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San Luis Obispo Cost of Living [2024] | Is it Affordable? [Data]

Last Updated on: 20th August 2021, 01:37 pm

San Luis Obispo, commonly known as SLO, is a city in California known for its calm climate and having one of the top farmer’s markets in the state. Nearly 47,000 people live here, and it’s home to Cal Poly. Though many want to move here, they question whether or not they can afford to live in San Luis Obispo. California isn’t the most affordable state, and a city that’s so near to the beach isn’t usually cheap to live in. So, is the price of living in San Luis Obispo affordable for your lifestyle?

San Luis Obispo Cost of Living Index

When you relocate to San Luis Obispo, there’s going to be some new things to consider when it comes to your expenses and your budget. The best way to figure out whether or not San Luis Obispo is affordable is to look at the data. The San Luis Obispo cost of living index is 45% more expensive than the average of the United States. However, how much money you need to make to live in San Luis Obispo comfortably will depend on your lifestyle. Are you renting or buying a home? Do you have a family or is it just you?

Some things in San Luis Obispo, like utilities, won’t make you lose out on much more money than the national average because they’re just 6% higher. On the flip side, the housing market in San Luis Obispo is 128% more expensive than the United States average, which means it’ll take up a huge amount of your income. Healthcare is 11% more expensive, and transportation is 35% more costly. The price of living in San Luis Obispo isn’t too inexpensive, but if you can afford it, it’s a great place to live.

The San Luis Obispo consumer price index shows that the city isn’t getting much more expensive. The cost of living in San Luis Obispo is trending up by 0.7%. This is a good thing, however, you’ll need to know what the consumer expenditures in San Luis Obispo are if you want to know whether you can afford to live here. Below are the consumer price expenditures showing how much of a person’s income is spent on basic living needs.

  • Housing: 35.7%
  • Insurance: 14.3%
  • Transportation: 13.6%
  • Entertainment: 4.2%
  • Education: 3.4%
  • Apparel and services: 3.1%

Cost of Groceries, Food, Gas & Household Items in San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is an expensive city to live in, and knowing the expense of items you buy on a daily basis can be helpful to know if you can live there comfortably. You’ll want to look at the things you’ll buy most often. While housing affordability in San Luis Obispo is often one of the first things people consider, they often forget how much they spend each year on daily household items, like eggs and milk. Here is a list of the average costs of common items you may purchase:

  • Steak (Ribeye, 1lb.) $11.38
  • Milk (regular 1/2 gallon) $2.17
  • Eggs (1 Dozen) $2.74
  • Potatoes (5 lb bag) $2.99
  • Bread (1 loaf) $4.40
  • Beer (Heineken’s 6 pack) $9.43
  • Average Cell Phone Bill $185.54
  • Average Cost of Gasoline (per gallon) $3.64
  • Average Cost of Utilities (per month) $183.11
  • McDonald’s Burger (1/4 Pounder) $5.03
  • Large Pizza $10.99
  • Movie Ticket (1st run) $16.00

San Luis Obispo Real Estate Market – Cost of Housing

One of the reasons that San Luis Obispo is so expensive is because of the housing costs. Currently, the San Luis Obispo housing market is very competitive. Homes usually go for 1% below or 1% above their listing price and can go to pending in just seven days, meaning if you find a house you like, you should make an offer. The San Luis Obispo average home cost is $680,000, which amounts to $430 per square foot. The median property value in San Luis Obispo is $590,000. Plus, the San Luis Obispo real estate trends are going down by 2.8%, so it’s a great time to buy.

The home ownership rate in San Luis Obispo is 38.3%, so many people are renting. This could be because there are lots of students living here thanks to Cal Poly. The good news is that the average commute time in San Luis Obispo is just 14 minutes, which means you aren’t going to be dealing with too much traffic like in other California cities.

San Luis Obispo Rental Market – Average Rents in SLO

Over 60% of people are renting in San Luis Obispo, so what can you expect to pay? The San Luis Obispo rent average is $2,084. The average charge for a one bedroom apartment in San Luis Obispo is about $1,700. Thankfully, the San Luis Obispo rent trends are very stable. There was only a 1% increase in price for those renting apartments when compared to last year.

The rents in San Luis Obispo are very exclusive. There are many people who want to move in due to the competitive student housing. The closer to the university campus, the pricier the rent is. Many students live together in two bedroom apartments, and the average rate of a two bedroom apartment in San Luis Obispo is $2,094. Split amongst a few people, it ends up being fairly affordable.

Average Salary & Household Income in San Luis Obispo

The average wage in San Luis Obispo is $19.49 per hour. However, this varies wildly depending on the career. Medical assistants are popular and make an average of $16 an hour. On the other hand, office managers, which is another popular job, make around $21 an hour in San Luis Obispo. Popular employers include Dignity Health, Mindbody Inc., County of San Luis Obispo, iFixit, and Central Coast Pathology.

The average salary in San Luis Obispo is $66,000. These common jobs include software engineers, operations managers, and project managers. Popular employers for San Luis Obispo salary earners are Cal Poly State University, SunRun, Martin Resorts, and Etna Interactive. 

Overall, the median household income in San Luis Obispo is $49,640. Living expenses in San Luis Obispo are high, and 32% of people live in poverty.

Income, Sales, & Property Taxes in San Luis Obispo, CA

One thing that many people fail to think of is how the taxes in San Luis Obispo will affect them. Over time, you pay a lot in taxes between income, sales, and property tax. If you don’t consider this before moving, you could be in for a hefty surprise. Since it is tacked on to everything you buy, you should know the rates before moving.

San Luis Obispo Sales Tax Rate

Currently, California is the 9th highest in the United States for sales tax. The San Luis Obispo sales tax rate is 7.75%. This includes California’s sales tax rate of 6%, plus the county rate of 1.25%, and an additional 0.5% from the city.

San Luis Obispo Income Tax Rate

Income tax rate is another thing you should consider before accepting a new job. The San Luis Obispo income tax rate is 9.3%, which is fairly high.

San Luis Obispo Property Tax Rate

When it comes to property tax, a few different things go into calculating this. You’ll need to see what your true percentage is once you purchase a home. However, the average property tax in San Luis Obispo is 0.73%.

Can you afford San Luis Obispo?

Is San Luis Obispo expensive? Well, when looking for cheap places to live, San Luis Obispo isn’t going to pop up on any lists. However, this is a gorgeous oceanside town with memorable places like Pismo Beach, Cal Poly State University, and more. The quality of life in San Luis Obispo is very good, and you can enjoy beautiful weather year round. 

So, if you can afford the normal costly living in San Luis Obispo, it’s worth it. And when you make your way there, don’t hesitate to give Mentors Moving a call. We’re the best San Luis Obispo moving company, and we’ll make your transition easier. Fill out our form or call us today for a free quote.


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