Cost of Assisted Living in Santa Maria, California

Page Reviewed / Updated - September 2019

This is written as a guide to seniors in the Santa Maria area who need help understanding their senior living options. It clarifies the various types of senior care available in the region, as well as to lay out some of the likely costs seniors face when choosing between options. It also outlines local resources that can help seniors pay some or all of the costs associated with residential senior care and independent living at home.

For more information about senior living in the state as a whole, please read our comprehensive guide to paying for senior care in California.

The Cost of Senior Living and Care in Santa Maria

Senior living costs in Santa Maria are significantly higher in almost every area than the average costs for equivalent care in the state, according to the 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. In all common areas of senior care — assisted living, home care, adult day care, nursing home care —prices seniors pay in Santa Maria are between a few hundred and several thousand dollars more per month than the average prices in the state of California.

Santa Maria Assisted Living Costs

Assisted living in Santa Maria costs seniors an average of $4,825 a month. This is $325 a month more than the $4,500 seniors pay in the rest of California on average. Santa Maria is also more expensive for assisted living than Los Angeles and San Diego, which match the state average exactly, and Sacramento, where costs hew very close to the state at $4,473 a month.

San Francisco reports higher costs for assisted living than Santa Maria, at $5,500 a month, though Bakersfield seniors pay considerably less, at just $3,150 for this type of care.

Santa Maria Home Care Costs

Home care in Santa Maria costs an average of $5,434 a month. This is well above the $4,957 seniors pay in California more generally. Bakersfield and Chico report significantly less expensive home care, at $4,385 and $4,433 a month, respectively. Santa Maria is not the most expensive California city to be surveyed, however. San Francisco reports home care costs that run as high as $5,625 a month, or nearly $200 a month more than Santa Maria seniors pay.

Santa Maria Adult Day Care Costs

Adult day care in Santa Maria costs seniors an average of $2,058 a month. This is nearly $400 above the average for the state of California, which is $1,679. Statewide, some of the lowest costs for adult day care can be found in Los Angeles and Vallejo, where care costs just $1,565 and $1,354 a month, respectively. Some of the highest costs in the state are in Chico, where seniors pay $2,134, or almost $100 more per month than in Santa Maria.

Santa Maria Nursing Home Costs

Nursing home care in Santa Maria runs as high as $10,646 a month. This is dramatically higher than most other cities in California, and it beats the state average cost of $8,365 by a wide margin. Among surveyed California cities, the next in line after Santa Maria is San Francisco, where a semi-private room in a licensed nursing care home averages $9,148 a month. At the other end of the spectrum, Bakersfield seniors pay an average monthly cost of just $7,513 for the same level of care.

Financial Assistance Programs in Santa Maria

Medicaid Program in Santa Maria

Seniors in Santa Maria can get help with medical bills, including the costs of residential care, through Medicaid, known in California as Medi-Cal. Seniors can apply for Medi-Cal through the Covered California website, or by visiting a county Human Services office. There, seniors in Santa Maria can browse through coverage options, which include both HMO and PPO options from providers such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente.

To qualify for Medi-Cal coverage, seniors in Santa Maria must be citizens or legal residents of the United States and residents of the state of California. They are also limited to just 138% of the federal benefit rate in income from all sources combined. This rate changes from time to time, but in 2019 the limits are $16,395 a year for single seniors applying alone and $22,108 for married couples applying together. Extra adults in the household raise these limits by $5,741 a year, regardless of whether the others are also applying for coverage. Seniors in Santa Maria who earn between 138% and 300% of the federal guidelines may still qualify for Medi-Cal coverage, though they may have to accept an annual share of cost.

Medicaid Waivers in Santa Maria

Assisted Living Waiver Program (ALWP)

Seniors in Santa Maria who meet Medi-Cal eligibility guidelines and have a medical referral for nursing home care may be able to pay the cost of assisted living with an Assisted Living Waiver Program (ALWP) voucher. ALWP vouchers pay for assisted living for seniors who waive placement in a nursing care home and choose the more affordable option. Seniors can apply in person, through their Medi-Cal caseworker, or through the benefits coordinator at a participating assisted living facility.

Multipurpose Senior Services Waiver

The Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) pays for many services seniors need when living on their own. MSSP is available to seniors who qualify for an ALWP voucher, but who opt out of residential care and choose independent living at home. Applications can go through a caseworker or the discharge planner at a facility. Benefits include:

  • Caseworker support to identify benefits a senior may be eligible for 
  • Financial advice for seniors from a certified financial adviser
  • Caregiver assistance 
  • Household chore assistance
  • Adult day care 
  • Respite care 
  • Protective supervision 
  • Meal service delivered to the senior's home or served in a community setting nearby
  • Vouchers for public transportation and help booking mobility van service
  • Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) equipment for emergency assistance calls
  • Some home repairs, such as rails and wheelchair ramp installation
  • Translation and interpreter services

Home and Community-Based Alternatives (HCBA) Waiver

Seniors in Santa Maria can pay many costs of transitioning home with a Home and Community-Based Alternatives (HCBA) waiver. HCBA waivers cover many reasonable moving costs and can be applied for by the discharge desk at participating facilities at the time of discharge.

Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS)

Seniors in Santa Maria who are enrolled in the Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) waiver can get financial help paying for miscellaneous services relating to independent senior living, as well as to connect with other seniors in their area. The program is approved through a caseworker, and benefits include:

  • Meal delivery
  • Physical therapy
  • Mental health services 
  • Adult day care
  • Monthly social events for other recipients in the Santa Maria area

Other Financial Assistance Programs in Santa Maria

In-Home Support Services (IHSS) 

Seniors in Santa Maria can sign up for caregiver services through California's In-Home Support Services (IHSS) program. IHSS assigns a number of hours for caregiver support to financially and medically needy seniors, who can then hire any qualified person to be their designated caregiver, including a spouse or another loved one. Caregivers must pass a background check and attend one training session at IHSS headquarters before submitting their bi-monthly invoice.

Paid Family Leave

California allows employed adults to take up to six weeks off to care for a senior loved one through the Paid Family Leave Act (PFLA). PFLA pays a stipend to the worker on leave every two weeks to support their caregiver work for an immediate relative. Applications go through the state's Employment Development Department (EDD) office, which may ask for proof of relationship and medical need.

More Senior Living Resources in Santa Maria


Phone Number


Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara

(805) 736-3423

The Housing Authority of the County of Santa Barbara operates the local office of the Housing Choice Voucher Program, also called Section 8. Seniors in Santa Maria who meet the program guidelines can sign up for the waiting list for local affordable housing by calling the office during business hours.

FAIR Housing

(805) 925-0951 

The city of Santa Maria operates the FAIR Housing program, which helps local seniors pay some of the cost of renting affordable apartments and buying local homes. Income limits apply, as do residency requirements. Seniors can call the city office for information about the wait list.

Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County

(805) 617-2897

The Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County allows seniors in Santa Maria to sign up for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). LIHEAP can reduce home energy bills by up to 30%, though income restrictions apply. Seniors can ask for an application packet by phone.