GOBankingRates

What It Costs to Live in America’s Most Expensive ZIP Codes

Art Wager / iStock.com

Art Wager / iStock.com

America is a land of haves and have-nots, and plenty of people spend their days driving past swanky suburbs or palatial rural mansions wondering what it would take to have a similar lifestyle. And, depending on where you live, the answer can vary greatly.

At least, that’s the conclusion you can draw from a GOBankingRates study on what it costs to live in each state’s most expensive zip code. The study took the wealthiest zip codes in each state — plus Washington, D.C. — and compared the cost for an average mortgage as well as things like groceries, utilities, transportation and healthcare. The end results revealed that, while some states have reasonable costs even at the upper end of their range, others feature costs that make their most expensive zip codes inaccessible to anyone but the wealthiest Americans.

Click through to see the cost to live in America’s most expensive zip codes and learn how you can manage your money better.

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The Cost to Live in Alabama’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 35223
  • City: Mountain Brook
  • Total Income Needed: $107,594

Located just outside of Birmingham — conveniently, right next to the Birmingham Country Club — the zip code contains the Birmingham Zoo and Botanical Gardens. And not only is Mountain Brook Alabama’s most expensive zip code, it’s also one of the richest school districts in America.

However, while Alabama has the second-highest average mortgage rate, the $107,594 a year needed to live there is among the lower figures in that regard, driven in part by the lowest average transportation costs in the U.S.

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The Cost to Live in Alaska’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 99516
  • City: Anchorage
  • Total Income Needed: $112,262

The 99516 area code, just outside of Anchorage, is mostly taken up by Chugach State Park, but the portion that’s not will likely require you to pull down at least six figures to live there. The state has the highest average mortgage rate, residents pay the second-most for groceries, and the cost of senior care in the state can be very high: Private nursing care will run you a shocking $24,000 a month.

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The Cost to Live in Arizona’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 85253
  • City: Paradise Valley
  • Total Income Needed: $270,636

Located just north of Scottsdale next to the Phoenix Mountains Reserve, Paradise Valley has three different golf clubs within 5 miles.

Wealthy residents might be considering sending their children to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott — it’s one of the most expensive colleges in the country.

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The Cost to Live in Arkansas’ Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 72223
  • City: Little Rock
  • Total Income Needed: $86,548

Arkansas’s 72223 zip code, just west of Little Rock, only necessitates a little over $85,000 a year to afford to live there, which is one of the lower figures in this study. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, though, given that Arkansas is one of the cheapest states in America.

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The Cost to Live in California’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 90210
  • City: Beverly Hills
  • Total Income Needed: $692,388

When an entire television show is named after your zip code, it’s a safe bet that things there are going to be at least a little larger than life. Beverly Hills managed to edge out the incredibly wealthy Silicon Valley burgs to the north. Not only is the median home price of over $5.5 million the second-highest in this study, the nearly $700,000 a year you would need to afford life here is the second highest.

Dream Big: You Might Be Able to Afford a Mansion in These 20 States

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The Cost to Live in Colorado’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 81654
  • City: Aspen
  • Total Income Needed: $380,590

Tucked between the White River and Grand Mesa National Forest just outside Aspen, the 81654 zip code isn’t for just anyone — it takes an income of more than $375,000 a year to afford living there. The health of the housing market in Aspen — where a median home costs nearly $3 million — is consistent with the rest of Colorado, one state that has recovered from the recession.

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The Cost to Live in Connecticut’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 06831
  • City: Greenwich
  • Total Income Needed: $343,126

Located right on the border between New York and Connecticut, the 06831 area code would appear to be an ideal commuter city for wealthy New Yorkers looking to live outside the city. However, that plan would come with one major caveat: Greenwich features the second-highest average transportation costs in the study.

Find Out: This Is the Salary You Need to Afford a Home in Your State

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The Cost to Live in Delaware’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 19930
  • City: Bethany Beach
  • Total Income Needed: $116,796

On the Atlantic Ocean just south of the Delaware Seashore State Park, Bethany Beach could be an ideal choice for someone looking to cap off their prosperous career living near the sea: Delaware is one of the best states to retire rich.

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The Cost to Live in the District of Columbia’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 20015
  • City: Washington, D.C.
  • Total Income Needed: $178,000

The 20015 area code directly abuts the border between Maryland and the District of Columbia, containing Hawthorne, Barnaby Woods and Upper Chevy Chase. While Washington, D.C. has the highest average household income in the U.S. at $110,614 a year, it’s still not enough to make ends meet if you’re living in the 20015 area, where you need nearly $180,000 a year to afford living there.

