Southern California is a wonderful place to live and raise a family for several reasons – low crime rates, excellent schools, and a great quality of life. If you like culture, community, beaches, the outdoors, and sunshine, then SoCal is the perfect region for you to relocate.
When contemplating on moving to a different city, state, or even country, one of the major factors that you need to consider is cost of living – how affordable or expensive it is to live in a particular location.
If you are considering relocating to SoCal, we recommend that you check the cost of living in Southern California and compare it with that of your current residence.
Cost of Living Index in Southern California
The cost of living is the amount of money required to cover one’s basic expenses, such as housing, food, taxes, and healthcare, in a particular location and time period. This information is often used to compare the affordability of living in one city compared to another.
A cost-of-living index is particularly helpful if you are considering moving to SoCal and you want to see if living in this region would be beneficial for you given your projected income. This index is based on a national average of 100. So, for example, if the COL index of housing in a given area is 170, then it is 70% higher than the national average.
Below is a table showing the cost of living in Southern California counties and cities to give you an idea how expensive or affordable this location is relative to the rest of the country.
|Cost of Living Indexes||Los Angeles, CA||Long Beach, CA||San Diego, CA||United States|
|Food & Groceries||104.1||101.9||109.7||100|
|Median Home Cost||$883,400||$741,000||$812,100||$291,700|
The Average Cost of Living in Southern California
One of the most common questions from people who are planning to relocate to SoCal is, “Is Southern California expensive?” Well, it depends on which city you’re eyeing to move to. There is a wide spectrum in terms of affordability.
In Los Angeles, for example, the overall cost of living index is 76.2% higher than the national average, but living in El Centro is more affordable, having a cost-of-living index that’s 7.9% lower than the rest of the country.
On average, cost of living in Southern California is affordable. We’ve listed the average price range of some of the basic goods in the region below so you can have a better grasp of how much these items cost.
|Milk (1 liter)||$0.79 - $1.61|
|Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)||$2.19 - $6.61|
|Eggs (regular, 12)||$2.00 - $6.50|
|Rice (white, 1kg)||$2.20 - $10.00|
|Local Cheese (1kg)||$7.00 - $30.86|
|Beef Round Back Leg Red Meat (1kg)||$8.80 - $26.46|
|Apples (1kg)||$1.54 - $6.61|
|Banana (1kg)||$0.97 - $4.39|
|Oranges (1kg)||$1.25 - $6.61|
|Tomato (1kg)||$1.52 - $7.03|
|Potato (1kg)||$1.10 - $5.00|
|Onion (1kg)||$0.86 - $4.39|
|Lettuce (1 head)||$0.99 - $2.99|
|Water (1.5-liter bottle)||$0.99 - $3.29|
|Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)||$8.00 - $25.00|
|Domestic Beer (0.5-liter bottle)||$1.19 - $3.93|
|Imported Beer (0.33-liter bottle)||$1.40 - $5.00|
Photo by Michael Burrows
Another common question is, “How much does it cost to live in Southern California?” In Southern California, the average monthly food and grocery costs are $302.50 per person. The average household of four spends around $1,210 on groceries per month.
Photo by Curtis Adams
Housing is a major component in the cost of living in Southern California and, based on the table presented earlier, it is the highest expense among all the basic needs. The median home value in the major cities in SoCal ranges between $741,000 to $883,400. This range is above the national median, which is $291,700.
Southern California’s average monthly utility costs are $375. This includes:
- Electricity: $117
- Gas: $63
- Cable and internet: $118
- Water: $77
Photo by Gustavo Fring
Southern California’s yearly average transportation costs range between $4,900 to $13,317. 84% of residents drive to work, while only 6% take public transportation. The public transportation system, the Metro, is convenient for those residing near transit lines.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto
The average tuition for an in-state student at a public two-year college in Southern California is $1,270. At a four-year college, the average tuition is $8,192 per year. Private four-year colleges have an average tuition of $37,009.
Out-of-state students, on the other hand, pay higher tuition. The average tuition in a public two-year college is $8,194. For a public four-year university, the average tuition is $32,177 per year. Note that additional fees, such as accommodation and board, are not included in these rates.
Cities in Southern California with Low Cost of Living
If the cost of living in major cities in SoCal are a bit too much for you, here are some great neighborhoods that are more affordable.
El Centro is the county seat of Imperial County and is known for its natural attractions, such as canyons, mountains, mud volcanoes, and vast tracts of desert. The average household income in this city is $67,324.
The cost-of-living index in El Centro is 92.1, 7.9% cheaper than the rest of the country. This is the lowest cost of living in Southern California. The median home value in El Centro is $270,587, and the average monthly apartment rent is $1,281.
Bakersfield is a suburban community supported by agriculture and the oil industry. The average annual household income of Bakersfield residents is $68,268. The median home cost is $285,000, and the average monthly apartment rent is $1,073.
This is one of the cheap cost of living cities to live in Southern California. The overall cost-of-living index is 97, 3% cheaper than the rest of the country.
Redlands is known for its beautifully preserved historic buildings that date back to the 1800s.
The overall cost-of-living index in Redlands is 122.6. The median home cost here is $350,900, and the average monthly apartment rent is $$1,213.
Oxnard is a beach city that boasts 20 miles of beaches, offering locals and visitors amazing activities like kayaking, surfing, and whale watching. The average household income in this city is $88,891.
Oxnard’s overall cost-of-living index is 139.6 and is considered as one of the cheapest places to live in Southern California near the beach. The median home cost here is $554,471, and the average monthly apartment rent is $2,098.
Rancho Cucamonga is nestled in the foothills of the mountains, halfway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. The average household income in this city is $108,525.
The overall cost-of-living index in Rancho Cucamonga is 137.8. The median home cost here is $614,671, and the average monthly apartment rent is $2,113.
Living in Southern California is a dream for many, a dream that I can help you achieve! Whatever your budget is, I’ll make sure you get your dream home. Call me today at (213) 453-2572 and let’s start planning.
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends on the county. In Los Angeles County, the average rent is $2,073; in the Orange County, $2,439; and in San Diego County, $2,144.
The average monthly food and grocery costs in Southern California are $302.50 per person.
Southern California’s yearly average transportation costs range between $4,900 to $13,317.