Average Cost of Living in Bakersfield, CA

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Jun 11, 2024

Nestled in the heart of California’s Central Valley, Bakersfield is a vibrant city known for its rich history, booming agriculture, and burgeoning arts scene. The cost of living in Bakersfield is one of the most appealing aspects for those considering a move here. 

Compared to the sky-high expenses in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, Bakersfield offers a more affordable lifestyle without sacrificing the amenities and opportunities of a larger urban area.

Housing costs are significantly lower, making it an attractive destination for families, retirees, and young professionals looking for a balanced cost of living. 

The affordability extends beyond just housing to other essential expenses such as utilities, transportation, groceries, and healthcare, all contributing to a manageable budget. 

This financial ease allows residents to enjoy the city’s numerous parks, cultural events, and dining options without the constant worry of overspending.

People love moving to Bakersfield for its friendly community vibe and the promise of a better quality of life. If you’re planning a move, consider hiring local movers to make your transition smoother. 

Understanding the cost of living in Bakersfield will help you make informed decisions and fully embrace all that this charming city has to offer.

Housing Costs in Bakersfield

One of the most significant factors in the cost of living in Bakersfield is housing. Compared to many parts of California, Bakersfield offers more affordable options. As of 2024, the median home price in Bakersfield hovers around $330,000. 

This is substantially lower than the state median, which exceeds $700,000. For renters in California, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $1,000, while a three-bedroom home can cost around $1,800 per month.

Homeownership in Bakersfield

Housing affordability makes Bakersfield an attractive option for families, retirees, and young professionals. 

Many neighborhoods offer a variety of amenities, from parks and schools to shopping centers, making it easier to find a home that fits both your budget and lifestyle. 

Popular neighborhoods like Seven Oaks and The Oaks provide upscale living with larger homes and well-maintained landscapes. 

Meanwhile, areas such as Oleander-Sunset and Downtown Bakersfield offer more affordable housing options, often with the charm of older, historic homes.

For those looking to buy, the relatively low home prices compared to the rest of California provide an opportunity to build equity and invest in a growing community. 

Mortgage rates, while fluctuating, have remained relatively low, further enhancing the appeal of purchasing a home in Bakersfield.

Renting in Bakersfield

For renters, Bakersfield presents a variety of options. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $1,000 per month, which is significantly lower than in coastal California cities like Los Angeles or San Francisco. 

A three-bedroom home averages around $1,800 per month, making it feasible for families to find spacious accommodations without breaking the bank.

Many apartment complexes in Bakersfield offer modern amenities such as pools, fitness centers, and community events, providing a comfortable living experience. 

Neighborhoods like Park Stockdale and Tevis Ranch are known for their rental options that combine affordability with a good quality of life.

Utilities and Additional Costs

Utility costs in Bakersfield are fairly typical for a California city. Residents can expect to pay around $150 per month for basic utilities, which include electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage. Internet services add another $60 to $100 per month, depending on the provider and speed you choose.

One thing to note is that Bakersfield’s hot summers can lead to higher electricity bills due to air conditioning use. 

However, the relatively mild winters help balance out the annual costs. To save on utilities, many residents invest in energy-efficient appliances and home improvements, which can significantly reduce monthly bills.

Transportation Expenses

When considering the cost of living in Bakersfield, transportation is another key factor. The city is car-dependent, meaning most residents rely on personal vehicles for commuting. Gas prices in Bakersfield tend to be slightly above the national average but are still more affordable than in many other parts of California.

Car Ownership and Maintenance

Insurance costs for vehicles can vary widely but average around $1,500 annually. Regular maintenance, including oil changes and tire rotations, is also a consideration. Fortunately, the cost of auto repairs and maintenance in Bakersfield is generally lower than in larger metropolitan areas.

Public Transportation

Public transportation options, while limited compared to larger metropolitan areas, are available through Golden Empire Transit (GET). Monthly bus passes cost approximately $50, making public transport a cost-effective option for those who can utilize it. 

GET provides routes that connect major parts of the city, including shopping centers, schools, and medical facilities, making it a viable option for many residents.

Commuting and Travel

For those who work outside of Bakersfield, commuting costs are an important factor. The city’s central location means that major destinations like Los Angeles and Fresno are within a few hours’ drive. 

However, for daily commuters, the cost of gas and vehicle wear and tear can add up. Many residents find carpooling or using rideshare services to be an economical alternative.

Grocery and Food Costs

Food expenses in Bakersfield are generally lower than in many California cities. A typical monthly grocery bill for a single person ranges from $250 to $400, while a family of four might spend between $800 and $1,200. 

