Cost of Living in Orange County, CA

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Orange County is located in the heart of Southern California. With a population of over 3 million people, Orange County is one of the most populous counties in the state. The county seat is Santa Ana, and the largest city is Anaheim. Orange County is home to several major universities, including Chapman University and the University of California, Irvine.

Businesses in Orange County are driven by technology, and the county has become a central hub for tech companies and start-ups in recent years. That has helped create a robust Orange County economy with a low unemployment rate and a high median income.

Orange County is an eclectic community with a lot to offer. The county is well-known for its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and world-famous theme parks.

If you are considering staying in Orange County, you might want to factor in the cost of living. This article will give you an overview of the cost of living in Orange County, CA.

What Factors Determine the Cost of Living in Orange County?

In a country as large as the United States, there can be a lot of variation in the cost of living from place to place. Generally, the cost of living is higher in urban and coastal resort towns than in rural areas.

Orange County is a metropolitan area, and the cost of living is expected to be higher than the national average. The average median income in Orange County is $94,441 (household), which is higher than the national average of $78,672. The unemployment rate is 3.6%, compared to the national average of 5.3%.

Many factors, including the following, determine the cost of living in Orange County:

The local economy considerably impacts the cost of living in any given area. Orange County, California’s cost of living is high due to its diverse and thriving economy. Businesses are more likely to expand and create new jobs within a strong economy. This can lead to an increase in wages, which helps residents to cover the costs of housing, food, and other essentials.

In addition, a strong economy typically results in lower unemployment rates, which means more people have money to spend. As a result, demand for goods and services increases, driving up prices.

Orange County has one of the largest economies in California and the United States. Investments in the county help to create jobs and spur economic growth. By understanding the local economy, residents can make informed choices about how to budget their money.

The housing market in Orange County, CA, is one of the strongest in the nation. The median price for a home in Orange County is $1.1M, which is well above the national median of $428,700.  Orange County home prices have seen a 16.8% year over year increase.  

The high cost of housing in Orange County is due in part to the strong demand for housing in the area. The population of Orange County has been growing steadily for many years, and there is simply not enough housing to meet the demand, which has caused home prices to skyrocket.

But it is noteworthy that the Orange County housing market has one of the best quality ratios in the state. It will be one of your best decisions if you can afford to secure a home in Orange County.

The location of Orange County has a lot to do with its high cost of living. The county is situated in a desirable area of the country and is close to major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and San Diego. This proximity drives up the cost of living and the demand for other essentials like food and transportation.

In Orange County, you’ll find that the closer you are to the beach, the higher the cost of living. That is because a beachfront property is in high demand and has a limited supply.

If you’re looking for a more affordable place to live in Orange County, you may consider inland communities like Anaheim or Santa Ana. These cities are still close to Orange County’s amenities but tend to be more affordable.

How Does the Cost of Living in Orange County Compare with Other Counties?

Several counties are more expensive than Orange County in California, including San Francisco, Marin, and Santa Clara. However, many counties, such as Riverside and San Bernardino, are less expensive.

A table showing data by the United States Census Bureau and bestplace.net

To put this into perspective, if you earn $84,000 a year in Orange County County, you will need an equivalent earning of approximately $125,000 to maintain the same standard of living in Santa Clara County.

County, StateMedian Household Income(Per Capita)Cost of Living (in %)Poverty Rate
Orange County, California$94,441$43,049+167.7%9.0%
Los Angeles County, California$71,358$35,685+164.4%13.2%
Marin County, California$74,446$35,685+129.9%6.0%
Santa Clara County, California$130,890$59,297+141.5%6.6%

How Does the Cost of Living in Orange County Compare to the National Average?

In a recent Salary.com‘s Cost of Living report, they calculated the cost of living in each U.S. county using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and differentiation in salary. The report shows that the cost of living in Orange County, CA is 68% higher than the national average.

It means that earning $83,850 a year in Orange County is equivalent to earning $50,000 a year in an average U.S. city, which may be sufficient to maintain the same standard of living.

