’s one of the cheapest cities for renters. However, the percentage increase still lands it as fourth among the cities where costs are increasing the most.

Read More: 35 Surprising Cities With Low Costs of Living

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

3. Jacksonville

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $2,402.29
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 5.7%

Jacksonville, Florida is in the middle of the pack in terms of income needed to live comfortably, but the year-over-year increase is among the highest in any of the cities in this study. Still, a recent GOBankingRates study found Jacksonville to be one of the more affordable cities for retirees.

Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Davel5957 / Getty Images/iStockphoto

2. Columbus

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $2,278.05
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 5.9%

A lively arts and food scene has made this city more and more popular. So it’s no surprise that cost of living has increased as well — though it’s still more affordable than many other large cities in comparison.

Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto
Sean Pavone / Getty Images/iStockphoto

1. Tucson

Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: $2,646.46
Percentage Increase in Cost to Live Comfortably: 7%

The desert city of about 541,500 people rose to No. 1 on the list with a 7% rise in the cost to live comfortably. Both the cost of rent and monthly necessities went up. If you live in Tucson, plan on high air-conditioning costs; the average high temperature is 90 degrees or higher from May through September.

f11photo / Shutterstock.com
f11photo / Shutterstock.com

The Cost of Living Is Quickly Rising in These Cities

Perhaps unsurprisingly, five of the top 10 cities where the cost of living is rising the fastest are located in the two most populous states — California and Texas.

Only San Antonio wound up in the top 10, however, joined by three in the desert Southwest, two in the Midwest and the remainder in the Southern tier.

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Joel Anderson contributed to the reporting for this article.

Methodology: To find 20 cities where the cost of living is rising quickly, GOBankingRates analyzed the 2019 and 2020 cost to live comfortably in 35 of the largest cities in the U.S., according to population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey. GOBanking Rates first found each city’s (1) 2019 and (2) 2020 cost of living (excluding rent) index score from Numbeo, which is built around a benchmark score of 100 for New York City. Then, GOBankingRates created a (3) monthly necessities (excluding rent) cost estimate for New York City by combining (4) monthly grocery costs estimated by Numbeo (and archived in 2019 by SmartAsset) in May 2019 and December 2020, (5) monthly utilities costs estimated from Numbeo (and archived by SmartAsset) in May 2019 and December 2020, (6) monthly transportation costs estimated as the price of a monthly transit pass in May 2019 and December 2020 reported by the New York Times, and (7) monthly healthcare costs in 2019 and 2020 estimated as the average lowest-cost bronze tier health insurance premium in the state of New York from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Once a total cost of necessities (excluding rent) estimate was created for New York City, Numbeo’s cost of living indices were used to extrapolate a total monthly necessities cost estimate for every city. Then, GOBankingRates used rental data from Apartment List to find the (8) average monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit in each city in 2019 and (9) 2020. This was added to the necessities cost estimate to create a complete monthly necessities snapshot. Multiplying this figure by 12 provided (10) an annual cost of necessities estimate for each city in 2019 and 2020, which was then doubled to find (11) the cost to live comfortably, assuming that a comfortable budget follows the 50-30-20 rule where necessities account for no more than 50% of one’s total income (with 30% going to discretionary spending and 20% to savings). The difference between the annual cost of living comfortably in each city in 2019 and 2020 was then calculated (12) as a flat value and (13) as a percent of the 2019 cost to live comfortably. Cities were ranked against each other on factor 13, with No. 1 being the city where the cost of living is rising most rapidly. All data was collected on and up to date as of Jan. 4, 2021.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Cost of Living Is Quickly Rising in These 20 US Cities