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Cost of Living in Bakersfield, CA 2021

By: Emily Kho
June 28, 2021

Bakersfield is known as “the country music capital of the West Coast” and is home to famous country music stars Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. In addition to the city’s unique claim to fame, it’s also a hub for energy and agriculture production.

Despite being a relatively small city, just over 150 square miles, there are 60 parks in Bakersfield. Bakersfield is an excellent option for anyone looking to move to the west coast for those nature lovers. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are a quick drive away from this affordable California city.

Whether you’re interested in moving to Bakersfield to enjoy some of the freshest produce or enjoy the outdoors, or some combination of both, you’ll want to get a good idea of your potential costs. Let’s take a closer look at the cost of living in Bakersfield to understand better how much you need to live there.

Bakersfield Housing Costs

Across the nation, many cities have experienced significant drops in rent prices as a direct result of the pandemic. Contrasting to the national trend, Bakersfield has seen steady growth in rent prices over the last year. Despite these increases, the city is still much more affordable than other areas in California.

According to the latest Rent Report on Bakersfield, the median rent index is $927 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,161 for a two-bedroom.

Rent prices took a slight dip in June 2019 but have since seen steady growth. Overall, the city's year-over-year rent growth well exceeds the state average of 1.3%. At 12.2%, Bakersfield also surpasses the national average of 5.3% by 6.9%.

Other nearby inland California cities, including Fresno and Riverside, have more expensive housing costs. Fresno’s median rent index is $1,048 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,304 for a two-bedroom, while Riverside's median rent index is $1,451 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,798 for a two-bedroom. Both markets, like Bakersfield, have seen continued growth over the past year, with rent prices increasing 17.4% and 12.7%, respectively.

The Bakersfield housing market is also seeing steady growth, with median home prices currently at $306,991. These prices fall below competing areas like Fresno, with a median price index of $309,220, and Riverside at $516,983.

Bakersfield Transportation

Bakersfield’s official public transportation operator is the Golden Empire Transit (GET), covering 16 routes with 1,600 stops serving the Great Bakersfield area. With a combined total of 107 Standard and GET-a-Lift buses in service, GET Bus has its main hubs in the Downtown Transit Center, the Southwest Transit Center, and Bakersfield College.

Riders must provide cash or a bus pass to board each time to utilize the GET bus system. Regular fares run at $1.65 per single ride or $3.55 per day pass. Riders can take advantage of passes for additional savings, at $30 per 15-day pass and $45 per 31-day pass. GET Bus also offers reduced fares for seniors 65 and older, Medicare holders, and customers with disabilities.

While you can choose to rely entirely on public transportation in Bakersfield, other modes of transport are available, such as ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft. You can also opt for alternative transportation methods, including taxis, car rentals, and chauffeur services, but these tend to be more costly.

If you're a single adult with no children, you'll spend about $4,900 for transportation in Bakersfield over a year. A family of four, including two working adults and two children, will pay $13,317 for transportation in one year. Gasoline prices are around $3.49 per gallon, which is higher than the national average of $3.08 but significantly lower than the state average of $4.24.

Bakersfield Food Costs

Bakersfield offers countless dining options, from mom-and-pop shops to family-friendly chain restaurants. Eating out in Bakersfield will cost an average of $12.25 for a meal at an inexpensive restaurant. A three-course dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant will run $62 without alcohol or dessert.

If you're a single adult without children, you can expect to pay at least $3,792 on food per year. If you're a family of four with two working adults and two children, you can expect to pay $11,106 per year for food.

You can anticipate food items costing around the national average or slightly above, as expected in California, regarding grocery market pricing. For example, one gallon of regular milk will run you $3.65 in the grocery store, with the national average being $3.60.

Bakersfield Healthcare Costs

When planning your budget in Bakersfield, you will also want to account for proper medical care. A single adult without children will pay around $2,545 for medical care over the year. Two working adults with two children will pay $8,150.

