Ready to do your research on the cost of living in Modesto CA? The friendly and open-minded city of Modesto CA is a fantastic destination for established families, young professionals, and/or retirees.

Mostly agricultural, surrounded by many farms, and with a warm sunny climate, it has an all-American feel and community culture. 

A Relocation Hotspot

Modesto lies in Stanislaus County, whose principal crops are almonds and walnuts, along with livestock. Stanislaus County, as a farm production region, ranks an impressive sixth in the greater California area. 

This tranquil part of California is experiencing a rise in popularity with new residents from all backgrounds and income levels moving in.

With its quaint mix of well-kept suburbs and the revival of the downtown Modesto area (affectionately known as DoMo), it is becoming a relocation hotspot. Over the years downtown and surrounding suburban areas have been thoroughly revitalized, making it a vibrant space with many restaurants and bars that attract the young at heart.

The cost of living in Modesto CA, however, is above the national average.

It comes in at around 10-13% higher. For a family of four, your monthly expenses over and above rent would average around $3,162.21. 

Compared to nearby Sacramento, Modesto consumer prices are actually 8.79% lower. 

With that in mind, we’ll take a more in-depth look at the various factors that would contribute to the cost of living in Modesto CA, such as:

  • The real estate market 
  • Safety concerns
  • Overall lifestyle options
  • Additional costs such as utilities 

Guide To Cost Of Living In Modesto CA 

Modesto CA is considered semi-agricultural because of the vast flat landscapes that surround the city filled with farms and orchards along the Tuolumne River. 

Its downtown area is upcoming and modern, consisting of great local restaurants and a thriving arts center with yearly music festivals. 

It has that farmers’ market feel, focusing on local produce which supports its upper-middle-class lifestyle.

A lot of residents in professional jobs make long commutes to work from Modesto CA.

Modesto CA is conveniently centralized to major cities, so expect about an hour commute to Sacramento, two hours to Fresno, and about one and a half hours to San Francisco. 

Most residents living in Modesto spend about 35 percent or more of their monthly income on housing, though it is still much cheaper than living in the Bay Area. 


With beautiful warm Mediterranean-like weather, gorgeous summer nights, and mild winters, it has a pleasant overall climate. 

This is important to keep in mind when thinking of electricity bills. Fans and air conditioning are a must-have in the spring and summer months (see electrical and utility costs). 

Costs Relative To The Rest Of California

Although the cost of living in Modesto CA has increased by 2.5% from 2020, its overall affordability is actually 26% lower than the Californian average. 

That said, it is 5% more expensive than the national American average, with the Californian general sales tax 42% higher. 

Adding to that, California state income tax is the highest in the country, putting a further dent in the pocket.  

Renting in Modesto CA

There are various housing options available in Modesto, from apartments to traditional and ranch houses. The prices start as low as $1000 per month. 

It’s important to note that Modesto CA rentals are still 20.45% lower than nearby Sacramento, CA. 


There has been an increase in the price of housing rentals since 2021, compared to 2020. 

This could be attributed to the exodus of many urban city dwellers to more peaceful, less population-dense areas since the pandemic hit the epi-centers.

Your average rental for a 3 bedroom house would be in the $1700 per month range, depending on the area of Modesto you choose to move to. 


An average rental of around $1000 for a studio apartment in downtown Modesto Ca makes it an affordable option for young couples or single professionals. 

Modesto has a growing number of larger apartment complexes that have 50 or more units.

About 80% of apartment rentals are situated in large complexes that have an average living space of 800 square meters. 1-2-bedroom apartments in these complexes cost between $1000-$1500 a month. 

It’s worth checking that your apartment has built-in AC or ceiling fans when looking at your cost of living in Modesto CA as this utility use will contribute to your overall budget. 

Buying in Modesto CA

Home appreciation in Modesto CA over the past 10 years has increased at the median of 7%. You’ll be looking at around $380 000 to $400 000 for a simple 3 bedroomed house. 

There are some beautiful housing options around Modesto in both ranch style and more traditional double-story architecture. 

Slightly more expensive are the older, newly renovated homes with lots of character and modern conveniences. 

There are a number of parks in the more rural Salida area, perfect for families alike. 

Though Modesto is often overlooked as an underdeveloped town, its popularity and progression are on the way up as the Bay area has become more expensive, giving Modesto the advantage as it is an easy commute.

This has become a key factor in the cost of living in Modesto CA. 

Is The Modesto Lifestyle Expensive?

