Key Indicator: Cost of Living

Key Indicator: Cost of Living

In 2017, Sustainable San Mateo County (SSMC) is examining the cost of living and how it impacts our neighborhoods, health, and culture. Our first research cluster, released in Winter, focused on shifting economic equity in San Mateo County, and our Spring release explored housing and transportation. In Fall our research will cover work-life balance, and the cost of healthcare, childcare, and education.

Located in the center of Silicon Valley, San Mateo County’s economy is closely interconnected with surrounding Bay Area counties and has become increasingly urban.The cost of living in the Bay Area has grown over the past 20 years and is now over twice the national average (JobTrain). In San Mateo County, as with other metropolitan areas across the nation, the middle-class is shrinking. The high cost of living in the county is driving out low-income residents and limiting the ability of new arrivals to find suitable housing in proximity to their jobs.

Gini Coefficient

Income inequality has increased alongside the cost of living. According to the County of San Mateo Human Services Agency, one-third of families and one-fifth of individuals struggled to meet their basic needs in 2016. Depending on a resident’s income level and social capital, the cost of living can compromise access to quality housing, food, healthcare, utilities, transportation, education, childcare, work-life balance, and civic engagement.

Population growth and urbanization are transforming our region and require thoughtful planning to enhance and maintain the standard of living for our economically diverse population. Over the course of the year, SSMC will examine the economic drivers that influence the cost of living, document the social and environmental repercussions, and share resources that seek to address the challenges.


JobTrain: Job Training That Works. (2017). Retrieved from

JobTrain. (2016). The Broken Pathway: Uncovering the Economic Inequality in the Bay Area (p. 10). Retrieved from

Share Button

From the 2017 Indicators Report

Annual per capita greenhouse gas emissions in California have dropped by 14% from a peak in 2001 of 14.0 metric tons per person to 12.0 metric tons per person in 2013.

Featured Video

Quotable Quote

‟When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”—John Muir