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Manhattan and Brooklyn Highest Cost of Living Nationwide

Manhattan and Brooklyn are the most expensive places to live in the United States, according to research from the nonprofit Council for Community and Economic Research.

The organization uses pricing data from across the country for almost 60 different items, based in six areas—housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services—to measure the cost of living.

With the help of other organizations, the council gathers prices by telephone, mail, fax, email, and in person. The average cost of a dress shirt, calculated by averaging prices from nine or so clothing stores in a metropolitan area of 500,000 people, is an example of the data gathered.

The study doesn’t aim to be all encompassing. Instead, it is for finding how urban areas compare “in the cost of maintaining a standard of living appropriate for moderately affluent professional and managerial households,” according to an online manual for the index.

The mid-management standard is not the same thing as middle class, notes the manual. The standard is for households of two spouses and one child, with both spouses holding college degrees and at least one having “an established professional or managerial career with a record of growing responsibility and authority, and being salaried rather than paid by the hour.”

In most locales the mid-management household annual income will be $70,000 to $100,000, though it may be lower in some places and higher in “traditionally high-cost places like New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego metropolitan areas.”

The national average for the cost of living index in 300 urban areas was 100. Manhattan scored 233.5 and Brooklyn 183.4. Queens was sixth with a 151.4 index for the second quarter of 2012.

In the first-quarter report, the council compared grocery costs. Manhattan ranked third most expensive behind Kodiak in Alaska, and Honolulu in Hawaii. Manhattan was the second most expensive place for a T-bone steak ($14.99) behind Minneapolis, Minn. ($15.49)

Comparing Housing

In Manhattan, the average rent is $3,778, while the average sales price is $1.4 million, according to a second-quarter Douglas Elliman Report prepared by Miller Samuel Inc. Rents in Brooklyn in July ranged from an average of $1,986 for a studio to $ 2,387 for a one-bedroom to $3,061 for a two-bedroom, according to MNS Real Estate, while sales prices ranged from just over $300,000 in Bushwick to $1.8 million in Prospect Heights.

In Honolulu, Hawaii, which ranked third, the median sales price is $390,000 through July, according to real estate website Trulia, while average fair market rent for a two-bedroom was $1,767 in the first quarter 2012, according to the Center for Housing Policy in Washington, D.C .

In San Francisco, which ranked fourth, average sales prices for lofts and townhouses was $781,287 in July, according to Coldwell Banker, while average fair market rent for a two-bedroom was $1,905 in the first quarter OF 2012, according to the Center for Housing Policy.

In San Jose, Calif., which ranked fifth, median sales price was $456,000 in July, according to Trulia. The Center for Housing Policy listed the fair market two-bedroom rent as $1,623 for 2012’s first quarter.

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