Companies are in a battle to attract the best workers, and one way to do that is to offer them an inexpensive place to live. These states do not fit that bill. Our Cost of Living category in America's Top States for Business rates all 50 states based on an index of average costs for basic items. The category is worth a possible 50 points out of our 2,500 total. Here are 10 states where you will pay a pretty penny to live, as well as average prices for some basics in each state's most expensive area.
Price data based on the 2016 Annual Average Cost of Living Index by the Council for Community and Economic Research, C2ER.
Oh, the joys of homeownership. Want to quit paying an average of nearly $1,800 a month to rent an apartment in the Garden State? Maybe buy a house where you can actually plant a garden? Okay, but that house will set you back, on average, more than half a million dollars. New Jersey used to offset some of its high costs by offering some of the lowest gas prices in the country — even though New Jersey is the last remaining state that does not allow self-service. That is still the law, but prices are no longer so low compared to the rest of the country after Gov. Chris Christie last year signed into law the first increase in the state's gas tax since 1988.
2017 Cost of Living score: 10 out 50 points
Most expensive area: Bergen-Passaic
Average home price: $528,634
Half gallon of milk: $2.23
T-bone steak: $12.46
Monthly energy bill: $168.80
Doctor visit: $97.00
Among the Ocean State's most famous attractions are the mansions of Newport — the Gilded Age weekend homes of the 19th-century filthy rich. Today, with average monthly energy bills topping $240 a month, you may feel like you are heating a mansion. You could turn down the thermostat to save some bucks, but if you catch a cold, a visit to the doctor will cost you more than $140. Chilling.
2017 Cost of Living score: 9 out of 50 points
Most expensive area: Providence-Warwick
Average home price: $408,156
Half gallon of milk: $2.56
T-bone steak: $10.32
Monthly energy bill: $243.22
Doctor visit: $142.56
What's the best entrée to pair with some local Ben & Jerry's ice cream? If you are thinking of going basic — say, a 12-inch thin-crust cheese pizza — that will set you back nearly 12 bucks! Add a six-pack of Heineken for you and your guests and you are looking at another $9.10. Sure, the lifestyle is idyllic in the Green Mountain State, but your greenbacks won't go as far as in other states.
2017 Cost of Living score: 8 out of 50 points
Most expensive area: Burlington–South Burlington
Average home price: $494,484
Half gallon of milk: $2.55
T-bone steak: $12.21
Monthly energy bill: $228.30
Doctor visit: $113.84
If you're going to make some famous Maryland crab cakes, you have to break some eggs, a key ingredient in any recipe worth its salt — or cayenne pepper. A dozen eggs will cost you around $2.72, or roughly twice what they would cost you in Kansas. But then, you can't get fresh Chesapeake Bay crab in Kansas, can you? Well, there you go. Besides, crab cakes may be the least of your worries after you have purchased the home with the kitchen to cook them in. Home prices in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., are among the highest in the nation.
2017 Cost of Living score: 7 out of 50 points
Most expensive area: Bethesda-Gaithersburg-Frederick
Average home price: $703,687
Half gallon of milk: $2.37
T-bone steak: $12.13
Monthly energy bill: $172.28
Doctor visit: $93.11
Connecticut is the Nutmeg State, named for a spice believed to ward off disease. You still have to go to the doctor, though, and a simple office visit will cost you about $125 here. That's about 30 percent more than it would cost you in Delaware. Nutmeg is also good in cookies, but don't forget to brush your teeth. A visit to the dentist will cost you almost as much as your visit to the doctor. Sink your teeth into that!