The cost of living isn’t solely dependent on how expensive your accommodation and living essentials are, it also depends on the quality of life you choose.

In terms of lifestyle, Modesto CA can offer some wonderful public indoor and outdoor events and activities.

The Stanislaus National Forest is a peaceful drive to share hiking, camping, and picnicking opportunities for your family. 

There are lots of local kayaking, waterways, and river rafting options available to the Modesto resident. 

Annual events include the ‘’Graffiti Summer’’ fest that gets its name from the American Graffiti movie, which was based on Modesto’s 1960s downtown youth scene. Here thousands of American antique car enthusiasts congregate under the warm June sky.

There are also local monthly art shows and the Castle Air Museum to visit. 

For your cultural needs, Modesto is home to the renowned Modesto Symphony. It also boasts the Townsend Opera Players, has a State Theatre and the Central West Ballet. 

Public Transportation

Because of its increasing popularity and subsequent increasing traffic, the city has tried to correct the transportation problem by creating additional roundabouts. This has helped lower the accident rates. 

Modesto CA has good public transport options, though bus fares average around 15% higher compared to the national average. 

Passenger train routes to all other major metro’s are available and widely used by those choosing to stay in Modesto and commute to work. 

Additional Costs To Consider


Your grocery bill will average the same as most other Californian counties. Depending on where you shop, some retailers’ overall monthly bill is 5% higher than the national average. 

There are a lot of fresh vegetable and fruit markets, thanks to the local farms. 

Modesto’s Downtown Farmer’s Market is famous to locals and those from outer areas looking for a good day-trip activity. 

It is situated in the San Joaquin Valley and the proud stall owners have an array of quality and organic nuts, wine, fruit (especially grapes), and dairy products available. 

All major supermarket groups are represented where prices are at a national average. 

For retail stores like Fry’s, there are loyalty programs available for residents. They also offer convenient weekly discounts.


There are many hospitals and excellent healthcare centers in Modesto and the surrounding Stanislaus county. 

Child care in Modesto is ranked number 11 nationally, with a number of employers providing daycare facilities. 


Though the metropolitan area of Modesto CA experienced a slight crime spike in 2020, the city has clamped down on what were mostly petty crimes. 

Parks and public recreational spaces are generally safe. The suburbs’ major crime is vehicle break-ins.

According to crime grade statistics, the rate of crime in Modesto is 52.52 per 1,000 residents during a normal year.

High crime areas are generally concentrated in the west and south neighborhoods.

Safer but pricier neighborhoods are Del Rio Country Club, Dutch Hollow, and the east side areas.

There has been an increase in homelessness and drug use in Modesto, though this is also a national problem. 

The local government has an excellent reputation and is quick to attend to resident issues as the city expands. They have improved and expanded local services and efficiencies over the past few years.

Governance And Utilities

‘Modesto!’ is a new reporting tool that every new resident to Modesto should be acquainted with.

It’s an ‘’intuitive, multi-lingual, on-the-go” reporting tool allowing residents of Modesto to report any issues such as street flooding, light outages, illegal dumping, vandalism and broken playground equipment, etc. It has a nifty function of sending progress notifications reports from the Modesto Government website

Electric costs in Modesto and California have increased by 2.63% in the past year and Modesto is 52% higher than the national average. 

Your phone utilities, however, are 1% lower than the national average. 


There is a great selection of top-rated schools throughout Modesto CA that are highly academically rated. 

This includes elementary, middle, and high schools.

There are 13 private schools to choose from. The average private elementary school cost is $15000 annually. And around $20 000 for high schools. 

Modesto Junior College (MJC) is a well-known and lauded public community college, comprising two campuses. It is one of the leading community colleges in the state of California. 

Moving Costs

Depending on which part of the country or state of California you are moving from will determine your costs. 

Obtaining a quick and comprehensive estimation from a professional moving company in Modesto will determine all your relocation costs and specifics.  

Factors you need to take into consideration are:

  • Packing
  • Disassembly and reassembly
  • Move in/out cleaning
  • Large and fragile items
  • Insurance


Modesto, CA, is becoming a popular destination for people working in the Bay Area and nearby metropolises in California.

This city has affordable housing options, a buzzing social scene, wondrous outdoor activities and good public and private schools.

Modesto also has an attentive local government that responds to all queries, and is accommodating to new arrivals. 

Lifestyle options offer a perfect mix between old-fashioned American values and pastimes. 

Overall, Modesto CA is a city on the move. 

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