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Cost of Assisted Living in Santa Barbara, California

Page Reviewed / Updated - June 10, 2019

This guide is intended for seniors, caregivers, family members and other loved ones who are looking into senior living options in the Santa Barbara area. It is meant to help seniors and their loved ones develop a clear idea of the options available in the region, as well as to get a realistic picture of the cost of care in and around Santa Barbara.

This guide is also written to help seniors and those who care for them to find local resources that may be able to help pay for some of the expenses seniors incur while living as independently as possible in the community. For more information about paying for assisted living in Santa Barbara, please read through our comprehensive guide to paying for senior care in California.

The Cost of Senior Living and Care in Santa Barbara

Most of the types of senior living in Santa Barbara are slightly more expensive than the average cost of care in California, according to the 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Assisted living in the city is $75 more per month than the state average, home care is $73 more and adult day care just $33 more. 

The only type of senior living where the cost is less in Santa Barbara than the state average is the cost of a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility, which is $152 less in Santa Barbara. 

Note: Senior care cost data wasn’t available for Santa Barbara, so the data for the closest city, Oxnard, was used. 

How much does Assisted Living Cost in Santa Barbara?

Assisted living in Santa Barbara costs seniors an average of $4,575 a month. This is just slightly more than the California monthly average of $4,500. Sacramento, the state capital, comes in somewhat lower than these prices, at $4,473 a month, on average. These costs are in line with both Los Angeles and San Diego at $4,500 a month.

At just $3,150 a month, Bakersfield reports the lowest assisted living cost among surveyed California cities. Stockton is somewhat more expensive at $3,500 a month, while Chico costs run to $4,000. San Francisco has the state's most expensive assisted living costs at $5,500, or nearly $1,000 a month more than assisted living in Santa Barbara.

How much does Home Care Cost in Santa Barbara?

Assisted living in Santa Barbara costs seniors an average of $4,575 a month. This is just slightly more than the California monthly average of $4,500. Sacramento, the state capital, comes in somewhat lower than these prices, at $4,473 a month, on average. These costs are in line with both Los Angeles and San Diego at $4,500 a month.

At just $3,150 a month, Bakersfield reports the lowest assisted living cost among surveyed California cities. Stockton is somewhat more expensive at $3,500 a month, while Chico costs run to $4,000. San Francisco has the state's most expensive assisted living costs at $5,500, or nearly $1,000 a month more than assisted living in Santa Barbara.

How much does Adult Day Care Cost in Santa Barbara?

Adult day care in Santa Barbara costs an average of $1,712 a month. This isn't much higher than California's average cost of $1,679. Sacramento, San Francisco and San Diego all report an average cost of $1,733 a month, which is just a bit higher than Santa Barbara's average. Stockton matches the state average of $1,679 a month, coming in slightly higher than Bakersfield at $1,653.

At $2,134 a month, Chico reports the highest cost of home care of all surveyed California cities. At the far opposite side of the spectrum, Los Angeles home care averages just $1,565 a month.

How much does Nursing Home Costs in Santa Barbara?

Nursing home care is slightly cheaper in Santa Barbara than in the rest of California. Costs in the coastal city run to $8,213 a month for skilled nursing, while the state average is $8,365 for a semi-private room. Costs are similar across the state. Sacramento and San Diego, for example, report nursing care costs of $8,517 a month, while nursing home care in Chico runs to $8,456. Care costs in Stockton fall significantly lower at $8,173.

San Francisco reports the highest costs in the state at $9,148. However, Los Angeles averages $7,604, and Bakersfield reports the state's lowest costs, at $7,513 a month.

Financial Assistance Programs in Santa Barbara

Medicaid Program in Santa Barbara

Medi-Cal is an entitlement program, so all Medi-Cal subsidized plans in the state are open to all applicants who meet the program's intake requirements.

To be eligible for a Medi-Cal plan, seniors in Santa Barbara must be citizens or legal residents of the United States and permanently reside in the state of California. Seniors may have to provide proof of citizenship and residence during the intake process, though these requirements may be temporarily waived for homeless seniors or those who have a pressing medical need.

Seniors who wish to apply for a Medi-Cal plan must also meet the state's income eligibility guidelines. These are based off of the federal government's Federal Benefits Rate, with some adjustment upward for California's relatively high cost of living. Seniors meet the income requirement if they earn less than 138% of the federal poverty line, or $16,395 a year for seniors applying alone, as of 2018. Married couples may earn up to $22,108 a year and still qualify for benefits, whether both are applying together or one spouse is applying alone. Each additional adult who shares the household with the applicant raises the allowable income threshold by $5,741 a year, whether the extra qualifying adult is applying for Medi-Cal or not.

Applicants who earn more than 138% of the federal poverty line may still be eligible for Medi-Cal coverage. Seniors who earn up to 300% of the poverty line can receive Medi-Cal benefits through a managed care plan with a share of cost and/or co-pay requirement. These vary enormously between specific plans and the recipients' income level, so only a Medi-Cal intake worker or a certified senior consultant can provide definitive information about eligibility and income requirements.

