How Much Does It Cost to Live in Santa Cruz, California?

Santa Cruz is a small city located in California with a metropolitan area population of 59,946. A couple could live a moderate lifestyle in Santa Cruz on a budget of $4,764 per month, or $57,166 per year.

Cost of Living in Santa Cruz, California

As noted above, the cost of living in Santa Cruz, California is $4,764 per month for a couple living a moderate lifestyle. This budget consists of $3,102 for housing related costs, $789 for food, and $873 for other costs, all of which will be broken down below.


  • A one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Santa Cruz is estimated to cost $2,727
  • Basic utilities including electricity, water, and gas will run about $272
  • High-speed internet averages $102


  • Typical grocery costs of $544 per month include things like bread, eggs, milk, cheese, rice, chicken breast, bottled water, fruits, and vegetables
  • Alcohol including beer and wine for moderate home consumption costs about $132
  • Frequent coffees in a neighborhood café are estimated to be about $113


  • Meals out are estimated to be $525 per month, including 4 meals in mid-range restaurants and 8 in inexpensive restaurants
  • Transportation costs of $150 for public transport passes and occasional taxis
  • Fitness center memberships of $131
  • Cinema tickets of $68 include several outings for international releases

Note that Santa Cruz, California is a very walkable city with a Walk Score of 97/100, which means you won’t need a car if you are living in the city center and you may even save some money by not using public transportation and taxis very often.


Amount of Money Needed to Retire in Santa Cruz, California

Many people searching the internet for the cost of living in Santa Cruz, California are doing so to see if and when they can quit their jobs and retire. A popular and easy way to calculate your retirement number is using the 4% Rule.

The 4% Rule estimates that a person(s) could withdraw 4% of their retirement nest egg and never run out of money. Using this calculation, a couple would need an investment portfolio of $1,429,158 to live a moderate lifestyle in Santa Cruz, California.

Annual expenses of $57,166 ÷ 4% = $1,429,158 portfolio needed.

Of course, everyone’s financial situation is different, and the above calculation could change based on any other sources of passive income and social security income.


Overall, the cost of living in Santa Cruz, California is affordable coming in at $4,764 for a couple living a moderate lifestyle. Those seeking to retire could do so comfortably with a retirement portfolio of $1,429,158.