Orange County Cost of Living [2024] | 💰 Orange County Housing Market, Average Salary, Rent & Affordable Cities

Orange County, also known as The O.C., is a county located within the Los Angeles metropolitan area and covers all of the Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine metropolitan area. This well-known county has a population of just over 3.18 million, making it the third-most-populous county in California and the sixth-most-populous county in the United States. Known for its top-rated attractions such as Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm, as well as being the home to the University of California, Irvine, Orange County is a popular place to live for people of all ages.

If you are thinking about relocating to Orange County, then you may be wondering if you can afford to live in the area. The Orange County cost of living is high, so it is important to be aware of the everyday expenses you can expect when residing in the area. This is what you need to know about the cost of living in Orange County.

Orange County Cost of Living

One of the best ways to analyze the cost of living in Orange County CA, is to take a look at the Cost of Living Index, or COLI. The Cost of Living Index compares the cost of goods and services in an area to the national average of 100.

The Orange County California Cost of Living Index is 153.9. This means that the cost of living in Orange County is 53.9% higher than the national average. The cost of housing, groceries, transportation, and healthcare are all above the national average, while the cost of utilities is below the national average.

The Orange County Cost of Living Index is slightly higher than both the Los Angeles and San Diego COLI. The Los Angeles Cost of Living Index is 149.3, while the San Diego Cost of Living Index is 147.2. This means these areas are 4.6% and 6.7% more affordable than Orange County, respectively.

Consumer Price Index (CPI)

Is Orange County expensive? One way to answer this question is to take a look at the Consumer Price Index. The Consumer Price Index, also known as CPI, is used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to measure the price changes of everyday expenses in a given area. Over the past year, the CPI in Orange County has gone up 3.2%. 

Consumer Expenditure Survey

Another good way to analyze the average cost of living in Orange County is to check out the Consumer Expenditure Survey. This survey is also conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and shows the expenditures of consumers in an area. According to the latest survey, households in Orange County spent an average of $77,024 per year in 2021-2022. This is higher than the U.S. average of $70,052.

The largest expense for Orange County residents is housing, with 36.7% of income being spent in this category. The other largest categories include transportation (17.0%), food (13.2%), personal insurance and pensions (11.9%), healthcare (6.2%), and entertainment (4.2%).

Family Budget in Orange County

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four in Orange County would need to earn $114,841 per year to afford to live in the area. This is what your monthly expenses would look like when living in the county.

  • Housing: $2,331
  • Child care: $1,446
  • Taxes: $1,345
  • Transportation: $1,323
  • Health care: $1,083
  • Food: $879
  • Other necessities: $1,163

According to the 2023 California Real Cost Report, it costs a family of four $109,833 to meet their basic needs in Orange County. This number is unreachable for many, and more than one-third of families live below the Real Cost Measure.

According to the LA Times, however, there are many programs in place to help citizens live comfortably in Orange County. For example, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) was established by CAP OC to provide relief to low-income households and allow them to channel their limited resources toward critical needs. CAP OC has also put together a weatherization program, which helps to contribute to both sustainability and the well-being of the community. This program states that for every dollar invested in home weatherization, there is a return of $1.72 in energy benefits and $2.78 in health and safety benefits.

Average Cost of Items & Utilities in Orange County

It is important to consider your everyday expenses when analyzing the Orange County cost of living. In addition to factors such as housing and health care, you will want to think about variables such as groceries, cell phone bills, and utilities. Here are a few common everyday expenses in Orange County.

  • Milk (1 gal.): $2.71
  • Eggs (1 dozen): $2.51
  • Bananas (1 bunch): $3.74
  • Bread (1 loaf): $4.32
  • McDonald’s hamburger: $5.71
  • Gas (1 gal.): $4.38
  • Average cell phone bill: $174.62
  • Average cost of utilities in Orange County: $162.32

Source: PayScale

In addition to these expenses, you will also have to pay a monthly car insurance premium. According to CarInsurance, you can expect to pay a monthly car insurance bill of $60. The cost of transportation in Orange County is 32.1% higher than the national average, which is not surprising when you consider traffic in the area. According to Patch, drivers in Orange County and L.A. spend an average of 119 hours each year in traffic delays, which is the highest amount in the country. This leads to an excess of 35 gallons of fuel per driver and a $2,400 congestion cost per driver.


