If you want to feel like you're living in the heart of the state, there's no better city to move to than the state capital. Sacramento is the seat of California politics, where politicians decide the fate of the state.
Besides that, though, it's a fun, diverse city known for its culinary scene, thriving job market and central location (it's a short drive to wine country, the ocean and the mountains for some of the best skiing in the state). You also can't beat the laid-back vibe.
Plus, the cost of living in Sacramento is way more affordable than in other areas in the state. While the total cost of living is 22.1 percent higher than the national average, it's significantly lower than San Francisco, which is more than 169 percent higher than the U.S. average. Interestingly enough, the total cost of living in Sacramento is 1.13 percent lower than last year, which is welcome news for residents in this great city.
To get an overall view of where your money is going when you move to Sacramento, you need to look at more than just the average rent in Sacramento. We'll break down the cost of living in Sacramento, so you can get a good idea of what it will cost to make the move.
- Housing costs in Sacramento
- Food costs in Sacramento
- Utility costs in Sacramento
- Transportation costs in Sacramento
- Healthcare costs in Sacramento
- Goods and services costs in Sacramento
- Taxes in Sacramento
- How much do you need to earn in Sacramento?
Housing costs in Sacramento
One of the higher costs when it comes to living in Sacramento is rental and housing fees. The cost of living in Sacramento in terms of housing is approximately 39.6 percent higher than the U.S. average. The average rent in Sacramento is $2,475 for a two-bedroom apartment. You might be happy to know, though, that the average rental fees in this city have dropped by 3.7 percent in the past year.
Of course, the actual rental costs depend on the neighborhood in which you choose to live. Some neighborhoods are more affordable than others. For example, you can move to the Boulevard Park neighborhood and pay an average of $3,220 per month. Or, you can move to the Cordova, Parkway-South Sacramento or Parkway Estates neighborhoods, all of which average $1,244 per month.
If you're not sure if living in the state capital is the right move for you, it might be a good idea to check out some comparable nearby cities. Look for cities that have similar amenities, atmosphere and job opportunities as Sacramento.
Here are just a few cities in the Bay Area that might be good alternatives, though it's important to note that the cost of living in this part of the state tends to be significantly higher than the national average. For instance, San Francisco is 129.7 percent higher than Sacramento and 169.3 percent higher than the U.S. average.
Many people feel that it's better to buy a home than rent, claiming that renting an apartment is just a waste of money — even if you're paying less than average rent in Sacramento.
The “right" decision depends on several factors, including:
- Whether you have a job that will afford you financial stability for years to come
- How much of a down payment you can afford
- Your credit rating
- The neighborhood where you plan to buy or rent
Currently, the average home price in Sacramento is $468,000, an increase of more than 26 percent, according to Redfin. The housing market is very competitive with many homeowners getting 3.6 percent more than the asking price for their home.
On a monthly basis, with a 5 percent down payment, you can pay less than half the average rent in Sacramento. According to Redfin, that's just under $1,300 per month for a mortgage payment.
Food costs in Sacramento
Another important factor to figure into the cost of living in Sacramento are food costs. Sacramento has some incredible dining experiences — from food trucks to fine dining. The cost of eating out can range from $17 to $42, though it can be significantly higher if you decide to treat yourself to all the goodies at a fine dining establishment.
For those nights when you want to stay in, cooking at home can be a fun, affordable option.
Food costs in Sacramento are 7.8 percent higher than the national average. Let's say you want to make burgers. Instead of paying the U.S. average of $4.09 for ground beef, you'll end up paying $5.65.
Or, let's say you want to make a nice breakfast for your family and, of course, some want eggs, others want cereal and milk. Here's what your breakfast bill will look like compared to the national average.
- Milk: $3.82/gallon
- Cereal: $4.27
- Eggs: $2.66/dozen
- Orange Juice: $3.70
- Coffee $4.74
- Total: $19.19
National average food costs (Breakfast):
- Milk: $2.10/gallon
- Cereal: $3.98
- Eggs: $1.47/dozen
- Orange Juice: $3.57
- Coffee $4.22
- Total: $15.34
While there's only a few dollars difference, those dollars can quickly add up. However, you can save some money on food by eating in more often and saving on dining out for special occasions. That can significantly drop the cost of living in Sacramento.
Utility costs in Sacramento
Utilities can quickly increase the cost of living if you live in an area with extreme seasons, temperatures and weather. Sacramento is fairly constant when it comes to weather, with a Mediterranean climate. The summers are hot and dry, and the winters are moderate and even warm with some rain and wind.
The average temperature in the winter months is in the mid-50s to mid-60s. In the summer months, the temperature can get as high as 110 to 114 degrees, though it averages in the 90s.
During the warmer months (which last four to five months), you'll likely need to use an air conditioner and/or fans. This can drive up your electric bill, which can range from $152 to nearly $200 per month.
Transportation costs in Sacramento
Another important feature to consider when calculating the cost of living in Sacramento is transportation costs. Whether you rely on public transportation or drive, you'll have some transportation costs.
