Top 10 Most Expensive Cities To Own a Car in (2023) – MarketWatch

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Many of the top 10 most expensive cities to own a car have high population density, which leads to increased costs for car insurance, parking and gas
If you’re thinking about moving to a new city, transportation is one of the costs you’ll likely need to weigh. Though many larger cities — and a number of smaller and medium ones — have great public transportation systems, you may not want to give your car up.
We at the Guides Auto team put together a list of the 10 most expensive cities to own a car. Whether you’re deciding where to move or simply want to know how much people are paying in other parts of the country, this guide will explain what makes car ownership expensive in some U.S. cities.
The MarketWatch Guides Team is committed to providing reliable information to help you make the best decision possible about insuring your vehicle. Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. After 800 hours of research, the end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.
Learn more about our methodology and editorial guidelines.
There are many reasons why a city may be an expensive place to own a car. In general, major cities tend to have a higher cost of living. So auto repairs, medical expenses, tolls and parking all cost more than in less populous areas. The most common factor for cities known to be expensive for car ownership is high population density.
Jonathan Merry, co-founder and strategy director of the company behind Moneyzine, describes how population density affects the cost of owning a car. “Cities with high population density often have limited space for parking, high volumes of traffic and high risks of accidents, which can drive up the cost of car ownership,” he says.
Because of these elements of high-density living, Merry says, drivers “can expect to pay higher parking fees, congestion fees and insurance rates, and may also experience more wear and tear on their vehicles due to frequent stop-and-go traffic.”
The types and amounts of car insurance a state requires greatly affect the cost of owning a car there. More than a dozen states only make some form of liability coverage mandatory.
But seven out of 10 cities on our list are in states that require additional types of auto insurance, such as personal injury protection (PIP). As a result, these states have some of the highest average costs for minimum coverage.
The table below lists the minimum-coverage requirements for the states featured in this guide, along with where they rank for average annual costs.
Average Annual Cost of Minimum Coverage
Minimum Car Insurance Requirements
Featured Cities
$1,604 (No. 1)
$1,503 (No. 2)
New York
$1,472 (No. 3)
New York
$1,343 (No. 4)
Miami, Tampa and Miami Beach
$932 (No. 9)
New Orleans
$873 (No. 10)
$627 (No. 19)
Los Angeles and San Francisco
The metric we weighed most heavily in selecting these cities was the cost of car insurance, so they’re listed in order of most expensive coverage to least expensive. According to Quadrant Information Services, the national average for a full-coverage policy is $1,730 per year, while state-minimum liability insurance costs an average of $635 per year.
If you drive in any of the cities below, you can expect to pay well above average for coverage. To get average insurance premiums, we looked at 10 of the top providers in each city. We used the profile of a married 35-year-old driver with a clean driving record and good credit.
We also looked at the monthly or hourly cost of parking using SpotHero in each city, as well as average gas prices from AAA. Parking costs tend to have a wide range. But aside from Los Angeles and San Francisco, gas prices tend to hover around or slightly below the national average, which was $3.44 per gallon for regular at the time of publication.
Population figures are from U.S. Census estimates as of July 1, 2021. An interesting thing to note about the cities on this list is that most of them aren’t among the most populous in the country. In some cases, they aren’t even the biggest cities in their state. Car insurance usually costs more in cities with more extreme weather or higher rates of property crime.U.S. map that labels the 10 most expensive cities to own cars, along with ranges of the average cost of full-coverage car insurance in each state Based on our research, the Motor City’s average rates for full coverage put it at No. 10 for the most expensive car insurance rates in the country. This is due in part to Michigan being the costliest state for both minimum- and full-coverage auto insurance.
It’s also because Detroit faces extreme weather and high levels of property crime. The city has harsh winters, which can lead to collisions when roads are slick and leave roads in disrepair. And according to police statistics reported by a local TV station, car thefts rose by 45% from 2021 to 2022.
New York is the largest city in the country and consistently ranks as one of (if not the most) expensive U.S. cities in general. It makes sense that keeping a car in the Big Apple would be pricey.
New York City is large and dense, and finding parking is generally tough unless you live on the edges of some outer boroughs. But these neighborhoods tend to have higher rates of car theft, according to the New York Police Department. The agency’s complaint data shows auto thefts rose by 32% between 2021 and 2022.
Bridgeport is a midsize city, so it may seem surprising that it’s one of the 10 most expensive cities to own a car. However, Connecticut has an affluent population and plenty of upscale vehicles. Its median household income is 21% higher than the U.S. median, and car-buying website iSeeCars reports that nearly 25% of the state’s auto sales are for luxury vehicles.
