Median Household Income And Cost Of Living

County Posts Robust Median Income Growth in 2018

Cost of living is low in San Bernardino County compared to its Southern California neighbors, but it is 28% higher than the national average. As a result, real income growth is important to ensure residents have sufficient income to thrive in San Bernardino County and afford rising expenses. This indicator tracks the change in inflation-adjusted median household income for San Bernardino County compared to the state and nation.1 Median household income and cost of living are presented for San Bernardino County and compared to selected peer markets. The cost of living index compares the prices of housing, consumer goods, and services in San Bernardino County relative to the national average.

Median House Hold

Median Household Income (Inflation Adjusted to 2017 Dollars) San Bernardino County, California and United States, 2008-2017

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Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2007-2016 American Community Survey, 1-Year Estimates, Table B19013; U.S. Inflation Calculator, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index (

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

Real median household income has rebounded in the last four years:

  • In 2018, median household income in San Bernardino County was $63,857, a 16% increase since the 10-year low in 2014, and it outpaces inflation.
  • San Bernardino County’s median income surpassed that of the nation, but remains lower than the state.
  • Both California and the United State’s median household incomes have reached pre-recession levels. San Bernardino County has yet to reach that milestone.

San Bernardino County has the lowest cost of living in Southern California, but the highest among selected peer markets outside of California:

  • With 100.0 being average, San Bernardino County measured 128.1 in 2018, or 28.1% more expensive than the national average.
  • Regions with relatively high income and low cost of living provide residents with the most discretionary income. Among peer markets compared, Phoenix residents have the most advantageous ratio of income to cost of living, followed by San Bernardino County. Los Angeles County residents have the least favorable ratio, with a high cost of living and low median household income.

Median Household Income Compared to Cost of Living Index Regional Comparison, 2017 (Income) and 2018 (Cost of Living)

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National Median Income ($60,336) and Average Cost of Living Index (100.0).

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey, 1-Year Estimates, Table B19013; Sperling’s Best Places, 2018

Median Income for Seniors and Families

Compared to the countywide median household income of $63,857, senior households, where the householder is 65 years of age or older, have a substantially lower income ($45,396). However, seniors are also more likely to have assets, including owning their own home rather than renting (77% vs. 56% of non-seniors) and owning their home outright, without a mortgage (49% vs. 21% of non-senior homeowners).

With a median annual income of $65,245, families with children under 18 years of age have a similar median income as all households countywide.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 1-Year Estimates, 2018 (Tables S1903, B25007, and B25027)

1All income data in this indicator are inflation-adjusted to 2018 dollars, such that $1,000 earned in 2009, for example, has the same buying power as $1,170 in 2018. “Real” refers to income adjusted for inflation.