Moving to LA? Here’s How to Calculate Your Cost of Living

Moving to Los Angeles, California.

Relocating is exciting on its own, but moving to a large and booming city like Los Angeles is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the U.S., serving as home to more than 4 million people. If you’re soon to be a Los Angeleno, you’ve likely done the research and figured out ballpark estimates for how much it will cost to live there.

But, before moving, you want to have a clear picture of how much money it’s going to cost to live in the City of Angels. Keep reading to learn about calculating your cost of living before you make the leap to LA living.

Housing Expenses

While you may not be able to afford a huge Beverly Hills mansion, there are tons of beautiful homes in and around LA. In the last five years, LA home prices have increased by more than 78%. This is great news for current homeowners who are anxious to sell and make a profit.

If you’re looking to buy a home, the LA market isn’t the easiest to break into. The median home value in Los Angeles is $686,500, and these values are expected to go up another 6% in the next year. The median list price is $799,900, while most homes sell for $687,600. While this is a huge discount off of home values versus what they sell for, $600,000 isn’t pocket change for most people.

Unless you have a high paying job or plenty of money saved away, you may find that it’s more cost effective to rent in LA. However, you will find less expensive homes by moving slightly away from the downtown area. There are plenty of affordable LA suburbs that are the perfect location for commuters.

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Though renting requires much less money upfront, it isn’t exactly cheap either. According to Zillow, the median rent price in Los Angeles is $3,650, which is much higher than other nearby areas.

According to BestPlaces, these are the rental prices you can expect in LA:

  • Studio – $1,420
  • One bedroom – $1,880
  • Two bedrooms – $2,650
  • Three bedrooms – $3,710
  • Four bedrooms – $4,270

As you can see, these prices are nowhere near the affordable range for most people. The good news is that you can find rent at much lower prices by choosing to live in a suburb versus the city. Many local areas such as Norwalk, Cudahy, Lancaster, and Paramount are all local to LA but don’t have such high cost of living.


The average utility costs for a 912 square foot apartment is around $167. This price can double or possibly triple, depending on the size of your home and your energy usage.

One way to save on utilities is to purchase the smallest home that meets your needs. The smaller your home, the less electricity it takes to heat and cool it. In Los Angeles, your biggest concern will be the warmer months, when temperatures are regularly above 90 degrees. Other ways to minimize utility costs include:

  • Unplugging appliances
  • Using power strips and timers
  • Switching to energy efficient light bulbs
  • Turning down your home’s hot water heater
  • Purchasing energy efficient appliances

Aside from energy, gas, and electric costs, your monthly utilities will also include home services like cable, phone, and internet. Most residents pay around $48 a month for these services. But, you can save money by comparing the prices offered by the best Los Angeles internet providers. From there you can contact each provider to determine which one offers the best deal, to include discounts and bundle package savings.

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Food Costs

You can’t live in LA and not try out the wide variety of cuisine. But, eating off too often can take a toll on your wallet. In LA a basic dinner for two typically costs around $47. In fancier areas, you can expect to pay around $87 for two people.

Groceries are also quite pricey in Los Angeles. A dozen eggs cost $3.81 and chicken breast typically cost around $5.18 a pound. Produce that can be found locally tends to be much less expensive than items that are imported from other states and countries.

There are many crops, known as High Desert Crops, which are native to LA. Carrots, onions, pears, peaches, and nectarines are all commercially grown in the High Desert. You’ll also find locally produced grapes, apples, and cherries, but on a much smaller scale.


Don’t make the mistake of moving to a large city like LA without first calculating your cost of living. By considering housing, utility, and food costs, you can get a good understanding of how much money you’ll need on a monthly basis to live comfortably.

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