What Does It Really Cost to Live in Southern California?

bigstock-Couple-Relaxing-At-Home-3544907Southern California, especially Los Angeles, is one of those places people are drawn to. With the city always alive and just minutes from the beach, how could you not love Southern California? But if you’re thinking of moving to the area, you might be wondering how much it is going to cost. After all, you have probably heard Los Angeles and surrounding areas are notorious for a higher cost of living.

Calculating the Cost

It is hard to just generalize Los Angeles. There are multiple neighborhoods in this vast city that vary greatly when it comes to cost of living. Santa Monica, for example, will cost more than Silver Lake. The cost is not the only diverse thing you will find in these areas. The culture, caliber of stores and just the atmospheres vary greatly from every region.

The closer to the coast you are, the more you are going to pay. Santa Monica, for example, can cost up to $1,000 more per month for a similar sized apartment in Studio City. This is because the coastal areas are considered luxury areas. This is where the million dollar beach front properties are located and where the movie stars live too. So if you want to be close to the beaches, you will have to be prepared to pay a little more for the luxury.

You can browse apartments in multiple areas and get a median range. Then compare them to other areas of Los Angeles. The biggest price difference will be your rent. Utilities are about the same regardless of where you are living. The closer to the dessert you are, the higher you will pay in air conditioning costs, but the rates are somewhat close to one another.

Food and Dining

Restaurants will vary in price as well. Downtown Los Angeles has an eclectic mix of eateries — ranging from a few bucks per plate up to $20 or more per plate. Restaurants along the coast also have their range, but they are comparable to those located in downtown.

When it comes to grocery shopping you will find the prices in California higher for things like dairy and grains. Dairy milk can cost as much as $4.50 per gallon, while other states have milk as low as $1.89. But, one thing that you will save on is produce. California produce is exceptionally well-priced and fresh. The produce you get in California is often local, which means it will last a week or more — where in other states you’re lucky to get a couple days out of produce. Also, you pay pennies on the dollar for produce in California versus other states. Utah, for example, charges $1 per avocado on average year-round, while Californians can get five to 10 avocados for just $1.

It’s important to compare the cost of living when moving to a new region, but don’t let it dissuade you from moving there. Often where there is a higher cost of living there is also a higher pay rate. Most Californians get by just fine making $20 to $30 per hour for jobs that receive $10 to $15 per hour in other states.

Feb 2014