Cost of Living in Santa Barbara, CA, United States

Updated On July 28, 2023

How Much Does It Cost to Live In Santa Barbara, CA?

Santa Barbara is a city located less than 100 miles from the famous Los Angeles.

Often referred to as the “Riviera of the West” it is perfect for a day trip from LA, with its wide beaches, popular wineries, and a variety of shopping and dining choices.

Food costs and basic groceries are known to be cheaper here in Santa Barbara, but the housing is similarly priced.

Expect to run into beautiful water, tons of beaches, and hiking trails.

But though the cost of living, on the whole, is slightly over the U.S. average, the cost of housing is 5 1/2 times more expensive than in the rest of the country.

Cost of Living Index:
* Based on Research & User Data


Eating out isn’t too expensive, especially compared to, for instance, San Jose or Fresno.

Plus, there are a few places that offer happy hours.

You can find all kinds of good cuisines and food places here.

Usually, people that are not well off do not eat in fancy restaurants, since a meal in an inexpensive restaurant here will cost you around 28$.



Food/groceries are less expensive than eating out, especially if you buy a lot of fresh produce.

There are farmers’ markets all over the place, and while they are not always a bargain, sometimes they are.

Then there’s Trader Joe’s, which is a great deal for almost everything: wine, nuts, cheese, milk, butter, all dairy, frozen foods, pasta, packaged foods, etc.



Taxes are a major issue since California has one of the highest state taxes in the nation, exceeded only by New York.

Almost everything else is also more costly, such as gas, food, entertainment, and even parking fines.

Public transport isn’t too pricey, with a one-way ticket costing less than 2$, and a monthly pass is around 62$.



Utilities vary but you can calculate a rough 195$ per month which includes paying for trash, water, and sewer.

There are other costs such as apartment insurance and others.

Still, don’t forget that the price of utilities does depend on the amount of electricity you use and on the size of your apartment.

Internet service starts somewhere around 96$ a month.

Sports and leisure


Practicing sports or going to the gym in Santa Barbara is rather expensive.

A gym or a fitness club membership will cost you around 63$.

A cinema ticket will cost you a whopping 14.5$ per seat, but there are all kinds of entertainment sources in the city, most of which are free.

In the summer, there are free movies in the park.

Clothing and shoes


Santa Barbara is a shopping paradise and is known for its shopping opportunities.

State Street alone offers everything from trendy boutiques to popular chain stores.

Santa Barbara is stuck in the 80s and refuses to accept chains or box stores so that local businesses can thrive which is great!

However, if you need some standard clothing, quality jeans will cost you around 70$, and you won’t find any good running sneakers without cashing out close to 110$.

Rent per month


Renting an apartment is very expensive in Santa Barbara, the prices of rent probably exceeded only by San Jose or New York.

A one-bedroom apartment in the city will cost you well over 2800$, but you could also get a fantastic apartment for 6000$, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room if you’re looking for a bigger one, for the whole family.

Cost of Living Averages Table for Santa Barbara, CA

*Note: All prices are indicated in USD.
Average Restaurant Prices
Meal (Inexpensive Restaurant)$28.00
Domestic Beer (0.5 Liter)$6.0
Water (0.33 Liter)$2.70
Average Market Prices
Milk (1 Liter)$1.21
Loaf Bread (500g)$5.14
Eggs (12)$5.00
Average Transport Prices
One Way Ticket$1.75
Monthly Pass$62.50
Average Utilities Prices
Basic (Water, Electricity, Garbage, Heating, Cooling)$195.15
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local$0.10
Internet (Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)$96.49
Average Leisure Prices
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult$63.33
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour)$14.25
Cinema, 1 Seat, International Release$14.50
Average Clothing Prices
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Comparable)$68.75
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, etc...)$43.0
1 Pair of Adidas Walking Shoes (Mid-Range)$109.38
Average Rent Prices
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center$2971.25
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center$2641.67
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Center$6300.00

How Does the Average Person Spend Their Money in Santa Barbara, CA?

Not surprisingly at all, for a popular city in California where rent is through the roof, the biggest expense of living in Santa Barbara is rent.

Rent takes up over 47% of all income, which is a shockingly high percentage and just goes to show how expensive rent is in this city.

Food is definitely the next biggest expense for anyone living in Santa Barbara – though this is the situation in most countries around the world.

