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The Seven Most Expensive Places to Live in the US

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- You may have suspected it all along, but the data backs it up: Manhattan is, once again, the most expensive place to live in the United States.

That's according to an index of 300 cities published by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), which found that the cost of living in the borough of Manhattan in New York City is 133.5 percent higher than the national average of 100, with an index score of 233.5.  Harlingen, Texas, is the least expensive city, with a cost of living 18.4 percent below the national average.

"The top 10 most expensive cities are pretty stable, they remain almost static," said Dean Frutiger, project manager for the Cost of Living Index project at C2ER.  "There's more change with the bottom."

The council has published the quarterly data for 45 years (previously, it was released by the government) and bases its information on the prices of 60 consumer goods and services in six categories: grocery items, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous items.

Not surprisingly, housing carries the largest weight, said Frutiger, noting that about 29 percent of our income is spent on housing.  That's the reason Washington, D.C., wound its way into the top 10 this year instead of hovering around the 11th or 12th spot.

"Housing prices have been hurt very badly by the recession.  However, D.C.'s housing has remained relatively strong because there's a built-in market in D.C.  You wouldn't believe the construction going on there relative to other cities," Frutiger said.

Here's a list of the seven cities with the highest cost of living out of 300 regions analyzed by C2ER:

1. Manhattan, New York City - Index Score: 233.5
2. Brooklyn, New York City - Index Score: 183.4
3. Honolulu - Index Score: 170.8
4. San Francisco - Index Score: 163.2
5. San Jose, California - Index Score: 156.5
6. Queens, New York City - Index Score: 151.4
7. Stamford, Connecticut - Index Score: 146.7

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