The gorgeous city of San Mateo is situated on the San Francisco Peninsula in the Bay Area. San Mateo is very popular among people of all ages due to its endless job opportunities, beautiful year-round weather, and upscale neighborhoods.
If you are considering moving to San Mateo, then you will want to know more about the cost of living in the city. The cost of living in San Mateo is not cheap. In fact, San Mateo County comes with the highest cost of living in all of California, according to The Center Square. Let’s take a deep dive into the San Mateo cost of living, including real estate, taxes, average salaries, and more.
Table of Contents
San Mateo Cost of Living Index
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Is San Mateo expensive? If you are asking yourself this question, then the first step is to take a look at the city’s Cost of Living Index, or COLI. The Cost of Living Index is used to compare the cost of goods and services in a city to the national average of 100. Factors such as housing, utilities, transportation, and healthcare go into the final COLI.
The San Mateo Cost of Living Index is 250, which means that the city is 150% more expensive than the national average of 100. San Mateo is above the national average in every category (groceries, healthcare, housing, transportation), except when it comes to utilities. The cost of utilities in San Mateo is 8.1% more affordable than the national average. Housing contributes most to the San Mateo California cost of living, with a cost that is 437.6% higher than the national average.
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
Another good way to analyze the San Mateo CA cost of living is to take a look at the Consumer Price Index. The Consumer Price Index, also known as CPI, is what the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to analyze the changes in prices of everyday expenses in an area. Over the past two months, the CPI has remained the same in the San Mateo area; however, prices are up 3.4% from last year.
Over the past year, food prices increased by 4.5%, housing increased by 3.8%, and fuels and utilities increased by 3.3%. Expenses such as transportation, gasoline, and medical care all decreased.
Consumer Expenditure Survey
Another survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is the Consumer Expenditure Survey. This survey analyzes what percentage of income is spent on certain expenses in a given area. The latest survey states that households in San Mateo spent an average of $91,290 in the 2020-21 calendar year. This is well above the national average of $64,187.
This is how income in San Mateo is typically budgeted.
- Housing: 41.9% of total income (compared to national average of 34.3%)
- Personal insurance and pensions: 13.3% of total income (compared to national average of 11.8%)
- Transportation: 12.1% of total income (compared to national average of 16.2%)
- Food: 11.9% of total income (compared to national average of 12.2%)
- Healthcare: 6.4% of total income (compared to national average of 8.3%)
- Entertainment: 3.9% of total income (compared to national average of 5.1%)
- Cash contributions: 3.5% of total income (compared to national average of 3.7%)
- Apparel and services: 2.1% of total income (compared to national average of 2.5%)
Based on the information above, you can see that the San Mateo cost of living actually falls below the national average in most categories. However, both housing and personal insurance and pensions are significantly higher than the national averages.
Family Budget in San Mateo
According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four living in San Mateo would need to earn $172,888 per year to live comfortably in the city. This breaks down to about $14,407 per month. Housing is the biggest expense for San Mateo residents, with an average of $4,002 spent on housing every month.
Here’s how the rest of this budget breaks down.
- Taxes: $2,822
- Child care: $1,922
- Health care: $1,493
- Transportation: $1,364
- Food: $994
- Other necessities: $1,811
Of course, your lifestyle, family size, and neighborhood can influence these numbers greatly. For a family of two with no kids, the cost of living drops down to $109,036 per year.
Cost of Household Items, Utilities, Gas & Groceries in San Mateo
On top of your fixed monthly expenses, you will need to consider the everyday expenses that contribute to the average cost of living in San Mateo CA. These are a few of the everyday expenses you can expect to pay after moving to the area.
- Steak (1 pound): $8.00
- Milk (1 gallon): $4.43
- Eggs (1 dozen): $5.89
- Potatoes (5 pounds): $10.20
- Bread (1 loaf): $4.67
- Beer (1 bottle): $1.73
- Movie ticket: $14.50
- McDonald’s meal: $22.00
- Average cell phone bill: $43.00
- Gas (1 gallon): $4.78
On top of these expenses, San Mateo utilities cost around $184.00 per month. You can also expect to pay a San Mateo car insurance bill of $50 per month.
The cost of transportation in San Mateo is slightly below the national average due to the many public transportation options in the city. The SamTrans bus system provides transportation within San Mateo and the rest of San Mateo County. You can also hop on the Caltrain, which is a commuter rail station that has three stations in San Mateo. SamTrans costs $2.25 per ride, while the Caltrain starts at $3.75 per ride. San Mateo is also a bike-friendly city, with over 200 bikeways throughout the area.
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San Mateo Real Estate Market
As mentioned before, San Mateo housing prices contribute to a large chunk of the overall cost of living. According to Redfin, the average home price in San Mateo CA is $1.4 million. The San Mateo average home price has gone down 5.2% in the past year, but it is still much higher than the national average of $412,502. It is a bit lower than the median home price in San Mateo County, which is sitting at $1.52 million.