Utilities and sports are almost the same, percentage-wise, with only less than 1% of the difference in favor of utilities.

Average Costs Breakdown


Santa Barbara, CA: Average Salary, Minimum Wage & Mortgages

The big issue in Santa Barbara’s economy is the fact that the job market here is pretty weak.

With huge rent prices, it’s difficult to save money, and even more difficult to purchase a home without having an income of over $100k.

The average monthly salary in Santa Barbara is around 4400$, while the minimum wage is just a bit over 2000$.

Still, even with the slow job market here, people are finding ways to make enough money for a very pleasant life in this gorgeous Californian city.

Average Salary$4405.56
Minimum Wage$2080.00
Mortgage Interest Rate6.70%

Santa Barbara Safety Overview

READ THE FULL REPORT: Santa Barbara Safety Review

Safety Index:
Santa Barbara

Cost of Living by City in Santa Barbara, CA

CityCost of Living Index
Albany, NY72.4
Albuquerque, NM72.4
Anchorage, AK72.4
Ann Arbor, MI72.4
Arlington, TX72.4
Asheville, NC72.4
Atlanta, GA72.4
Austin, TX72.4
Bakersfield, CA72.4
Baltimore, MD72.4
Bellevue, WA72.4
Bellingham, WA72.4
Berkeley, CA72.4
Birmingham, AL72.4
Boise, ID72.4
Boston, MA72.4
Boulder, CO72.4
Brooklyn, NY72.4
Buffalo, NY72.4
Burlington, VT72.4
Charleston, SC72.4
Charlotte, NC73.33
Chattanooga, TN72.4
Chicago, IL72.4
Cincinnati, OH72.4
Cleveland, OH72.4
Columbia, SC72.4
Columbus, OH72.4
Dallas, TX72.4
Dayton, OH72.4
Denver, CO72.4
Des Moines, IA72.4
Detroit, MI72.4
El Paso, TX72.4
Eugene, OR72.4
Everett, WA72.4
Fayetteville, AR72.4
Fort Myers, FL72.4
Fort Wayne, IN72.4
Fort Worth, TX72.4
Fresno, CA74.2
Gainesville, FL74.2
Grand Rapids, MI74.2
Greensboro, NC74.2
Hartford, CT74.2
Honolulu, HI74.2
Houston, TX74.2
Huntsville, AL74.2
Indianapolis, IN74.2
Irvine, CA74.2
Jacksonville, FL74.2
Jersey City, NJ74.2
Kansas City, MO74.2
Knoxville, TN74.2
Las Vegas, NV74.2
Lexington, KY74.2
Little Rock, AR74.2
Long Beach, CA74.2
Los Angeles, CA74.2
Louisville, KY74.2
Lubbock, TX74.2
Madison, WI74.2
Memphis, TN74.2
Miami, FL74.2
Milwaukee, WI74.2
Minneapolis, MN74.2
Nashville, TN74.2
New Orleans, LA74.2
New York, NY74.2
Oakland, CA74.2
Oklahoma City, OK74.2
Olympia, WA74.2
Orlando, FL74.2
Peoria, IL72.4
Philadelphia, PA72.4
Phoenix, AZ72.4
Pittsburgh, PA72.4
Portland, ME72.4
Portland, OR72.4
Raleigh, NC72.4
Reno, NV72.4
Richmond, VA74.2
Rochester, NY74.2
Sacramento, CA74.2
Saint Louis, MO74.2
Saint Paul, MN74.2
Saint Petersburg, FL74.2
Salem, OR74.2
Salt Lake City, UT74.2
San Antonio, TX74.2
San Diego, CA74.2
San Francisco, CA74.2
San Jose, CA74.2
Santa Rosa, CA74.2
Seattle, WA74.2
Spokane, WA74.2
Springfield, MO74.2
Syracuse, NY74.2
Tacoma, WA74.2
Tallahassee, FL74.2
Tampa, FL74.2
Toledo, OH74.2
Tucson, AZ74.2
Tulsa, OK74.2
Vancouver, WA74.2
Virginia Beach, VA74.2
Washington, DC74.2
West Palm Beach, FL74.2
Wichita, KS74.2

Where to Next?

See these related locations:

Or, browse the country/city indexes:

Cost of Living - Country Index Cost of Living - City Index

Share Your Experience

Facebook Pinterest