Which US City Does Orange County's Cost of Living Most Closely Compare?

If you’re looking for a city with a similar cost of living to Orange County, CA, you might want to consider Los Angeles, CA.

Los Angeles is a large city with a diverse range of neighborhoods, many of which are quite affluent. The cost of living in Los Angeles is high, but it is still slightly lower than that of Orange County. Los Angeles also has many centers for arts and culture, as well as excellent public schools.

The cost of living in Los Angeles is about 65% higher than the average U.S. city and about 3% lower than in Orange County.

How Does the Cost of Living in Orange County Compare to that of Orange County 10 Years Ago?

The cost of living has increased significantly in Orange County over the past ten years. According to a Cost of Living Index released by Infoplease, the cost of living in Orange County was about 146.4% in 2010. By 2022, it had increased to about 168%.

This increase is largely due to many factors, one of which is the increase in housing costs. In 2010, the median home price in Orange County was $499,810. Today, it is over $1,100,000.

However, it’s essential to mention that while the cost of living has increased, Orange County’s minimum wage has also increased from $8 to $15 per hour. So the residency cost has gone up as the average income, meaning that inflation can be considered when evaluating the cost of living in Orange County.

What are the Least and Most Expensive Cities in Orange County?

It’s no surprise that Orange county’s real estate market is extremely competitive. However, it is possible to find your perfect home in Orange County with careful planning and patience.

Orange County has a range of prices for different cities because some inland cities in Orange County are more affordable than coastal communities.

I will go over a list of the least expensive cities in Orange County and then the most expensive.

Least Expensive Cities

Santa AnaThis city has a population of over 332,000 people and is the county seat of Orange County. Santa Ana is a great option for those looking for an affordable city to live in the area.

Santa Ana has a relatively low cost of living, with the Index score being 146.4. The cost of living in Santa Ana is about 4% lower than the average for California.

The median home price in Santa Ana is around $764,000, and the median rent is $2,695.

AnaheimAnaheim is a city in Orange County with over 350,000 people. It is best known for being the home of Disneyland and the site of the Anaheim Convention Center.

Despite being a major tourist destination, Anaheim has a fairly low cost of living. The cost of living Index score for Anaheim is 52.2% higher than the national average, which is about 2% higher than the California average.

The median home price in Anaheim is around $839,000, and the median rent is $2,795, with a median income of about $30,845.

Most Expensive Cities

San ClementeSan Clemente is located in southern Orange County, California. It is situated on the coast and known for its beautiful beaches, Mediterranean climate, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.  As San Clemente’s founder, Ole Hansen, put it the “The Spanish Village by the sea”

San Clemente is one of the most expensive cities in Orange County. The median home price in the city is over $1.6M, which is significantly higher than some other parts of Orange County. The cost of living in San Clemente is about 100.6% higher than the national average, making it one of the country’s most expensive places to live.

The median rent in San Clemente is around $2,950, and the median income is about $51,041.

Laguna BeachSituated on the coast of Southern California, Laguna Beach is one of the most expensive cities in Orange County. With its stunning surfing beaches, luxury hotels, and boutique shops, it’s no wonder that this picturesque city comes with a high price tag.

The cost of living is high, and so is the quality of life. The city is home to beautiful beaches, world-class restaurants, and boutique shops. There are also plenty of activities to keep residents busy, from hiking and biking to kayaking and surfing.

The median home price in Laguna Beach is about $3.9 million, and the median rental price is around $3,200. While the cost of living can be prohibitive for some, those who can afford to live in Laguna Beach enjoy a luxurious lifestyle.

Cost of Living in Orange County, CA

Wrap Up

Cost of living is essential when moving to a new city. Luckily, there is a range of prices for different cities in Orange County.

I have helped people secure their dream homes in both expensive and affordable areas of Orange County. As a real estate agent with experience in the area, I have the knowledge and resources to help you find the perfect home for your budget.

If you’re considering a move to Orange County, I would be happy to help you navigate the real estate market and find your perfect home. Contact me today to get started.