Are you considering moving to California? The Golden State is known for its beautiful beaches, diverse culture, and thriving job market. However, before packing your bags and heading west, it’s important to understand the cost of living in California. With some of the highest housing and transportation costs in the country, it’s crucial to budget accordingly and plan ahead.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the expenses you can expect to encounter while living in California. .

Is Living in California Still Worth It in 2022??

Average Rent Prices in Major Cities

When it comes to housing costs in California, rent prices vary greatly depending on the city. According to a recent report by Apartment List, San Francisco has the highest average rent price at $2,440 for a one-bedroom apartment. Los Angeles follows closely behind with an average of $1,360 for a one-bedroom apartment. Other major cities such as San Diego and Sacramento have lower average rent prices at $1,570 and $1,230 respectively.

Comparison of Rent Prices to National Average

Compared to the national average of $1,097 for a one-bedroom apartment, California’s major cities have significantly higher rent prices. In fact, San Francisco’s average rent price is more than double the national average. Los Angeles’ average rent price is also well above the national average.

Homeownership Costs and Trends

While renting may be more affordable for some individuals in California, homeownership is still a popular option. However, it comes with its own set of costs. The median home value in California is currently around $550,800 according to Zillow. This can make it difficult for many individuals to afford a home in certain areas.

In addition to high home values, property taxes in California are also relatively high compared to other states. Homeowners can expect to pay around 0. 77% of their home’s value annually in property taxes.

Average Rent Price (One-Bedroom Apartment) National Average Rent Price (One-Bedroom Apartment) Median Home Value Property Tax Rate
San Francisco $2,440 $1,097 $1,378,900 0. 62%
Los Angeles $1,360 $1,097 $752,500 0. 73%
San Diego $1,570 $1,097 $748,200 0. 55%
Sources: Apartment List and Zillow (as of August 2021)

Please note: – California is known for having one of the highest costs of living in the United States.

Transportation Costs

When it comes to transportation costs in California, there are a few things to consider. For those who own a car, the cost of owning and maintaining a vehicle can be quite high. This includes expenses such as car payments, insurance, registration fees, and maintenance costs.

However, California also has a variety of public transportation options available that can help reduce costs for those who don’t want to own a car or prefer not to drive. These options include buses, trains, and light rail systems that operate throughout the state.

Public Transportation Options and Costs

The cost of using public transportation in California varies depending on the specific system and location. In general, fares for buses and trains range from $1. 75 to $3 per ride. Many systems also offer discounted fares for seniors, students, and people with disabilities.

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In addition to traditional public transportation options, California also has several ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft that can be more affordable than owning a car or taking taxis.

Gas Prices and How They Compare to Other States

Gas prices in California tend to be higher than in other states due to taxes and regulations aimed at reducing air pollution. As of August 2021, the average price for a gallon of regular gas in California was $4. 39 compared to the national average of $3. 14 per gallon.

Average Gas Price (per gallon)
California $4. 39
Texas $2. 81
New York $3. 17

Despite the higher gas prices, it’s important to note that California has made significant progress in reducing air pollution and promoting alternative forms of transportation. This includes incentives for electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as investments in public transportation infrastructure.

Cost of Owning a Car in California

For those who choose to own a car in California, there are several expenses to consider beyond just the cost of the vehicle itself. These include:

  • Car payments or lease payments
  • Insurance premiums
  • Registration fees
  • Maintenance costs (oil changes, tire rotations, etc. )
  • Parking fees (especially in urban areas)

In addition to these expenses, it’s important to factor in the cost of gas when budgeting for car ownership in California.

Please note: – The cost of housing in California is particularly high, with the median home price being over $600,000.

Food Costs

As we all know, food is a basic necessity of life. However, the cost of food can vary greatly depending on where you live. In California, grocery store prices are generally higher than the national average. According to a recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cost of groceries for a family of four in California is around $1,200 per month.

California National Average
Grocery Store Prices $1,200/month for a family of four $1,000/month for a family of four

In addition to grocery store prices, eating out costs in major cities can also be quite high. For example, in San Francisco, the average cost of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant is around $15 per person. If you’re looking for something more upscale, you could easily spend $50 or more per person.

  • Inexpensive Restaurant Meal: $15/person (San Francisco)
  • Upscale Restaurant Meal: $50+/person (San Francisco)

Trends in food prices over time have shown that they tend to rise gradually each year. This can be due to various factors such as inflation and changes in supply and demand. It’s important to keep this in mind when budgeting for your monthly expenses.

To save money on food costs in California, consider shopping at discount grocery stores or buying generic brands instead of name brands. You can also save money by cooking meals at home instead of eating out frequently.

Please note: – In addition to housing, other expenses such as food, transportation, and healthcare are also more expensive in California compared to other states.