Bakersfield Utilities

While winters in Bakersfield remain temperate for the most part, the coldest days of the year fall in December with an average high temperature of 58.1° and an overnight low temperature of 40.8°. Summers are known for being arid with sweltering heat. July is the hottest month of the year, where the average daytime high is typically 98.8°.

To combat the often unbearable heat of the summer, you’ll want to make sure to find a place with air conditioning. On top of that, you’ll have to account for a few additional costs in your budget. Bakersfield’s basic utilities include electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, running $222.26 for a 915-sq. ft. apartment. Adding on the Internet with 60 Mbps or more with unlimited data, cable/ADSL will cost you an extra $93.90 for a total of $316.16 each month.

Find out more about how much utilities will cost in an apartment before you move to get a better idea of how to budget accordingly.

Bakersfield Fitness and Entertainment

If you plan to keep fit, you’ll want to consider club membership costs. Especially considering the sweltering heat of the summer, it is likely you will have to move your exercise indoors for at least part of the year. The monthly fee for a fitness club membership for one adult in Bakersfield is $30.33. You can also rent a tennis court on the weekends for a low rate of $6.67 per hour.

Otherwise, as weather permits in the cooler months, you can enjoy the outdoors by visiting one of the 60 parks across the city. Enjoy some of the views from the most popular parks in Bakersfield, including Solera Gardens Park, The Park at River Walk, and Greystone Park.

In the summer, you can head indoors for your entertainment and take a seat at the local cinema, which will cost you $12 without snacks or drinks.

Other Expenses to Consider in Bakersfield

Other expenses that can add up in Bakersfield are taxes. California is known for having some of the highest taxes in the country. Sales tax in Bakersfield is 8.25%, combining state, county, and city sales rates. While sales and income tax rates tend to be higher than the rest of the nation, property tax rates fall below national averages, which benefits buyers.

Anyone moving out of state will also need to consider additional costs, including associated with cross-country movers, storage, hotels, and transportation. These moves also often require additional fees such as apartment application fees, security deposits, pet deposits, and other add-ons.

Costs that add up quickly are also associated with furnishing your home. Thankfully, you can easily find tips and tricks on decorating your apartment on a budget to help keep some of these costs down.

The type of lifestyle you plan to lead in Bakersfield will directly impact your recommended salary. The living wage in Bakersfield is $14.28 per hour, which is the basic wage needed to pay for essentials such as housing, food, and necessities. Don’t forget that a living wage does not account for any extra costs, such as entertainment and dining.

The average salary index in Bakersfield is $70,000 per year, which is roughly $18.54 per hour.

You’ll want to keep in mind that living wage, average salary, and recommended salary are three very different things. To determine your recommended salary, you can follow the 30% rule for rent.

According to the 30% rule, you should not be spending more than one-third, or 30%, of your gross income on rent. For example, if your rent is $927, the median for a one-bedroom apartment in Bakersfield, your monthly wages should be at least $2,781 per month or $33,372 annually according to the 30% rule.

While this recommended salary looks pretty reasonable, it accounts for a very basic lifestyle while in Bakersfield. If you think you will have several additional living costs, including dining, entertainment, etc., you’ll need to anticipate these needs and search for a higher salary, a less expensive apartment, or both.

Thankfully, the annual salaries for common professions in Bakersfield are highly competitive. The three highest typical annual salaries belong to Management, Architecture/Engineering, and Life, Physical, and Social Sciences positions, respectively.

Final Thoughts

If you are interested in moving to Bakersfield, the country music capital of the west coast, now might be a good time to consider. As rental prices continue to increase, you might want to make your move sooner rather than later before prices rise any further. Register with Apartment List today and start checking out the hundreds of available apartments to rent in Bakersfield!

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EMILY KHO
Emily is a professionally trained SEO writer who covers a wide range of topics but specializes in business and hospitality content. With over a decade of professional writing experience in the hospitality industry, Emily comes from a strong background in the field backed with a BS from the world-renowned William F. Read More
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