Most Expensive Places To Live In California For 2020


We used science and data to determine which cities in California that will put a big dent in your wallet.

Editor’s Note: We updated this article for 2020. This is our sixth time ranking the most expensive places to live in California.

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Beverly Hills, Santa Barbara, and Glendale all moved up HomeSnacks list of the top ten most expensive places to live in California for 2020; and surprisingly, none of these places hold the number one spot. So, the million dollar question, what California place earned this title? HomeSnacks knows and we've listed it below.

But, before you click that down arrow, you should probably know how we calculated this list. Yes, in order to determine the top ten most expensive places in California, we looked at the American Community Survey for data on cost of living in The Golden State: specifically, home to income ratio and rent to income ratio. And, folks, if you want to live in California's most expensive places, you're going to have to make at least $52,740/year. And if you want to live in the number one most expensive place, you might want to think about renting before you buy because its median home price is off the charts.

But, it's worth it. Many of the most expensive places on this list are some of Califonia's best places and that's because these places have the funds to keep its residents happy, safe, and living their best life.

To see a list of the California places where the boulevards are paved in gold and you have to make Mark Zuckerberg's salary to survive, keep reading.

What's the most expensive place to live in California? Well, HomeSnacks crunched the numbers and discovered that Coronado is the most expensive place to live in California.

So hopefully Coalinga (the cheapest place to live in California) can show these guys how to live on a budget in the coming years. Read on for how these places had costs rise faster than inflation.

And if you already knew these places were expensive, check out some more reading about California and the most expensive cities in the country:

The 10 Most Expensive Places To Live In California For 2020

Coronado, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 23,620
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 15.1x (2nd most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 42.3x (62nd most expensive)
More on Coronado: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Coronado is a resort city located in San Diego County, California, across the San Diego Bay from downtown San Diego. It was founded in the 1880s. Its population was 24,697 at the 2010 census, up from 24,100 at the 2000 census.

The median income in Coronado comes in at $101,520 and the median home value is $1,537,000 for 2020.

Santa Cruz, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 64,273
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 11.5x (19th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 39.0x (30th most expensive)
More on Santa Cruz: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Santa Cruz is the county seat and largest city of Santa Cruz County, California. As of 2013 the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Santa Cruz's population at 62,864.

The median income in Santa Cruz comes in at $70,102 and the median home value is $803,800 for 2020.

Santa Barbara, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 91,325
Rank Last Year: 4 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 13.3x (8th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 43.1x (76th most expensive)
More on Santa Barbara: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County in the U.S. state of California. Situated on a south-facing section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Santa Barbara's climate is often described as Mediterranean, and the city has been promoted as the "American Riviera". As of 2014, the city had an estimated population of 91,196, up from 88,410 in 2010, making it the second most populous city in the county after Santa Maria while the contiguous urban area, which includes the cities of Goleta and Carpinteria, along with the unincorporated regions of Isla Vista, Montecito, Mission Canyon, Hope Ranch, Summerland, and others, has an approximate population of 220,000. The population of the entire county in 2010 was 423,895.

The median income in Santa Barbara comes in at $74,798 and the median home value is $993,600 for 2020.

San Marino, CA

Overall SnackAbility

10
/10

Population: 13,285
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 11.8x (14th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 45.6x (123rd most expensive)
More on San Marino: Real Estate | Data | Photos

San Marino is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Incorporated on April 12, 1913, the city was designed by its founders to be uniquely residential, with expansive properties surrounded by beautiful gardens, wide streets, and well maintained parkways. The city is located in the San Rafael Hills. The population was 13,147 at the 2010 census.

The median income in San Marino comes in at $159,509 and the median home value is $1,886,000 for 2020.