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To keep transportation costs down, you may want to consider utilizing the Orange County Transportation Authority, which offers bus and rail systems as well as walking and rideshare programs.

Average Rent in Orange County

Are you curious about Orange County rent prices? According to Spectrum News 1, Orange County is the most competitive rental market in California. More than 96% of apartments in the county are occupied, and for every vacant apartment in O.C., 11 people apply to live there. This has caused rent in Orange County to skyrocket, with all-time high prices over the past few years.

According to RentCafe, the average rent in Orange County California, is $2,711. This is higher than the national average of $1,702.

While these numbers have been high over the past few years, Orange County rent prices are finally starting to stabilize. According to CBS News, the Orange County average rent prices are only up 1.65% from last year, which is lower than what researchers expected (prices rose 14.0% from 2020 to 2022). This decreased average rent in Orange County CA is said to be fueled by a weaker housing market and a decrease in demand as fewer people are choosing to move.

Is it possible to find cheap rent in Orange County? Although the cheapest rent in Orange County is still more than many other metro areas, you can still find some good deals. To find good deals on apartments, consider searching for a place to live in the autumn or winter when people tend to stay put, and the average apartment rent in Orange County starts to fall.

Average Rent in Orange County By City:

  • Newport Beach: $3,583
  • Los Alamitos: $3,362
  • Dana Point: $3,274
  • Laguna Beach: $3,142
  • Irvine: $3,104
  • San Juan Capistrano: $3,083
  • Aliso Viejo: $2,959
  • Laguna Niguel: $2,929
  • Yorba Linda: $2,842
  • Tustin: $2,809
  • Lake Forest: $2,781
  • San Clemente: $2,765
  • Huntington Beach: $2,716
  • Laguna Woods: $2,693
  • Mission Viejo: $2,691
  • Laguna Hills: $2,679
  • Rancho Santa Margarita: $2,662
  • Costa Mesa: $2,655
  • Seal Beach: $2,557
  • Placentia: $2,553
  • Orange: $2,550
  • Santa Ana: $2,540
  • Fountain Valley: $2,533
  • Brea: $2,453
  • Fullerton: $2,419
  • Cypress: $2,366
  • La Palma: $2,357
  • Anaheim: $2,311
  • La Habra: $2,307
  • Westminster: $2,298
  • Stanton: $2,278
  • Garden Grove: $2,255
  • Buena Park: $2,154
  • Villa Park: $1,886

Based on the information above, you will find the cheapest apartments in Orange County in Villa Park. You’ll also find some of the cheapest rent in Orange County CA, in Buena Park, Garden Grove, and Stanton. Out of all of the Orange County cities, the most expensive area to rent an apartment in is Newport Beach.

Orange County Housing Market & Home Prices


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If you are thinking about purchasing real estate, then you need to keep up with Orange County home prices. According to Redfin, the Orange County average home price is $1.09 million. This is well above the national average of $411,868. The Orange County median home price is up 13% from last year, and homes sit on the market for an average of 33 days.

However, the Orange County real estate market is projected to start cooling down. According to The Real Deal, Orange County housing prices are expected to fall by 11% in the next six months due to a looming recession. This would bring the average home price in Orange County to $885,000.

You probably won’t find any cheap housing in Orange County, but you may find some cities more affordable to live in than others. Let’s take a look at the Orange County average home price by city.

