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San Diego cost of living shockingly higher than other cities in the US

The average salary in San Diego is $68,565/year, which is about $32.96/hour.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego is one of the least affordable areas in the country where housing, gas prices, utilities, and other costs are a concern. 

The average salary in San Diego is $68,565/year, which is about $32.96/hour. 

This is only $1,900 more per year than the nationwide average of $66,665/year, yet the cost of living in San Diego is 44% higher than the national average.

“It’s tough. Wages are not rising as fast as prices are,” said Dr. Alan Gin, economics professor for the University of San Diego. Inflation in San Diego was 8.2% in January compared to a year ago, and that is above the national average, which is at 7.5%. 

“That just makes it really costly to live in San Diego,” said Dr. Gin. “Add to that our high housing costs, and now you’ve got the electricity and high gas on top of that, it’s really tough for people, particularly at the low end of the income distribution to keep up with those rising costs.” 

So how does San Diego match up with other cities? 

San Diego vs. San Francisco 

  • 25% higher cost of living in SF 
  • higher incomes in SF make up for it 
  • San Diegans pay higher % of income on housing than in SF 

Income level needed to maintain similar standard of living:

San Diego vs. San Francisco 

  • $68,565/yr. = $85,611/yr. 
  • $90,000/yr. = $112,375/yr. 
  • $150,000/yr. = $187,292/yr. 

“In the Bay Area, the housing prices are higher but so are incomes,” said Dr. Gin. “Incomes are so much higher that they pay a smaller portion toward housing than we do. San Diego is the least affordable region in the country in terms of housing prices. If you compare the average housing price here with the average income, a higher portion of income is required to afford housing here than any other place in the country.” 

“San Diego’s housing market is quite expensive right now and it’s still on the increase,” said Chris Anderson, board president for the San Diego Association of Realtors. “For over a decade, we’ve had hardly any new builds, so we just have not had the supply to satisfy the demand.” 

Now let’s look at how San Diego’s cost of living and income levels compare to a city like Omaha, Nebraska. 

San Diego, CA vs. Omaha, NE 

  • 36.3% lower cost of living in Omaha, NE 
  • 62.3% lower housing costs in Omaha, NE 

Income level needed to maintain similar standard of living:

San Diego, CA vs. Omaha, NE 

  • $68,565/yr. = $43,684/yr. 
  • $90,000/yr. = $57,341/yr. 
  • $150,000/yr. = $95,568/yr. 

“In other parts of the country, income is lower, but housing prices are much lower, so they pay a lower portion of their income for housing,” said Dr. Gin. 

Now let’s look at how San Diego’s cost of living and incomes levels compare to Miami, FL. 

San Diego, CA vs. Miami, FL 

  • 20.8% lower cost of living in Miami, FL 
  • 38.9% lower housing costs in Miami, FL

Income level needed to maintain similar standard of living: 

  • $68,565/yr. = $54,320/yr. 
  • $90,000/yr. = $71,302/yr. 
  • $150,000/yr. = $118,837 

If you would like to do your own cost of living comparison using your own salary, you can use this calculator tool. 

WATCH RELATED: Searching for the lowest gas prices in San Diego (February 2022)


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