Irvine CA Cost of Living | Is Irvine Affordable? 💰 [data, tips, info]

Considering moving to Irvine? Called the Center of Orange County, Irvine is famous for its great quality of life, low crime, excellent schools, and top-notch amenities. Of course, living in paradise isn’t cheap. Is Irvine expensive? How much do you need to earn to live in Irvine comfortably? This data-packed guide to the cost of living in Irvine, CA covers everything from housing costs and typical living expenses to taxes and salary. Find out what you should expect.

Irvine Cost of Living Index

How much does it cost to live in Irvine? One of the best ways to understand how much you need to earn is to look at the Irvine cost of living index and how it compares to where you live. This index compares the average cost for common living expenses between cities and against the national average.

The cost of living index in Irvine, CA is 147.8. This means the cost of living in Irvine is 47.8% higher than the national average.

Healthcare is close to the national average and utilities are 6.3% cheaper than average. You’ll pay about 36% more than the U.S. average for transportation including gasoline and car insurance. The biggest factor affecting the Irvine cost of living? Housing.

The Irvine housing index is 242.1, higher than both the Los Angeles and San Diego metro areas.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics considers Irvine as part of the Los Angeles area for determining the Consumer Price Index. The CPI measures the average price change over time that consumers pay for goods and services. The CPI for Irvine was recently up 0.4% for the past month and 1.0% between 2000 and 2021. Food prices rose 3.5% over a year while energy prices climbed 3.9% over the year. The price for natural gas jumped over 10%. Housing prices increased just 1.5% over a year.

Consumer expenditures are also helpful for understanding how expensive it is to live in Irvine. In the Los Angeles metro area, consumers spent an average of $68,824 per year between 2018 and 2019. This compares to $62,395 for the average U.S. household. Here is the typical budget for Irvine’s living expenses.

  • Housing: 35.3% ($24,613 per year)
  • Transportation: 15.7% ($10,959)
  • Food: 13.1% ($9,177 equally split between eating at home and away from home)
  • Healthcare: 6% (lower than the U.S. average of 8.1%)
  • Entertainment: 4.2% (lower than average)
  • Personal insurance and pensions: 13.2% (U.S. average is 11.6%)

Cost of Groceries, Food, Gas & Household Items in Irvine

Groceries in Irvine are about 16% above the national average and utilities are lower than average. However, that doesn’t tell you everything you want to know. Here is what you can expect to pay for typical living expenses in Irvine, CA.

Cost of items in Irvine:

  • Steak (ribeye, one pound): $10.88
  • Milk (whole, ½ gallon): $2.17
  • Eggs (one dozen, grade A): $2.74
  • Potatoes (5-pound bag): $3.06
  • Bread (loaf of wheat): $4.40
  • Beer (Heineken’s 6-pack): $9.48
  • Movie ticket: $14.27
  • Average cell phone bill: $172.04
  • Average electrical bill in Irvine: $155.16

In February 2021, the average gas price in Irvine was $3.506 a gallon compared to the national average of $2.559. Historically, gas prices are around 35-40% higher in the Los Angeles area compared to the national average.

The same month, the average price for electricity was 21.9 cents per kWh, 60% above the national average of 13.7 cents per kWh. In 2020, electricity costs in Irvine were 44% higher than the U.S. average.

Irvine Real Estate Market

Housing is the biggest expense you face. The average household in Irvine spends 35% of its budget on housing. The Irvine housing market is notoriously expensive.

About 32% of all Irvine housing units are condos and high-rise apartments. While there are plenty of neighborhoods with row homes and single-family homes, the high cost of housing makes apartments and condos particularly popular.

In 2020, home sales in Orange County began to tick up slightly after several years of stagnation. However, the real estate market in Irvine isn’t forecast to really take off for several years due to low turnover rates, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has made Irvine a seller’s market with more people looking for homes than there are homes for sale.

The average home price in Irvine, CA is $889,000, up just 1% from 2020 to 2021. That’s more than double the U.S. average sales price of $393,000 and down from $922,850 in December 2020. Homes spend 37 median days on market, down 45% year-over-year.

