Insights » Which US Metros are Most Expensive for Household Bills in 2021?

Which US Metros are Most Expensive for Household Bills in 2021?

Feature image for doxoINSIGHTS National Household Bills Report

For families in the US looking to move from one metro to another, cost of living concerns, especially when it comes to household bills, are often top of mind. Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, many in the US made the decision to relocate; the Pew Research Center found that a fifth of American adults moved or knew someone who did due to the pandemic.

doxo’s latest research, the United States of Bill Pay: Top 50 U.S. Metros Household Spend Report 2021, breaks down comparative household bill costs across the 50 largest cities in the country. Additionally, the report compares household bill pay behavior across 50 major US metros (the 50 cities with the largest number of households, by Census numbers).

Americans spend an average of $22,667 on household bills per year

At 60 pages long, with a detailed infographic for all 50 metros on the list, the report provides a detailed look into average spending in 10 key household bill categories, specifically in Mortgage; Rent; Auto Loan; Utilities (electric, gas, water & sewer, and waste & recycling); Auto Insurance; Cable & Internet & Phone, Health Insurance (consumer paid portion); Mobile Phone; Alarm & Security; and Life Insurance. Also, the report breaks down average spending statistics across the country. For instance, the average annual cost per U.S. household on bill expenses is $22,667.

The report also contains rankings of the 50 major metros in order of how expensive they are. The rankings also provide insight into relative cost of living based on the area, or the “percent of household income” that residents spend on bills. The rankings also indicate how much more or less expensive the average city is than the national average.

See more details about the rankings below. You’ll also be able to access detailed infographics about each major metro by clicking on the hyperlinks in the “City” column “10 Most Expensive Major Cities” and “10 Least Expensive Major Cities” tables. You can also browse doxoINSIGHTS’ regional bill comparison database to see infographics about more than 900 cities and towns in the country (cities demarcated by the US Census Bureau’s Core Based Statistical Areas).

San Jose is the most expensive metro for household bills

Residents of San Jose pay the highest monthly bills out of the 50 major metros ranked in the report, at an average of $3,151 in monthly expenses, or 66.8% higher than the national average of $1,889. (Note: Rent and Mortgage are included in the 10 major household bills, so the total number will generally be higher than that of a household that only pays one of those types of bills, or a homeowner household).

California is well represented among the most expensive cities on the list of 50 major metros, with and Los Angeles also occupying spots in the top 5 most expensive ones. New York is 5th on the list, with average monthly bill expenses of $2,674, which is 41.5% higher than the national average, and which constitutes 38.8% of local household income.

10 Most Expensive Major Metros

CityMonthly Bill Expenses Per Household*Percent of Household IncomePercent +/- National Average ($1,889)
1San Jose$3,15131.6%+66.8%
2San Francisco$3,08035.1%+63.0%
3Washington DC$2,76731.8%+46.5%
4Los Angeles$2,75344.3%+45.8%
5New York$2,67438.8%+41.5%
6San Diego$2,66840.8%+41.2%

*Household Bill Pay Expense averages shown above reflect the ten most common bills paid, including housing (rent/mortgage).

See full report for details.

The West and East coasts dominate the list of 10 most expensive major cities for household bills. Denver, Colorado is the only non-coastal city on the list. The national capital of Washington, DC is 3rd on the list of most expensive cities, at $2,767 average monthly bill expenses per household, which is 46.5% higher than the national average.

Buffalo is the least expensive metro for household bills

doxo’s findings show that smaller metros in the Northeast are the least expensive of the 50 major metros. Buffalo, New York residents pay the least in average monthly expenses, at $1,603, which is 15.1% lower than the national average.

Cleveland and Pittsburgh follow Buffalo on the list of the least expensive metros. The list of the 10 least expensive metros is dominated by the South and Midwest. Midwestern cities like Cincinnati, Ohio and Oklahoma City are on the list, as well as Southern cities like Birmingham, Alabama and Memphis, Tennessee.

10 Least Expensive Major Metros

CityMonthly Bill Expense Per HouseholdPercent of Household IncomePercent +/- National Average ($1,889)
41Oklahoma City$1,80236.8%-4.6%
45St. Louis$1,77732.9%-5.9%

Some consumers may have decided to relocate to more affordable cities during the pandenic. Last month, research from doxo also showed how the rise in remote work also led to elevated household expenses in certain key bill categories, specifically Utilities, Cable & Internet, and Mobile Phone. Individuals may have decided to move to a city where housing-related bills like Rent and Mortgage would decrease, so they could afford more space for a home office.

Read the full report (60 pages) here. If you have any questions or would like to sign up for updates to doxoINSIGHTS’ research, email