East Palo Alto, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 29,633
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 4)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 10.9x (24th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 38.5x (23rd most expensive)
More on East Palo Alto: Real Estate | Data | Photos

East Palo Alto is a city in San Mateo County, California, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of East Palo Alto was 28,155. It is situated on the San Francisco Peninsula, roughly halfway between the cities of San Francisco and San Jose. To the north and east is the San Francisco Bay, to the west is the city of Menlo Park, and to the south the city of Palo Alto. Despite being called "East" Palo Alto, this is a misnomer, as the city is precisely due north of Palo Alto. While often incorrectly assumed to be part of the city of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto has always been a separate entity since its founding as an unincorporated community. It is also in San Mateo County, while Palo Alto is in Santa Clara County. The two cities are separated only by San Francisquito Creek and, largely, the Bayshore Freeway. The revitalization projects in 2000, and high income high-tech professionals moving into new developments, including employees from Google and Facebook, have begun to eliminate the cultural and economic differences between the two cities. East Palo Alto and Palo Alto share both telephone area codes and postal ZIP codes.

The median income in East Palo Alto comes in at $64,794 and the median home value is $704,500 for 2020.

Glendale, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

7
/10

Population: 200,372
Rank Last Year: 7 (Up 1)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 11.6x (18th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 40.9x (49th most expensive)
More on Glendale: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Glendale is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. Its estimated 2014 population was 200,167, making it the third largest city in Los Angeles County and the 23rd-largest city in California. It is located about 8 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

The median income in Glendale comes in at $62,531 and the median home value is $724,800 for 2020.

San Luis Obispo, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 47,160
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 11.7x (15th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 36.1x (11th most expensive)
More on San Luis Obispo: Real Estate | Data | Photos

San Luis Obispo, or SLO for short, is a city in the U.S. state of California, located roughly midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on the Central Coast. The population was 45,119 at the 2010 census. The population of San Luis Obispo County was 269,637 in 2010.

The median income in San Luis Obispo comes in at $52,740 and the median home value is $617,200 for 2020.

Rolling Hills Estates, CA

Overall SnackAbility

9.5
/10

Population: 8,187
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 8.5x (85th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 42.5x (68th most expensive)
More on Rolling Hills Estates: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Rolling Hills Estates is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States. The population was 8,067 at the 2010 census, up from 7,676 at the 2000 census.

The median income in Rolling Hills Estates comes in at $143,873 and the median home value is $1,229,300 for 2020.

San Gabriel, CA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

8
/10

Population: 40,242
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 11.4x (20th most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 40.6x (46th most expensive)
More on San Gabriel: Real Estate | Data | Photos

San Gabriel is a city in Los Angeles County, California. It is named after the Mission San Gabriel Arcngel, founded by Junpero Serra. The city grew outward from the mission and in 1852 became the original township of Los Angeles County. San Gabriel was incorporated in 1913. The city's motto is "A city with a Mission" and it is often called the "Birthplace" of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. At the 2010 census, the population was 39,718.

The median income in San Gabriel comes in at $57,863 and the median home value is $659,500 for 2020.

Beverly Hills, CA

Overall SnackAbility

8.5
/10

Population: 34,362
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 9)
Home Price To Income Ratio: 19.3x (1st most expensive)
Income To Rent Ratio: 48.5x (183rd most expensive)
More on Beverly Hills: Real Estate | Data | Photos

Beverly Hills is a city in Los Angeles County, California, United States, surrounded by the cities of Los Angeles and West Hollywood. Originally a Spanish ranch where lima beans were grown, Beverly Hills was incorporated in 1914 by a group of investors who had failed to find oil, but found water instead and eventually decided to develop it into a town. By 2013, its population had grown to 34,658. Sometimes referred to as "90210", one of its primary ZIP codes, it was home to many actors and celebrities throughout the 20th century. The city includes the Rodeo Drive shopping district and the Beverly Hills Oil Field.

The median income in Beverly Hills comes in at $103,403 and the median home value is $2,000,001 for 2020.

How We Determined The Most Expensive Places To Live In The Golden State For 2020

Map Of The Cheapest Places To Live In California
The two most important things to think about when it comes to being able to afford if you can live comes down to:

  1. How much do money do I make?
  2. How much do I have spend to live there?

You need to understand your costs in the context of how much money you make.

