The Madeleine Brand Show is a daily, two-hour program that looks at news and culture through the lens of Southern California.
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The high cost of being a Californian

A beach on the California coast
A beach on the California coast

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Life has gotten harder since the downturn in 2008. And it seems like it's getting particularly hard here in California.

Living here has a lot of pluses: culture, a plethora of outdoor activities and the sunny weather. But it also has a big minus — the cost of living. And some say that is getting even more expensive.

The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles County has risen nearly 12 percent in the past five years. It's $1,554 in 2012 compared to $1,371 in 2007, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Hans Johnson, who researches housing for the Public Policy Institute of California, says that coastal California properties are already so prohibitively expensive that many people are forced to rent for years.

"So there’s a strong rental market for people who have lived in the area for quite a while," Johnson said. "And then we have new entrants to the area and we have people who are entering the rental market who used to be homeowners but lost their homes."

Gas prices in California continue to top the country. Factors include a state law that require special, low-polluting blend of gasoline, a limited number of refineries and high gasoline taxes.

California also has some of the country's highest rates for auto insurance and health care coverage. The California Healthcare Foundation says that insurance premiums have risen 150 percent since 2007.

College tuition has climbed 44 percent, from about $3,000 five years ago to about $5,500 today.

Something that is cheaper in California is marijuana. The website uses crowdsourcing to map out the street value of pot across the country, and it shows that high-quality marijuana goes for about $280 an ounce in California. The same grade of pot would go for nearly $400 in New York.


Steve Proffitt and Josie Huang are staff members of The Madeleine Brand Show.