California Assisted Living


The sunny state of California provides miles of sandy beaches, rolling mountains, and pleasant weather throughout the year, making it a preferred retirement destination. California ranks high in the nation based on different factors such as access to health care, crime rates, local air quality, amount of public libraries, parks, and public transportation alternatives. 

The state is home to medical facilities of world-class calibers, such as UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco. More than 7,400 assisted living facilities are available for those who require assistance with daily activities. At $5,250, assisted living costs are several hundred dollars more than the national average for seniors who need long-term residential care.

Review more about assisted living costs in California, as well as how these expenditures compare to those in neighboring states and other types of care within the state. An overview of financing options and a summary of other financial assistance are also included.

Cost of Assisted Living In California

As per the Genworth 2021 Cost of Care Survey, the average monthly cost of care for assisted living residents in California is $5,250. This is several hundred dollars more than the national average of $4,500 a month, suggesting that this state is among the most expensive in the nation for long-term residential care services. 

However, acquiring services in California may be more cost-effective than in Hawaii, where assisted living costs $5,375 per month. The average annual rate in Oregon is $5,045, which is lower than the national average of $5,045. Arizona and Nevada, with respective monthly fees of $4,000 and $3,750, are viable alternatives for those looking to save money.

The United States

In California, the monthly cost of assisted living ranges from $3,450 to nearly $7,000. Visalia has the lowest reported rates in the state, although Merced and Hanford are comparably reasonable, with monthly rates of $4,000 and $4,350, respectively. At $4,950, care expenditures in Vallejo exceed the national median. Santa Cruz seniors spend an average of $5,550 per month, while San Jose seniors pay an average of $6,000 per month. Santa Rosa is the most expensive city examined in California for services, with assisted living facilities charging $7,048 per month.

Riverside Area
Hanford Area
Yuba City
Sacramento Area
Los Angeles Area
Santa Maria Area
San Luis Obispo Area
San Diego Area
Santa Cruz Area
Oxnard Area
San Jose Area
El Centro
San Francisco Area
Santa Rosa Area

Seniors in California have a variety of options for long-term care depending on their lifestyle goals, care requirements, and budgets. Monthly costs for assisted living are modestly priced at $5,250. Those who receive care in their own homes spend $6,101 per month for basic home care and specialized home health care, while those who attend adult day health care facilities pay reasonable monthly rates of $1,842. Nursing home care is the most expensive option, with semiprivate accommodations costing $9,794 per month.

Assisted Living
Home Care
Home Health Care
Adult Day Health Care
Nursing Home Care (semiprivate)

Financing Options For Assisted Living In California

Medi-Cal, the state's Medicaid health care program, may help eligible California seniors pay for assisted living. Although Medi-Cal does not directly fund residential long-term care services, it reimburses those enrolled in its Assisted Living Waiver for these services. This waiver compensates for assisted living services for persons who require this level of care as an alternative to nursing home confinement.

ALW has a limited number of participant slots, in contrast to Medi-Cal, which is a right that guarantees coverage to all individuals who meet eligibility requirements. The enrollment dashboard of the Department of Health Care Services provides current waitlist information.

Assisted Living Services Covered By Medicaid In California

The Assisted Living Waiver covers a wide variety of services based on an individual's evaluated needs as determined by a Medi-Cal social worker. These services can be:

  • Daily meals
  • Laundry and cleaning services
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing, and mobility
  • Help with instrumental everyday chores, like medication reminders and transportation
  • Skilled nursing services

Assisted Living Waiver Programs in California

The ALW is a community-based option for nursing home care for adults with substantial care needs who desire assisted living. This program is available to all Californians. To be eligible for coverage, however, individuals must reside in a facility that accepts Medi-Cal reimbursement. In addition, the ALW does not pay room and board, but expenditures are capped for Supplemental Security Income recipients.

To determine eligibility for the ALW, individuals must undertake an evaluation of their care requirements. A registered nurse conducts this evaluation, which individuals schedule through their local Care Coordination Agency. To apply for this program, seniors must contact their local agency for a phone pre-assessment and schedule an appointment for the actual evaluation.

Eligibility For Medicaid In California

To qualify for Medi-Cal, applicants must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Must be legal U.S. citizens or residents and permanent residents of California
  • Must be at least 65 years old, blind or disabled
  • Must meet the income standard

Single candidates can have a maximum annual income of $17,609 effective in 2022. Coverage is also provided for residents of skilled nursing and intermediate care facilities. Medi-Cal eligibility is assured by participation in specific programs, including Supplemental Security Income and State Supplemental Payment Programs.

Applying for Medicaid in California

Seniors must file a CoveredCA.com online Medi-Cal application to apply for Medicaid. Alternatively, they may send a printed copy to Covered California at P.O. Box 989725, West Sacramento, California 95798, or their county office. To obtain an ALW, please contact your local Care Coordination Agency. Three to six months are required to complete this process.

Information You Will Need:
  • Proof of age
  • Proof of legal residency or U.S. citizenship¬†
  • Social Security number
  • Proof of permanent residence in California
  • Proof of all annual income, along with pensions and retirement savings, government benefits
  • Policy numbers for current health insurance, including Medicare and TRICARE

Other Ways To Finance Assisted Living In California

Seniors who are not qualified for other types of financial help (due to location, financial circumstances, or other reasons) still have options. The list below provides an overview of some of the most common methods for making assisted living affordable.

How it works and how to apply:
How It Works
How To Apply
Aid and Attendance
Veterans who earn a VA pension may also be eligible for the Aid and Attendance benefit, which is a monthly cash allowance on top of their pension. The benefit is meant for veterans who require long-term care services and may be applied to the cost of Assisted Living.
Learn more and apply online at va.gov.
Reverse Mortgages
You may be able to use a reverse mortgage as help to pay for Assisted Living if you own a property. Reverse mortgages are loans you can obtain against the value of your house, transforming a portion of its equity into cash. Reverse mortgage loans must be returned with interest, often within 12 months after loan receipt.
Learn more about your options and how to apply at ftc.gov.
Long-Term Care (LTC) Insurance
Those with existing long-term care insurance may be able to use it to pay for Assisted Living. Depending on the policy terms, the majority of insurance cover at least a percentage of the cost. Note that seniors who already require Assisted Living are often not eligible for LTC insurance coverage.
Learn more about Long-Term Care Insurance and how to apply for a policy at acl.gov.

Assisted Living Facilities in California