If you’ve been to Lake Tahoe, you’ll understand why so many people consider moving here. The scenic beauty in this city is breathtaking and picture-perfect. It’s also a major attraction for adventurous sports throughout the year. 

To help you along the way, our Lake Tahoe cost of living guide gives you a realistic and calculated idea of what it would cost to reside in Lake Tahoe. 

Lake Tahoe Cost of Living 

Renting in Tahoe

Whether it’s a family apartment, a house, or a luxury lakefront home, Tahoe has a variety of accommodation for you to choose from.


The cost of renting a family home in Tahoe would surprise you. Most times it’s cheaper than in other cities because the relationship between tenants and landlords is more personal. Like every landlord, they want good tenants who respect their property and pay on time. 

Housing in Lake Tahoe is readily available, so you’re not going to end up paying extra just for scarcity. That being said, the difference in price between houses can be large, so you might need to temper your expectations when it comes to finding the perfect place.


When it comes to apartments, they’re mostly run like a business. Many of the older buildings have been refurbished and fitted with modern appliances, which makes them appealing to contemporary renters. 

Many newer blocks have permanent onsite staff like a general manager and maintenance workers, which will cost you a little more. While it might seem like an immediate downside, these extra expenses tend to pay off in the long run, saving you time and money on repairs.

Like most other cities, rental in Tahoe increases every year. You should account for a 3-5% increase in rental prices annually so you don’t get caught out.

You could rent a one-bedroom apartment for approximately $1,650 monthly. A two-bedroom apartment could set you back $2,000. While these prices can seem exorbitant, the amount of space and the quality of housing you receive, in general, is noticeably better than housing options in other Californian cities.

Add to that $200 for utilities and you get a good understanding of what the average rental in Lake Tahoe costs. 

For some apartments, utilities are included in the monthly rental fee. Double-check this with your real estate agent and see if you can save a couple of hundred dollars every month.

Flat Shares

If you’re only looking for accommodation for yourself, renting a room would be your cheapest option while finding your feet. This option costs around $600 excluding your share of utilities. 

If you’re young and considering the move, sharing an apartment is a great place to start to get to know fellow locals. There are hundreds of flat-share options available and, like the standalone apartments, you get more space than you usually would for what you’re paying.

Buying in Tahoe

If you can afford to buy a home in Tahoe, you’d be making an excellent investment in your future. If your home is well kept, you can get a significant return on your investment once you decide to sell.

With the right agent, you can find a two or three-bedroom house for anywhere between $450,000 and $550,000. For $500,000, at a rate of 2.8%, with a 3% down payment, your monthly payment would be $2,400.

Keep in mind that maintenance on a house can get prohibitively expensive, especially in the winter months. Lake Tahoe gets up to three inches of snow a day, so you can expect to fork out a bit for heating and keeping your drive clear.  

Is Lake Tahoe Expensive?

The overall South Lake Tahoe cost of living is 16% higher than the national average. The cost of living in any city fluctuates based on factors like the size of your family and real estate costs.

The median household income in South Lake Tahoe is $49,390, making it 34% less than that of the state. 

The median income for an individual is $27,800, which results in 24% less than that of the state. 

As a rule, housing affordability should not exceed 28% of your gross revenue (income before tax). 

This includes: 

  • Monthly rent or mortgage 
  • Property taxes
  • Insurance 

If this lifestyle suits you and your income allows for the increased cost, then South Lake Tahoe is definitely where you want to be. If not, North Tahoe is your next bet as the cost of living is lower.

Public Transportation

Lake Tahoe has about 15 towns scattered around the water’s edge and, because the Lake takes up a lot of land, there’s a long distance to cover between them. That said, the best way to get around Tahoe is by car. But if you need to rely on public transportation, here are some options.

BlueGo is a public bus transportation service provided by the Tahoe Transportation District. Fares in Lake Tahoe are divided between local and regional zones. A local one-way ticket costs $2 and a regional one-way ticket will cost you $4. 

A regional one-day pass, which costs $10, is a good option for exploring Lake Tahoe all day and can be used at any South Shore or Valley and Lake Express route. 

There’s also the option of a monthly pass for BlueGO transportation which costs $80 and $120 for local regional travel respectively. 

Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit (TART) operates bus routes on Lake Tahoe’s northern and western shores as well as five daily shuttles to Truckee from Tahoe City. One-way fares cost $1.75 but you can also purchase a 24-hour pass that sells at $3.50. 

Amtrak has a system of bus services that connect to the Amtrak train stations. 

Making a Living in Tahoe

The average household income in South Lake Tahoe is approximately $4,115 a month. You’ll often find that people in Tahoe work more than one job to make ends meet. 

Tahoe is not built by big corporations. Instead, it’s a city of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and restaurateurs. With most of the business in Tahoe centered on tourism, many people move to Tahoe to work in the ski industry in the winter months and restaurants in summer.

Additional Costs to Consider

Now that you have an idea of what your housing and transport costs might amount to, various other expenses like groceries and gas need to be considered. These types of expenses can vary significantly from state to state, so it’s important to factor them in.


The average cost of food in Lake Tahoe is $30 per day. Dinner can amount to approximately $12 and the balance for breakfast and lunch.

This number goes up significantly if you eat out often, or buy lunches from nearby diners and restaurants. Preparing your own food is a great way to cut back on monthly expenditure.


When you move to another state, you’ll need to look for a new doctor and dentist. As soon as you settle, get yourself acquainted with the people and new city so that they can help you out with all the local information.

There are a variety of options for health insurance coverage in Lake Tahoe. The plans have some overlap, but other particulars may differ and might be more suitable for you. 


Lake Tahoe generally has a low crime rate, but as in any new city, it’s best to be vigilant and take precautions. 

If you consider installing a home alarm system, this could cost you anything between $15- $50, depending on if you are doing a once-off payment or monthly installment. 


Here you have the option of public or independent schools to choose from. From 5th-grade through to 8th-grade independent school, you could be looking at an approximate annual cost of $27,540. 

Long-distance Moving Cost

This cost would of course depend on where you are relocating from. Professional movers provide an array of services and would be the best connection to provide you with accurate costs to calculate your move.  

Additional costs like these often get overlooked so it would be wise to add them to your Lake Tahoe cost of living guide.  


Moving is exciting, but no matter how mentally prepared you are, making a big decision to relocate to another state can be overwhelming. In the lead-up to a move, it’s normal to get cold feet and wonder whether you’re actually ready for this.  

But having a plan will ensure that you get through it without fail. 

So should you decide to do the trek, know that you don’t have to do it all on your own. There are professionals out there, like the Tahoe Moving Company,  that can help you through the process.