10 Most Expensive Cities in California | Updated

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

The fact that California is where the “gold” may be found is a common motif running through all of these names. It should not surprise you to learn that California towns are among the wealthiest in the world.

Given this, it’s no surprise that some of California’s cities are also among the most costly.

We have already made a comprehensive list of the 10 most expensive cities in California to drive to what makes this state the golden state.

Why is California so expensive?

We all know it as the golden state among many other names we know it for, but why is California so expensive? With the help of statistical data collated, we were able to discover the key features that make the most expensive cities in California very costly to live in.

Californians pay far more for their monthly costs than the rest of the country  A significant portion of it is due to its regulation. But first, let’s take a look at what makes up the state’s monthly living costs.

Vehicle Insurance

California is the eighth-most costly state in which to insure a car, with inhabitants in the most expensive cities in California spending an average of $1,962 per year.

Certain locations are less expensive, but the high mileage people drive and highly populated cities increase the risk of accidents, making vehicle insurance in California more expensive than in many other states.


California is in the middle of the pack when it comes to healthcare availability and affordability, ranking 23rd.


California is slightly more expensive than the rest of the United States in terms of energy and phone usage.

Bakersfield, for example, has a utility cost that is 43% higher than the national average!


When considering why California might be such an expensive location to live in, don’t forget about the state’s taxation.

California has extremely high-income taxes, while residents in the lowest income band pay only 1% of their income in taxes.

California has the highest sales tax rate, 7.25 percent, and localities can add their own, bringing the total to 9.5 percent in LA.


California, sadly, continues to lead the way in terms of high living costs. Expect to pay between 5% and 33% more for your weekly groceries than in the average US metropolis.

According to the data, the extreme is in Oakland and it can go higher in the most expensive cities in California.

Is California one of the most expensive states in USA? Find out here.10 Most Expensive States to Live in America

What City in California has the Highest Cost of Living?

San Francisco, California San Francisco has the highest cost of living in the country. Jobs in the City by the Bay pay handsomely, with yearly salaries averaging more than $100,000.

Where is the Safest and Cheapest Place to Live in California?

We are about to find out the most expensive cities in California but, where is the safest and cheapest place to live in California? Among all the urbane in city-rich lifestyle. Long Beach is one of California’s most affordable and safest cities.

You can live comfortably on a monthly budget of $2,400.

10 Most Expensive Cities in California

According to Forbes, nearly a quarter of American Billionaires live in California. Below are the most expensive cities that show how urbane this state is.

1. Santa Monica

Santa Monica, in data, got from Forbes, tops the ranking of the 10 most expensive cities in California.

This coastal city, located on the Pacific Ocean in western Los Angeles, is known for its laid-back vibes, beautiful beaches, and the world-famous Santa Monica Pier.

It’s North of Montana neighborhood, in particular, is one of the most expensive in the country, ranking third overall and making it the most expensive location in California.

Population: 90,401

Median Home Price: $3,750,000

Location: Check on Google Maps

2. Beverly Hills 

The iconic Beverly Hills is located just close to Santa Monica. Beverly Hills, which is also in Los Angeles, is known for its opulent houses, luxury shopping on Rodeo Drive, and high-end restaurants.

Many celebrities live there, including Taylor Swift, Jennifer Aniston, and Mark Wahlberg.

The city’s famed 90210 zip code is the most expensive in the city.

Population: 33,792

Median Home Price: $3,750,000

Location: Check on Google Maps

3. Los Altos

Los Altos is a tiny Northern California community located halfway between San Francisco and San Jose. They often recognize it as one of the best places in the Bay Area to raise a family.

In 2022, we even ranked it one of the best places to live in California. Los Altos has a modest business sector with restaurants and cafes, as well as many attractive neighborhoods.

Its proximity to both Bay Area towns as well as its adjacent City of Mountain View (home of Google) makes it appealing to many families, making it one of the most expensive cities in California

Population: 30,504

Median Home Price: $3,453,000

Location: Check on Google Maps

4. Palo Alto

Palo Alto, which is just up the road from Los Altos, is a large city with numerous exclusive neighborhoods and a lively downtown area. Stanford University is also located there.