Healthcare Costs

When it comes to healthcare costs in California, there are a few things you need to know. First and foremost, health insurance options and costs can vary widely depending on your location, age, and other factors. The good news is that under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, most Californians are required to have health insurance or pay a penalty.

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This means that there are a variety of options available for those who need coverage. In terms of costs, the average monthly premium for an individual health insurance plan in California is around $500. However, this can vary widely depending on your income level and other factors. It’s important to shop around and compare plans before making a decision.

In addition to monthly premiums, there are also out-of-pocket expenses for medical care to consider. These can include deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. In California, the average deductible for an individual health insurance plan is around $4,000 per year. When compared to other states, healthcare costs in California tend to be higher than average.

For example, according to a recent study by the Commonwealth Fund, California ranks 21st out of 50 states in terms of overall healthcare affordability. To help manage healthcare costs in California, it’s important to take advantage of any cost-saving measures available to you. This could include choosing a high-deductible health plan with a Health Savings Account (HSA), which allows you to save pre-tax dollars for medical expenses.

You may also be eligible for financial assistance through Covered California if you meet certain income requirements. Overall, while healthcare costs in California can be high compared to other states, there are options available for those who need coverage. By doing your research and taking advantage of cost-saving measures where possible, you can help manage your healthcare expenses while living in the Golden State.

Please note: – Despite the high cost of living, California remains a popular destination for people seeking job opportunities and a desirable lifestyle.

Utilities Costs

When it comes to utilities costs, California is known for being on the higher end compared to other states. The average monthly utility bill for a household in California is around $500, which is about 30% higher than the national average.


The cost of electricity in California varies depending on the provider and location. On average, Californians pay around 19 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is significantly higher than the national average of 13 cents per kWh. This can be attributed to the state’s high renewable energy standards and investments in clean energy sources.

California National Average
Cost per kWh $0. 19 $0. 13
Average Monthly Bill $120 $111


The cost of natural gas in California is also higher than the national average, with an average price of $1. 20 per therm compared to the national average of $1. 05 per therm. However, due to California’s mild climate, many households do not use gas for heating as often as other states.

California National Average
Cost per Therm $1. 20 $1. 05
Average Monthly Bill $40 $50


The cost of water in California varies depending on the location and provider. On average, Californians pay around $70 per month for water, which is higher than the national average of $40 per month. This can be attributed to the state’s ongoing drought conditions and investments in water conservation efforts.

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California National Average
Average Monthly Bill $70 $40

Please note: – Some areas within California, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, have even higher costs of living than the state average due to their popularity and demand.

State Income Tax Rates and Comparison to Other States

California has a progressive state income tax system, which means that the more money you earn, the higher percentage of your income you will pay in taxes. The state income tax rates range from 1% to 13. 3%, with the highest rate being one of the highest in the country. However, it’s important to note that California also has a relatively high standard deduction and personal exemption, which can help reduce your taxable income.

When compared to other states, California’s state income tax rates are among the highest in the nation. However, it’s worth noting that some states don’t have any state income tax at all. For example, Texas and Florida have no state income tax, while Tennessee only taxes interest and dividend income.

Sales Tax Rates and Variations by City/County

In addition to state income tax, California also has a sales tax that varies by city and county. The statewide sales tax rate is currently 7. 25%, but individual cities and counties can add their own additional sales taxes on top of that. This means that depending on where you live or shop in California, you may be paying anywhere from 7. 25% to over 10% in sales tax.

For example, Los Angeles County currently has a total sales tax rate of 9. 5%, while San Francisco County has a total sales tax rate of 8. 5%. It’s important to keep these variations in mind when budgeting for purchases or planning where to shop.

Other Expenses such as Childcare, Education, and Entertainment

Aside from taxes, there are many other expenses to consider when living in California. Childcare costs can be particularly high in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, with average daycare costs ranging from $1,000-$2,000 per month. Private school tuition can also be expensive, with some schools costing upwards of $30,000 per year. On the other hand, California offers many opportunities for entertainment and cultural experiences.

From world-class museums to beautiful beaches and national parks, there’s always something to do in California. However, it’s important to budget accordingly for these activities as well. Overall, while living in California can be expensive, there are ways to manage costs and still enjoy all that the state has to offer. By understanding the various taxes and expenses associated with living in California, you can make informed decisions about your finances and plan accordingly.

State State Income Tax Rate
California 1% – 13. 3%
Texas No State Income Tax
Florida No State Income Tax
Tennessee Taxes Interest and Dividend Income Only


County/City Total Sales Tax Rate (%)
Los Angeles County:
Beverly Hills: 10. 25%
Culver City: 10. 25%





10. 25%



Los Angeles:


9. 5%


Santa Monica:


10. 25%

San Francisco County:<tSan Francisco:


8. 5%