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The Cost to Live in Florida’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 33109
  • City: Fisher Island
  • Total Income Needed: $452,630

Florida’s incredibly wealthy Fisher Island — sitting just south of Miami Beach — is so pricey you would need over $450,000 a year to cover basic necessities without completely compromising the rest of your budget. And those costs could get even worse if you’re going through rocky times with your spouse: Florida is one of the most expensive states for divorces.

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The Cost to Live in Georgia’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 31561
  • City: Sea Island
  • Total Income Needed: $354,366

Sea Island is located in coastal Georgia and features a median home price of $2.75 million, one of the highest figures in the study. If you’re wondering what the best options are in Georgia for building up that sort of wealth, you might consider Chirbit, the startup the state is best known for.

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The Cost to Live in Hawaii’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 96821
  • City: Honolulu
  • Total Income Needed: $288,004

Life in Hawaii is very costly, with Honolulu claiming the highest costs for groceries, utilities and transportation of any zip code in this study. And while residents of the 96821 probably aren’t scraping by, one might not blame them for it if they were: Hawaii is one of the states where residents are most likely to live paycheck to paycheck.

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The Cost to Live in Idaho’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 83313
  • City: Bellevue
  • Total Income Needed: $114,694

You’ll need just $114,694 to afford living in the wealthy city of Bellevue, which is just to the west of the Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve. So while it’s the priciest place to live in Idaho, it’s one of the more affordable zips in this study.

One person who might have at least considered owning a home there might be Sen. James E. Risch. Worth over $50 million, he’s the wealthiest politician in the state.

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The Cost to Live in Illinois’ Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 60043
  • City: Kenilworth
  • Total Income Needed: $218,652

Located on Lake Michigan north of Chicago between Winnetka and Evanston, Kenilworth is not a cheap place to make your home, with the third-highest average transportation costs in the study and a median home price of about $1.5 million.

Don’t Miss: The Salary You Need to Get By in 50 Major US Cities

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The Cost to Live in Indiana’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 46032
  • City: Carmel
  • Total Income Needed: $96,858

There are just 10 states where you can still live comfortably on an income under $100,000 a year even when you’re living in the priciest zip code — and Indiana is one of them. And with a median home price of just over $450,000 a year, Carmel’s not too far outside the norm for the best state for millennials to buy a home.

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The Cost to Live in Iowa’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 52411
  • City: Cedar Rapids
  • Total Income Needed: $90,388

Iowa is another state where its wealthiest residents aren’t having to seriously cut into their wealth for basic expenses, with just over $90,000 being enough to make it in the most expensive zip code in the state. And while it’s probably the case that relatively few inhabitants of the 52411 could be considered “middle class,” the fact that even the priciest zip code is still somewhat affordable is likely a sign of why Iowa is one of the best states for the middle class.

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The Cost to Live in Kansas’ Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 66224
  • City: Leawood
  • Total Income Needed: $97,942

The median home price in the Kansas City suburb of Leawood is $585,000. And while that might sound more than reasonable to residents of places like San Francisco or Beverly Hills, it’s going to seem pretty nuts to other Kansas residents. With a median home price of $127,600, Kansas is among the states where homes are worth the least.

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The Cost to Live in Kentucky’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 40059
  • City: Prospect
  • Total Income Needed: $97,942

Located right on the border with Indiana — sitting on the Ohio River northeast of Louisville — Prospect residents need almost $100,000 to afford a home plus their other bills.

Time for a Move? Best and Worst States for Families

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The Cost to Live in Louisiana’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 70130
  • City: New Orleans
  • Total Income Needed: $100,968

Louisiana’s priciest place to live is the 70130 zip code in New Orleans, on the Mississippi River immediately south of the French Quarter. Owning a home in Louisiana is a good news/bad news situation, though. The good news is that state has the lowest average interest rate on its mortgages. The bad news: Louisiana is one of the states with the highest home insurance costs.

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The Cost to Live in Maine’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 04105
  • City: Falmouth
  • Total Income Needed: $116,456

Coastal Falmouth is located on Casco Bay along I-95. And while you need to make at least $116,456 to afford living there, you’ll need a lot more than that before your neighbors will think of you as rich. You need to make $10 million a year to be rich in the eyes of your fellow Mainers.

