A recent Wall Street Journal blog post debunked the myth that Washington, D.C. is more expensive than New York.

Near the end of the article, the author includes a graph of the U.S. cities with the highest cost of living: Manhattan, Honolulu, Brooklyn, San Francisco and Hilo.

Hilo, really? Talk about burying the real news.

I had my doubts. After all, the median home value in the Big Island town was only $313,200 in 2012 according to the U.S. Census American Community Survey.

Downtown Hilo

Downtown Hilo

Courtesy of Alan L. via Flickr

And data from the real estate websites Zillow and Trulia also indicate that home values in Hilo are remain much lower than other parts of Hawaii. For example, Zillow says that the median price of a home in Hilo is $307,700, far less than on Maui where it’s $527,200 and Honolulu where it’s $576,000.

But the cost of living isn’t just about housing.

The WSJ’s rankings came from the Council for Community and Economic Research, which determines an area’s cost of living by comparing the cost of goods and services in six categories: “grocery items, housing, utilities, transportation, health care, and miscellaneous goods and services.”

The cost of utilities on the Big Island is way higher than on Oahu. For example, the average residential rate was 34.62 cents per kilowatt hour on Oahu, compared with 42.17 in Hawaii County.

The price of gas on the Big Island is also slightly more expensive than on Oahu, according to AAA Hawaii’s daily fuel gauge report.

And as Hawaii Public Radio’s Molly Solomon reminded me on Twitter, Hilo ranked 5th on a recent NerdWallet analysis of the most expensive places to raise kids.

Another point worth noting: It appears that Hilo and Honolulu are the only counties or cities from Hawaii that the Council for Community and Economic Research analyzed — at least, they’re the only two you can pay to compare on the organization’s website.

What else do you think may be contributing to the high cost of living in Hilo? Do you think there are other parts of Hawaii that are more expensive? Does the town deserve its spot as the fifth most expensive city in the nation?

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