Cost of Living in Irvine, CA (Taxes, Housing & More)

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

If you’ve heard of Orange County, then you’ve heard of one of its richest and most dense cities, Irvine. Home to many well-known colleges and universities, Irvine, California is one of the safest American cities. Its gorgeous views and professional opportunities pull many people in, but how much does it cost to live in Irvine?

Irvine, California’s cost of living is almost double the US average and 25% higher than California’s. Housing in Irvine is more than triple the US average, with a median home price over $1 million. The average household income in Irvine, CA is $91,999 and a single resident has an average income of $43,456. Expect to pay between $1,715 in rent for a studio or $3,672 for a 4-bedroom.

Everything from groceries, gas prices, property taxes, and garbage collection affects the cost of living in Irvine, CA. Follow along as we explore how much it really costs to live in this urban community.

Do You Need to Hire Movers?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Cost Of Living In Irvine, CA: Housing Costs

Houses in Irvine are quite expensive, and the median value is $1,030,900. The cost of houses has gone up by 13.8% in Irvine since last year, and the majority of homes have a value between $750,000 and $999,999. A house in Irvine can cost you over 4 times the national median home value.

LocationMedian Home ValueHomeownership Rate
Los Angeles$768,04645.8%
United States$291,70056.2%

Another housing option in Irvine is buying an apartment, and that can be quite costly as well. Generally, an apartment in Irvine sells for between $450 and $520 per square foot. The more expensive rent refers to apartments and houses within the city center.

Irvine, CA Rent Prices

Your average apartment in Irvine, CA costs roughly $2,200 each month, but the location makes all the difference. Rent a small, 500 square foot studio apartment could cost as little as $1,500 in Irvine. The more bedrooms that your apartment has, the higher rent will be, and a 3 bedroom costs $3,100 or more.

To rent a studio apartment, you can expect to pay about $1,715. You’d pay an average of $1,904 for a 1-bedroom, $2,323 for a 2-bedroom, $3,176 for a 3-bedroom, and $3,672 for a 4-bedroom.

There are several colleges and universities in Irvine, and that partially accounts for the number of renters. In Irvine, 54% of the population are not homeowners, and 49% of that group are renters. If you want to save money and still have space, you could get a 1 bedroom for $2,000 away from the city center.

California CitiesAverage Monthly Rent
Los Angeles$2,524
Simi Valley$2,043

Irvine’s average rent cost is comparable to many other popular California cities, but northern California cities like Mendocino are cheaper. Orange County is one of the wealthiest counties in CA, and that keeps real estate and rent costs high. Another difference in cost that is noticeable is rent averages between different neighborhoods in Irvine.

Irvine NeighborhoodsAverage Monthly Rent
El Camino Real$2,200
West Park$2,500

Average Cost Of Utilities in Irvine, CA

Whether you are a renter or a homeowner in Irvine, CA, utility bills will come each month. Monthly utilities typically cost $140, and that’s up to $10 more than Los Angeles. Electrical costs alone are 34% higher than the American average at 15.98¢ per kilowatt-hour.

The $140 per month in utilities applies to electrical bills, heating and cooling costs, water, and gas. You should factor in between $60 and $70 each month for internet bills as well. Water consumption is a big part of utility bills and can cost $65 per month if you use 300 gallons or more.

Garbage pickup can start at roughly $12 per month in Irvine, CA. Because California encourages recycling, many Irvine trash collection services offer free recycling bins as well.

Cost Of Property Taxes In Irvine, CA

Owning a home or land in Irvine, CA carries a hefty property tax rate. For every $1,000 of a home’s value, Irvine residents can expect to pay $8.32 in property taxes. Irvine is located in Orange County, and residents pay a median $7,097 each year in property taxes. The property tax rate is higher than the average property tax rate in California, which is 0.73%.