On average, Sacramento's transportation rates are 41.2 percent higher than other parts of the country.
In Sacramento, you can get rides on the Sacramento Regional Transit system, which includes buses and light rail. A single fare is $2.50, while a day pass is $7 or $3.50 for seniors. You can also purchase a month-long pass for $100.
If you're using your own vehicle, you'll have to pay for fuel ($4.49 per gallon, compared to $2.76 per gallon in other areas of the U.S.), auto maintenance ($51.87, compared to the national average of $52.40) and parking, which will vary depending on the price per hour/day at any given Sacramento parking lot or garage.
Of course, you can also get around the city on foot or on a bike. The Sacramento walk score is slightly above average (60), while the bike score is quite a bit higher (71). Sacramento is a great city for biking because of the mild weather (except during the summer), dedicated bike paths and mostly flat topography.
Healthcare costs in Sacramento
Healthcare costs in Sacramento are about 20.8 percent higher than in the rest of the nation. Of course, it's difficult to determine concrete healthcare costs because each person's needs are different. Your healthcare costs might be very basic like an annual check-up with your doctor and regular cleanings at your dentist's office.
On the other hand, another person (possibly someone in your own family) might have a chronic illness that requires frequent trips to the doctor, as well as medication costs, both of which increase your total cost of living in Sacramento.
The following will give you a baseline idea of how much you might spend on certain healthcare costs in Sacramento:
- Doctor visit: $194.75 in Sacramento and $112.81 national average = 53.28 percent higher in Sacramento
- Dental check-up: $94.80 in Sacramento and $99.44 national average = 4.8 percent lower in Sacramento
- Optometrist: $148.50 in Sacramento and $105 national average = 34.32 percent higher in Sacramento
- OTC Ibuprofen: $11.99 in Sacramento and $9.80 national average = 20.1 percent higher in Sacramento
Prescription medications will vary depending on whether you have a name-brand product or generic brand medication. Other factors include whether you have insurance, as well as the type of insurance you have (which insurance company and which policy you have with that company).
Goods and services costs in Sacramento
When you're calculating the cost of living in Sacramento, don't forget to add in goods and services, which are important yet non-essential. Things that fall into this category include the cost of a haircut, a trip to the salon, dry cleaning, a night out on the town, etc.
The cost of these services is 13.2 percent higher in Sacramento than the national average.
Here are a few price comparisons:
- Hair cut: $20
- Salon visit: $38.64
- Dry cleaning: $13.39
- Beer: $9.66
- Wine: $9
- Yoga: $15
- Movie: $11.12
- Hair cut: $27
- Salon visit: $65
- Dry cleaning: $15.73
- Beer: $9.25
- Wine: $8.73
- Yoga: $25
- Movie: $15
It's important to note that these prices are examples of the bare minimum. For example, the cost of a movie ticket does not include any snacks or beverages. A trip to the salon does not include color, permanent, relaxer, manicure, pedicure or facial.
Taxes in Sacramento
Sales tax rates in Sacramento are 8.75 percent. This covers state, city and county taxes. The minimum sales tax is 7.25 percent, which is the highest in the nation. So, if you spend $1,000, you can expect to pay between $72.50 and $87.50 in taxes.
California state income taxes range from 1 percent to 12.3 percent depending on your income. If you earn less than $8,933, you only pay 1 percent. If you make more than $599,013, you'll pay $58,227.85, plus 12.3 percent of the amount over $599,012, according to NerdWallet.
If you plan on buying a home in Sacramento, you'll have to figure in property taxes into your cost of living in Sacramento estimate. Currently, the average county property tax rate is 0.810 percent. If you purchase a home that costs the current average ($468,000), you can expect to pay $3,791 in property taxes per year.
How much do I need to earn to live in Sacramento?
If you choose to live in a neighborhood in Sacramento where the average rent is $2,475 per month, you'll end up paying $29,700 per year in rental fees. Financial experts recommend spending no more than 30 percent of your monthly income on rent. To stick to that guideline, you'd need to make $99,000 per year.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average income in Sacramento is $62,335. Obviously, there's a disparity here. Some people may pay more than 40 percent in rental fees, they may live in more affordable neighborhoods or some may pay lower mortgage fees.
Before deciding to move to Sacramento, look at your current income and budgetary needs. Then, look at potential job opportunities. Can you find a job that pays a higher wage? If so, you might be able to live quite comfortably in Sacramento.
To learn if you can afford the cost of living in Sacramento, including the average rent in Sacramento, be sure to check out our free rent calculator.
Understanding the cost of living in Sacramento
Many people overlook Sacramento because it's often overshadowed by bigger, flashier California cities, like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. But with the beautiful tree-lined streets, amazing food, beer and wine scene (perfect for foodies!), as well as the affordable housing market, Sacramento is one of the best places to live in California.
If you're ready to make the move, check out our listings to find apartments for rent in Sacramento that fit your budget and amenities requirements.