Page Reviewed / Updated – October 22, 2019

This guide gives an in-depth look at the cost of senior care in San Diego, programs that provide financial assistance to elderly residents in the area, and affordable housing for seniors. For more extensive data about expenses and financial help available in the rest of the state, read our guide on paying for senior care in California.

The Cost of Senior Living and Care in San Diego

In San Diego, senior care is relatively affordable compared other major cities in California. According to the Genworth 2018 Cost of Care Survey, the average monthly cost of nursing home care, assisted living, home care, and adult day care is lower than San Jose and San Francisco. Senior care costs are similar to Los Angeles, with somewhat higher average costs for adult day care and nursing home care.

How much does Assisted Living Cost in San Diego?

Assisted living in San Diego costs an average of $4,500 a month, which is the same as the median cost for California as a whole. Nearby, Riverside averages $1,000 less a month, while Bakersfield is the cheapest, coming in at only $3,150 a month.

Other major cities in the state average between $4,500 and $5,500 a month – San Francisco and San Jose are both on the high end, while Fresno is the cheapest in monthly average costs.    

How much does Home Care Cost in San Diego?

The cost of home care in San Diego averages $4,767 a month, assuming 44 hours of care per week at an average cost per hour of $25. That’s $190 cheaper than the state average of $4,957.

Compared to other major cities in the state, San Diego is relatively affordable for home care. San Francisco and San Jose average about $1,000 more a month, while Sacramento and Los Angeles are the same as San Diego. Some of the least expensive average costs for home care in the state are in Visalia at $4,290 a month.

How much does Adult Day Care Cost in San Diego?

Adult day health care costs an average of $1,733 a month, which is $54 higher than the state average of $1,679. Hanford, one of the smaller towns in the state, is the cheapest with a monthly average of $867. The least expensive among the larger cities in the state is Los Angeles with a monthly average of $1,565. Sacramento, San Francisco, and San Jose all average between $1,733 and $1,993 a month.

How much does Nursing Home Costs in San Diego?

The cost of nursing home care in San Diego is marginally more expensive when compared with the rest of the state. At $8,517 a month for a semi-private room, it’s slightly higher than the state average of $8,365. The least expensive of the other major cities in the state is Los Angeles at $7,604. The most expensive in the state is the Santa Maria area with a monthly average of $10,646.

Financial Assistance Programs in San Diego

Medi-Cal for Seniors

Medi-Cal helps cover the cost of long-term care for seniors who are 65 or older. It directly covers nursing home and in-home care. Since Medi-Cal is an entitlement program, older adults who meet the requirements will receive the services they need.

Medi-Cal will not cover in-home personal assistance that is not medical, assisted living, or adult day care. If these services are needed, one must apply for a Medi-Cal waiver. Unlike Medi-Cal, the waivers are not an entitlement, so waiting lists may be a barrier.

Medi-Cal is available to older San Diego citizens who are single with a monthly income below $1,012 in 2018. Married older adults must have an income below $1,372. Those whose income exceeds the limits can still get financial assistance by paying a share of cost (SOC) fee. There is also an asset limit of $2,000 for individuals or $3,000 for couples.  

You can apply for Medi-Cal in person at your local county human services agency, online, or over the phone by calling (866) 262-9881.

Other Financial Assistance Programs

HCBA Waiver

The Home and Community Based Alternatives (HCBA) waiver (formerly known as the Nursing Facility/Acute Hospital waiver) provides care management services to eligible participants who want to live at home or in an assisted living facility rather than a nursing home or institution. San Diego seniors can apply for the HCBA waiver by completing the online application or calling San Ysidro Health at (833) 503-5910.

Assisted Living Waiver (ALW)

Medi-Cal eligible seniors who reside in the city of San Diego can apply for an Assisted Living Waiver, which covers services received while residing in an assisted living setting. To enroll, get in touch with a Care Coordination agency in your area. Learn more about what’s covered, eligibility, and how to enroll.  

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) is a program that lets older adults choose their own personal care providers, such as a family member or friend. To start the application process for IHSS, call (800) 510-2020. For more information about services provided, eligibility, and enrollment, read our guide to IHSS.


San Diego seniors age 55 or older who need financial assistance for long-term care services may be eligible for the PACE program. Applicants must live at home or in a residential care facility and need help with activities of daily living (ADL).

To learn more about PACE, who is eligible, covered services, and how to apply, visit San Ysidro Health.

Multi-Purpose Senior Services (MPSS) Program

San Diego residents age 65 or older and eligible for Medi-Cal with no SOC may be able to receive free in-home care and case management through the MPSS program. Older adults interested in the program must need assistance with a minimum of two activities of daily living, live within a location that provides the program, and must not be a SCAN health plan member. Read our guide on the MPSS program for additional information and how to apply.

Supportive Services Program (SSP)

The Supportive Services Program provides free in-home care services, case management, assisted transportation, and legal assistance. The age requirement for the SSP is 60 or older. Participants cannot be enrolled in any government-funded care management program or a member of the SCAN health plan. Elders must also require help with at least one activity of daily living or a minimum of two instrumental activities of daily living. To apply, call (800) 510-2020.

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More Senior Living Resources in San Diego


Phone Number


Housing Development Partners

(619) 578-7471

Housing Development Partners is a non-profit affiliate of the San Diego Housing Commission. They manage five properties in San Diego: Casa Colina, Courtyard Terraces, New Palace Hotel, Parker Kier, and San Diego Square.

National CORE

(909) 483-2444

National CORE is a non-profit organization that develops, builds, and manages affordable housing communities. They have 187 units in San Diego for seniors in three properties: the Cape Cod Senior Villas, Juniper Senior Village, and the Talmadge Senior Village.

North Park Seniors

(619) 282-6647

North Park Seniors in San Diego provides 75 affordable apartments to LBGT seniors 55 years or older. Apartments include studio, one bedroom, two bedrooms, and balcony/patio.

The Orchard Senior Apartments

(619) 870-2545

The Orchard offers seniors and baby boomers affordable studio and one-bedroom apartments. Residents will have access to fresh fruit trees, a 6,000 square foot community room, and more.

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