For example, if the median household earns $100,000 and spends $40,000 on housing it's actually cheaper to live there than a place with a median income of $50,000 and housing costs of $21,000. You might spend more on housing, but you have more money overall to play with.

With that example in mind, we derived several statistics from the latest Census American Community Survey 2014-2018 around incomes and costs. They are:

  • Median Home Price / Median Income (lower is better)
  • Median Income / Median Rent (Higher is better)
  • Median Home Price

We added simply median home price because high home prices generally correlate with higher expenses for all costs related to homes (heating, electricity, etc).

You can then compare these metrics in each of the places in California to figure out which is the most expensive.

What you are left with is a "Cost of Living Index" by taking the average rank of each of these metrics for each city.

So we used that cost of living index in order to rank all of the 427 places in California that have more than 5,000 people.

The place with the highest cost of living in California according to the data is Coronado. You can download the data here.

Taking A Chunk Out Of Your Paycheck In California For 2020

Well there you have it, the places in California that have the highest cost of living, with Coronado ranking as the most expensive city in the Golden State.

Here's a look at the most affordable cities in California according to the data:

  1. Coalinga
  2. Ridgecrest
  3. Taft

For more California reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Most Expensive Cities In California

Rank City ExpensiveScore Population Home/Income Ratio Income/Rent Ratio
1 Coronado 28.33 23,620 15.1x 42.3x
2 Santa Cruz 41.0 64,273 11.5x 39.0x
3 Santa Barbara 44.0 91,325 13.3x 43.1x
4 San Marino 50.0 13,285 11.8x 45.6x
5 East Palo Alto 50.0 29,633 10.9x 38.5x
6 Glendale 54.67 200,372 11.6x 40.9x
7 San Luis Obispo 55.0 47,160 11.7x 36.1x
8 Rolling Hills Estates 61.67 8,187 8.5x 42.5x
9 San Gabriel 62.33 40,242 11.4x 40.6x
10 Beverly Hills 63.33 34,362 19.3x 48.5x
11 Villa Park 68.33 5,912 8.0x 41.6x
12 Carpinteria 69.67 13,550 9.1x 38.8x
13 West Hollywood 69.67 36,384 10.5x 43.8x
14 Sausalito 70.0 7,139 11.3x 47.5x
15 Monterey Park 79.67 60,792 10.4x 42.3x
16 Rosemead 80.33 54,417 10.3x 39.9x
17 Los Angeles 80.33 3,959,657 10.3x 42.4x
18 Larkspur 81.0 12,375 12.4x 49.6x
19 Monterey 81.33 28,512 9.9x 45.3x
20 Alhambra 82.67 84,974 10.2x 42.3x
21 San Rafael 85.33 58,939 10.0x 47.3x
22 Westminster 86.67 91,417 9.4x 41.5x
23 Ojai 88.33 7,555 9.8x 45.3x
24 Solana Beach 89.0 13,370 10.7x 49.6x
25 Imperial Beach 89.67 27,290 9.4x 38.6x
26 Costa Mesa 90.0 113,198 8.9x 44.3x
27 Burbank 91.33 104,275 9.4x 45.0x
28 Temple City 92.0 36,137 9.8x 45.8x
29 Pacific Grove 93.0 15,567 10.1x 48.3x