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Some of the most affordable neighborhoods in San Mateo are Marina Lagoon (median home price of $1.2 million), Shoreview (median home price of $1.34 million), and North Central (median home price of $820,000). The most expensive neighborhoods are Hayward Park (median home price of $1.60 million), Beresford Manor (median home price of $1.89 million), and San Mateo Park (median home price of $3.43 million).
San Mateo Rental Market – Average Rent in San Mateo CA
Are you searching for San Mateo apartments? According to RentCafe, the average rent in San Mateo is $3,447. This is how the San Mateo average rent compares to other major cities in California.
- Los Angeles: $2,742
- San Francisco: $3,336
- East Bay: $2,570
- San Diego: $3,016
- Long Beach: $2,579
- Sacramento: $1,856
You will find lower San Mateo rent prices in the neighborhoods of Baywood, Foothill Terrace, and Homestead Husing, where the average rent is $2,971 per month. The most expensive neighborhoods in San Mateo for renters are Lauriedale, The Village, and Westwood Knolls, which all have an average rent of $3,531.
If you are unsure about whether or not you can afford rent in San Mateo, then you will want to take a look at the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach Report. According to this report, a worker living in San Mateo County would need to earn $61.31 per hour ($127,520 per year) to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the city without spending over 30% of their income on housing. This is well above the California average of $42.25 per hour, or $87,877 per year.
Is it cheaper to rent or to buy in San Mateo? You can answer this question by figuring out the price-to-rent ratio. The higher the price-to-rent ratio, the better the city is for renters. The lower the price-to-rent ratio, the better the city is for buyers.
The price-to-rent calculation is:
Median Home Price / Median Annual Rent
With San Mateo’s information plugged in, the equation looks like this:
$1,400,000 / $41,364 = 33.8
33.8 is considered to be a high price-to-rent ratio, and the city is, therefore, better for renters.
Average Salary & Household Income in San Mateo
The San Mateo cost of living is high, but so is the average salary and household income. The San Mateo median income per household is $145,388. This is higher than the median household income for San Mateo County ($113,776) as well as the median household income for California ($84,097).
According to PayScale, the average salary in San Mateo is $113,000 per year. The minimum wage in San Mateo County is set to increase to $17.06 per hour starting in 2024. This is higher than the state’s minimum wage of $16 per hour.
These are the top 10 most popular jobs in San Mateo, as well as their yearly salaries, according to the BLS.
- Office and administrative support: $61,630
- Management: $185,400
- Business and financial: $112,180
- Sales and related: $72,870
- Food preparation and serving related: $41,200
- Computer and mathematical: $155,490
- Transportation and material moving: $55,760
- Healthcare support: $41,870
- Educational instruction and library: $80,110
- Healthcare practitioners: $139,030
Income, Sales, & Property Taxes in San Mateo
Curious about taxes in San Mateo? This is what you need to know about income, property, and sales tax in the city.
Income tax in the state of California is divided into nine different income brackets. Within these brackets, taxes range from 1% to 12.3%. The amount of income tax you pay depends on your income.
The County of San Mateo handles San Mateo property tax. First, the San Mateo County Assessor will report the assessed value of your property. Then it will be passed over to the San Mateo County Controller, who will determine the amount of taxes that will be collected. Then, the Tax Collector will bill and collect the taxes.
The sales tax rate in San Mateo is 9.625%.
- California sales tax: 7.250%
- San Mateo County sales tax: 2.125%
- San Mateo City sales tax: 0.250%
- Total sales tax: 9.625%
San Mateo vs. San Francisco Cost of Living
San Francisco is only 19.6 miles away from San Mateo and is often another option for people moving to the area. But how does the San Francisco cost of living compare to the San Mateo cost of living? San Francisco has a lower cost of living than San Mateo. The San Francisco Cost of Living Index is 194.1, making it 94.1% higher than the national average, but 55.6% lower than the San Mateo average.
Here’s how the two cities stack up against each other:
- Average home price: $1.4 million in San Mateo vs. $1.3 million in San Francisco
- Average rent: $3,447 in San Mateo vs. $3,336 in San Francisco
- Average monthly expenses: $14,407 in San Mateo vs. $13,251 in San Francisco
- Average salary: $113,000 in San Mateo vs. $111,000 per year in San Francisco
- Median household income: $145,388 in San Mateo vs. $126,187
As you can see, most expenses are lower in San Francisco, however, the average salary and median household income are also lower. So all in all, the cost of living in both cities may feel similar due to the higher salary and household income in San Mateo.
Overall, the San Mateo cost of living is well above the national average, and the city is expensive. However, higher household incomes and salaries may help to offset the high cost of living. Give AMS Relocation a call today at 650-284-2931 to get in touch with the best movers in San Mateo.