Irvine condos are more popular than single-family homes and more affordable. You can find one-bedroom condos in the low $300s and two-bedroom condos in the $500s. Luxury condos can sell for more than $2 million or $900 per square foot! Expect to pay an average of $400 to $550 per square foot to buy a condo in Irvine, CA.

You can start searching for Irvine, Ca homes for sale to get an idea of what your budget can get you.

Irvine Rental Market – Average Rent in Irvine

The homeownership rate in Irvine is just 46% compared to the U.S. average of 64% thanks to high housing costs in Irvine. Planning to rent instead? The cost of living in Irvine is more affordable for renters!

How much is an apartment in Irvine? Average apartment rent in Irvine, CA is $2,393, according to RentCafe, for 921 square feet. About 77% of apartments in the city are priced over $2,000, but you’ll find some between $1,500 and $2,000.

Irvine rent prices depend largely on the neighborhood and the building itself. UC Irvine has $3,015 average rent prices. In neighborhoods like Irvine Spectrum, East Industrial Complex, Portola Springs, and Orange County Great Park, you’ll pay $2,459 on average. South Irvine is one of the most affordable areas with average rent of $2,254.

By comparison, rent is cheaper (if only slightly) in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Long Beach.

Want to see what you can get for your money? One of the top-rated apartment buildings in Irvine is the Alton Apartments in the Irvine Business Corridor. Studios start at $1,900 and shared two-bedroom apartments are available at $1,500. The property offers saltwater pools, a rooftop deck with outdoor recreation and an entertainment bar with TVs, a pet spa, and an electric vehicle charging station.

Average Salary & Household Income in Irvine

How much do you need to make to live in Irvine? It helps to understand Irvine’s average income and salary.

The average salary in Irvine is $82,000 with an average hourly rate of $21.83 according to Payscale. Here is what you can expect to earn:

  • Senior Software Engineer: $126k
  • Project Manager: $85k
  • Human Resources Manager: $75k
  • Registered Nurse: $42/hour
  • Office Manager: $23/hour

The median household income in Irvine is $111,574. That’s far higher than the California median of $80,500 and the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro median of $77,800. About 32% of households in Irvine earn $100,000 to $200,000. The per capita income of Irvine is $52,000.

Top employers in Irvine include:

  • University of California, Irvine
  • Irvine Unified School District
  • Glidewell Laboratories
  • Blizzard Entertainment
  • Edwards Lifesciences


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Income, Sales & Property Taxes in Irvine, CA

Taxes are a big part of the Irvine cost of living. California is notorious for its high taxes with the country’s highest income tax rate and high sales tax. Here’s how taxes affect the average cost of living in Irvine, CA.

California Income Tax Rate

The state of California’s income tax rate is 1% to 12.3%, the highest in the U.S. There is an additional 1% tax on taxable income over $1 million for mental health services.

Irvine Sales Tax Rate

The combined Irvine sales tax is 7.75%. This includes the following.

  • California state sales tax: 7.25%
  • Orange County sales tax: 0.50%
  • Irvine city sales tax: 0.0%

Irvine Property Tax Rate

The Irvine property tax rate is 1.061%.

Thanks to Prop 13, California has among the lowest property tax rates in the U.S. However, be aware that there are many Mellos-Roos districts in Irvine. In these areas, you are subject to a special assessment called the Mello-Roos tax that may increase your property taxes by $30 to $300 per month. These assessments can last 10 years or decades.

Only a handful of communities in Irvine like University Park, Northwood, and Woodbridge have no Mello-Roos taxes.

Irvine vs San Diego Cost of Living

What is the cost of living in Irvine versus San Diego? A simple cost of living comparison can help. The Irvine cost of living index is 147.8 compared with 141.3 in San Diego. As a general rule, housing and transportation are more expensive in Irvine but utilities are far more expensive in San Diego. Rent prices in Irvine are slightly higher than San Diego. Compared to the average home price of $889,000 in Irvine, the average San Diego home is $704,000.

LEARN MORE: Check our TOTAL guide to Orange County vs San Diego for more info on the cost of living comparison, pros & cons, and more.

The Irvine cost of living may be high, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for a laidback Orange County lifestyle and safety sandwiched between the amenities of San Diego and Los Angeles. Ready to relocate to the Center of Orange County? Call SafeWay Moving & Storage today at 949-639-0330 for your free Irvine moving quote!