California has the 8th highest property tax rates in America, and Orange County isn’t even the most expensive county. Luckily, some of that cost can be avoided in Irvine, CA, but you need to apply for Homeowner’s Exemption. You can shave up to $7,000 off of assessed value with Homeowner’s Exemption, and that means there’s less to tax.

Disabled veterans in Irvine and all of California can get exemptions on $196,262 in value on their homes. There are also property tax exemptions for low-income families in California so long as yearly income is $64,337 or less.

Cost Of Living In Irvine, CA: Taxes

California is known for high taxes, and Irvine is no exception. The state imposes a 6% sales tax rate, and Orange County applies another 0.25%. When you add another 1.5% for local and district taxes, the combined tax rate in Irvine, CA is 7.75%.

Irvine CA TaxesCost & RateNational Average
Sales Tax Rate7.75%7.12%
Gasoline50.5 Cents Per Gallon$0.18 Per Gallon
Property Taxes0.82%2.31%

You probably noticed right away how high the tax on gasoline is in Irvine, CA. Gasoline taxes are a cost that adds up in Irvine, CA, as busy freeways eat up a lot of gas. Sales taxes are above the national average in Irvine as well, and property taxes are the only factor below the national average.

Irvine, CA Food Prices

Both groceries and restaurant dining are expensive in Irvine, and you could easily spend $600 on food a month. Choosing to dine out often can quickly add another $300-$400 each month in food costs. Choosing to buy groceries and eat at home is the cheapest option, but groceries are expensive in Irvine as well.

Irvine CA FoodAverage Cost
Fast Food Meal$8-$10
Dinner For 1 At Restaurant$15-$18
Dinner For 2 With Drinks$45-$50
Drinks and 3 Course Meal For 2$70-$90
Dozen Eggs$3.10-$4.20
Pound Of Bananas$1.00-$1.30+
Pound Of Apples$1.50-$2.00
Gallon Of Milk$3.00-$3.50

The national average for a dozen eggs is $1.54, and that’s half of the cost in Irvine. Grocery items such as eggs, produce, and milk are often double the national average in Irvine. Sometimes lumped in with groceries, cigarettes cost $6.65 on average nationally, but they cost $8.81 a pack in Irvine.

Costs Of Living In Irvine, CA: Education

Irvine is known for many things, but many colleges in and around the city are some of the bigger assets. One of the most well-known and prestigious California schools is the University of California Irvine. If you are a California resident, the University of California Irvine costs roughly $34,261 a year.

Cheaper college education opportunities in Irvine, CA include California Intercontinental University, and it costs $10,565 per year. Another well-renowned college in Irvine is Concordia University-Irvine, which costs $36,740 a year, or more if you live off-campus.

Expect to spend roughly $11,526 a year for private elementary education in Irvine. Private high schools cost more and average $20,000 or more a year. There are also several public schools in the Irvine Unified School District, such as Alderwood and Turtlerock Elementary School.

Driving Costs in Irvine, CA

Gasoline currently costs between $4.64 and $4.94 per gallon, and there’s a 50.2 cent per gallon tax rate. Your average driver uses 656 gallons of gasoline per year, and that would cost $3,043-$3,240 each year. Driving costs are complicated in Irvine due to dense traffic, and the 20 miles per gallon average doesn’t always apply.

Car insurance is another huge driving cost and can cost $1,868 a year for Irvine residents. The national average for auto insurance is $1,427, putting Irvine in the high end of the range. If you have a new car, it could cost as much as $1,100 for routine maintenance and necessary repairs.

Cost Of Living In Irvine, CA: Public Transportation

Irvine has solid and affordable public transportation, particularly its bus system. Orange County’s bus fares are affordable and can cost as little as $0.75 for elderly riders. If you want to save time and money on your daily commute, a monthly bus pass won’t cost more than $69.