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The Cost to Live in Maryland’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 20815
  • City: Chevy Chase
  • Total Income Needed: $199,642

Maryland’s 20815 zip code contains part of Chevy Chase and sits directly adjacent to Washington, D.C.’s 20015 zip code, where the rest of Chevy Chase is located. The name, incidentally, has nothing to do with the famed actor, but rather derives from Scottish words for “border raid” and “hunting grounds.”

Meanwhile, it appears as though plenty of people in the area are taking full advantage of a successful career: Maryland is one of the states with the richest retirees.

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The Cost to Live in Massachusetts’ Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 02554
  • City: Nantucket
  • Total Income Needed: $331,558

Odds are pretty good that the man from Nantucket is doing pretty well for himself these days as he’s living in the most expensive zip code in the state of Massachusetts — outpacing even nearby Martha’s Vineyard. You’ll need to make over $325,000 annually to be able to afford living there, making it one of the priciest zip codes in this study.

Find Cheap Places to Live: 13 Places Where You Can Live on Less Than $60K a Year

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The Cost to Live in Michigan’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 48009
  • City: Birmingham
  • Total Income Needed: $124,296

The Detroit suburb of Birmingham is located between Bloomfield Hills and Royal Oak and represents the most expensive zip code in the Great Lake State. The median home price there of nearly $700,000 is nearly five times the median home price for the state as a whole.

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The Cost to Live in Minnesota’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 55391
  • City: Wayzata
  • Total Income Needed: $158,530

Living in Wayzata — on the shores of Lower Lake outside Minneapolis — isn’t cheap. About half of the homes on the market there will cost you more than $1 million to buy outright, meaning the cost of a typical mortgage is going to be over $4,500 a month.

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The Cost to Live in Mississippi’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 39110
  • City: Madison
  • Total Income Needed: $84,322

The town of Madison north of Jackson might be home to the most expensive area in Mississippi, but that’s arguably more of a big fish in a small pond situation. Costs are low in Mississippi, where you’ll find the second-lowest average mortgage rate and the lowest cost of groceries. Taken all together, Madison was actually the third-most affordable place to live in this study.

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The Cost to Live in Missouri’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 63124
  • City: Ladue
  • Total Income Needed: $168,772

The St. Louis suburb of Ladue is the most expensive zip code in the state, but if it’s stability that you’re after, this might be a great option in terms of pricey places to live: Missouri is one of the most recession-proof states in the U.S.

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The Cost to Live in Montana’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 59715
  • City: Bozeman
  • Total Income Needed: $118,222

Located in southwest Montana, Bozeman is the most expensive place to live in the entire Big Sky State. And if you’re living there now, the high costs are just part of why Bozeman might not be the ideal place to stay wealthy: Montana is one of the worst states to grow your money in 2018.

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The Cost to Live in Nebraska’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 68526
  • City: Lincoln
  • Total Income Needed: $94,350

The 68526 zip code to the southeast of Lincoln is the most expensive place to live in all of the Cornhusker State, but you still don’t need to make six figures to consider moving there. What’s more, if you’re looking for somewhere to build your dream home, you might be in luck: Nebraska is one of the cheapest states to build a home in.

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The Cost to Live in Nevada’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 89451
  • City: Incline Village
  • Total Income Needed: $185,110

The name Nevada might make most people think of the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, but the most expensive zip code in the state is actually Incline Village, abutting the northeast corner of Lake Tahoe right on the border with California. Not only will you have the lowest utility bill of any of the places in this study, but you can likely feel fairly confident that your pricey home will stay safe: Nevada is one of the states that spend the most on public safety.

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The Cost to Live in New Hampshire’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 03870
  • City: Rye
  • Total Income Needed: $152,694

The town of Rye — on the Atlantic near the border with Maine — might have a name that makes you think of Manhattan the drink. However, its cost of living might have some thinking more of Manhattan the borough — New Hampshire residents spend the third-most on groceries and the second-most on utilities.

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The Cost to Live in New Jersey’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 07620
  • City: Alpine
  • Total Income Needed: $499,244

Just across the Hudson River from Yonkers, Alpine doesn’t leave a lot of room for anyone to live there who isn’t making a whole lot of money. It has the third-most expensive average utility costs, the third-highest median home price at just shy of a jaw-dropping $4 million, and the half-million or so in annual salary you need to live there is the third-most in this study.