30 La Habra Heights 94.33 5,383 8.6x 47.2x
31 Redwood City 98.33 85,217 10.5x 50.0x
32 Sonoma 98.83 11,074 9.2x 46.4x
33 Los Alamitos 99.33 11,628 9.0x 46.7x
34 San Bruno 100.0 43,114 8.2x 46.5x
35 Hawthorne 100.0 87,370 9.8x 42.9x
36 Berkeley 100.33 120,926 11.6x 50.2x
37 Irvine 101.33 265,502 7.9x 44.7x
38 Daly City 101.33 106,638 7.9x 43.5x
39 Cudahy 102.0 24,016 9.3x 35.2x
40 Davis 103.0 67,988 9.4x 45.5x
41 Fountain Valley 103.67 56,372 8.1x 44.2x
42 Dana Point 107.33 33,913 8.8x 48.6x
43 Arcata 108.0 18,050 10.5x 33.2x
44 Bell Gardens 108.33 42,641 9.2x 34.8x
45 El Monte 109.0 115,669 9.1x 39.1x
46 South El Monte 109.67 20,727 8.7x 39.0x
47 San Juan Capistrano 109.67 35,952 7.8x 43.7x
48 Bell 109.83 35,809 9.2x 37.4x
49 Laguna Beach 110.0 23,147 14.0x 54.5x
50 Millbrae 110.33 22,703 10.2x 52.0x
51 Goleta 110.67 30,790 8.6x 48.0x
52 Albany 112.0 19,758 9.2x 49.5x
53 Artesia 112.33 16,817 7.9x 40.0x
54 Maywood 113.33 27,542 9.5x 38.7x
55 Morro Bay 113.67 10,592 8.8x 45.4x
56 Rancho Palos Verdes 113.67 42,271 8.4x 49.8x
57 Santa Monica 114.0 92,078 13.2x 54.1x
58 Inglewood 114.33 110,327 8.6x 39.7x
59 Pasadena 114.67 141,246 9.3x 49.4x
60 Montebello 115.67 63,099 8.7x 42.5x
61 Lawndale 116.0 33,007 8.2x 41.4x
62 San Mateo 117.0 104,035 8.7x 50.1x
63 Newport Beach 118.0 86,280 14.6x 56.4x
64 Watsonville 118.0 53,616 8.1x 39.0x
65 Huntington Park 118.33 58,694 9.3x 39.5x
66 Calabasas 122.0 24,077 8.7x 50.9x
67 Malibu 122.33 12,846 13.5x 58.0x
68 Fullerton 123.0 139,866 8.5x 46.9x
69 Tustin 123.67 80,140 7.8x 45.0x
70 Culver City 124.0 39,295 8.9x 50.0x
71 El Cajon 124.0 103,285 8.2x 41.2x
72 Laguna Niguel 124.33 65,652 7.7x 47.6x
73 Cupertino 125.33 60,614 9.7x 54.6x
74 Capitola 125.67 10,135 7.9x 46.0x
75 Walnut 128.33 30,008 7.1x 46.2x
76 Seaside 128.33 34,077 7.2x 37.5x
77 Garden Grove 129.83 174,010 7.9x 44.3x
78 Cerritos 130.0 50,172 6.6x 43.6x
79 Burlingame 130.33 30,459 13.9x 59.0x
80 Anaheim 131.0 349,668 7.8x 44.3x
81 Solvang 131.0 5,734 9.0x 49.8x
82 Manhattan Beach 133.0 35,573 13.0x 60.1x
83 Grass Valley 134.0 12,932 8.6x 34.5x
84 Mountain View 134.67 80,993 9.5x 55.4x
85 Novato 136.33 55,523 7.6x 48.4x
86 La Mesa 136.33 59,562 7.7x 44.1x
87 Menlo Park 136.67 33,869 13.5x 65.6x
88 Palo Alto 137.0 67,019 12.7x 63.6x
89 El Segundo 137.67 16,850 9.8x 55.4x
90 Bellflower 137.67 77,529 7.8x 42.8x
91 Foster City 138.0 33,784 7.6x 50.8x
92 Santa Ana 138.0 333,499 7.4x 41.5x
93 St. Helena 139.33 6,079 10.6x 56.5x
94 Santa Clara 139.33 126,209 8.0x 51.4x
95 Gardena 140.0 59,924 8.0x 44.2x
96 Arcadia 140.67 58,207 11.6x 58.7x
97 Monrovia 141.33 37,006 8.7x 49.8x
98 Huntington Beach 141.83 200,606 8.0x 49.8x
99 Hawaiian Gardens 142.0 14,411 7.6x 33.8x
100 Saratoga 142.0 30,886 11.3x 65.7x

How Is The Area In ?

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.