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The 10 Most Expensive Cities in California

California goes by many names—the Golden State, Golden West, the Land of Milk and Honey, the Land of Sunshine and Opportunity, and our personal favorite, the Land Where Stars are Buried.

There’s a bit of a common theme under all these names, and that’s the fact that California is where the “gold” can be found. It shouldn’t surprise anyone to find out that California cities are some of the richest cities in the entire globe. Given that fact, you also shouldn’t be surprised that some California cities are also the most expensive. Here are 10 of the priciest cities in California for 2019.

10. San Diego

If you want to live in San Diego, you better be able to fork out roughly $8k every month for an entire family. San Diego is a gorgeous waterfront city that offers tons of attractions for visitors and residents alike. It’s at the southernmost tip of California, and a quick visit to Mexico is easy to do from here. San Diego has beautiful weather year round, and it isn’t as busy as Los Angeles.

9. Santa Barbara

Quaint and serene, Santa Barbara is probably one of the most relaxing coastal cities in California. It’s completely unassuming. The downtown area is lively during the day, and Stearns Wharf is quite the popular destination for tourists. As simple as life may seem in Santa Barbara, the cost of living here is quite surprising. According to, it’ll cost about $10k a month for a family to survive here. That’s way above the national average. While you can live a lavish lifestyle in Santa Barbara, there are also plenty of low-cost options to keep expenses at a minimum. You just have to look.

8. Los Angeles

LA is a beast. If opportunity is what you’re looking for, you’ll probably find one at every corner here. Of course, opportunity comes at a price; and if you’re looking to settle down in the City of Angels, make sure you can cover for monthly rent of roughly $2100 for a single bedroom space at the city center. That’s just housing for you. If you’re going to buy property here, the stakes change. You’ll be looking at paying more than three times the national average. states that the average home in LA sells for about $688k.

7. Montecito

Right next door to Santa Barbara is Montecito, the place that Oprah calls home. If it’s good enough for Oprah, it’s got to be really great, right? The median home cost in Montecito is just over $3 million. If a studio apartment costs around $1400 in Santa Barbara, it’ll cost about $2100 in Montecito. Even though many of the popular trails were damaged during a landslide recently, Montecito is still great for the adventurer. The views of the mountains and the Pacific are just outstanding. The neighbors are not that bad either.

6. Napa

Wine country is a dream for many. It’s an idyllic place that’s more like vacation, yet some people do call it home. While housing may not cost much at Napa, with the average housing costs at only about $1500 for a family, everything else costs money here. No wonder why many only come here to visit and not to stay. According to a report done by Coloradoan, it costs about $8500 monthly to live in Napa full-time. That’s estimated to be roughly 21.9% more than the national average for living expenses.

5. Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is a sleeper. Many people don’t hear about it often in terms of tourism. When people think of California, most people think of the big cities or the popular coastal destinations. But Santa Cruz happens to be just as gorgeous as any one of these cities. It covers a large area that’s full of lovely attractions, such as the boardwalk, the redwoods, and the beach. Santa Cruz living expenses is estimated to be at roughly 31% above the California average.

4. Oakland

With a median home price of about $743k, Oakland is easily one of the most expensive cities in California. It’s located in the East Bay area, so that’s only to be expected. Oakland is another gorgeous waterfront city, and according to Kiplinger, it also serves as home base for many tech giants. The real estate here is what’s driving the cost of living to the sky.

3. San Jose

Is it surprising that San Jose is this far up the list? It shouldn’t be. There was a time when San Jose was just a budding city, but times have changed. According to Investment Guru, it costs about $1.3 million to buy an average home in the area. We can probably thank all the tech companies that have built up around the area for the increase in real estate costs.

2. Newport Beach

You might think you’ve never heard of Newport Beach, but you actually have. Newport Beach sits on one of the wealthiest counties in all of California—Orange County. In fact, it’s so wealthy that a TV show had to be made about it. At this point, we’ve crossed the million-dollar line when it comes to median home prices. An average home in Newport Beach costs about $2.2 million. Rentals are just as expensive in the area as well. Net salaries are higher in the area, though, so there’s hope of possibly affording to live here.

1. San Francisco

This is probably a given. Most people are familiar with the costs associated with San Francisco. San Francisco is probably one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, and possibly even the world. The city sits on rolling hills and boasts of wonderful architecture and an equally stunning culture. San Francisco has always been expensive.

The cost of living here is estimated to cost at least 60% higher than the national average. Unless you’re bringing in the big bucks, you’d probably be better off living just outside the city to work and play in San Francisco. Otherwise, your life might end up bankrupting you in the end.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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