2017 Cost of Living score: 6 out of 50 points
Most expensive area: Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk
Average home price: $652,192
Half gallon of milk: $2.70
T-bone steak: $12.13
Monthly energy bill: $237.81
Doctor visit: $124.96
If you are okay with bitterly cold weather (ever try driving in ice fog?) or just five and a half hours of daylight on the shortest day of the year in Anchorage, you will be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking natural beauty on the planet and a close-knit culture you will never forget. But do you have any idea how much it will cost you? In a state with only about 760 farms (Illinois has more than 72,000), most basic food items come from someplace else. That helps explain $4.68 for a loaf of bread in Anchorage, compared to $1.79 in Burlington, Iowa. But did you ever see a moose in Burlington, Iowa? Yeah, didn't think so.
2017 Cost of Living score: 5 out of 50 points
Most expensive area: Anchorage
Average home price: $510,395
Half gallon of milk: $2.26
T-bone steak: $14.06
Monthly energy bill: $201.39
Doctor visit: $175.40
Take a moment to chew on the fact that it is now more expensive to live in Massachusetts than Alaska. Then take a moment to chew on a $13 T-bone steak. (That's purchased at the grocery store. A 24-ounce Porterhouse at Del Frisco's in Boston will run you $62.) And that's not all. At $2,668 for a two-bedroom, the average apartment rent in Boston is the fourth highest in the country — and more than three times the rent in Anchorage. How about your monthly energy bill in Cambridge? That's $287.63, or nearly $90 a month more than Anchorage. Maybe a better way to keep warm in winter is a nice bowl of chow-dah.
2017 Cost of Living score: 4 out of 50 points
Most expensive area: Cambridge-Newton-Framingham
Average home price: $634,233
Half gallon of milk: $2.56
T-bone steak: $13.05
Monthly energy bill: $287.63
Doctor visit: $157.89
Perhaps never has a state nickname been more appropriate than the Golden State's. Severe housing shortages and a booming economy have put a squeeze on homebuyers. The average price of a home in metro San Francisco, just over $1 million, is the third highest in the country. Let's go to the grocery store. It will cost you $6 for a pound of the cheapest brand of coffee, but you're in San Francisco, so Folgers just won't do. You're going to want the Ethiopia Guji Deri Kochoha, which goes for $21 a pound at Blue Bottle. Mmmm. Fresh produce can be a bargain in California, since so much of it is grown here. That's good, because you'll spend so much of your money on your mortgage, or your $3,500-a-month rent or your artisanal whatever.
2017 Cost of Living score: 3 out of 50 points
Most expensive area: San Francisco–Redwood City–South San Francisco
Average home price: $1,020,413
Half gallon of milk: $3.03
T-bone steak: $12.75
Monthly energy bill: $203.84
Doctor visit: $129.25
Even a basic lifestyle can cost a king's ransom in the Empire State, especially in Manhattan, where the average price of a home — the average — is more than $1.6 million. Maybe you want to rent. How about a sweet two-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village, like Monica from "Friends"? Fuhgeddaboudit, you can't afford it. But a more realistic two-bedroom will average around $4,200, and New Yorkers will tell you that you probably won't find it. New York is a big and diverse state, though, and there are areas more affordable than Manhattan. Take Rochester, where the average home price is just $287,000. But you will still pay about $160 a month for energy there.
2017 Cost of Living score: 2 out of 50 points
Most expensive area: Manhattan
Average home price: $1,621,965
Half gallon of milk: $2.72
T-bone steak: $14.30
Monthly energy bill: $232.72
Doctor visit: $105.00
It will cost you more than $1 million on average to buy a home, close to $3,000 a month to rent an apartment and more than $22 for you and your sweetie to go see a movie in Honolulu. Sorry. The rest of us don't have much sympathy. You live in Hawaii. The Aloha State — America's 50th state — is almost always at the top of this list, because its location makes transporting basic goods here so expensive. And that trickles through to a lot of other costs. Your monthly energy bill is roughly three times what it would be if you lived in Stockton, California. But once again, you live in Hawaii.
2017 Cost of Living score: 1 out of 50 points
Most expensive area: Honolulu
Average home price: $1,042,420
Half gallon of milk: $3.79
T-bone steak: $11.76
Monthly energy bill: $455.51
Doctor visit: $110.63