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The Cost to Live in New Mexico’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 87506
  • City: Santa Fe
  • Total Income Needed: $147,722

Located just north of Santa Fe and east of Los Alamos, you’ll need nearly $150,000 a year to own a home in the 87506 area code. That could be much higher, though. New Mexico actually has the third-lowest grocery costs in the country.

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The Cost to Live in New York’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 11962
  • City: Sagaponack
  • Total Income Needed: $853,738

The most expensive zip code in this study is New York’s Sagaponack near the eastern tip of Long Island. You’ll need better than $850,000 a year in salary to afford life there, driven in no small part by a median home price in excess of $7 million. That would mean that — for a median-priced home with an average mortgage rate — your monthly mortgage bill would be in excess of $33,000 a month.

Save Money: How I Live Comfortably on a Budget in an Expensive City

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The Cost to Live in North Carolina’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 28480
  • City: Wrightsville Beach
  • Total Income Needed: $134,430

The coastal town of Wrightsville Beach is on the Atlantic just east of Wilmington and likely provides many residents with a lovely ocean view. That said, you’ll be paying a pretty penny for it: The median home price is over $750,000, and you should assume that the best beachside property is going for a lot more than that.

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The Cost to Live in North Dakota’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 58503
  • City: Bismark
  • Total Income Needed: $84,332

North Dakota might not exactly scream luxury to some people, but the 58503 area code to the north of Bismark could change that perspective. Still, despite being the priciest place to live in the state, the costs there are much lower than many of the similarly ranked locales in other states. The median home price of $329,900 is the third-lowest in the study, and the under-$85,000 in income needed to live there is the fourth-lowest overall.

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The Cost to Live in Ohio’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 45243
  • City: Madeira
  • Total Income Needed: $120,580

The Cincinnati suburb of Madeira seems like a great place to sit back and enjoy a nice glass of fortified wine. However, that doesn’t mean too many of your neighbors are cooling their heels: Ohio actually has a higher GDP than the nation of Argentina.

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The Cost to Live in Oklahoma’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 73007
  • City: Edmond
  • Total Income Needed: $120,948

Edmond — sitting northeast of Oklahoma City — could be a great solution if you’re looking to live somewhere that’s pricier than its surroundings but still has somewhat reasonable costs. While you will need some $120,948 to live there, very little of that is going to your monthly grocery bill as Oklahoma is one of the states that spend the least on groceries.

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The Cost to Live in Oregon’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 97034
  • City: Lake Oswego
  • Total Income Needed: $164,944

Just south of Portland, the 97034 zip code might be a great place to live if you love water sports and have plenty of disposable income. It contains most of Lake Oswego and is bordered to the east by the Willamette River, so anyone interested in boating or fishing might be more inclined to shell out the $1 million-plus that a median home costs.

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The Cost to Live in Pennsylvania’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 19035
  • City: Lower Merion
  • Total Income Needed: $178,682

The northwest Philadelphia suburb of Lower Merion requires over $175,000 a year in income to afford living there with a median home price in excess of $1 million — making you wonder exactly what it is that’s “lower” about Lower Merion.

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The Cost to Live in Rhode Island’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 02807
  • City: New Shoreham
  • Total Income Needed: $174,444

The 02807 zip code contains the entirety of Block Island in the Atlantic Ocean, which is home to New Shoreham. While you need nearly $175,000 a year to be able to live there, there’s plenty of reason to consider moving there if you have the money to: Rhode Island is one of the best states to be rich.

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The Cost to Live in South Carolina’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 29482
  • City: Sullivan’s Island
  • Total Income Needed: $296,354

Sullivan’s Island is located on the coast to the east of Charleston — right next to the Fort Sumter National Monument — and residents need to earn nearly $300,000 a year to afford living there. The main source of those costs? The median home price of $2.2 million — over $2 million more than the state as a whole.

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The Cost to Live in South Dakota’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 57702
  • City: Rapid City
  • Total Income Needed: $83,064

The 57702 zip code is divided between the western portions of Rapid City and a large chunk of the Black Hills National Forest, so life there can probably involve plenty of outdoor activities if that’s your preference. It’s also among the cheapest places to live, with the second-lowest income needed in this study.

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The Cost to Live in Tennessee’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 37014
  • City: Arrington
  • Total Income Needed: $128,306

The 37014 zip code south of Nashville could be an excellent choice for the wealthy American who’s always on the go: Tennessee has the second-lowest average transportation costs in the country. What’s more, you might be able to find opportunities locally to pad your income by investing in real estate: It’s one of the best states for house flipping in the U.S.

