By Kenneth Harwood

Economist, Solvang Chamber of Commerce


Santa Barbara County is an expensive place to live, but not the most expensive in California. We rank 16th in the state for high cost of living, among 58 counties. Forty-two other counties are less expensive. Fifteen are more expensive.

Monthly cost of a couple was $5,219, or $1,232 more than that of one person, whose cost was $3,987. Two parents and one child had a cost of $6,987, or $1,768 more than a couple. Two parents and two children had a monthly cost of $8,033, or $1,046 more than two parents and one child.

Some results seem to stand out. For example, the cost of adding a child to a couple was more expensive than adding another person to a one-person household. The cost of adding a second child to a family of two parents and a child was less expensive than the cost of adding one child to a couple. The largest change was in adding the first of two children to a couple.

These monthly amounts are at neither a poverty level nor a wealthy level. They represent a modest yet adequate standard of living in Santa Barbara County.

The monthly budget for two parents and two children is $1,520 for housing, $817 for food, $1,184 for child care, $1,338 for transportation, $1,109 for health care, $1,122 for taxes, and $943 for other needs. That comes to $8,033 a month and $96,396 a year.

The largest amount in the budget is for housing, and the smallest for food.

The whole budget is 2.5 percent higher in February of this year than a year ago because of the yearly rate of inflation in smaller cities of the West.  The increase is $2,410 a year, or $201 a month.

For details, go online to Economic Policy Institute Family Budgets. See online Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers.