Tips to Afford the High Cost of Living in California

Joel Eisenberg

Yes, it is possible to survive in California on a limited budget.
Hollywood SignPhoto byAdobe Stock

Author’s Note

This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. Linked information within this article is attributed to the following outlets: and


I have written previously about the high cost of California living for NewsBreak. My recent article, “Why California Rents and Mortgages are Among the Highest in the Country, and if They Are Expected to Decrease,” discussed prohibitive real estate prices and why for many living here is but an unattainable dream.

As excerpted from my article: The Hollywood Hills is one of the more costly regions in the south of the state, and I’ve learned that many who do not live here — or have never visited — perceive the entirety of California in this regard. Either this way, or as unending beachfront properties. In truth, the state‘s picturesque areas are outnumbered by its relative — though still expensive — slums.

I live in North Hills, in a nice So Cal San Fernando Valley house my wife and I purchased in 2002 for $349,000. Today the house is worth closer to triple than double the purchase amount, meaning at my current low interest rate — taking into consideration two refinances — I’d be paying a shade over $6000 monthly for a near-1900 square-foot home in only a moderately-priced area. Taking this one step further, to afford an average mortgage today at these numbers the homeowner is indebted to $72,000 yearly.

Add to that taxes (or maintenance fees for equivalent condos) and the usual component of other bills including utilities and food, and a So Cal homeowner of a house my size in a similarly-priced neighborhood would need to earn at least a low six-figures yearly just to cover the cost of living, not counting recreational expenses.

Speaking of utilities, my gas bill alone last month was nearly $300.

Renters, per The average rent for an apartment in Los Angeles is $2,786. The cost of rent varies depending on several factors, including location, size, and quality.

Do the math.

How then can one possibly afford to live in Southern California, or any of California, especially considering the tens of thousands of aspiring artists and others who move here annually to pursue new lives?

Let us explore further.

California, 2023

A May, 2022 piece from, entitled “How Do People Afford to Live in California (10 Ways),” offers the most succinct analyses I’ve seen on the matter.

As excerpted from the article, which illustrated last year’s then-recorded average: The annual cost of living in California is $46,636 a year with housing and utilities costs rising to $9,542 a year.

Again, these fees do not take into consideration recreational expenses.

As for the 10 pointers, The article lists:

  • Stay away from large cities
  • Rent instead of buy
  • Live with roommates
  • Get rid of your car and use public transportation
  • Cut back on television (such as streaming services) and internet fees
  • Work from home
  • Take on a second job
  • Delay children
  • Stay fit to cutback on healthcare
  • Seek out free entertainment

The article delves into specifics, and links to resources.


I hope some of this helps. In the event of pertinent updates to matters regarding California’s cost of living, I will share them here on NewsBreak.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

Northridge, CA

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