You might not be surprised to learn that San Diego has been named the most expensive place to live in the United States, according to a U.S. News & World Report ranking for 2023-2024.
San Diego has always been an expensive city, but it just recently became officially the most expensive, according to the city’s median gross rent and annual housing costs for mortgage-paying homeowners which is the data that was used to determine its unaffordability.
Another piece of news that also doesn’t come as a shock is that Los Angeles came in second place.
San Diego’s median home price surpassed $1 million for the first time in August, which is nearly $650,000 more than the national average, according to some estimates. Additionally, San Diego residents have to pay for additional fees, such as homeowners association dues or apartment complex maintenance costs, which contribute to the city’s unaffordability.
Los Angeles County also experienced a record-breaking median home price of over $900,000 in September.
Despite the high cost of living, many San Diego residents are willing to pay elevated prices due to other aspects of the region that make it an ideal place to live. Some San Diegans refer to the cost-of-living differences as a “sunshine tax.”
The inflation rate nationwide remains a persistent problem for federal officials, and San Diego residents seem to have been feeling it even more. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that San Diego exceeded the year-to-year national rate of inflation, which was around 3.7% in September. Over the last 12 months, prices in the San Diego area advanced about 4.7% overall.
Components contributing to the increase included shelter, which was up 8.4 percent during that period.
Housing costs have been one of the most pressing issues facing elected officials, with prices skyrocketing for both buyers and renters due to a continued lack of available units to meet the demand in the region. Rent has risen in the region by about 8.8% between September 2022 and September 2023, while the average price for a single-family home has risen by about 10.1% during that time.
In addition to housing costs, San Diego residents have also experienced significant increases in electricity costs, which have jumped by about 16.2% over the last year. Dining out, gasoline, medical care, and alcoholic beverages have also seen increases of 5.8%, 5%, 2.5%, and 2.1%, respectively.
However, some price categories have seen a decrease over the last year, including utility gas services (-11.4%), used vehicles (-7.7%), fruits and vegetables (-5.8%), “durable” items purchased by consumers (-3%), and products in the meat, poultry, fish, and eggs food group (-2.7%).
Overall, the inflation rate in the region has fallen compared to the past two years. In September 2022, the annual inflation rate was estimated to be about 8.5%, while the year prior, the rate was estimated to be about 6.5%.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the top 5 most expensive cities to live in Southern California?
According to recent research, the top 5 most expensive cities to live in Southern California are Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, and Newport Beach. These cities are known for their high-end real estate and luxurious lifestyle.
How does the cost of living in Southern California compare to the rest of the country?
The cost of living in Southern California is significantly higher than the national average. The high cost of living is primarily due to the expensive real estate market, high taxes, and high demand for goods and services.
What factors contribute to the high cost of living in Southern California?
Several factors contribute to the high cost of living in Southern California, including the high demand for real estate, high taxes, high labor costs, and the high cost of goods and services. Additionally, the region’s desirable location and favorable climate make it a popular destination for tourists and new residents, further driving up prices.
Are there any affordable cities to live in Southern California?
While Southern California is known for its expensive real estate market, there are still some affordable cities to live in the region. Some of the more affordable cities include Riverside, San Bernardino, and Lancaster. However, it’s important to note that even in these more affordable cities, the cost of living is still higher than the national average.
What are the average housing prices in the most expensive cities in Southern California?
The average housing prices in the most expensive cities in Southern California are significantly higher than the national average. For example, in Santa Monica, the median home price is $3,750,000, while in Beverly Hills, the median home price is $3,500,000. In Malibu, the median home price is $2,600,000, while in Manhattan Beach, the median home price is $2,500,000. In Newport Beach, the median home price is $2,400,000.
What are the job prospects like in the most expensive cities in Southern California?
The most expensive cities in Southern California are known for their high-end industries, such as entertainment, technology, and finance. As a result, there are many job opportunities available in these cities, particularly in these industries. However, due to the high cost of living, the competition for these jobs can be fierce, and it can be challenging to make ends meet even with a high-paying job.
» Looking for more inspiration along the route? Check out all our guides to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Diego. Find the best beaches in Monterey, waterfalls in Southern California, and national parks.
Laura is a travel fanatic who loves seeing and doing new things. She lives in Ventura, CA, and spends a lot of time exploring California’s cities, beaches, and national parks.