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The Cost to Live in Texas’ Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 75025
  • City: University Park
  • Total Income Needed: $216,244

Located north of Dallas between Lewisville Lake and Lavon Lake, University Park requires an income over $200,000 a year to be able to afford living there and $1.5 million to afford a median-priced home there. While the cost of your home is the major factor driving up costs, you’ll also have to shell out at relatively high rates for healthcare and utilities.

Click to See: The Cheapest Neighborhoods in America’s Most Expensive Areas

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The Cost to Live in Utah’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 84060
  • City: Park City
  • Total Income Needed: $261,382

If you’re looking for a place to live that’s got plenty of options for skiing, Park City might be right for you with a number of resorts in the zip as well as nearby. However, living that close will cost you: You’ll need an income over a quarter-million dollars a year to afford the costs there, including a median home price of almost $2 million.

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The Cost to Live in Vermont’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 05251
  • City: Dorset
  • Total Income Needed: $115,748

The entirety of the 05251 zip code is contained within the Green Mountain and Finger Lake National Forests. And while Vermont might be one of the states where retirement costs the least, the annual cost of just under $60,000 a year for the rest of the state is just about half of the cost to live in Dorset.

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The Cost to Live in Virginia’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 22101
  • City: McLean
  • Total Income Needed: $225,160

Located on the Potomac River, McLean is just northwest of both Arlington and the nation’s capital. And while the income needed to live there is much less than New York’s priciest zip, the $225,160 a year is still likely too much for most people.

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The Cost to Live in Washington’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 98040
  • City: Mercer Island
  • Total Income Needed: $253,880

Mercer Island in Lake Washington isn’t a place to live if you’re short on funds: You’ll need to make more than a quarter-million a year to afford living there, where a median home price is over $1.75 million. You do have one thing over the residents of most of the other most expensive zip codes: Washington is one of just seven states that don’t levy an income tax.

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The Cost to Live in West Virginia’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 26508
  • City: Brookhaven
  • Total Income Needed: $79,786

Brookhaven may be the most expensive place to live in West Virginia, but compared to some of the other areas on this list it’s really pretty reasonable. With a median home price of just $319,000, West Virginia is not only the least expensive zip code in this study, but it’s the only one where you can live comfortably on a salary under $80,000 a year.

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The Cost to Live in Wisconsin’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 53029
  • City: Merton
  • Total Income Needed: $106,064

Merton sits to the west of Milwaukee and has its share of high costs, including a median home price that’s over a half-million dollars. All told, if you’re not making at least six figures, odds are you’re going to have some real trouble affording life there.

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The Cost to Live in Wyoming’s Most Expensive ZIP Code

  • Zip: 82009
  • City: Cheyenne
  • Total Income Needed: $84,958

Cheyenne’s 82009 zip code is the state’s most expensive, but it’s still among the 10 spots on this list where you can make do with less than $100,000 a year. And if you’re looking for somewhere to retire where you can stretch your nest egg, you might be in luck: Wyoming is one of the most tax-friendly states for retirees.

©@GOBankingRates

How the States Compare

It’s notable that the most expensive places to live are frequently outside of city centers. As pricey as it might be in Manhattan, the state’s most expensive zip code (Sagaponack) is actually out on Long Island. Kenilworth, likewise, is well north of Chicago but still costs more than any of the city’s priciest neighborhoods after considering the steep cost of a house there.

Click through to find the ideal salary you need to afford college in your state — without loans.

More on Cost of Living

Methodology: GOBankingRates surveyed monthly living expenses in the most expensive ZIP code in each U.S. state, according to median home values for April 2018, sourced from Zillow. This cost-of-living comparison included the following factors for a single person: (1) housing, based on the average monthly mortgage payment determined from the April 2018 median listing price, 20% down payment and the current average state mortgage rate for 30-year fixed mortgage, sourced from Zillow; (2) groceries, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; (3) utilities, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; (4) transportation costs, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; (5) healthcare expenditures, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Monthly costs were totaled and multiplied by 12 to get the annual dollar cost of necessities in each ZIP code. This dollar amount for necessities was then doubled to find the actual annual income needed to live comfortably in the location, assuming a person follows the 50-30-20 budgeting guideline, which requires an income double the cost of necessities. The amount of money specified for savings is equal to 20 percent of the total income needed, and the amount specified for discretionary spending is equal to 30 percent of the total income needed.