Is Living in California Expensive for Families?

While the sunny state of California is a dreamland for many people, if you’re on a tight budget, you should reconsider. While it’s perfectly possible to sustain yourself and your family in Cali, life there still much more expensive than in many other states in the US.

Still, a lot of it really depends on where in California you choose to stay. Whatever you do, it’s important to inform yourself properly, so in this article, we will tell you what makes the Golden State so expensive for family life.

So without further ado, let’s get to it!


Housing in California is extremely expensive. This is one of the main reasons the state is battling a huge homelessness crisis. Since you’ll be moving with your family you’d need a proper space, and this could end up being very costly.

While San Francisco has the most expensive housing in the whole country, there are places like Sacramento that are much less pricey. The biggest decision you’ll have to make is whether to buy or rent, and the best way to decide is to consult a financial advisor.

Remember to think about your long-term plans and goals, and see how far can you stretch your budget. Housing is probably the biggest cut you’ll have to make, but it may be worth it if you really want to live in California.


Unfortunately, California has the highest rate when it comes to income taxes. If you manage to earn $100k per year. After taxes and paying for food and other essential needs, you’d be left with about $1 000 per month. You can see how risky this is. One unexpected financial event and you could end up on the street! So yes, you’ll need to have a high income if you want to live comfortably in California.

Other than that, the Golden State has the highest base for state sales taxes (around 7.25%), and the cities can add their own sales tax on top of that so in some parts of the state you can expect it to be around 9%.

Still, it’s not all so terrible for a Californian. The property tax rates there are lower than the national average which is super important to note. This is due to their state laws, and it’s one of the advantages of living there.

Utility bills

Paying for utilities in California is not that expensive. The utility bills are lower than average, but of course, they could seem expensive if you come from a state that has these even lower.

Still, while you’re living in Cali, paying your utility bills shouldn’t pose a problem. Of course, it all depends on the city or town you choose to move to, and on your monthly income. You should seek the opinion of a financial advisor. They could help you navigate through all of the financial novelties you’ll encounter when moving to another state.


The price of food and other essentials will be different in different cities in California. The most important thing is to do your research before you find a place because while essentials are not the most expensive thing you’ll have to think about, you have to be prepared, especially if you have a big family and you’re their main source of support.

Supporting your family is not an easy job anywhere in the country, but if you’re well-prepared and know how much of your budget will it take to make the ends meet, it’s going to be much easier. You have to leave some space in your budget, and at least have some savings in case something unexpected happens.


If you have a long commute to work, you’ll probably be wondering whether to buy your own vehicle or use public transport. Both are good solutions but will mostly depend on your needs and your city of choice.

What you really need to know is that car insurance in California is pretty costly. It’s about $400 higher than the national average, and gas is the more expensive there than anywhere else in the country. When it comes to public transport, it will mostly depend on the city you live in, but it’s mostly about $100 a month. Of course, you’ll probably have to purchase the tickets for the whole family so it might be even more expensive in the long run.

Do your research and try to find the cheapest option possible. We all know that owning and driving your own car is much more comfortable, but in busy cities, public transport is much more convenient. You don’t have to search and pay for parking and it’s usually the less expensive option.

Additional costs

If you’re planning to move to the Golden State, you probably want to enjoy the beauties it offers. It’s a great place to have a road trip, maybe visit a game and participate in various events. This will of course cost you additional money. This is why you really need to have a steady job if you plan to support your family and find time for quality leisure. Barely making ends meet is not an optimal situation, you want to be able to enjoy life there and live comfortably.

As previously mentioned, before you make your move you should really consult with a professional. Remember, the whole process of moving will be expensive, and you’re also probably going to want to visit back home in the future. There are many unobvious costs that have to be considered to make the transition to your new life as convenient as possible.

The takeaway

Living in California is pretty expensive for a family, especially compared to other states. Still, it’s possible to live comfortably there, if you’re well-prepared and if you plan out your funds well enough.

All in all, California is a beautiful place to be, but the expenses of living there can be pretty overwhelming. Before you move you should make sure you have enough resources to lead a comfortable life there.