Connecticut drivers pay some of the country’s highest taxes for car sales: 6.35% for purchases under $50,000 and 7.75% for purchases above that amount. And many of Bridgeport’s residents commute to New York for work, which adds up to a lot of driving for people who opt not to take trains.
Like Michigan, Florida is one of the most expensive states for car insurance — it’s No. 3 for full coverage and No. 4 for minimum coverage. Miami is the second most populous city in Florida, and it sits in Miami-Dade County, one of the most expensive places in the Sunshine State.
Miami is known to have very bad traffic, expensive parking, high rates of car theft and limited public transportation. There’s also Florida’s hot weather, which can damage vehicle parts like batteries and tires. All of this adds up to make Miami an expensive place to own a car.
When researching the most expensive states for car insurance, we found Louisiana to be the fifth most expensive state for full coverage. Among the factors that contribute to its high cost of car insurance coverage are its number of uninsured drivers and the hurricanes and flooding the state experiences. 
While Louisiana has passed legislation to try to combat auto lawsuit abuse, cases related to car accidents have helped make insurance premiums high. In New Orleans, the rate of car thefts has skyrocketed in recent years, increasing by about 35% in 2022 compared to 2021.
Tampa, situated on Florida’s west coast, gives Miami a run for its money when it comes to the expense of owning a car. Florida has more thunderstorms per year than anywhere else in the U.S., according to the National Weather Service. These storms and the hurricanes that blow through the Gulf of Mexico make Tampa vulnerable to flooding, which can total a car in many cases.
More than 20% of Florida drivers were uninsured in 2019, according to the most recent data from the Insurance Research Council. So a good number of Floridians could be stuck with out-of-pocket costs after car accidents even if they aren’t at fault.
Miami Beach is a small island city connected to mainland Miami via bridges. It’s only about 7 square miles in size, and it’s densely built up. This means parking is at a premium.
Like its mainland counterpart, Miami Beach is highly susceptible to hurricanes. Most of the city lies in or near areas the Federal Emergency Management Agency considers high risk for flooding. High water can easily damage a vehicle’s components, leaving the owner to pay the repair bills or risk a rate hike for filing an insurance claim.
Boston, the most populous city in Massachusetts, often finds itself on lists of the most expensive American cities. The high cost of living in Boston means auto repair costs are higher than in other parts of the country. It’s an old and densely populated city, so space — especially for parking — can be hard to come by.
Boston doesn’t have a significantly high rate of car theft, as it comes in at No. 11 in the state based on data from the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy. But Massachusetts’ Division of Insurance reports that the state has some of the highest numbers of property damage and bodily injury claims per vehicle in the country. That leads insurers to charge more for coverage.
Los Angeles is a city made for driving. With 23,000 lane miles of road, L.A. has the largest street system in the nation. It’s densely populated and has tons of cars, so its drivers endure some of the worst traffic in North America.
The City of Angels also has a very high rate of car theft, which its police department says accounts for about 18% of the crime there. AAA data shows California routinely has the most expensive gas in the nation, second only to Hawaii. If you drive a car in L.A., you likely have to budget a hefty amount for it.
San Francisco is another place that’s frequently on lists of the most expensive cities in the U.S. For drivers who live there, this includes higher gas, parking and car insurance costs than much of the country sees.
Covering about one-tenth the amount of land L.A. does, San Francisco has limited — and expensive — parking spots. Adding to the cost of car ownership in the city is the fact that the San Francisco Bay area accounted for about 18% of California’s auto thefts in 2021. With high rates of car theft come rising car insurance premiums.
Many factors can make a city an expensive place to live and drive, but the cost of car insurance is one of the most important. Though property crime is generally on the decline nationwide, some cities still have high rates of auto theft. Car insurance providers take this into account when calculating premiums, which makes cities with higher rates of property crime more expensive places to own vehicles.
In addition, American cities are generally much more densely populated than suburban and rural areas, which makes the cost of gas and parking more considerable.
According to our research on data such as auto insurance premiums, vehicle theft and the costs of gas and parking, these are the 10 most expensive cities to own a car in:
Based on average car insurance costs, Michigan, Connecticut and New York are the three most expensive states to own a car in. Drivers in these states typically pay well above the national averages for both minimum- and full-coverage insurance.
The biggest reason it costs more to own a car in some places is that location influences the price of auto insurance. Areas with more vehicle theft, accidents or insurance claims tend to have higher premiums. Other factors that affect the cost of owning a car include differences in gas prices, the availability of parking and the overall cost of living.
*Parking costs and average gas prices as of 3/22/23
**Data accurate at time of publication
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