Cost Of Living In Santa Rosa, California (Housing, Taxes & More)

Cost of Living in Santa Rosa, California

Do you love wineries? Well, is Santa Rosa, California the place for you! Located an hour north of San Francisco, Sonoma County has some of the best wineries in the country, and it’s a top destination for tourists looking for a true wine country experience. There is more to Santa Rosa than just wines, though – a really excellent quality of life can be had.

But don’t get too excited. With a cost of living index at 149, Santa Rosa comes in nearly 50% more expensive to live in than the average US city. Residents do enjoy wonderful weather, a high median household income (over $70,000), and much more.

Is Santa Rosa right for you?

Housing Costs in Santa Rosa, California

Median Home Prices in Santa Rosa, California Compared

Location Median Home Value Homeownership Rate
Santa Rosa $544,997 52.7%
Sacramento $378,461 47.1%
California $557,388 53.5%
United States $320,000 65.8%

Did you expect housing to be quite this expensive? The housing cost of living index in Santa Rosa is startling 250.5, making it well over double the national average to buy and own land in. Housing is even more expensive than in the Sacramento area, though it isn’t quite as high as the state’s average. Homeownership rates lag behind both the state and the country.

Median Home Prices in Santa Rosa, California

Median Home Prices Percentage of Homes
$1.217 Million and Above 6.4%
$931,000-$1.216 Million 9.3%
$608,000-$930,999 29.3%
$486,000-$607,999 21.6%
$365,000-$485,999 15.5%
$244,000-$364,999 7.9%
$121,000-$243,999 3.4%
Sub $120,000 6.6%

That housing price range seems on-par with such a high housing cost of living index. With prices so high, it’s no wonder homeownership rates are so low!

The majority of the homes in Santa Rose, or 54.8%, were built between 1970 and 1999. 24.9% were built before then, between 1940 and 1969. 14.7% were built in 2000 or after. 57.6% of homes are single-family homes, with 18.9% being apartment complexes, 11.1% townhomes, and just 8.5% of homes are smaller apartment buildings.

37.5% of homes have 3 bedrooms, while 30.7% have 2 bedrooms, and just 13.5% have 1 bedroom.

Rental Costs in Santa Rosa, California

Housing Size Santa Rosa Santa Rosa Metro California United States
Studio $1307 $1254 $1156 $821
1 Bedroom $1507 $1447 $1358 $930
2 Bedroom $1963 $1887 $1723 $1148
3 Bedroom $2842 $2728 $2375 $1537
4 Bedroom $3432 $3298 $2755 $1791

No surprise, rent in Santa Rosa is also extremely expensive. This goes hand in hand with the higher housing cost of living index. The average price of rent in Santa Rosa itself is nearly twice the national average.

Taxes in Santa Rosa, California

The state of California has a base sales tax of 7.25%, which is higher than the national average of 7.12%. Each local government or county can also impose its own sales tax on top of this number. In Santa rose, the sales tax is a healthy 9%. This is a big ‘hidden expense’ many people don’t consider when moving to Santa Rosa.

Property Taxes in Santa Rosa, California

Good news on the homeowner’s front – the property tax in Sonoma County is extremely low. The average county property tax rate is just 0.700%, just under the state’s average of 0.730% and well under the national average of 1.070%.

If a home was purchased at the median value of $544,997, the average homeowner would pay just $3,815 annually in property taxes. This is over $2,000 less than the national average rate, which would be $5,831 annually (at 1.070%)

Income Taxes in Santa Rosa, California

California has a progressive tax rate, meaning that the amount you pay varies on what you make. The tax rate varies wildly depending on what your income is, so let’s break it down for you.

Income Amounts Tax Rate What You’ll Actually Pay
$0-$8932 1% 1% of Total Income
$8993-21175 2% $89.32 plus 2% of Income Over $8993
$33422-$46394 4% $334.18 plus 4% of Income Over $33422
$46395-$58634 8% $824.02 plus 8% of Income Over $46935
$58635-$299508 9.3% $2518.60 plus 9.3% of Income Over $58635
$299509-$359407 10.3% $24982.88 plus 10.3% of Income Over $299509
$359408-$599012 11.3% $31152.48 plus 11.3% of Income Over $359408
$599013 and Above 12.3% $58227.85 plus 12.3% of Income Over $599012

It’s common knowledge that income taxes in the state of California are fairly high, with the highest tax bracket being some of the highest rates in the country.

Utility Costs in Santa Rosa, California

The utility cost of living index in Santa Rosa is 100.1, making it just slightly more expensive than the national average. For a typical 915 square foot apartment, a Santa Rosa resident can expect to pay about $195/month in utilities. This includes all the basics like water, electricity, cooling, and garbage. The typical high-speed internet connection is $72/month.

The average residential electricity rate in Santa Rosa is 15.59¢/kWh. This is significantly higher than the national average of 11.88¢/kWh, and just slightly more expensive than California’s average, which sits at 15.34¢/kWh.

