If you think it’s expensive to live in Los Angeles County, you’d be right.
The Economic Policy Institute’s latest Family Budget Calculator shows that a family of two adults and two children in L.A. County need to earn $7,691 a month, or $92,295 a year, to meet all of its living expenses.
The number falls short of L.A. County’s median family income, which is just $66,203 per year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau‘s American Community Survey.
The Family Budget Calculator estimates that family of four will pay $1,663 a month for housing, $830 for food, $1,223 for child care, $1,159 for transportation, $795 for health care, $1,006 for other necessities and $1,016 for taxes.
A household with just two adults can get by for much less, as they need to earn $4,697 a month, or $56,361 a year. Zane Mokhiber, a research analyst with the EPI, notes that the annual totals are sometimes off by a few dollars because the various monthly expenses were rounded up or down.
The Family Budget Calculator takes into account geographic differences in the cost of living and it contains detailed local-level estimates on food, transportation and other expenses, where only state or national data were previously available. And to keep the budgets modest, the calculator doesn’t include some expenses typically associated with a middle-class lifestyle, such as paying off student loans or saving for college or retirement.
“Our Family Budget Calculator goes beyond traditional measures, like the poverty line, to paint a detailed picture of what families need to get by,” EPI Senior Economist Elise Gould said in a statement. “It is above all else a tool for policymakers to advocate for ways to raise wages and make their communities more affordable.”
LA County: The third least affordable metro area
Of the top 25 largest metro areas the EPI studied, Los Angeles County has the 12th highest annual costs ($92,295) for a two-parent, two-child household and the lowest median family income. That makes it the third least affordable metro area in the group, topped only by New York and Miami.
That doesn’t surprise Mel Wilson, broker and owner of Mel Wilson & Associates Realtors in Northridge.
“The cost of living in the Los Angeles area is pretty high,” he said. “It’s very difficult for middle-class families to even rent in the central part of the county. The median home price in L.A. County is about $575,000 right now. Many families are spending 50 to 60 percent of their income on housing alone.”
Figures from the California Association of Realtors show that the median price for an existing single-family home in Los Angeles County was $564,100 in January, up 10.8 percent from a year earlier.
Another recent report from industry tracker Zumper shows that the Los Angeles area ranks as the fifth-most expensive rental market in the U.S. One-bedroom apartments in the L.A. region saw a 15.6 percent year-over-year increase in December, boosting the median monthly rent to $2,300.
How the Inland Empire stacks up
The budget calculator shows that the Inland Empire has the fourth lowest costs ($78,336) for a two-parent, two-child household but the third lowest median family income of $64,234. That makes it the 10th least affordable region area among the 25 largest metro areas.
A family of four in the two-county region would need to earn $6,528 a month, or $78,336 a year, to meet its living expenses. For a family of two adults, the annual earning target would be $49,078 and the monthly outlay for housing, food and other necessities is estimated at $4,090.
Orange County’s ranking
Orange County households need to earn considerably more to cover their expenses. A household with two adults and two children would need to generate $8,598 a month, or $103,174 a year. The county’s median family income is considerably higher at $89,929, but it still ranks as the 12th least affordable metro area, according to the budget calculator.
Households with two adults and no children would need to earn $64,026 a year to meet all of their costs, and their monthly expenses are estimated at $5,335.
Wilson said rising housing costs are changing the demographics of the Golden State.
“Home price increases are pushing out all of the young people,” he said. “They can’t afford to buy homes, so we’re going to end up with a bunch of geriatric folks in Los Angeles County. And lots of millennials are living at home with their parents.”