Cost of Living San Mateo, CA

Cost of Living San Mateo, CA Featured Image

Cover photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

The cost of living is the amount of money necessary to cover one’s basic expenses in a particular location and time period. This includes housing, food, taxes, and healthcare. It is often used to compare the affordability of living in one city compared to another.

Moving to a new location like San Mateo, CA can be an exciting adventure, but it can also mean having a higher cost of living. If you are considering relocating to San Mateo, we recommend that you check the cost of living in San Mateo, CA and compare it with that of your current residence.

Cost of Living Index in San Mateo, CA

A cost of living index is particularly helpful if you are considering moving to San Mateo, and you want to see if living here would be beneficial for you given your projected income. This index is based on a national average of 100. So, for example, if the COL index of housing in a given area is 150, then it is 50% higher than the national average.

Below is a table showing the overall cost of living in San Mateo, CA so you have an idea how expensive or affordable this location is relative to the state of California and to the rest of the nation.

Cost of LivingSan MateoCaliforniaUnited States

As you can see, the overall cost of living in San Mateo is 150% higher than the rest of the country. Among all the basic expenses, housing is the highest, over five times that of the national average. Read on to get a better understanding of how much living in San Mateo costs.

The Average Cost of Living in San Mateo County, CA

The Average Cost of Living in San Mateo County, CA

San Mateo is part of the San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco Metro Division. This area is ranked 3rd out of 273 cities across the United States in terms of cost of living, which means that it one of the most expensive cities in the country.

The information you will be reading on the average cost of living in San Mateo, CA will give you an idea of how much you will need to earn to be able to pay for your total monthly expenditure once you move to San Mateo. However, note that your actual expenses will depend on the cost of your housing, food, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and other miscellaneous goods and services. Your household composition and home ownership status will also affect your monthly expenses.

Housing Costs in San Mateo, CA

The San Mateo, CA cost of living index table provided above shows housing as the most expensive basic need. San Mateo housing prices range from $350,000 to $5 million. The median home price in San Mateo is $2,050,000 with a median price per square foot of $1,098. For renters, San Mateo average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment is $4,080.

Cost of Food and Groceries in San Mateo, CA

Photo by Greta Hoffman

Cost of Food and Groceries in San Mateo, CA

Whether you prefer to dine out or cook your meals at home, the cost of food and groceries is slightly higher than the national average. The table below shows the average cost of food and drinks in San Mateo, CA food establishments.

ItemAverage Cost
Meal at an Inexpensive Restaurant$18.50
Three-Course Meal for 2 People at a Mid-Range Restaurant$80.00
Combo Meal at a Fast-Food Restaurant$9.25
Domestic Beer (0.5-liter draught)$7.00
Imported Beer (0.33-liter bottle)$8.50
Cappuccino (regular)$5.14
Coke/Pepsi (0.33-liter bottle)$2.53
Water (0.33-liter bottle)$2.21

We have also listed below some of the common grocery items along with their average costs.

ItemAverage Cost
Milk (1 liter)$ 1.17
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)$ 4.23
Eggs (regular, 12)$ 4.12
Rice (white, 1kg)$ 4.38
Local Cheese (1kg)$ 13.59
Beef Round Back Leg Red Meat (1kg)$16.41
Apples (1kg)$5.24
Banana (1kg)$2.15
Oranges (1kg)$3.78
Tomato (1kg)$4.24
Potato (1kg)$2.55
Onion (1kg)$2.58
Lettuce (1 head)$1.91
Water (1.5-liter bottle)$1.66
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)$15.00
Domestic Beer (0.5-liter bottle)$2.61
Imported Beer (0.33-liter bottle)$2.47
Transportation Costs in San Mateo, CA

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Transportation Costs in San Mateo, CA

Transportation costs in San Mateo is quite high, with a cost of living index of 143.4. The table below should give you an idea how much you’ll be spending on transportation, whether you prefer to drive your own vehicle or take public transportation.

Transportation in San Mateo, CAAverage Cost
Local Transport Ticket$3.50
Monthly Ticket Local Transport$132.00
Taxi Ride (1 hour waiting)$30.00
Gas / Petroleum (1 liter / 0.26 gallon)$1.61

Healthcare Costs in San Mateo, CA

Healthcare costs in San Mateo are 17.4% higher than the national average. We have listed the average fees in this location so you have an idea how much a consultation to different practitioners will cost.

Visit to a Medical ProfessionalAverage Cost
General Practitioner$145.10
Prescription Drug$577.41
San Mateo, CA and Taxes

San Mateo, CA and Taxes

Taxes are not usually included in cost of living San Mateo, California data, but they are definitely part of your budget. In San Mateo County, sales tax is 8.75%, which consists of 6% California state sales tax and 2.75% San Mateo County local sales taxes.

The local sales tax comprises of a 0.25% county sales tax and a 2.50% special district sales tax. These are used to fund transportation districts, local attractions, etc. The average property tax rate in San Mateo is 0.56% of assessed home values.

Some Tips on How to Save Money While Living in San Mateo, CA?

Aside from learning the average costs of basic expenses in San Mateo, knowing the median household income will also allow you to have a more accurate calculation of cost of living in this city, which will enable you to budget your finances as you move to this location.

The median income for an individual is $61,028, 66% higher than that of the state. The median household income in San Mateo is $124,842, which is 65% higher than that of the state.

When budgeting for housing costs in San Mateo, a good rule of thumb for determining the affordability of a house is the 28% rule. This means that the sum of your monthly mortgage, property taxes, and insurance should not exceed 28% of your gross income before tax. If you’re renting, this applies to your monthly rent.

Another good rule of thumb is the 50-30-20 rule, wherein 50% of your net income after tax should be spent on needs, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings and investments.

Cost of Living San Mateo County


San Mateo, CA is an amazing city to live in and, if you are considering moving here and buying your own home, our team of professional realtors are here to show you all the housing options available. Contact us today to schedule a meeting!

Frequently Asked Questions

“Why is San Mateo expensive?” is a common question among home buyers. The answer: because San Mateo sits at the center of the San Francisco Bay Area. The proximity to tech headquarters and nearby commercial districts is a major factor that makes this city more expensive.

The average cost of living in San Mateo is $3,397.

The highest expense in San Mateo is housing so, whether you plan to buy a house or to rent, take this into account.

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