A friend asked how I could afford to live in southern California. Here's my answer:
I worked full time, wrote part-time, saved every spare penny I could.
I raised 3 kids, grew food in a half acre garden, shoveled 200 foot five feet wide brick walkway out to the drive way where we had to shovel around 3 cars and shovel room for the cars to back out and shovel the driveway fifteen feet uphill to the road so we could drive out. Oh, and I forgot that we heated with a woodstove for part of the house, so there was all that carrying wood inside and carting ashes outside. The ashes were good to sprinkle on that uphill driveway so that we actually could drive out to the road.
I earned a pension, retired from my job, am now also receiving part of my husband's pension, plus the few pennies that social security gives me. My writing income these days pays for a few weeks of groceries. I eat salad a lot.
Jobs here pay more, but, as you noticed, expenses are more so yes, my daughters who live here do complain about living expenses.
I also live in a very small condo - two bedrooms - and I use what should be the dining room as my office.
That's how I afford it.