Overall 95%
Goods & Services 37%
Housing 239%
Date & Last Updated: This data reflects 2019 and was released from C2ER in January, 2020; this is the most current data available.
The cost of living index is based on a national average of 100. For example, if the cost of living is 90, then it is 10% lower than average. If the cost of living is 110, then it is 10% higher than average. The breakdown for each index is as follows: goods & services (33%), groceries (13%), health care (5%), housing (30%), transportation (9%) and utilities (10%). If the cost of living data was unavailable for this city, estimates based upon nearby cities were used.
IndexSan RafaelCaliforniaNational
Cost of living195140100
Goods & Services137111100
Health care127113100

Key findings

  • The cost of living in San Rafael is 39% higher than the California average
  • The cost of living in San Rafael is 95% higher than the national average
  • San Rafael housing is 239% higher than the national average
  • California general sales tax is 42% higher than the national average
  • California state income tax is 59% lower than the national average

Most Affordable Places to Live in and Around San Rafael

See all the best places to live around San Rafael

Compare San Rafael, CA Cost of Living

      How would you rate the cost of living in San Rafael?
      Write a review to give others more information about this area.
      Is the cost of living increasing or decreasing in San Rafael?
      Write a review to give others more information about this area.
      See all San Rafael poll results

      Salary Calculator

      This is how much you would need to earn in
      Price difference in compared to
      Cost of living index
      Goods & Services index
      Groceries index
      Health care index
      Housing index
      Transportation index
      Utilities index

      Median Income & Debt-To-Income Ratio

      Median IncomePer YearPer MonthMax Budget (28% DTI)Max Budget (36% DTI)
      A good way to judge both the affordability of the housing and the cost of living in San Rafael is by simply calculating the maximum that should be spent on housing, otherwise known as the debt-to-income ratio (DTI). The plan is to avoid spending more than 28 percent of the gross income on costs that pertain to housing and no more than 36 percent on all expenses and debts. San Rafael has a median income of about $122,492 for people who own homes. Based on that number, a maximum of $2,858 should be spent on expenses related to housing. Renters have a slightly different median income, which is $49,914. Based on this average, renters should spend no more than $1,165 on all rental costs if they want to maintain a non-impoverished standard of living.

      California Sales Tax

      StateGeneral Sales TaxWith Max Surtax

      California Income Tax

      StateIncome Tax (Low)Income Tax (High)

      Goods & Services

      ItemSan RafaelNational avg.Difference
      Haircut $23.67$17.4935.3%
      Beauty Salon $84.88$38.17122.4%
      Toothpaste $2.92$2.3225.8%
      Shampoo $1.37$1.0135.4%
      Movie $15.04$10.7240.2%
      Bowling $21.14$13.8652.5%


      ItemSan RafaelNational avg.Difference
      Ground Beef $3.47$3.9011.0%
      Fried Chicken $1.39$1.400.4%
      Milk $2.34$1.9619.3%
      Potatoes $2.57$3.1819.3%
      Pizza $13.99$10.3934.6%
      Beer $10.39$9.2312.6%

      Health Care

      ItemSan RafaelNational avg.Difference
      Optometrist $143.14$106.3434.6%
      Doctor $154.00$115.2533.6%
      Dentist $138.14$98.3840.4%
      Ibuprofen $12.19$9.2631.6%
      Lipitor $435.97$466.476.5%


      ItemSan RafaelNational avg.Difference
      Home Price $758,600.00$184,700.00310.7%
      Avg. Mortgage Payment $4,745.39$1,273.32272.7%
      Apartment Rent $1,628.00$949.0071.5%


      ItemSan RafaelNational avg.Difference
      Gasoline $3.82$2.5947.5%
      Tire Balancing $65.75$48.9034.5%


      ItemSan RafaelNational avg.Difference
      All Electricity$224.45$167.6033.9%
      Phone $195.57$163.4219.7%
      Although the cost of living data is updated regularly, this cost of living information is to be used as estimates only as prices can change on an ongoing basis.

      Nearby cities with low cost of living

      City, StatePopulationCost of Living IndexNational Avg.
      Strawberry CDP (Tuolumne County), CA11613333%
      Rollingwood, CA3,23112525%
      San Pablo, CA29,99112626%
      Montalvin Manor, CA3,17412727%
      North Richmond, CA4,03912929%
      San Rafael, CA58,94819595%

      Cities with similar population

      City, StatePopulationCost of Living IndexNational Avg.
      Idaho Falls, ID58,93387-13%
      Huntington Park, CA58,92112525%
      Chapel Hill, NC59,00511919%
      Royal Oak, MI58,8231000%
      Port Orange, FL58,78093-7%
      San Rafael, CA58,94819595%
      Source: The San Rafael, CA cost of living data displayed above is derived from the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) for 2019.