Farmers’ markets and local produce stands offer fresh, affordable options, often at lower prices than supermarkets.

Grocery Shopping

Bakersfield boasts a variety of grocery stores, from large chains like Walmart and Vons to local favorites like Albertsons and Trader Joe’s. The availability of fresh, locally-grown produce means residents can enjoy healthy and affordable food options. 

Additionally, many neighborhoods have small, family-owned grocery stores that offer unique products and personalized service.

Dining Out

Dining out in Bakersfield is also relatively affordable. A meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs about $15, while a three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant might set you back around $60. 

The city’s diverse culinary scene means you can find everything from classic American diners to authentic Mexican taquerias. Popular dining spots like Wool Growers and Dewar’s Candy Shop provide unique local flavors that residents and visitors alike enjoy.

Healthcare Costs

Healthcare is a crucial part of the cost of living in Bakersfield. The city has several hospitals and medical centers, including Kern Medical, Adventist Health Bakersfield, and Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. Health insurance premiums can vary, but for a single adult, they typically range from $200 to $500 per month, depending on the level of coverage.

Medical Services and Facilities

Out-of-pocket costs for medical visits, prescriptions, and procedures are on par with national averages. Many residents find that the combination of quality healthcare facilities and reasonable costs contributes to a good overall quality of life. 

Bakersfield offers a range of medical specialties and services, ensuring that residents have access to comprehensive healthcare.

Preventive Care and Wellness

Preventive care and wellness services are also accessible and affordable in Bakersfield. Many community health centers provide low-cost or free services, including vaccinations, health screenings, and wellness programs. 

This focus on preventive care helps residents maintain good health and avoid higher medical costs in the long run.

Education and Childcare

For families, education and childcare costs are a significant part of the budget. Public schools in Bakersfield are part of the Kern High School District, which is known for its wide range of programs and extracurricular activities. 

Private school tuition can range from $5,000 to $15,000 annually, depending on the institution.

Childcare Options

Childcare costs for younger children vary. Full-time daycare for infants can cost around $900 per month, while preschool programs might range from $700 to $1,200 monthly. After-school programs and extracurricular activities also add to the overall cost. 

Bakersfield offers a variety of childcare options, from large daycare centers to home-based providers, giving parents flexibility in choosing the best fit for their family.

Educational Opportunities

In addition to K-12 education, Bakersfield is home to several higher education institutions, including California State University, Bakersfield, and Bakersfield College. 

These institutions provide affordable options for continuing education and professional development, contributing to the city’s skilled workforce.

Entertainment and Leisure

When it comes to entertainment and leisure, Bakersfield offers plenty of affordable options. Movie tickets are about $12 each, and monthly gym memberships range from $20 to $50. 

The city has numerous parks, hiking trails, and recreational facilities, many of which are free or low-cost.

Cultural and Recreational Activities

For those who enjoy cultural activities, the cost of living in Bakersfield includes access to the Bakersfield Museum of Art, the historic Fox Theater, and a variety of local music venues. 

Annual memberships or tickets to these attractions are typically reasonable, making it easy to enjoy the city’s vibrant arts scene without breaking the bank.

Outdoor Activities

Bakersfield’s location in the Central Valley provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities. From hiking and biking in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains to exploring local parks and lakes, there’s something for everyone. 

The Kern River offers kayaking, fishing, and other water sports, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Miscellaneous expenses can also affect the cost of living in Bakersfield. Personal care items, such as haircuts and beauty treatments, are generally in line with national averages. A haircut costs around $20 to $40, while spa services can range from $50 to $150.

Shopping and Personal Care

Clothing and household goods are also reasonably priced, with numerous shopping options ranging from big-box retailers to boutique stores. 

Additionally, Bakersfield’s central location means you’re within driving distance of major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, offering more shopping and entertainment options.

Community Services

Bakersfield offers a range of community services, including public libraries, community centers, and recreational programs. Many of these services are low-cost or free, providing residents with opportunities to engage in community activities and enhance their quality of life.


Overall, the cost of living in Bakersfield, CA, is relatively affordable compared to other parts of California. Lower housing costs, reasonable utility and transportation expenses, and a variety of budget-friendly entertainment options make it an attractive place to live. 

Whether you’re a young professional, a growing family, or a retiree, Bakersfield offers a quality lifestyle without the hefty price tag found in many other California cities.

By understanding the average costs associated with living in Bakersfield, you can better plan your budget and enjoy all that this vibrant city has to offer.

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