NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Cheapskates, beware! Move to one of America's costliest cities and you'll pay more than $600,000 for an average four-bedroom house or more than $2,300 a month for a typical two-bedroom apartment -- plus $9 for a six-pack of good beer.
"People who live in America's most-expensive cities pay a premium to be on the cutting edge," says Dean Frutiger of the Council for Community and Economic Research, which recently identified America's least-affordable locales as part of its study seventh-annual Cost of Living Index.
Each year, the think tank uses crowdsourcing to estimate living expenses in hundreds of communities. Volunteers check local prices on everything from teeth cleaning to takeout pizza, which CCER uses to create a weighted index that estimates how much it costs the typical professional/managerial worker to live in each area.
Popular East and West Coast locales dominate the most-expensive list, and this year is no exception. Frutiger says that's due primarily to such communities' stratospheric rents and mortgage bills, given that housing accounts for nearly a third of CCER's weighted index.
But the expert says many Americans pay the high housing prices gladly because moving to a major metro area can mean you'll land a great job.
"If you're someone who's aggressively upwardly mobile, you're probably going to have more of a chance for advancement in a big, expensive city," Frutiger says. "I lived in Vermont for years -- but if I moved back, what would I do for a living? Wax skis?"
Read on to check out America's five most-expensive communities from among the 308 locales CCER surveyed. (Or, click here to check out the nation's five least-costly cities.)
The rankings use actual 2013 prices on 56 goods and services available in one or more neighborhoods that are popular with each community's professional or managerial workers. Terms such as "average" or "highest-priced" refer to how much a given item costs in a specific community relative to what CCER found nationwide.
Fifth-worst locale for cheapskates: Queens, N.Y.
Cost of living: 52% above U.S. average
You almost have to be a king to afford the New York City borough of Queens these days.
Located across the East River from ultra-expensive Manhattan, this once-blue-collar area is slowly becoming gentrified -- and expensive.
"When anything happens [economically] in Manhattan, you eventually get a spillover into Queens and Brooklyn and Staten Island," Frutiger says.
Queens' 2.3 million residents pay housing costs that run 132.3% above the U.S. average -- the eighth-highest rate among communities that CCER polled. Locals also face the fourth-highest tab for miscellaneous items, paying 27.8% above the U.S. norm for a basket of goods and services ranging from tennis balls to dry cleaning.
Similarly, Queens has the seventh-heftiest costs for utilities (34.8% higher than the norm), the 10th-biggest charges for transportation (17.2% higher than average) and the 14th-highest rate for groceries (16% more than the national average). Lastly, residents pay 12.3% more than what's typical for health care.