Average Home Prices in Orange County by City:

  • Newport Beach: $3.75 million
  • Villa Park: $2.75 million
  • Laguna Beach: $2.53 million
  • Dana Point: $1.86 million
  • San Clemente: $1.65 million
  • Irvine: $1.46 million
  • San Juan Capistrano: $1.43 million
  • Costa Mesa: $1.32 million
  • Yorba Linda: $1.31 million
  • Fountain Valley: $1.30 million
  • Huntington Beach: $1.21 million
  • Lake Forest: $1.20 million
  • Laguna Niguel: $1.17 million
  • Los Alamitos: $1.15 million
  • Mission Viejo: $1.11 million
  • Brea: $1.07 million
  • Westminster: $1.05 million
  • Placentia: $1.04 million
  • Rancho Santa Margarita: $1.01 million
  • Orange: $1 million
  • Tustin: $995,000
  • La Palma: $975,000
  • Cypress: $920,000
  • Fullerton: $915,000
  • Buena Park: $855,000
  • Anaheim: $853,880
  • Garden Grove: $852,500
  • Laguna Hills: $842,500
  • Aliso Viejo: $840,000
  • La Habra: $800,000
  • Santa Ana: $749,500
  • Stanton: $670,000
  • Laguna Woods: $394,546
  • Seal Beach: $360,000

When it comes to the average house price in Orange County, Seal Beach is the cheapest, while Newport Beach is once again the most expensive.

Average Salary in Orange County

According to the California Employment Development Department, the average weekly pay in Orange County is $1,535. This brings the Orange County average salary to $79,820. The average income in Orange County is $100,485, which is much higher than the California average of $84,097. So, although the cost of living is high, the average salary and average income in Orange County CA can help to offset those costs.

Here’s a breakdown of the average salary in Orange County California by occupation (weekly).

  • Financial activities: $2,812
  • Manufacturing: $2,148
  • Goods-producing: $1,983
  • Professional and business services: $1,799
  • Construction: $1,749
  • Service-providing: $1,440
  • Education and health services: $1,149
  • Leisure and hospitality: $660

According to the Economic Policy Institute, one person would need to spend $57,556 per year to live in the county. This means that the salary needed to live in Orange County should be above this number. Another good way to calculate how much you will need to make to live in the area is to take a look at MIT’s Living Wage Calculator. The living wage in Orange County CA gives you an idea of how much you need to make per hour to support yourself or your family.

Orange County Living Wage Based on Household Size:

  • 1 adult, no children: $23.66
  • 1 adult, 1 child: $47.25
  • 2 adults (1 working), 1 child: $42.79
  • 2 adults (1 working), 2 children: $47.78
  • 2 adults (both working), no children: $17.33
  • 2 adults (both working), 2 children: $32.40

The Orange County minimum wage is currently $15.50 per hour.

Cheapest Places to Live in Orange County

What is the cheapest place to live in Orange County? Here’s a quick overview of the top three most affordable cities in Orange County. 

Seal Beach

When it comes to cheap places to live in Orange County, Seal Beach is at the top of the list. This city has the lowest real estate prices in the county, with an average home price of $360,000. This is even below the national average of $411,868, making it the cheapest city to live in Orange County.


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Santa Ana

Santa Ana is still up-and-coming, making it one of the cheapest Orange County cities. This city is constantly changing and expanding and is sure to become a hotspot over the next few years. It is one of the few cities in Orange County where the average home price falls under $1 million. 

Villa Park

Villa Park is the cheapest city in Orange County for renters. Apartment complexes are abundant in this area, making the city much less competitive for renters. The average rent in Villa Park is $1,886.

More Affordable Places to Live in Orange County: 

The Orange County cost of living may be high, but it is easily one of the best places in the country to settle down. When you are ready to relocate, make sure you call our trustworthy Orange County movers. Contact Daly Movers today at 714-538-2831 to get started with a free quote.

Chip Martin
Chip Martin
BA in philosophy, Long Beach State 1974, various trades after college including cabinet maker and boat refinisher, then became a local moving driver in 1976, bought Daly Movers in 1979, managed company, and drove local and long distance until 1995 when I transitioned into sales/office full time. Almost fifty years later Daly Movers and I have sold, worked, and familiarized ourselves with virtually every type of household and O&I relocation.

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