Palo Alto, like Los Altos, is a highly sought-after community because of its strategic location between San Francisco and San Jose. The areas of Downtown North and Old Palo Alto, in particular, are the most expensive in the city.

It is equally home to Facebook founder and Tech guru Mark Zuckerberg.

5. Burlingame

On our list of the most expensive cities to live in California, Burlingame is fifth. It is a wealthy city with a population of over 65,000 people located just south of San Francisco and close to the airport.

It is located directly on the bay, providing easy access to wonderful views of the water.

Along with its numerous residential neighborhoods, Burlingame has a charming, walkable downtown center.

San Francisco is an excellent city for commuters because the train can reach it in about 40 minutes.

Population: 65,364

Median Home Price: $3,298,000

Location: Check on Google Maps

6. Santa Barbara

The Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains meet in Santa Barbara. It is around 100 miles from Los Angeles and is the largest city on this list of California’s most costly cities.

It has pleasant weather all year and easy access to the lake and the hills, making it a perfect location for outdoor enthusiasts.

It’s also regarded as being an educational hotspot, with four institutions and some of the best school districts in the region.

It has its own airport as well.

Population: 91,364

Median Home Price: $2,925,000

Location: Check on Google Maps

7. San Diego

If you want to live in San Diego, you’ll need to be able to pay around $8k per month for a family of four. San Diego is a beautiful beachfront city with plenty of things to do for visitors and residents alike.

It’s on California’s southernmost tip, and a quick trip to Mexico is simple from here. San Diego offers pleasant weather all year and is less crowded than Los Angeles.

Population: 1.41 million

Median Home Price: $842,000

Location: Check on Google Maps

8. Los Angeles

LA is a monster. If you’re seeking an opportunity, you’ll undoubtedly find one around every corner here. Of course, potential comes at a cost, so if you’re considering settling down in the City of Angels, be sure you can afford the $2100 monthly rent for a single bedroom place in the heart of the city. For you, it’s just a place to live.

When it comes to purchasing real estate in this area, the stakes are higher. You’ll have to pay over three times what the national average is. According to Bestplaces.net, the average home in Los Angeles sells for $688,000.

Therefore, it is not surprising to see it on the list of 10 most expensive cities in California

Population: 3.967 million

Median Home Price: $650,000

Location: Check on Google Maps

9. 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.

Population: 30,504

Median Home Price: $1,353,000

Location: Check on Google Maps

10. Montecito

Montecito, the home of Oprah Winfrey, is right next door to Santa Barbara. It’s got to be pretty good if it’s good enough for Oprah, right? Montecito’s median home price is a little over $3 million.

In Santa Barbara, a studio apartment costs roughly $1400; in Montecito, it costs around $2100.

Montecito is still a terrific place for adventurers, although several of the main trails were recently devastated by a landslide. The views of the mountains and the Pacific Ocean are simply breathtaking.

Population: 8,245

Median Home Price: $1,453,000

Location: Check on Google Maps

See Also: 10 Most Expensive Buildings In The World


We regard California as the Golden State for a variety of reasons, including the golden poppies that grow wild on its hills, the 1949 Gold Rush, and its valuable real estate. Its diverse landscape and pleasant climate aid the state’s ongoing attractiveness.

Most expensive cities in California add to the lush and urbane nature of the town. The thriving tech ecosystem, the job opportunities, and the art and entertainment nature of the city add up to its status as the golden state.

Frequently Asked Questions

San Francisco has the highest number of millionaires. Dustin Moskovitz, who is worth an estimated $17.9 billion, is the wealthiest San Francisco resident with a net worth of at least ten figures. Los Angeles has the second-highest number of billionaires in California, with a total net worth of over $1 trillion.

When you compare and contrast San Francisco with Los Angeles, you’ll see that Los Angeles is far less expensive. The cost of living in San Francisco is around 35% greater than in Los Angeles.

Below is the list of the best places to live in California 

  • San Francisco, CA.
  • San Jose, CA.
  • Santa Rosa, CA.
  • San Diego, CA.
  • Sacramento, CA.
  • Santa Barbara, CA.
  • Los Angeles, CA.

With a rate of 10.4 percent, El Dorado County had the lowest percentage. Local communities and legislative districts have considerably more disparate rates (ranging from 5.1 percent to 40.3%).



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