Irvine Public TransportationCost
One-Way Amtrak To Irvine$7.50-$62.00
Single Stop Bus Ticket$0.75-$2.00
Bus Day Pass$1.50-$5.00
Bus Month Pass$22.25-$69.00
Taxicab Per Mile$2.75

Using public transportation can save hundreds and even thousands of dollars on gasoline. The costliest method of transportation in Irvine is taxicabs at $2.75 a mile. Orange County is quite spread out, and Irvine alone is over 65 square miles, so cab fares can get high.

Cost To Travel To And From Irvine, California

You fly into the LAX airport to reach Irvine, California. If you flew from St. Louis to Irvine right now, it would cost between $210 and $341 roundtrip. Further east, however, a flight from New York to Irvine would cost between $135 and $289 roundtrip.

The Los Angeles International Airport is one of the busiest airports in America and boasts 1,500 flights a day. Irvine is about 42.6 miles away from Los Angeles International Airport. Burbank Airport is another option, but it is even further out at 49.8 miles from Irvine.

San Francisco may be in the same state as Irvine, but it is a day’s drive away. You could spend as little as $97 per roundtrip ticket to fly from LAX to San Francisco.

Costs Of Entertainment In Irvine, CA

If you enjoy a day at the movies, the theater, or a museum, Irvine has got you covered. Orange County’s Science Center is fun, comprehensive, and only costs $14-$20. The Lyon Air Museum is another museum unique to Irvine that is worth the $12 admission cost.

Irvine CA EntertainmentAverage Cost
Movie Ticket$10-$14
Theater Ticket$70-$140
Gym Membership$10-$20 (Per Month)
Discovery Cube Orange County Science Center$14-$20
Lyon Air Museum$12

Some of the best entertainment in Irvine, CA is free of charge and occurs naturally. If you enjoy the outdoors, you should go to Crystal Cove State Park for a day at the beach. Other free outdoor attractions include the Wedge, Balboa Pier, Main Beach’s boardwalk, and Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness.

What Did We Learn?

The cost of living in Irvine, CA is unarguably high. You can spend between $600 and $1,000 on food alone each month in Irvine. Rent averages roughly $2,200 a month for a mid-sized 1 bedroom apartment, with $140 in utilities on top of that.

Owning a home in Irvine, CA comes at a high cost with a median home value of $880,000. You could spend up to $520 per square foot before closing costs when you buy an apartment in Irvine. Private education costs between $10,000 and $20,000 a year for elementary and high school, respectively.

Despite the high cost of living in Irvine, it is possible for anyone, but it is most comfortable if you make at least $90,000 a year. Consider public transportation if you want to cut costs in Irvine, because gas can cost $2,000-$2,486 per year. Irvine is beautiful, cultured, fun, and welcoming, and it would make a great home for you.

Related Questions

Is Irvine, CA safe?

Yes, Irvine is safe, and in fact, it is one of America’s safest cities. Irvine boasts the lowest violent crime rate relative to the population and consistently ranks as the safest city to live in. Some of the safest neighborhoods that you can occupy in Irvine include Oak Creek, Woodbridge, and Shady Canyon.

Does Irvine, California experience fires and earthquakes?

Unfortunately, fires do occur in Irvine, and the Santa Anna winds can fuel their spread. Recently, the Silverado Fire that burned over 12,000 acres around Irvine caused damage and created smoke. The risk of fire is not as high in Irvine as it is in many northern California cities.Yes, Irvine does get earthquakes, and the last significant one was in July of 2019. Southern California experiences over 10,000 earthquakes each year, but most are so subtle that they have little effect. The highest rate of earthquakes in California is in Central Valley South, near the San Andreas fault.

How much money do you need to live in Irvine?

You need to earn roughly $90,000 a year or more to comfortably live in Irvine. That is because you would be spending $2,500 a month minimum, if not significantly more, and that adds up to $30,000 a year. If you make $90,000 a year before taxes, that number quickly dwindles, so earning more than that is ideal.The median income for a single Irvine resident is $43,456 and the median household income is $91,999. The current unemployment rate is 5.4%, but future job growth predictions are at 40.2%.

Do You Need to Hire Movers?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

More by Nick Durante