Cost of Living in USA

April 25 , 2021 by: Amanda Goh

The cost of living between the 50 different states of America differs according to where you decide to reside in. As the country is so vast, it is difficult to determine the overall cost of living in the US.

Residing in a big metropolitan city such as New York or San Francisco will result in your cost of living being higher than other more rural areas of the US. States such as Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma have a lower cost of living.

If you are considering moving to the US, read on to find out more about the cost of living here.

Lombard Street, San Francisco. Photo by Brandon Nelson on Unsplash


The biggest living expense in the US is housing. Rent can be relatively affordable, depending on where and what type of housing you choose to live in. For expats, renting a home is the most common option.

The average rent of a single room apartment can cost $900-$1000 USD, depending on which state you are in. Here is a list of average monthly rent in some of the most expensive and most affordable areas in the US:

Depending on where you reside, you can expect to pay at least 30% of your salary on housing a month.

On top of rent, you will also need to pay for utilities. On average, you can expect to pay around $500 USD for all utilities a month.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels


Groceries in US differs depending on which grocery store you opt for. Some options such as Target and Trader Joes can be costly over the months. Some grocery prices are:

If you are residing in the US on a budget, you can opt for cheaper local products rather than imported products to save you some money.

In the US, there are various different restaurants you can go to, with prices ranging from affordable to expensive. A mid-range meal can cost around $40 without tips.

As tipping is not included in the bill, it is expected for all customers to tip their servers. You will be required to pay an additional of at least 15-30% of their bill as tips.

Amtrak train, USA, by Aris on Unsplash


Driving in the US is relatively affordable as fuel prices are low as compared to other countries. Thus, it is normal that most people living in the US have a private vehicle. However, for larger cities, driving can be tricky. An average car can cost around $20,000

The US also has an extensive public transport system which is easy to navigate. If you don’t intend on getting a car, bus and train tickets cost around $2.75.

Photo on Pexels


As public healthcare is not available universally in the US, most people opt for private healthcare. These costs tend to run high, and it is not uncommon for some to go bankrupt due to hospital bills.

As healthcare is expensive, it is common for employers to provide health insurance to their employees, including expats. However, this still means that you will need to pay a percentage of the hospital bills.

If you are interested in further information, check out our article on health insurance for expats in the US.


Overall Thoughts

The US is known to attract immigrants for decades. The cost of living may be high, depending on where you reside in and the lifestyle you choose. However, living in the US can be affordable if you choose more budget friendly options instead.


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