Food Costs in Santa Rosa, California

Item of Food in Santa Rosa, California Price
Average Meal for 1 $20
Mid-Range Meal for 2 $80-$95
Gallon of Milk $4.50-$4.75
Loaf of Fresh Bread $3.50-$3.75
12 Eggs $3.50-$3.75
1lb Chicken $4.50-$5
1lb of Bananas $0.95-$1.25

As you can see, food prices are on the higher side in Santa Rosa as well. With a grocery cost of living index at 109.8, Santa Rosa is generally more expensive than average.

Experts recommend you spend approximately 11% of your yearly income on food and groceries. For the average Santa Rosa household making $71,347, this would give them a budget of $7,848 annually. That works out to be just over $650/month. While that sounds like a lot of money to some, when you put food prices in perspective, it may not be all that much.

Transportation Costs in Santa Rosa, California

The average worker in Santa Rosa spends about 22.6 minutes one-way commuting to work, which is less than the national average of 26.4 minutes. 77.3% of people drive their own vehicle to work, while 10.7% carpool with coworkers, and 1.8% take the public transportation options. With a transportation cost of living index at 103.6, Santa Rosa is close in cost to the national average.

Car insurance in Santa Rosa averages about $1,789 annually. That is quite a bit higher than the national average of $1,548, but less than the average in California, which sits at $1,868.

Cost of a Gallon of Gas, Compared

Location Price
Santa Rosa $3.45
Sacramento $3.18
United States $2.60

As you can see, the cost of gas is quite a bit higher in Santa Rosa than the national average. This is another one of those “hidden expenses” you don’t think about when looking to move until it’s too late.

Public Transportation in Santa Rosa, California

The city of Santa Rosa maintains an extensive city bus system that runs through all of Santa Rosa, easily letting residents travel without needing a vehicle. There are 15 routes total to service the 179,000 residents of the city.

Santa Rosa Public Transit Fares

Age Range Cash Price 24-Hour Pass 31-Day Pass
Adult $1.50 $4 $50
Youth $1.25 $3 $25
Senior $0.75 $2 $25
Qualifying Disabled Persons $0.75 $2 $25
Child Under 4 Free Free Free
Santa Rosa Junior College Student Free Free Free
Veterans Free Free Free

Schools in Santa Rosa, California

The schools in Santa Rosa and the surrounding areas are extensive. There are 78 elementary schools, 55 middle schools, and 42 high schools. 42 of them are public schools, with 23 public charter schools and 117 private schools. Nearly 70,000 students attend school in Santa Rosa each year.

The student: teacher ratio in Sonoma public schools is 21:1, which is less than the state’s average of 23:1. This is higher than the nationwide average of 16:1.

The public schools in Santa Rosa regularly rank within the top 30% of California schools. Sonoma County public schools have an average math proficiency score of 29%, compared to the state average of 38%, and an average reading proficiency score of 51%, compared to the state average of 50%.

Entertainment Costs in Santa Rosa, California

Do you love wineries? Great – because that’s truly what the area is known for! The best-reviewed wineries include St. Francis Winery and Vineyards, Paradise Ridge Winery, Benovia Winery, and Matanzas Creek Winery. Prices are as low as $20/person for tastings, and go up from there – but with so many wineries to choose from, you never have to settle.

Looking for more family-friendly options? For $100/person, you can take a river kayak tour on the Sonoma coastline. There is also Safari West, a 400-acre sanctuary for incredible wildlife. Weekday safaris range in price from $93-$109, and weekend rates range from $103-$128 per adult, which include an extensive ‘safari’ experience without leaving the state. Private safaris start at $1,100, and nightly rates are anywhere from $290-$450.

If you love the peanuts, the Charles M Schulz Museum is in Santa Rosa and is just $12 for adults, $5 for students or youth under 18.

Clothing Costs in Santa Rosa, California

Item of Clothing Price
1 Pair of Name-Brand Jeans $45
1 Summer Dress (From a Chain Retail Store) $38
1 Pair of Name-Brand Shoes $90
1 Pair of Dress Shoes $115

Like everything else, clothing and household goods come at a premium in Santa Rosa. The good news is there are numerous indoor and outdoor malls within Santa Rosa, including the Santa Rosa Plaza and Coddingtown Mall. This at least gives residents a little more variety, even if they are paying more.

Should You Move to Santa Rosa, California?

Is moving to Santa Rosa right for you? Even with a high cost of living, and extremely high property values, Santa Rosa is undoubtedly beautiful. If you’re interested in living within the heart of wine country, you, too, can join the 180,000 people who call Santa Rosa home.

Make sure you understand all the costs involved, though. This isn’t a move for the faint of heart!

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Mary Newman

Mary Newman thought that home improvement was all painting and putting down throw rugs... until she bought a fixer upper, and realized it's so much more. With a passion for helping others NOT make the mistakes she did, Mary seeks to always improve her home - and yours, too!

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