Seniors in Santa Barbara can apply for Medi-Cal coverage in person, at a county Health and Human Services office, or online through the Covered California website, which lists many other low-cost health insurance options for seniors. The application process can be greatly streamlined for seniors who are already approved for almost any other means-tested benefit program the state offers. Because these programs all use the same intake criteria, the acceptance letter for any of them acts as authorization to enroll in any of the other programs that use the same income and asset guidelines. Programs that pre-qualify a senior for Medi-Cal include:

  • CalFresh, the state's SNAP or food stamp program
  • WIC
  • TANF, sometimes called welfare or cash aid
  • Section 8 housing support
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

Medi-Cal benefits pay for many services seniors in Santa Barbara need to live independently and safely at home. The program and its network affiliates universally cover the cost of preventive care and urgent or emergency care, as well as some or all of the cost of seeing a specialist when recommended or getting a second opinion. Plans also generally cover at least some of the cost of residential care, whether short-term or long-term.

Medicaid Waivers in Santa Barbara

Assisted Living Waiver Program (ALWP)

Seniors who live in Santa Barbara County and receive Medi-Cal benefits can get help with the cost of residential care through the state's Assisted Living Waiver Program (ALWP). ALWP benefits are open to seniors on a state health insurance plan who have medical clearance to enter a skilled nursing home, but who are willing to opt out in favor of assisted living. Program benefits are paid as a voucher to participating assisted living communities in 15 California counties, including Santa Barbara County. 

Seniors can apply for an ALWP waiver through their Medi-Cal caseworker and receive pre-clearance to move into assisted living. Alternatively, seniors who already reside in a qualifying facility can apply through their property's benefits specialist. For more information about ALWP, seniors in Santa Barbara can call the program's local office at (805) 681-4550.

Multipurpose Senior Services Waiver

The Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) waiver pays many of the costs seniors have when they choose to remain at home rather than move into residential care. Applications are handled by Medi-Cal caseworkers and county social workers. Some MSSP benefits include:

  • Benefits information and advice from experienced case managers
  • Home caregiver assistance that can be delivered to the senior's own home or the home of a relative
  • Respite care
  • Home improvements for greater access and mobility, such as ramps and rails
  • Some home repairs
  • Transportation and disabled ride vouchers, as well as scheduling service for on-demand medical transportation
  • Household chore assistance
  • Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) call buttons
  • Adult day care, which may be delivered at home or in a residential care setting
  • Temporary protective supervision for seniors with Alzheimer's disease
  • Meal service at home
  • Senior-specific money management advice from experts
  • Translation and interpreter services

Home and Community-Based Alternatives (HCBA) Waiver

The Home and Community-Based Alternatives (HCBA) waiver pays some of the costs associated with moving out of residential care settings and back into a private home. Seniors in Santa Barbara can apply for this program before their discharge from post-acute and skilled nursing care, or they can request facility benefits specialists apply on their behalf well in advance.

Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS)

The Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) waiver program picks up many of the financial odds and ends seniors have to pay in order to live at home. Benefits are approved through a Medi-Cal caseworker, and they include:

  • Adult day care in the home or at a residential care setting
  • Meal delivery
  • Regular social activities with other seniors in Santa Barbara
  • Required physical and mental health therapy in the home or at a facility nearby

Other Financial Assistance Programs in Santa Barbara

In-Home Support Services (IHSS)

For seniors who are living in their own homes, or in the private home of a loved one, Medi-Cal offers support through the In-Home Support Services (IHSS) program. IHSS employs thousands of caregivers who must meet background check requirements and attend preliminary training. Seniors enrolled in the program can hire caregivers with IHSS funds, then sign off on caregivers' time sheets twice a week and authorize payment for their care. Hours are allotted by a program worker and do not roll over from one month to the next. Caregivers may be chosen from a list of nearby providers, or they can be a spouse, friend or family member of the senior receiving benefits.

Paid Family Leave

California's Paid Family Leave Act allows many family members to care for their senior loved ones at home or in a residential care facility. The program pays a bi-weekly check from California's Employment Development Department (EDD) that supplements missing pay for up to six weeks with medical authorization recommending such care for the senior. Recipients must be spouses or immediate relatives of the senior in need of care, and applications go through the EDD.

More Senior Living Resources in Santa Barbara


Phone Number


Housing Development and Preservation Program (805) 564-5461 The Santa Barbara City Housing Development and Preservation Program administers several low-income and seniors' fixed-income housing units in the city. The program maintains a current list of affordable rental units, and it can directly assist Santa Barbara seniors in setting up in their new home. Applications can be made online or by phone.
Community Services Department of Housing and Community Development (805) 681-4200 The Santa Barbara County's Housing and Community Development administers the federal Section 8 low-income housing voucher for county seniors who need assistance paying the rent. Demand is very high for this program, so seniors in Santa Barbara must apply to join the waiting list, which can be done online or by phone.
Alexander House Foundation (805) 966-3665 Seniors on fixed incomes who have resided in Santa Barbara for at least 10 years may be able to apply for rent support through the Alexander House Foundation's rental assistance program. This benefit is restricted to seniors aged 65 and over. Applications can be made by phone or by emailing a program administrator.
Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) (805) 617-2897 The Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County can help seniors sign up for low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) including the Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP). ECIP pays an average of $500, and in emergencies up to $1,000, as a one-time payout to cover the cost of overdue home energy bills. Applications can be made by phone or online.